Thursday, 23 July 1942
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister for Education (Mr. Derrig): First of all, I think I had better refer to the question of the proposed appointment of extern examiners for the secondary schools certificate examinations. For several years past the secondary school inspectors have acted as advising examiners for most of the subjects of the certificate examination. I am at present considering a proposal that extern advising examiners be appointed in future and that some of the university professors be invited to act in that capacity. The appointment would be made by me and the persons so appointed would be assisted in the preparation of the examination papers by committees of inspectors. Under such an arrangement,  I would retain full authority and responsibility in the matter of the control of the examinations and there would be no question of transferring them to university control.
As I have said, the present position is that the secondary inspectors are the examiners. Originally, extern examiners acted, but, some time towards the closing stages of the old régime, a change was made; the inspectors became the examiners, and the system of appointing extern examiners was dropped. I should, perhaps, explain that the old senior grade certificate of the intermediate board had been accepted by all the Irish universities, and some of the British universities in lieu of their matriculation. It had also been accepted by several bodies, such as the Royal Veterinary College, London, and the General Medical Council, in lieu of their particular entrance examinations. On the change to the present courses and certificate examinations in 1925, the various universities and examining bodies referred to were invited to place the leaving certificate on the list of recognised equivalents for their matriculation or other entrance examinations. The Irish universities and most of the other universities and examining bodies agreed to do so.
An arrangement was made at the time with the National University under which representatives of the university, nominated by the Seanad, would collaborate with representatives of the Department in drawing up the examination papers for the leaving certificate, and that arrangement has since been continued. In 1940 discussions took place between the Department and the National University with a view to arranging for the co-ordination of the syllabuses of the leaving certificate pass and the matriculation examination. A formal scheme of coordination was subsequently drawn up and adopted by the universities and myself. This scheme provides for collaboration between representatives of the universities and my Department (a) in the framing of the syllabuses for the various subjects of the leaving certificate pass courses and examination; (b) in the selection of the text-books to  be prescribed for the various language courses of the leaving certificate, the rota of textbooks covering a period of three or four years to be selected; (c) in the setting of the question papers for the various subjects for the examination, and (d) in determining the standard of marking of the candidates' work and the basis of assignment of marks to the various questions set in the papers.
Recommendations made under the foregoing arrangement are submitted to the Minister and the universities by their respective representatives. In all matters relating to the leaving certificate courses and examination, the decision of the Minister is final. The co-ordination of the courses has been completed in almost every detail and the courses for the leaving certificate and matriculation are now identical in content and, except in a few minor details, are expressed in similar terms. This unified arrangement has been welcomed by the schools, as it facilitates the organisation of the senior classes, and obviates the necessity for leaving certificate pupils, who desire also to be candidates for matriculation, having to study two sets of texts in their final year.
I think it is clear, therefore, that there has been very close collaboration, particularly in recent years, between the university authorities and ourselves as regards the co-relation of the leaving certificate and the matriculation courses. The university authorities have been consulted, not alone on the question of the syllabuses and the courses, but actually on the standard of marking and the assignment of marks to questions, and I think also the actual type of questions, if not the questions themselves, which are to be set, so that there is a very close degree of collaboration and the appointment, as advising examiners, of university professors or other persons of academic standing to act as extern examiners in some or all of the subjects in future years, is only a further step. I have not the slightest doubt that once that arrangement comes into operation, all interests concerned will feel it is a distinct benefit.
 It would be a great pity, however, if, through any misunderstanding, an agitation were allowed to be created which would give the impression that the examinations are being placed under the control of the university in some way. That, of course, as Senator Tiemey has pointed out, is quite incorrect. We have a degree of collaboration already and we are carrying it a step further, and, instead of having the present system of inspectors as advising examiners, which has been the practice for a considerable period, I think a trial should be given to the alternative system of having an extern examiner as advising examiner. He will be assisted in his work, of course, by the usual assistant examiners in respect of the correction of papers. This system will require consultation, as I have said, with the representatives of the Department of Education, and so far as the certificate examinations are concerned, the final word will rest with the Minister. With good will on the part of all concerned, I am quite sure that the system can be worked out without any upset or any fear or anxiety on the part of managers or teachers.
Mr. M. Hayes: Would the Minister make it clear that the system of appointing assistant examiners for the leaving certificate examination will remain exactly as it is at present and that the revising examiner will have no power over it?
Mr. Derrig: That is so. The assistant examiners are generally secondary teachers and it has already been explained to their representatives that there is no intention of interfering with them. If it is necessary, however, I should like to say, in reply to Senator Hayes, that there is no intention whatever of interfering with the present system of appointment of these assistant examiners.
With regard to school buildings, the point I should like to emphasise to the Seanad is that our national school system is organised on a parish basis. There is the parish unit and this organisation of primary education is in accordance with the religious sentiments  of the Irish people. It has been described even quite recently by an Irish Bishop as being not very far from the ideal, so far as Irish Catholic principles are concerned. The State is responsible for the payment of the teachers and it makes generous grants towards the building, improvement, heating and cleaning of the schools, but on the people of the parish, which is the unit of the whole system, devolves the primary duty of providing the funds necessary for the maintenance, repair, heating and cleaning of the schools and towards the cost of reconstruction of existing buildings and the erection of new school buildings when required locally.
May I say that this local interest and activity in regard to our schools is most valuable not alone from the point of view of our educational administration but from the point of view of the rural areas themselves? Instead of having everything centralised, as some speakers would seem to desire, we have this very valuable system of the parish unit and parish organisation and we have also the system of local contribution. This system has worked fairly satisfactorily. It may not have been perfect, but I think the chief parties concerned, the representatives of the Church and the State, have reasonable grounds for satisfaction in the accord which has always characterised it over a very long period. We understand each other's point of view and it is unique—I am not sure that it is altogether unique, but it is certainly rather unique—that we should have State and Church collaborating in this most valuable way in primary education, and I think it would be a great pity if anything were done, or were even urged, which might suggest that some other system would be better. I personally feel that the future progress of education in this country is bound up with this system, that we have to take it as the basis and that any attempt to introduce any other system will simply create chaos.
There is a deep interest generally by school managers, as well as, of course, by teachers, in the maintenance of school buildings, and it is really remarkable  that in a good many cases those managers who seem to have the heaviest burdens thrown upon them, in connection with the building of new churches, for example, are often quite outstanding in the amount of work they do in the provision of new school buildings. There is that excellent spirit among managers, and I think credit must be given to those managers who show their interest in that way. We have also unfortunately the other type of case in which little or no interest is shown in the appearance or the maintenance of the schools, or in the provision of new schools, where these may be required. We have all read and heard of cases in which the maintenance of school buildings has been utterly neglected—windows broken, roofs damaged and walls cracked—and from my point of view and that of the Minister for Finance, the important consideration in that respect is that a small amount of expenditure in the beginning would obviate very considerable expenditure later on. The schools are our own and are established for the education of our children. Our children spend a great many years of their lives in them, and we ought to try to make them as comfortable and as hygienic as possible, and I would ask Senators interested in this matter to use their local influence to assist managers to get the work done where it is clear that an effort should be made to improve school buildings.
I want to make it quite clear that the responsibility for the provision of new school buildings is on the manager, in the first instance. He must take the necessary steps—he must make an application to the office and he must fill up a form. The actual arrangement of the plans, the site and so on is a matter for the Board of Works, but I do everything I can to expedite the work and to facilitate managers. What I do not understand is that while there are good managers, already perhaps rather heavily burdened, carrying out this work of looking after their schools in a very satisfactory manner and willing to make the necessary local contribution, which I do not think is onerous—we have a certain amount of discretion but the  more we give in a particular case the less we can give in some other case— why we should have it suggested that we should make the entire 100 per cent. of the cost available in those other cases where, for all I know, no effort has been made locally to make any contribution?
There is provision for necessitous cases such as poor parishes in congested areas. We give them extra grants but generally we expect in towns or in comfortably circumstanced rural parishes, a contribution of one-third. If there is other work going on in the parish, if, say, work has been carried out there in the recent past or if there are some other reasons, allowance is made for that. I do not believe in haggling about this matter. I have more respect for the representation that is made to me: “I am prepared to make this contribution; I want to go ahead with the work and I am in a hurry to proceed with it” than where it is suggested that because of a very small amount of money, perhaps something less than £50, the work cannot be proceeded with.
We are either going to work the system properly or you are going to have demands made, as were made here yesterday, that all the expenditure in connection with school buildings should be made a national charge. I believe that the principle of the local contribution is most valuable. I know it is rather bound up with the idea of the parish unit and I am fairly confident that in future we shall have the co-operation of the Church authorities very fully in this matter. We may have isolated cases, of course, that are not satisfactory, but I think that the general disposition is to do everything that is possible. At the same time, we must make allowance for our circumstances here and perhaps, occasionally, we look for too high standards in these matters. If Senator Baxter, for example, would acquaint me with the names of the schools which he said would be condemned as byres under the public health regulations, I should be glad to have them. I do not think it right that these statements should be made if they cannot be substantiated. There may be such schools,  but if there are, as Senator Johnston pointed out, the public health authorities can take the necessary action.
The position as regards our future plans, according to the figures I possess, which are not up to date, is that about 600 new schools will be required of which 300 may be regarded as being in the very urgent category. Since the year 1932 we expended more than £2,500,000 on school buildings. During that period 334 new schools were erected, 162 schools enlarged and 2,216 schools improved. It seems clear, therefore, if we assume that the programme which has been carried out in recent years is to be doubled or trebled, that it is going to take a number of years. Even with improved machinery, greater co-operation and more finances available, it is going to take at least ten years to see a solution of that question, in my opinion. I have no doubt, as I have said, that the Church authorities will co-operate in any long-term programme of that kind. The Government is at present considering the question of plans for postwar circumstances and, although no final decision has been reached in this particular matter, I think I am pretty safe in saying that nothing less than a ten-year plan will clear up the situation as regards insanitary and unsuitable schools which is really our problem in rural areas.
I need scarcely go into the details of the position. In County Cavan there are 15 schools which have been classified by inspectors as unsuitable. Seven of them are in the very urgent category. In two of these cases we have made grants but I do not know whether in existing circumstances we shall be able to go ahead. There are difficulties in a few other cases. In other cases we do not propose to proceed in view of the emergency conditions. There are, perhaps, eight other schools which might be attended to.
Mr. Baxter: The Minister said earlier that 600 new schools were required altogether but he said that these figures were not up to date. I should like to know when they were up to date. What is the Minister's most  recent information as to the number of schools really requiring rebuilding or reconstruction and what is the amount of capital involved in the whole plan?
Mr. Derrig: The capital will run into millions. These are figures which I have had prepared in the office recently. They are based on estimates supplied by the inspectors, perhaps a year ago or two years ago. I could not say that they represent the situation since the emergency. Every year adds to the list, if schools are not properly maintained and of course the danger in a period like this is that we may have a recurrence of what happened in the last war when on account of the cost of getting repairs and improvements done, the matter was neglected. For that reason I am glad it has been referred to. All we can do until the emergency is over, and for some period after, is to try to maintain the schools as best we can and to carry out urgent repairs. Owing to the scarcity of cement, and the scarcity previously of steel and the difficulty of getting timber, it will be almost impossible to carry on the work though we have our programme made out on the same basis as in previous years. I have not an exact estimate of what the cost is likely to be.
It would be mostly rural schools, I dare say, that would be involved, and seeing that it cost over £2,000,000 to erect 334, it will cost £4,000,000 after the war, perhaps more, to erect 600 schools. The unit per head is up to £30 in the case of schools which are provided with the latest equipment including, perhaps, a hall. In rural areas you might get the figure as low as £20 per unit. I do not know what the position will be after the war. All I know is that there is no reason why plans should not now be made—and they will be made—for a long-term programme, covering this matter.
As regards the main question that was raised, the question of the report issued by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation Committee of Inquiry, I think it is rather notable that the points made in that report were not stressed here yesterday with any degree of conviction. Neither, I think, was  there a great deal of substance in the arguments that were made about having a formal inquiry into this whole matter of teaching through Irish in the schools. I think perhaps Senators are not familiar with the story of the situation. There have already been two conferences which examined this question. The first, as Senator O'Connell has pointed out, was called by the teachers themselves in 1920. The second, which had the advantage of having the intervening years' experience, was called in 1925, and the present programme was issued in 1926. The conference which suggested that programme was composed of representatives of all phases of Irish life, and it is very remarkable that they unanimously agreed that the policy of teaching through Irish, and gradually extending the teaching through Irish, first through all the standards, and then through all the schools, should be adopted. The report and programme are available, and those who are interested will see, if they read the preliminary matter, that the main recommendation of the first conference of 1920, that instruction through Irish should be given in the schools as far as possible, was adopted. I do not know whether I should read to the House some extracts from the notes and from the programme.
Mr. Derrig: I feel that the argument that this demand for an inquiry is based on the fact that the teachers have the best knowledge of this subject  is very defective. In the first place, it is not entirely an educational question. In my view, at any rate, there is a very big national question involved. In the second place, are the teachers the only persons qualified to give an opinion on this? It is suggested that the advisers whom I have are not as well acquainted with the situation as the teachers. I stated, on account of the stress that has been laid on infant training, that it was notable that no woman teacher was on this committee of inquiry set up by the teachers. I think that the report bears traces, in a great part of it, of having been put together by a person or persons not familiar with the actual conditions in the infant schools, certainly not familiar with the day-to-day circumstances of those schools. It is suggested that the inspectors are in the same position. The inspectors may not, in some cases, have actually taught in infant schools, but it is their business to visit the infant schools, and, if it is suggested to me that an inspector could not have a better idea of the work of the schools than a teacher, I say that is nonsense. Why have inspectors at all? The very first thing an inspector does is to estimate the general level of efficiency of the teachers in his area. He has to collate the work of the different schools, and estimate what schools are efficient and what ones are not. He has an opportunity of seeing the methods of the teachers.
Those inspectors are all men of long experience. They have grown up with this programme, and have seen it working in all kinds of schools. Surely they are in a position to advise me? Besides, as regards the argument that they are anonymous or that they are bureaucrats, there is no compulsion on inspectors; there is nothing to prevent their giving their views. I have frequently discussed this question with them, and have also issued official instructions to discourage teachers who are not capable of giving instruction through Irish from doing so. I have done that over and over again.
There is another point, and that is whether the approach that was made to this matter was the one which was likely to bear fruit in the way of  benefiting our national aim of restoring the Irish language and improving our methods. Generally, if it is felt that a certain situation in connection with education demands attention, the organised interests concerned approach the Minister. It was acknowledged by Senator O'Connell yesterday that the Minister was always there to meet them. I must say that I have had frequent meetings with the members of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, and similarly with the representatives of the other branches of education. In some branches of education, at any rate, it is recognised that, if a matter requires to be examined or if it is considered that some situation exists which should be brought to the notice of the Minister, then an approach can be very easily made to the Minister. He can be found on the telephone. It should not be necessary to write a leading article in the Irish Independent or to pass resolutions or to have congress discussions to let him know that a certain situation exists.
All that is necessary is to ring me up on the telephone. I am always available for interview. The Dublin City Branch of the National Teachers' Organisation first raised this question at a private meeting. As far as I know, I may have got a copy of the resolution. I doubt if I did. I have heard very little about this officially. The meeting was described as a private meeting. An account of it was supplied to the newspapers and appeared with the appropriate headings that one would expect when this matter receives public attention from some of these organs. It was published in this way, that a physical and mental strain, amounting almost to a criminal act— the word criminal was introduced— was imposed on such children. This was the heading: “Dublin children under a constant strain, particularly younger children.” That was the gist of the resolution, I understand, and subsequently that was certainly the thesis put forward at the Teachers' Congress. I do not know whether Senators think that an inquiry based on a thesis of that kind should be accepted as an honest and careful inquiry into this matter. I do not  know whether, if they examined the questionnaire carefully, and the information given to us, they will feel that we could give the same value to this report, as could be given to the opinions of a small body of persons who were familiar with the work of the schools, who would be called in and be available to have their opinions tested by having the opinions of other people put against them; and furthermore, by visits to schools, actual examinations, questioning of teachers and so on.
With all that a very large proportion of the teachers of infants seem to believe that the Irish language cannot be revived unless the present policy is maintained. It must be borne in mind that a considerable number of these teachers are a very long time in the service. They are highly efficient teachers. The average service, I think, of the 422 highly efficient teachers who answered the questionnaire about the teaching of infants was 19 years. That would suggest that some of them had very long service, and while that would be very valuable in one way, there would be the question whether they would be as skilful in carrying out this programme as the younger type of teachers, say the native Irish teachers, who were trained more recently. In any case the opinions of the teachers, good and bad, highly efficient and efficient, are lumped together in this report and certain deductions are made.
Mr. Derrig: Even if rated efficient he may not be particularly interested in this matter, except to the extent of answering the questionnaire. He may not have the necessary linguistic equipment, for example, to make a success of this work in his school. That would seem to be indicated by the fact that so many hundreds of teachers embarked on this policy against official instructions, according to themselves,  and presumably gave it up. Therefore, they were not successful teachers in the ordinary sense. It is also admitted that the older teachers did not further this policy of teaching through Irish. You have frequently the case in our schools where children are admirably taught in the lower standards by young teachers who are properly qualified in Irish, and then, as they progress to the higher standards, and come under older teachers, not so highly qualified, whatever good effects and good results there may have been in teaching through Irish are, more or less, set at naught because instruction has to start in English.
In addition it will be suggested that pressure was being put on the teachers. I want to say that I think it is the duty of inspectors to put before teachers the national policy in this matter, and to endeavour to get them to carry it out to the best of their ability, but certainly not to the point of inflicting a strain on the children, or creating conditions of repression or anything of that nature. I doubt very much if inspectors were guilty of that. As against the point which Senator O'Connell mentioned yesterday—he did not say that he had very many cases of that type—he quoted a case where inspectors had asked a teacher to continue teaching in Irish, as I understood it, when the teacher felt it was not in the educational interests of the children to do so. All teachers who were over 30 years' of age in 1922 were freed from the necessity to acquire qualifications in Irish and, so far as my experience goes, very few teachers, if any, have been threatened with a reduction in their rating solely on the ground of Irish. I think I am safe in saying that in practically all cases— there may have been a few exceptions— there was in question the teacher's general efficiency before his rating could be reduced. I should like to make it clear that, in my opinion, the teachers have been treated with every consideration by the inspectors. We were aware of the difficulties of the situation. We know that school buildings are not always as good as they should be; we know that the equipment is not as good as it could be; we know  that all the teachers have not got the qualifications in Irish to carry out this programme and, on the other hand, are not asked to do so. We have a very large number of assistant mistresses who were brought in under the old régime and they were a considerable improvement, but it is very doubtful if we could get the same results from them in carrying out this programme as from highly trained teachers who have been coming out of the training colleges in recent years. In any case we must remember that in the small rural schools each teacher has three or four classes to attend to. If it is said that these circumstances are not taken into consideration, I say that the first instruction given to inspectors is that all adverse circumstances operating against teachers must be taken into consideration and the second point, generally, is the standard in the area.
We know that the small rural schools have these difficulties, and the programme conference, which laid down the programme, had specifically in mind rural schools, and the main object of their recommendations was to institute a programme which should suit the varying circumstances of different types of schools, and at the same time would, by slow but gradual and steady progress, attain to the ideal we had in mind. An approach was not made to me. This question was raised in a manner that, in my opinion, was not good for education, and was, certainly, not good for the Irish language movement, whether it was so intended or not. It is suggested that there was great surprise at the way I dealt with this report. Until a short time before the event, we were not aware whether or not the teachers proposed to publish this report. They had a fair idea from the inspectors of my attitude. I was not anxious to give an opportunity to those despicable writers in the daily Press who say that the Minister for Education and the National Teachers' Organisation were at loggerheads. That would surely have been a situation that would have made joyful the hearts of the scribblers, but it would not have been good for the Irish language, and I do not think that it would have been good  for education. While holding my own opinions very strongly, I have taken up the attitude with regard to this report that it is my duty to explain the position of the Department of Education, set out the weaknesses which I see in the statements made in the report, and explain to the country why I do not think it is worthy of such a consideration as its advocates would claim for it.
We have had all kinds of statements made on this subject, including the well-known statement which is made periodically in debates and discussions on education and I suppose will always be made by persons who, oftentimes, are not intimate with the actual work of our schools—the statement that our standards of education are deteriorating. That statement was made by two Senators yesterday. Take the case of arithmetic, with which a great deal of this report is taken up. Dr. Starkie, speaking in 1911, referred to this question. He thought we had not enough subjects in the curriculum in the primary schools. He said:—
“In the opinion of Mr. Dale, the absence of these subjects—singing, drawing, object lessons and physical drill—from the Irish curriculum was an important cause of the difference in efficiency between Irish and English schools.”
“Such accuracy as the children attained, by the solution of endless sums, mostly on cards, was gained at the expense of intelligent accuracy. I myself have seen in a school in the Claddagh, Galway, unhappy children who, as the teacher told me, had nothing to eat but cockles and periwinkles, engaged in immense calculations of the effects upon their pockets of an investment of £50,000 or £100,000 in consols at 95, as they happily were in the second year of the reign of his late Majesty, Edward VII. It is often said that accuracy in arithmetic has declined in the last ten years; this may be so, if what is meant is mechanical accuracy, which  is the result of practice, and can be acquired by any bank clerk in three months; but the reasons for the processes are far better understood than they were, and the children, while less skilled in the calculations proper to the money market, know much more about shop bills and the simple mental calculations that they employ in the course of their daily lives.”
Quite recently, under serious protest from the teachers, the inspectors succeeded in carrying their view that certain arithmetical textbooks, which continued these bad, old faults of huge sums and examples not related to the child's ordinary life, should be struck off the list. We have for years been trying to have it accepted in the schools that a simpler type of problem should be given, that big figures and calculation for the sake of calculation should be omitted and that the examples should be based on the things with which the child is familiar. I do not know whether we have succeeded in that or not.
Even at that time, there were complaints that the standard of education was deteriorating and there are still complaints on that score not only here but elsewhere. A great many things are impinging on the children of the present day which were not present 25 or 30 years ago and we have to make allowance for these. If there is deterioration, it is remarkable that it should always be argued by critics that that deterioration is due to the teaching of Irish. I was glad that Senator Campbell gave his personal experience. If Senators will read the English newspapers, they will see complaints regarding the educational standards of candidates entering industry. Quite recently, I saw a complaint in the Times educational supplement that candidates were unable to read or write to the satisfaction of their employers. These isolated examples could be collected and a case made upon them. The theory that any deterioration here is due to the introduction of the Irish programme will have to be substantiated and more evidence will have to be brought forward to support it than  has, so far, been adduced. My belief is that, if Irish does not go ahead as a medium of instruction in the schools, then, English, which is its enemy, if one may put it that way, will maintain its position. The tables are taught in Irish. It is admitted in this report that they can be taught, at least, as well in Irish as in English. Teachers are satisfied that the results are good. Are you then going to continue the rest of the work in English? When Senator Tierney talks about other subjects being taught through Irish, with bad results to Irish education, he ought really give some study to this subject. Up to the fourth standard, the only subjects are reading, writing and arithmetic.
Mr. Derrig: The Senator's personal experience may be very important, but it is not so important that it can be taken as superior, as evidence, to the accumulated knowledge we are able to get in other ways.
Mr. Derrig: The three R's are the only subjects required in the first three standards above the infants' standard, save that the girls begin needlework at Standard 3 and that there is singing in all standards. Only 6.3 per cent. of the schools in our English-speaking areas are doing all their work through Irish. 21.9 per cent. of the remaining schools are doing the work of the infants' classes through Irish. Outside these two classes only 2.67 per cent. are doing the work through Irish up to the third standard inclusive, and it does not seem that a very great amount of work is being done through Irish in the higher standards. In the third standard, since English is taught through English and Irish through Irish apart from singing—which Senator Tierney  thinks should be admitted—there remains only the question of arithmetic. Experienced teachers who have carried out this programme from the beginning have always taken arithmetic as the subject easiest to teach through Irish. They have been very successful. I have often asked them why they selected arithmetic and they have always said that they believed it was the easiest subject to deal with—much easier, for example, than history, and probably much easier than physics or chemistry, which have special technical terms. Therefore, it is not correct to say that in the Dublin slums we are forcing the teaching of other subjects through Irish on the children.
I would ask Senators, if they are sufficiently interested, to visit those infant schools in the Dublin slums and form their own conclusions as to whether there exist conditions of boredom, repression, and so on, not to speak of mental and physical strain, which, it is alleged, have grave reactions, on the children's health, I presume. Let them go to the school in which the only one of this committee of inquiry who, as far as I believe, has had experience of infant teaching, works, and see whether infants in the school bear out the extraordinary statements made in this report. Let them go to the convent schools in Dublin and see whether there are conditions of repression, whether results are being obtained or not.
I have been in some of those schools —not to-day nor yesterday, but a good many years ago—in back streets in Dublin and I have been agreeably surprised—in fact, astonished would be the more correct term—at the results obtained in them. I have been in rural schools, not alone in Kerry and Mayo but in County Dublin and elsewhere, and I have seen this programme being carried out and that its results have been successful. There is very little reference in this report to the successful results—in fact, it is suggested that you cannot have successful results.
Mr. Derrig: No, I am suggesting that the compilers of the report have not examined carefully the schools or the teachers. The nature of the report perhaps precluded it, but certainly the fact that we have schools which are very successful is entirely ignored in this report. Senator Hayes referred to one of them yesterday, and there are several others.
“Evidence that this method is bound to produce the required aim easily and successfully, is deduced from the results which have been achieved in the Ring Fosterage School, the all-Irish primary schools in town and country, and in Pearse's school at St. Enda's. To deduce a general conclusion from such instances is illogical. Methods which may be a success in such schools cannot be expected to have the same results in schools in the heart of city slums, or in two-teacher schools in English-speaking rural districts.”
“In Ring, and in St. Enda's to a lesser extent, the children hear nothing but Irish spoken, both inside and outside the classroom, while the pupils of the all-Irish national schools are in the main drawn from homes where, if the parents are not Irish-speakers, they have a very definite sympathy for the language, and the children are given every facility and encouragement to become fluent speakers of it.”
It then goes on to say that these opportunities are not available to the vast majority of primary school children. I say they should go to these schools in  Dublin, and see whether it is possible for children in infant classes to acquire a foundation in Irish, even though they may be coming from English-speaking and poor homes in a slum area. If anybody wishes, he may deny that that is the case, but I have seen it myself and I know that there are schools in Dublin that the inspectors regard as very highly efficient in the teaching of Irish. I do not know whether you could describe them as in slum areas or not, but certainly they are in areas that Senators do not visit very often.
“The sum of these phrases is being constantly increased by their out-of-school environment, and it is a fairly correct assertion that children drawn from an English-speaking home and living in an all-English-speaking environment will never acquire the power to think otherwise than in the language of their home and of their natural environment.”
That is merely a general statement which is uncorroborated. I believe it is entirely inaccurate. I believe that the report itself, even in the section dealing with the infant, or in the section dealing with needlework, does not corroborate that. The National Programme Conference reported on the gradual extension of Irish, as a medium of instruction through the schools, as being the only way to utilise the agency of the schools for the revival of Irish to the fullest possible extent. The Department of Education, having issued instructions accordingly, recommended that certain subjects—the practical subjects, for example—should first be taken up, if the teachers wished to see whether teaching through Irish could be introduced.
On page 54 the report states, in regard to needlework, that 142 of the  teachers, out of 206, held that the content of the present programme can be effectively covered if Irish is the medium of instruction. Thirty-two held the contrary view. The report says:—
“Although needlework is a comparatively ‘silent’ lesson, it is to most children a pleasant subject, a welcome break from the heavier and more engrossing subjects of the daily round. Many of the processes are already familiar from home experience, and the mind of the child is peaceful and at ease. The slight effort that is necessary to the full understanding of the instructions given will not produce any undue strain. And as time goes on, and phrases become familiar by constant use, there is instant understanding, and the absorption of a vocabulary that, however small it may be, is at once translated into service, and becomes a living, thinking part of the store of ideas in Irish.”
Then it is suggested in the end—perhaps the teacher remembered that she was not speaking as an individual teacher, giving her opinion on this matter, but rather as a member of the Teachers' Organisation, which had laid down a certain thesis, which I have read to the House, in connection with this matter, and that that thesis could not be forgotten.
Mr. O'Connell: This is the second time that the Minister has referred to this thesis. Will he quote the reference or the authority for that statement? There is nothing about that in the report, and the persons responsible for that report say that the thesis, which the Minister suggests was the basis of the report, was not the basis.
Mr. Derrig: The statement I have read out was made by the proposer of the resolution at the Teachers' Congress  where this inquiry was set up. It got the fullest possible publicity in the Press, as we know, before and after, and previous to that, as I have said, the Dublin teachers, of whom he was, apparently, the representative, had also expressed themselves in somewhat similar terms. She says, in the final paragraph:—
“. . . it is necessary for the teacher to have a good conversational knowledge of Irish. A textbook on, say, History will supply the teacher with a suitable vocabulary in which to present his lesson, but the simple conversational tone of a good lesson in needlework, simple though it be, is full of pitfalls. On that account many teachers, having little opportunity for ordinary Irish conversation, will prefer to conduct the lessons in English. A teacher should be free to do so, since, after all, it is a practical, not a language lesson.”
This report refers in one place to the fact that the child has been practising English for six years before it reaches the national school, which does not seem to indicate a great acquaintance with the ways of infants. We find the following on page 20:—
“It must be remembered that the educative process, particularly in so far as language and power of speech expression are concerned, begins in the home. That process has been going on for almost six years before the child enters the school.”
And then we have a theory built up on that. The actual fact is that in the case of infants their store of words is very, very limited. When they first come to school they have only a handful of words, and the object of the infant school is to provide them with occupation. If you see a group of individuals, small children, playing or doing some work, you will generally find  each child doing it as an individual, and you will find a silent atmosphere. It will not be always silent, but there is no proof that at that stage the child is able, as this report would suggest, to have ideas and to have its imagination and desires expressed in some grasp of language. It is suggested by some educationists, whose opinions have been borrowed for this report, that up to the seventh year the child only thinks in concrete, visual, terms, and it is certainly stressed that no formal instruction or lessons ought to be given before the age of six, and perhaps later—perhaps six and a half or seven.
The programme in the infant classes is one of language training, and language training only, and if the child is to be given the foundation to enable him to use Irish in after-life, to follow courses of instruction through Irish, if he should so desire, the infant school seems to be the proper place to give the child the necessary foundation. Those who are interested in their own children will know that it has been found that between the ages of four and eight a second language can be taught successfully to a child.
That is the principle upon which this idea of teaching infants is largely based, and I maintain that if you have conditions which approximate—they may be only an approximation—to the conditions of the home, where the children are happy, as they should be, where they are not coerced, where the instruction given to them is concrete, they can get the necessary foundation of Irish in the infant schools, which will enable them to continue later on if they should wish to receive instruction through Irish, but, as I have said elsewhere, there is no reference in this report to the many activities, all occupational, which are recommended for the children in the infant schools under the present programme, and one gets the impression that somebody is forcing the children, doing the unnatural thing of repressing the child, preventing him from speaking, that the eagle eye of the teacher is on him, and so on. I suggest that that, as I have said already, is an entirely false  impression to give of the conditions in the infant schools. If there are infant schools of that kind, then I suggest that, to put it very broadly, the teacher does not know his job, and that if these conditions of boredom and unintelligibility exist, it is due to indifferent or poor teaching.
If you want to have success under this programme, you expect naturally, that the teacher is a person of understanding, one who understands children, who will treat them as separate individuals, who will make allowances for their different little personalities, and so on, and who will bring them along gradually, letting them speak as freely as they wish, and, as opportunity offers and as she is working on a regular fixed plan, substituting the Irish word for the English word until such time as she enables the little infant to build up a vocabulary in Irish and accustom himself to working and spending his time in an atmosphere where Irish is the language.
Mr. Hayes: Does the Minister think that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds so long as the child goes ahead, or is he merely looking at it from the point of view of the enemies of the language?
“The great bulk of evidence supports the view that a smooth and easy educative process imposing comparatively little strain on the child, and making his life in school a  happy one, is extremely difficult in a language other than his home language...”
“...even with the brighter pupils, and next to impossible with those of average or slow mentality. The average child comes to school already equipped with a vocabulary sufficient to express in simple language the experiences of his everyday life....”
“He is suddenly transferred into a new and unnatural world. The simplest expressions of the teacher or of the more advanced pupils are quite unintelligible to him. Even when after a week or so he overcomes his natural shyness and the impulse to speak is strong within him, his sensitive mind tells him that the mode of speech which he uses so freely in his home and with his playmates out of school is out of place in this new and strange world.”
I wonder are the teachers in infant schools who sent in their views to this committee prepared to be classed as people who allow little children when they first come to school to be put into a pale? I should imagine, if they are worthy of being infant teachers at all, that they would realise that the small infant on first coming to school needs every encouragement and assistance, and that the teacher would take the natural precaution of seeing that no such artificial barrier is set up. No matter what is done, of course, the child will have a certain feeling of novelty and, as is said here, puzzledom.
“For him the school-room is  largely a place to repress his desire to speak. As time passes he masters some simple phrases, rhymes, etc., most of which are possibly intelligible to him but altogether inadequate to enable him to discuss those things which are nearest to his heart and about which he is anxious to speak.”
Mr. Derrig: I do not suggest that he does not discuss any subject. I suggest that the newcomer to the infant school is not likely to discuss subjects. It is much more likely that he wants to do something, unless he is in some little trouble or other about which he wants to speak to the teacher. Generally he is quite satisfied if he is given some occupation, and that is the purpose of an infant school.
“Time and again he is ‘harangued’ but does not understand, or, at best, has but an imperfect idea of what he is asked to say. Life is different at home or out of doors where he can converse, explain and say what is in his mind. Yet he must be attentive for the eagle eye of the teacher is ever upon him. To a certain extent life in school for him is a life of repression, confusion and unhappiness.”
Mr. Derrig: As it is suggested that sufficient attention has not been given to this report and that some attention might be given to it, I think I am entitled to explain, so that Senators and the public will see that there is an answer to the statements made in it. They will then be able to judge whether an inquiry is necessary or not.
“Such a condition of affairs has an ill-effect on the mental development, and to a lesser extent on the physical development of the normal, not to speak of the highly-strung and nervous child. Since a great part of what he hears is unintelligible to him or incapable of being understood without sustained and conscious effort, the child loses interest.”
We then go on to read that the result of all this is mental exhaustion followed by physical exhaustion. That is only one portion of the report in which it is suggested that a heavy strain is being placed on children where Irish is being used in infant training.
“The English-speaking child who can count and has some knowledge of number values finds himself in a very unreal and a very artificial  world when he commences his arithmetical studies in a language other than his own.”
Mr. Derrig: All this boredom, repression and so on would not exist, apparently, if Irish were to be swept out of the infant school. I wonder does anybody believe that if that were the case we would have perfect conditions in the infant schools and these conditions, which it is implied exist where Irish is being used for training infants, would no longer exist? The report goes on:
Why not the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies? Numerical processes have nothing whatever to do with infants; they are not on the programme. It is doubtful if the person who penned these words knows what the actual programme is. Language training is all that is taught and ideas of location and number and other things ancillary to language training such as are necessary to enable a child to build up a vocabulary. There is no formal instruction in subjects, no formal lesson, and there can be no  question of numerical processes. If Senators doubt that, I ask them to refer to the actual programme.
Mr. M. Hayes: Does not nearly every boy and girl in every school in Ireland say “Trí deag fear”, in other words, do violence to the ordinary Irish method of counting? Is it not becoming current Irish? Do not I say it myself now, I hear it so often?
Mr. Derrig: It is suggested that it is a new and entirely strange speech mould. According to Senator Hayes, it is known in every school in the country. What I am dealing with is the question of the difficulty of grasping the strange speech mould.
Mr. M. Hayes: Irish itself has been altered for the school purposes. I am wholeheartedly in favour of getting the thing done right, but I know that every schoolboy in the country is incapable, practically speaking, of saying “thirteen men” in the Irish language. He is altering the Irish speech mould to say it the other way.
“The teacher is restricted and hampered in his effort to explain  these processes by the necessity for keeping his language within the ambit of the child's limited knowledge of the language. In addition, when the home language is the language of instruction, the child has to concentrate only on the numerical or arithmetical process. To introduce one difficulty at a time is a sound teaching principle. When the school language is used, he has to divide his efforts at concentration. Moreover, when dealing with the arithmetical problems, he has also to consider the language form in which his reply has to be couched.”
The McGillycuddy of the Reeks: Might I interrupt the Minister to ask you a question, Sir, as to whether we will have an adjournment? The Minister for Agriculture has been waiting for half an hour. I understand he has to meet a deputation at 3 o'clock. If the Minister is going on to read a report, we may be on the subject of education for some hours. I am just asking when it is likely the Minister for Agriculture may be able to come in.
Cathaoirleach: It has been suggested that there will be no adjournment and that we continue, if the Seanad is agreeable to that course. It is intended that the Minister for Agriculture will come after the Minister for Education, to deal with matters arising on his Department, of which notice has been given.
Mr. Derrig: Formal teaching in arithmetic does not begin until the child has reached the senior infant standard, at least, and, as I have said, any ideas of number that are given are entirely subordinate to the language training that goes on. There is no such thing as teaching of numerical processes, certainly no such thing as arithmetical problems, in the school and, of course, if one has the impression that these things are to be done then one is not familiar with the programme and one is likely to create the situation where some of the symptoms that I have been reading out, of boredom, repression, and so on, are likely to exist. But, I  maintain, if the programme and the notes are studied carefully and if the teacher knows her work, that these conditions simply cannot exist, that there is no undue pressure on teachers, that, as a whole, infant teachers are understanding women, often mothers of families themselves, and it would be very strange indeed if they allowed these conditions of strain to exist.
As far as even the City of Dublin is concerned, I do not believe that the situation even in the poorest schools, is as described in this report. I intend to examine the matter, but I do not believe that my investigations will show anything other than a confirmation of my view that you have just as happy children in the Dublin slum schools as anywhere else and that you will find in these schools children who have a surprisingly good knowledge of Irish and who are able to talk quite freely with visitors.
This matter, as I have said, has been examined by two successive programme conferences. We met the teachers again in 1934, and we discussed whether further reductions could be made in the programme in order to make further room for Irish and, if possible, extend the use of Irish as a medium of instruction more rapidly than has been the case. When it is suggested that perhaps I made use of some expression which might lead people to believe that I admitted a certain damage to education, I would like to explain that in the 1920 commission, the programme which was then in operation was reduced considerably: drawing, rural science, nature study, domestic economy and hygiene as obligatory subjects were eliminated; the programmes in history and geography were reduced and they were combined into one subject; singing and drill were lessened. Side by side with that, the requirement of one hour a day as the minimum time for the teaching of Irish and the introduction of Irish as a medium of instruction in the English-speaking areas came along. We then had the second commission, which emphasised the necessity for going slowly in this matter, which warned teachers that they should be carefully prepared if they were to  undertake teaching of other subjects through Irish. They felt that the advance had perhaps been rather too rapid, and their general idea seems to have been to go slow in the matter; but they confirmed the main recommendation, as I have said.
In order to lighten the task of the teachers, the 1925 conference recommended that the programme in history and geography should be further lightened, the programme in mathematics lessened, and alternative lower courses in both English and Irish included for teachers who were weak in either of these languages. On the other hand, the second commission recommended that rural science or nature study should be restored to the list of obligatory subjects, though it left drawing and domestic economy optional. You had the position then that rural science or nature study was put back, against the wishes of the teachers, though there was some further reduction in history and geography and mathematics.
In 1934 we met the teachers and we again lessened the number of subjects by making rural science or nature study optional in all schools, by making mathematics optional in certain national schools in which they had been obligatory in the 1926 programme, with the result that, since 1934, all two-teacher schools and all three-teacher mixed schools are free to omit mathematics; while in three-teacher boys' national schools, either algebra or geometry can be dropped; that is to say, mathematics as a whole remains obligatory only in national schools with four teachers or over—there are about 500 schools of this type—algebra and geometry are optional in all classes taught by women teachers; mathematics really remains obligatory as a whole in only about 250 national schools, that is to say, about 5 per cent. of the national schools, so that in 95 per cent. of the national schools, the full programme in mathematics is not being taught, to make room for Irish, and in 80 per cent. of the schools, arithmetic only—no algebra or geometry—is being taught. These changes were made in order to encourage  the greater use of Irish and the result has been that we have further demands now that an inquiry should again be held. I doubt if the other subjects on the programme can be reduced further at present. I doubt very much if the inspectors would consent to any further reduction, and if they had been left to themselves, I doubt very much if they would have considered it wise to make all the reductions we made in 1934, but I feel strongly that there is a great burden on our national school teachers and that we ought to reduce the other subjects, firstly, to the minimum number of obligatory subjects and then reduce these to the absolute minimum of content, in order that every facility possible and all the time possible might be given to the development of Irish. I fail to see how an inquiry can reduce the burden further.
Mr. Derrig: I should like to say, as I said elsewhere, that this matter of teaching through Irish has been stressed by successive conferences. It is true that the mere fact that it has been stressed and advocated as the national policy up to the present does not prevent us from making a change, but I think I have shown the Seanad that some of the arguments adduced —and I could go further into the matter, but I do not wish to detain the House unreasonably—are certainly not convincing. I think there is not sufficient acquaintance with actual conditions in infants' schools, for example, to enable us to say that, as the report would have it, the programme there has been a failure. Obviously, the reason the conferences recommended the use of Irish as the medium of instruction was that they felt that Irish taught merely as a school subject, would never hold out any promise of attaining the position in which it would again be the spoken language.
The people who signed that report themselves went to school under the  old system. They were taught Irish for an hour a day or perhaps for some lesser period. They had experience between the setting up of an Irish Government and 1926 to enable them to know whether teaching through Irish was necessary for this extension of the language in the schools which national policy decreed was necessary. They recommended in favour of it and I venture to say that they had very good reason. Why are we such good speakers of English? Is it because we learned English as a school subject for an hour a day? It is because our whole schooling was through the medium of English. We are quite familiar with all the subjects; we are quite fluent and able to express ourselves, and, having attained that degree of fluency in English through the machinery of the primary schools, we are not likely ever to forget it, and I do not see how we are ever to substitute at a later stage in life some other language for our elementary and personal needs. In addition, Irish is the national language of this country. The programme intended that it should occupy its natural place, and when I say “its natural place,” I mean the predominant place, an unquestioned place of predominance in the primary school. If we are to have English as the medium of instruction in the infants' schools, then we cannot have both English and Irish in the first place. Irish must be in the first place and where it is not in the first place, let us examine why that is so and let us achieve the position in which it will be in the first place.
Do these Senators who seem to think that teaching through Irish is wrong, or that our present infant programme is wrong, seriously believe that if we were to go back to Irish merely as a school subject and if we were to go back to English as the medium of instruction in the infants schools, we are likely to attain the aim we have set before us? The position then will be that English will be the language of the school. It is, unfortunately, the language of the school in too many cases already, in spite of all the work done and all the thought given to this matter. At least, let the child understand,  while in that formative period of life, that Irish is the language which he is intended later on to speak and through which he is to carry on his ordinary life activities. Let him see it and let it be impressed upon his mind, through having Irish the language of the school, and let him be placed in the position so to use Irish afterwards. A child has perhaps 14 or 15 waking hours, and, as I have said before, and it is a point I want to emphasise, four or five hours are spent in receiving secular instruction in our primary schools. The remainder of the period, ten, 11 or 12 hours, is spent in a completely English-speaking environment, and, for all I know, a hostile environment—certainly it is hostile to the extent that the child must feel that Irish does not count for very much outside the school. He sees an entirely different world and he is his natural self during that period, and the impact of English upon him everywhere is very serious.
We are expecting the schools, through gradually extending the use of Irish in all standards and subjects, to become completely Irish-speaking in time, and therefore to counteract the English-speaking environment in which the child spends his out-of-school hours. The odds against Irish are very great when, as I have said already, in addition to the English-speaking environment outside, the child's amusements, such as the cinema, the wireless, the newspapers, the “comics,” and all the rest of it are further anglicising agencies.
I maintain that the struggle is rather unequal and very serious even for the school which is able to do all its work through Irish, or aiming at so doing it; but what chance would a school have which would revert to the policy of teaching Irish merely as a subject for an hour a day? Will the children in that school ever believe—how could they believe—that Irish is going to become the spoken language of this country, that it is going to become prominent in the outside world and eventually predominate? I think the odds against Irish in such a case would be very great indeed, and that it would be almost impossible to attain the aim we seek to attain.
Mr. Baxter: After searching for two hours for some light on matters educational and getting only complete darkness, and being driven almost to the point of despair, I am not in the mood to hold the House or the Minister for any unreasonable length on the points I desire to raise, important indeed as I regard them.
Naturally, one is tempted, at a time like this, to discuss our whole general policy on agriculture. Indeed, regret has been expressed on a previous occasion here that we have discussed agriculture rather in compartments and we have never availed of an opportunity to look at the whole structure of the industry and see how we could co-ordinate all our activities towards achieving some end that would raise the general level of agriculture to a higher plane and thus give more satisfaction. The Minister is always very courteous to the Seanad and is always available to discuss problems raised from his angle—I will make him this concession—in a judicial manner, in a manner that is satisfactory to those of us whose point of view may not frequently coincide with his. I should like to hear from him to-day his views as to the future. I understand he has a deputation to meet later and, in those circumstances, I will be as brief as I can.
Some months ago the Minister who has just left the Chamber gave some indication to the Dáil that the Government had in view the making of preparations with regard to post-war planning for agriculture. I think the Minister for Agriculture gave some indication at a later date that that was in mind. I put a question on the subject recently to the Minister for Finance when he was here, and the Minister's reply gave me the impression that some such step was being taken by the Government, and that  the machinery which they proposed to utilise for the purpose of considering post-war agricultural problems and plans for that period was the Department of Agriculture. Whatever the conditions look like in the world to-day, and however obscure the immediate future, the obligation is on us to examine our position as closely as we can, and see what is the wisest course to adopt and the best use that we can make of our land in the future, so as to make the country richer and more comfortable than it is and than it has been in the past.
Obviously, we have very urgent problems in relation to our food supplies during the emergency period. The figures which the Taoiseach gave regarding our tillage efforts this year were very illuminating; indeed, they were remarkable. In my view, the tendency towards a reduction in the area under root crops is a danger signal. The situation demands immediate examination, and a great deal of concentrated thought and effort, if we are not going to find ourselves considerably cramped in providing those products which are so requisite for our needs during the emergency.
I asked the Minister the last evening we had him here how he regarded the position from the point of view of land fertility and our ability to provide ourselves with those crops essential to the maintenance of the human population and also the stock population. He gave rough figures as to what the Department accepts as being the possible area from which we can draw for the production of crops. I am not prepared to accept that as being anything like an accurate measure of our potentialities at the moment. I fear that the reduction in the area under roots is indicative of a situation that, unless we face it, will have serious reactions.
Some representative at the meeting of the Beet Growers' Association yesterday put my point of view into words when he said that the reduction in the area under beet this year is, with a great many of our small farmers, due to the fact that they are finding it very difficult to provide enough manure to produce even their  potato crop. This matter is bound up with our cattle stocks and our ability to provide far greater quantities of farmyard manure than we have ever contemplated. We have there a very urgent problem. I do not know what possibilities there are of adding to our store of fertility during the coming year so as to provide a greater area for growing roots next year. What consideration has the Department given to that matter? I regret that Senator Parkinson is not here. He seems to have something in mind which he thinks will possibly add to our stocks of artificial manures. I do not know what he can do about the importation of phosphates or nitrogenous manures. I do not know what plans the Minister may have in mind.
Mr. Baxter: This matter does seem to be bound up with the question on which I want the Minister's opinion. Its consideration is a very important matter just now. I think our ability to provide ourselves with increased stocks of manures for the coming season is the most imperative consideration ahead. Perhaps it is my imagination on which I am drawing, but I do not know whether we could not devise some scheme to add to our store of farmyard manure or at least our store of fertilisers, which could be utilised for the production of a greater root crop next year.
To the extent by which our root crop declines one year after another, our fertility is dissipated, and we are likely to have a decline in the growing of certain grains which are absolutely essential. I am not going to dwell at any greater length on that matter now but there is another question on which I should like to hear the Minister's views.
Apart altogether from the period of the emergency, we must look to the future and we must do that now. I always held the view that the decision of the Minister to discontinue the work of the Agricultural Commission was a  mistake. The commission might have been good or bad, very inefficient or reasonably efficient, but I am convinced that some body should be in existence in these days looking into our problems for the future, particularly our agricultural problems, and mapping out a scheme that will fit into the possible post-war world. The war may end in one or two or three different ways. We cannot know how it will end but we know the difficulties we have experienced during this period in providing ourselves with, so to speak, a complete food ration. I do not know whether these difficulties are going to be lessened for us during 1943 but our pig population has so considerably declined that bacon supplies are very hard to procure at the moment. In my opinion that situation is not going to improve a great deal for a considerable period. We are passing now through the season, when, as we all know, the demand for bacon is very limited but as we go into the harvest and the beginning of the winter months, everybody in the country will be demanding and expecting at least as much pig meats as they are consuming at the moment. Whether we shall be able to meet these demands or not I do not know.
The Minister speaks with more optimism than I confess I can feel about the matter. The truth is that we have not been able to provide ourselves with anything like sufficient food for 1941-42. There is no use in saying that we did not make a good effort. I think we made a very remarkable effort in all the circumstances. How much better is the situation going to be in 1942-43? The area under roots has declined. We do not know yet what the yield will be. As to the potato crop, it is difficult to estimate what the yield will be but I should say that if we have 60 per cent. of last year's crop we shall be very lucky. One can see hundreds of fields in which the crop as compared with last year is in a very backward state. On my way to this House from my home, I see dozens of fields in which probably as far as growth is concerned, there are only two-thirds of last year's crop. What the yields may  be from the plants that are at present growing is something that one cannot calculate. We have that position now with regard to the difficulty in providing ourselves with sufficient wheat for flour and feeding for animals, apart from cattle. We should be examining now what commodities we shall have when the war passes for the purposes of exchange, in a world where money probably will cease to exist or in which at least it will not have very much value, when the only things which will enable us to procure essential commodities from other countries will be goods which other people want and cannot produce themselves.
In my view, we should be studying our position, not only from the point of view of getting the maximum production from our fields, but with a view to getting collaboration between the various Ministries to ascertain what essential commodities we shall require after the war. When the emergency came, we discovered that there were a great many things that we could never manufacture here, no matter what effort we made, unless the raw materials for them were imported. We had to pay for these raw materials by exporting other products. When the war is over and people resume normal life, we shall come back to the position when we shall want raw materials and many other commodities which can be manufactured for us only by people outside. When we reach that stage, we shall require to have native commodities for export purposes. I do not know whether we shall go back to conditions under which London was the clearinghouse for many of the main commodities we required. Although timber came mainly from Norway, we bought through London. The same thing happened in the case of tea. Whether we shall revert to that position, or whether we are going to produce certain commodities which we can utilise for the purposes of exchange to import essential commodities direct, I do not know, but that is part of our problem in the post-war period.
We ought to take cognisance now of the fact that other countries are  studying their post-war agriculture. They have some sort of organisation in England at the moment, a sort of joint council on which there are representatives of the United States and Canada. The purpose of that body is to study how agricultural activities in these various countries can be co-ordinated so as to give the best returns to the world in the shape of food and, presumably, the best return to the agriculturists in these various countries. A body like that must have reactions on our agricultural policy here, and we must keep ourselves and our public informed about them. We may have to make a very considerable change in the type of agricultural activity which we have pursued in the past. External conditions may force this on us; I do not know. On the whole, we have demonstrated, and our fathers before us have demonstrated, what our soil is capable of producing, but I think it is not enough to say that in future we are just going to grow all the wheat we require, and to do just what we have been doing. We want to do something more than that.
I do not want to raise at this point any controversy about the possibilities of wheat production. I should imagine that by the time the war is over we shall have debilitated our soil considerably and it may not be possible for us to produce some of the things, certainly for some period after the war, that we would be capable of producing on well-cared soil. All that should be carefully studied and I feel that the Minister should tell us what is in his mind about it. I have said before that I regard agriculture as being in the same category as education. Neither agriculture, education, nor indeed the industry of this country, should be the playthings of politics. If the nation is going to be built up on a strong foundation, a small community such as ours can only achieve that by pooling our wisdom and trying to discover some common stand which we can take. I feel myself that agriculture in this country is hindered and hampered by the fact that our Minister for Agriculture is, as was his predecessor, the representative of a Party. I think the old conception of the Minister for Agriculture  being responsible to the whole Dáil was much more satisfactory. I say quite frankly that the Department of Agriculture can never display that initiative which is essential to success and progress while the Head of the Government is a political Head, and members of the Opposition are watching to see how the Department's staffs have failed so that they can come back upon the Minister. That is our scheme at the moment, and I think it is not a proper scheme. I think some day we will change it entirely, because we will come to realise that agricultural policies cannot and should not be changed with every change of Party Government. Agricultural policies must be worked out over a long period, and must be related not only to our internal needs but to the activities of other nations.
No one in this country has more respect for members of the staff of the Minister's Department than I have. I have known many of them for a great many years, and I recognise their capacity in their respective spheres of operation. At the same time, if the Minister tells me that he is having this matter inquired into, that his Department are examining it and will produce something in the nature of plans for post-war agriculture, I say quite frankly that they are not the people to do it. I am quite convinced that no body of civil servants in this country can produce or be expected to produce plans for a post-war policy relating to their Department. While some of those officials may be rather dictatorial in times like these in dealing with certain individuals and certain groups, I think on the other hand that matters of policy must be determined by the commonsense of the citizens, pooled with whatever information experts can make available to them. When the Minister speaks about groups of experts studying post-war agricultural policy, I hope he will not make the mistake of leaving that matter to what he would regard as experts in his Department. I have heard criticism of the worth of the bargains that have been made by representatives of the Minister's Department in regard to the price paid by Britain for our meat and live stock. I  am satisfied that those people did their best, but my view is that it would be much better to send over a group of the people who have the goods to sell. It would be much better to send over members of the business community and let them do the bargaining. The necessary machinery could then be devised by the Ministry.
We ought to be clear in our minds as to the best method of utilising our land. I am one of the people who are quite convinced that we have not been making the best use of our land. Even our maximum yields have been nothing like what it is possible to get under good management. When I speak about good management, I mean not alone farm management but the management of marketing and all the rest of it. All those things are inextricably bound up with our farming policy for the future. It is very interesting to hear the comments of Canadian, American and even some British experts about the future. Their view is that the greatest possibilities lie in a much more widespread adoption of the co-operative ideal and methods in relation to the production and marketing of agricultural produce in the future. I am not alone in thinking that we ought to be doing more than we are doing. I am not blaming the Minister because more has not been done. I know that all the members of the Ministry have their hands full. I know that theirs is a full-time job.
I believe that the Minister ought to draw upon whatever knowledge and experience and competence he can collect in order to produce some policy over which the nation can stand in the future, something that will be representative of the most informed opinion we can get. If he is to have the advice of experts they should be people who can be looked upon as being really expert, so that the policy which will be embarked upon will not be that of the officials of his Department but that of a representative body which will be accepted as being representative and competent.
The Minister ought to give us some light on this matter. He should not  merely tell us that this matter is being given consideration, and that something will be done, goodness knows when. I think it would be disastrous for us to evade responsibility in this matter. If we wait too long, we will not be able to adjust our production to the kind of conditions which will face us in the post-war world. I know quite well that it may be very difficult indeed to do the things we want to do in order to provide ourselves with the essentials we require now, and at the same time be ready to adjust ourselves to post-war conditions. I want to have the position examined in order to see how far we can do both at the same time. I think our internal position with regard to production is rather grave. I am definitely alarmed by the drop in our area under root crops this year, and I am satisfied that that comes mainly, if not entirely, from our incapacity to provide greater fertility in the land. There is no use in telling me that you can go out and plough up a green field and grow potatoes or beet or turnips or mangolds there. You might find some fields in Meath or Limerick where you could do that and get a crop, but that is not the kind of farming that I should like to see pursued, because there are inevitable consequences of that awaiting not only the individual farmer who owns the land but the nation which permits that sort of farming policy to be carried on. There are other matters which I should like to deal with, but I do not propose introducing them now.
The McGillycuddy of the Reeks: Senator Baxter has been dealing with the future, and partly with the immediate present. I take it that the war is not going to go on for ever, and I want to deal rather with this year and next year. I feel it is high time that the public were informed to some extent of the steps being taken to tighten up the inspection of land and the exemption of certain lands from the arable category. I think there is every indication that, as a result of the drought and the lack of artificial manures, there will be a big drop in the production of cereal crops this  year, and that a very considerable additional area of tillage will be necessary next year in order to produce the food we require. Senator Baxter has been suggesting that we should now prepare to deliver the goods in quantity at the end of the war in order to keep up our export trade. The Taoiseach gave us some figures the other day which are quite simple. For human food we require about 2,700,000 barrels of wheat. He estimated that we have 585,000 acres of wheat. With five barrels to the acre —under Departmental supervision six barrels was the figure in the last experiment but, throughout the whole country, I do not think you will get more than an average of five barrels this year, according to what instructors and other officials of the Department say—that acreage should produce about 3,500,000 barrels. You have to take off that about 500,000 barrels— 485,000 barrels—for seed. Then, there will be a further wastage in respect of various kinds of stuff which do not reach the miller. That would give you finally about 2,200,000 barrels of wheat —500,000 barrels short of what we require for human consumption in the coming year. The public ought to be clear as to that. The Taoiseach is rightly pleased with what the farmers have done to meet the needs of the national emergency but, though the number who have not carried out their duty is infinitesimal, there is still this enormous margin to be bridged.
Let me go a step further and allow the Minister an average of six barrels to the acre. We have to make the two deductions which I have mentioned and the remainder will give us enough for human consumption and no more. Prewar, we imported and grew additional stuff for animal food. It is on the animal foods on which one can fatten animals economically and quickly that our export trade depends. What Senator Baxter says is important as regards our post-war planning. To get what we want, we would require 1,500,000 more acres under tillage. That would amount, roughly, to an additional 25 per cent. of tillage. I suggest that the Minister should go as far as possible not only to get the  100,000 acres which the Taoiseach suggested but more, because the Taoiseach is reported to have said that the nature of the situation could not be foreseen. It is quite possible that we could not import the 500,000 barrels of wheat that we shall require. After the war, our export trade will be the only thing which will keep up our standard of living. That all depends on the Department of Agriculture.
As regards the immediate present, it is desirable that we should know now what regulations are contemplated with a view to ensuring that every possible grain of wheat gets to the millers. There will be tremendous transport difficulties and transport will have to be spread over a considerable period. I think, however, that we should be informed as to the position now, so that we can make arrangements. There are two ways of looking at this matter. It might be possible to arrange for local distribution at the expense of rationing—that is to say, that the man who buys wheat locally from a registered buyer will be prevented from getting flour in any shape from any source. That would save an enormous amount of transport, and subsidies in respect of milling costs. On the other hand, you would not know the total amount of wheat which had been grown. In any event, there would be the wastage of which I have spoken. If there are to be regulations, we should like to have them as soon as possible. We should like to know whether we are to be allowed to keep as much wheat as we want for ourselves and whether we are to be allowed to sell our wheat to labourers and neighbours who require it and who can get it milled locally. So far as agriculture is concerned, I have nothing more to say. I understand that the question of artificial manures will be dealt with by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to-morrow morning.
The McGillycuddy: This question of artificial manures is very important. It will be terribly difficult to find enough farmyard manure not only to maintain the root crop area we have at present, but to increase it in the coming year. The reduction in yield to which I referred is attributable to the want of artificial manures, particularly in the case of wheat. We have not had that little pinch of artificials at the right time to bring the wheat on as it should have been brought on. I should like to know whether the difficulty of providing manures to anything like the extent which we imported them before the war is entirely insuperable. Unfortunately, Senator Parkinson is not present at the moment, but he gave me some notes. Without going deeply into them, I understand that, as regards phosphates, the trouble is want of sulphuric acid. I understand that there is a European process—European nations are in the same difficulty as regards sulphuric acid as we are— based on the fusion of rock phosphate with silica. That should be quite possible in this country, and we should like to know, as farmers, whether the Minister can hold out any hope of our getting artificial manures on a scale approaching that required.
Mr. Honan: Everybody is interested in agricultural production. Urbanities are more interested in this question than those residing in rural areas because they have greater opportunities of providing themselves with the necessaries of life. My particular interest is the procuring of artificial manures, because Clare is the only place where the raw material for phosphates is produced at the present time. It is being produced in considerable quantities as a great individual effort on the part of the owner, or owners, of the quarry but, considering the national need for phosphates  and artificial manures, I think that this matter should be dealt with as a national rather than an individual problem, and that the Government should take appropriate steps to acquire these mines for the purpose of producing artificial manures in much greater quantities than at present. So far, we have been merely scratching the soil. With plenty of capital and the necessary machinery—a difficult proposition at the moment—the production of phosphates at the Doolin mines could be considerably increased.
I had a short conversation with Senator Parkinson yesterday but I do not want to forestall his bright ideas. He contends that a substitute for sulphate is obtainable in large quantities in Cork. If you have that in Cork and the raw material for the phosphates in Clare, I do not see why it is not possible to bring both to the same spot and produce phosphates on a very big scale. I have in mind a very suitable site for a factory for such an enterprise. There is a port at Clarecastle, only 25 miles from the mines, which could be used by boats of 500 tons. For the saving of transport by rail in the near future, both the raw materials and the manufactured article could be sent by boat around the coast. That would be a very economic method of dealing with the matter. Before making the soup, one has to kill the hare. Therefore, we must see that it is possible to produce these phosphates by the use of the raw material in Clare and the silica which is, I understand, obtainable in great quantities around the coast of Cork. That is a matter which deserves the very best attention of the appropriate Minister and of the Government and I draw their attention to it. The present owner of the mines is a man of great national spirit. He has been probing at this mining business for 25 years. Probably, he had spent every penny he ever earned on it long before this outcry for artificial manures arose. Being a good Irishman and of high national spirit, I think he would give every cooperation to, and facilitate, the Government if they thought it possible  still further to increase the production of these phosphates.
Mr. Counihan: The subject of artificial manures is an important one but I do not think it is one in respect of which we can lay the blame on the Minister. Artificial manures are rationed by the merchants. I should like to know from the Minister if that is done on the instructions of his Department. The merchants refuse to give artificial manures to anybody who had not been getting them during the past two years. I do not think that that is quite fair. People are doing a great deal of tillage at present and, though I do not think that the artificial manures which are being produced are very good, a number of people would like to have portion of what is going. It is hardly fair that merchants should stick to the customers they were supplying with artificial manures for the past two years and to refuse to give any to any other farmer.
Senator The McGillycuddy said that he did not expect more than five barrels of wheat to the acre this year. I completely disagree with that statement. There is no use in being always pessimistic. From my observation, going through the country, the wheat and corn crops are better than I have seen them for several years. All the indications are that we shall have a bountiful harvest, for which we should thank God. There is no use in being always pessimistic and denying God's goodness. If we get favourable weather, there is every prospect of a bountiful harvest this year.
Our bacon and butter have completely disappeared from the British market and I am afraid that, in a short time, our beef will be very scarce. I do not say that they will disappear off the market because we produce more than we could consume under any conditions here; but it certainly will disappear off the British market so far as the stall-feeding system is concerned. That is due to the uneconomic price which the British Food Controller is offering for our agricultural produce. The object I had in rising was to impress upon the Minister—I know that  he cannot do a great deal and that his Department is pressing the matter as much as possible—the importance of losing no opportunity of explaining to the British Food Controller the necessity for raising the price of our beef cattle and particularly stall-fed cattle. It is most essential to us, from the point of view of obtaining a supply of farmyard manure, and even from the British point of view, that we should have stall-feeding. The price of stall-fed cattle is not economic compared with the price paid for cattle for beef in November. The Minister should lose no opportunity of forcing the hand of the British Food Controller so that we may get an economic price for our beef.
I do not know whether it is the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Industry and Commerce which has to do with the scarcity of bee-hive essentials. It is very important that every effort should be made to secure the essentials for producing honey. At present, these essentials are not available. I know several cases where valuable swarms of bees have had to be allowed to go off because there was no use in keeping them. They went, perhaps, to the woods and died. The Minister for Agriculture should make representations to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if he is responsible, with a view to securing bee-hive essentials for the farmers. This is a farmer's problem, whether it comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Agriculture or not.
Mr. O'Callaghan: The subject of post-war reconstruction has been stressed from many quarters and we have been reminded of the need for some effort in that direction. The difficulty I see is that no prophet has yet arisen to tell us how the war is going to finish. Until such a person comes along and we know what matters will be like at the end of the war, it will be very difficult to arrange for post-war reconstruction. The Government's present tillage policy should be carried on and developed, as that is the best course to pursue at the moment. The difficulty is mainly due  to the shortage of artificial manures. If anything can be done to make them more plentiful, it would be a very great help to the tillage policy.
I have discussed privately with the Minister the question of having the sludge deposits at the four beet factories distributed amongst the farming community. It is a very useful manure and would be very helpful in tillage operations. I hope the Minister will be able to do something to have those deposits distributed during the next few years. At Mallow beet factory there is a lorry standing idle, as there is no petrol available for it. If petrol were available, the lorry could be used to distribute the sludge to the local farmers. Also, there is no railway siding running in where the sludge deposits are accumulated. One would be very useful there, in order to send the sludge by rail to distant parts of the beet-growing areas.
Mr. O'Callaghan: Lime takes the impurities out of beet, which consist of manurial ingredients which are very useful. In addition to lime, there are manurial deposits as well. Experts believe that this sludge lime and silicate by-products make a very good fertiliser. I am not speaking from personal experience in that matter, but I have personal experience in the value of sludge and think that it is much underrated by the people of the country. The Minister would be doing a service to the tillage policy and to agriculture generally if he could help to have that sludge distributed during the next couple of years. I know he has taken steps already in this connection and that he has been trying to do something, but I would urge him to try again.
 Senator Counihan was very cheerful about the wheat crop, and I am glad to say that my views are in line with his. I think the early wheat crop is doing very well and that we may look forward to the harvest season with optimism. Though last year's crop was not good, this year's will exceed last year's easily. Senator Baxter referred to the reduction in the root crop areas. I notice that the reduction in potatoes is less than 1 per cent., and that is a very small matter. It is difficult to assess the yield. It may not be as good as last year, but last year there was an excess. As far as potatoes are concerned, I think we will be all right.
There has been a serious decline in beet growing. That may be due to many causes, but I believe that, with the accumulated stocks of sugar that we have, and with the sugar from the present year's crop, we will have enough to tide over until the 1943 crop comes in. I am very much concerned about the 1943 crop, and I would like to impress on the Minister the necessity to make conditions such as would encourage the growing of a very full acreage in the 1943 season. The factories are able to handle about 15,000 acres each, or possibly 17,000 or 18,000 at a stretch. Last year we had 73,000 acres. This year the acreage is back to 52,000. If we could get back to the 1941 acreage again, it would be much more satisfactory. The question of price is a big factor and there will be differences of opinion always about it. The beet growers' representatives are not selfish, nor are they anxious to feather their own nests at the expense of the community in general. They are anxious to see a sufficient acreage grown, and that people should be paid reasonably for growing it. Unless there is a good price, there is no hope that the full acreage will be grown. There are several difficulties about it, and I am not going to stress them here, but an attractive price will bring a full acreage, and a full acreage is very important from the community point of view.
I do not know whether forestry comes under the Minister's jurisdiction  or not. Reafforestation should be pushed ahead as quickly as possible. Everywhere throughout the country, trees are being felled, legally or illegally. I know that the Forestry Department require two, four, or perhaps ten, trees to be planted when one is cut down, according to their discretion. It is well that the trees are there to be felled in the present emergency, but forestry needs more attention than it appears to be getting. The reafforestation of the country is very important, and this should be attended to now, when huge quantities of timber are being felled for firewood and other purposes.
Dr. Doyle: As Senator Baxter has raised the question of post-war planning, I would like to say a few words regarding it. There was a good deal of talk about it in the Dáil, on some of the Estimates in connection with agriculture, and it entered into the realm of speculation as to what we should produce after the war and what we should not produce. We have certain qualities here in soil and climate; so we should go back to first principles and build up on the basis of what we can produce best. We are fortunate in having the particular soil and climate that we have, because the things we produce, in my view at any rate, are the things that will be necessary after the war. We can produce these things, in my opinion, better than any other country, provided we pay attention to the matter. We have the best live stock in the world. If you take our cattle, our horses, and so on, we have the best in the world, and we can produce the best butter and the best bacon in the world. All these things, in my view, will be required, and it is really the only thing that we can do. If God gives a person a gift, I think the right idea would be to develop that gift to the fullest extent. As I say, we have these things and we should not let them go. It will be very hard to resurrect, say, our butter trade or our pigs and bacon industry after the war if we do not prepare for it now, and I believe that we should subsidise these things, not only for the sake of providing food for our own people, but also  subsidise it on a large-scale basis so that we will have these things to export after the war, because there is certain to be, not alone in England, but all over Europe, a great shortage of these essential commodities, and in any consideration of post-war planning it is along that line that we should be thinking. To do that, there should be a bold, forward policy. We are spending £10,000,000 a year on our Army. I think it would not be too much at all to have what one might call a five years' plan for agriculture and spend £10,000,000 a year on it, no matter how we get or where we get it, so as to build up our country. If there is one case where money does not matter, I think this is the case.
I think there has been too much insistence on the “grow wheat” policy in this country as a national policy—I mean as a long-term or all-time national policy. I read in, I think, the Farmers' Gazette last week where Professor McCaffrey said that wheat-growing in this country will never really be a success—that is, that farmers would grow wheat from their liking for the crop rather than because of the fact that it commanded a high price —until they are provided with a proper variety of spring wheat. That was the first bit of realism that I saw, all through this “grow more wheat” policy. We have to grow wheat now. There is no doubt about that, and we will have to grow it for some years after the emergency. We have to grow wheat to provide food for ourselves, no matter what it costs, but I think that it was wrong altogether to make it a national policy. I was reading in, I think, the journal of the Department of Agriculture—in either the last number or the previous one—where, when we did grow wheat in the last century, we grew it largely for export. We grew it then, but the average price then, I think, for about 20 years was in or about 40/- a barrel. Now if the price was 40/- a barrel at that time, I wonder what it would be now. If you compare the price of money then with what it is now, I think it would be about £5 a barrel. I remember that I was always interested in that. I used to look at the old ridges in the fields  that were overgrown with grass, and I was told that they were a result of the time when the people grew wheat, flax, and things like that, which were abandoned afterwards, naturally, when the people went away. I inquired from the old people, and they told me that when wheat went below 50/- a barrel it was no longer economic to grow it. That was a good many years ago and, as I said, the first bit of realism about the whole thing was what Professor McCaffrey said at the Albert Agricultural College a short while ago, but because we do not make a national policy of growing wheat, it does not follow that we should not have tillage. My idea is that we should have between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 acres of tillage, and that we should try to provide our own food, and especially food for our live stock. I am speaking now about post-war or normal times, when we could afford to buy in wheat, and that would not interfere with our own tillage in any way because we could devote what we tilled to the feeding of live stock and the production of butter, eggs, and so on.
Now, of course, the whole danger about all these things in this country— growing wheat, and so on—is that you will have agriculture industrialised, and that would increase the flight from the land to a far greater extent than is happening now. You have that happening at present in England. You have a huge industrialisation of agriculture there, just because they are caught off the wrong leg, as it were, and they have had to rush millions into agriculture now in order to try to provide food for themselves. Those of us who remember the last war will remember that the very same thing happened. They rushed into agriculture and spent millions on it, and they said that, of course, when the war was over they would never again let agriculture down and would always keep it up, but actually more land had gone back into brake and fern at the beginning of this war than at the beginning of the 1914-18 war. The whole reason for that was that over a long period of years they neglected their agriculture and then, when they were caught out, they had  to shove millions into it to try to resurrect it. There is a danger that that might happen in this country, and in connection with these compulsory powers of emergency tillage, as I call it, we should think not alone of growing wheat, but should think of combining all the different aspects of agriculture, such as the provision of butter, eggs, and all live stock. To my mind, that will be our big danger.
There has been some talk about fertilisers and the possibilities of their production here. It is a good thing that we should be thinking about that, but if we are realists we must remember that we shall have to buy and import artificial manures for the next ten years, at any rate, and because we shall have to do that I think it would be more appropriate for us to try to barter the things we have in exchange for the importation of artificial fertilisers. We can produce some artificials of our own, and in that connection I believe that there is a blood fertiliser on the market which is especially good for root crops, including beet, and that it contains a certain amount of nitrogen.
I understand that it is scarce, and I wonder if any provision could be made to have more of that blood fertiliser produced. Of course, it comes back again to the question that, if that is found to be worth while, it would be necessary to have our live stock again so as to produce the blood fertiliser. If we could combine and concentrate on the three or four things that we can produce better than any other country in the world, I think we could face the future and the question of post-war planning with greater confidence.
Mr. Quirke: I am glad that this matter has come up for discussion if for no other reason than to hear the speech we have just heard from Senator Doyle. Until I heard that speech I was quite convinced that Deputy James Dillon was without any support in the Oireachtas.
Mr. Quirke: Senator Baxter's policy is apparently to let the dead rest. However, once anything like that continues to be a live matter there is no harm in referring to it, and whenever anybody takes that particular line in this House I hope that I or somebody else will reply to it. I was amazed to hear Senator Doyle above all people take that line. He says that there was too much insistence on the grow-more-wheat policy as a long-term policy.
Mr. Quirke: Yes, I will even grant that. I think Senator Doyle is alone here in his view on that particular matter. Were it not for the fact that we got in a few shiploads of wheat, I think Senator Doyle and everybody else would be satisfied that there was not half enough of the grow-more-wheat policy, whether as a long term or a short-term policy. Were it not for the fact that the drive was made for the growing of wheat we would now be in a far different position from that in which we find ourselves. Not alone would our people be hungry, but the country, perhaps would be forced into taking sides in this war, which would be a disaster that would throw this country back hundreds of years. Notwithstanding the fact that I disagree 100 per cent. with Senator Doyle, I think it is a good thing that he or somebody like him should make a statement of that kind, if for no other reason than that the statement will have the same effect as the pebble in the stream, merely to show the strength of the current it is attempting to impede. The people of the country, regardless of any political affiliations, have taken the line that the growing of wheat is the only sane policy for the country at present and the fact that Senator Doyle takes the attitude of the person who said: “They are all out of step but our Johnny,” is a good thing.
Mr. Quirke: I believe that considerable progress has been made in the growing of wheat and I agree largely  with Senator O'Callaghan that the wheat crop this year will surpass our expectations of a few months ago. In order to prove his theory, Senator Doyle, so to speak, points out the fields all over the country which were used for the growing of wheat in the old days. Fortunately, he also pointed out, whether intentionally or not, that the fact that these fields were in a bad condition now was due to the fact that they were let-out without grass seeds. If that were done now or 100 years ago or in 100 years time, the result would be the same, because you cannot expect to have good grass unless you sow it. That has nothing whatever to do with the growing of wheat. It is no argument——
Mr. Quirke: Senator Doyle says that there is serious danger in growing “things like wheat.” If we cannot grow “things like wheat,” and cannot continue to grow more things like wheat, the sooner we make up our minds to give up doing anything else the better. The people of the country are depending on the farmers and have depended on the farmers. The farmers have not let them down so far, and I do not believe that they have any intention of letting them down.
Mr. Quirke: Yes. As I say, I am glad that this matter has come up for discussion. Without trying to score a point over Senator Baxter or any of the other speakers, with the possible exception of Senator Doyle, I think I am right in saying that the whole trend of this debate has gone to prove  that the representatives of the people here have come to the conclusion that a policy of self-sufficiency is the only policy for the country. Senator Baxter says that the diminution in the acreage under roots is a danger signal. While I agree with him that it would be a disaster if that tendency continued and the acreage under roots continued to decrease, I am not inclined to agree with him that it is a very serious matter at present. I think that may be attributed to the fact that a definite appeal was made by all Parties to people to grow wheat, and that where a man had an idea of growing an acre or two acres of turnips, when he came to the point of tilling the field he said to himself: “If there is any danger of a shortage of wheat, perhaps I might as well put the whole field under wheat instead of putting in a couple of acres of turnips.”
I believe farmers largely took that attitude and that, while there may be other reasons, it need not be regarded as what Senator Baxter calls a danger signal. I believe it is also a fact that many farmers who have gone into the production of wheat and oats were not in a position during the past year or two years to go into the production of root crops at the same time because they had not the equipment or the farmyard manure. I believe that they all realised the necessity for farmyard manure and, because of that, to the best of their ability they are adopting the policy of feeding stock in houses and producing farmyard manure and utilising their own straw. Rather than having a continuation of the decline of the acreage under root crops, I believe we will have an increase in the acreage under root crops.
I am 100 per cent. with Senator Baxter that we should have post-war planning and I am also 100 per cent. with him as to the importance of post-war planning in agriculture. I believe it is of the very greatest importance, and I feel sure that the Minister for Agriculture also has his eye on that particular matter. With regard to post-war planning, I believe that any committee set up to go into that matter should regard the question of agricultural transport as one of the most  important matters. I have stressed here on a good many occasions the necessity for retaining at least a considerable proportion of agricultural transport, and in fact other transport, for horses. I feel that even those who did not agree with me when I stressed that some years ago will now agree with me as a result of their experience since the war. When we were faced with war conditions, we found before the war had got well under way at all that our supplies of fuel for mechanical transport began to get scarce.
The position with regard to fuel for mechanical transport is perhaps worse than we had anticipated. I think, rather than bemoan our shortcomings, we should benefit by experience and make sure that in future we will not have a recurrence of what has happened during this period of emergency.
All kinds of arguments can be put up and it will be pointed out that horses could not travel on the modern roads. In any programme of post-war planning, rather than adopt the idea that horses cannot travel on the modern roads, the trend should be to make the modern roads suitable for horse transport. We have roughly 450,000 horses in this country at the present time. We have had that number over the past 40 or 50 years. It may have fluctuated to the extent of a few thousand horses in some years but it has not deviated very much from that point. As has been pointed out by other speakers, we are perhaps the greatest horse-breeding country in the world. I believe it is only right that we should continue to produce horses and that in any post-war planning the fact should not be overlooked that misfits in the production even of hunters will work satisfactorily on the land. To my mind, it is insane to allow the transport of this country to go into the hands of people outside. That is what has been happening here. We have allowed our horses all over the country to go idle; we have allowed our men to go idle and at the same time we have imported tractors and mechanical transport and we have  paid the people of other countries to supply the spare parts, fuel, tyres and everything else. It would be just as sane for us to depend for our imports of wheat on foreign shipping. To my mind there is no difference.
If the policy of depending on foreign shipping for our imports of wheat has startled us during this period of emergency, it is a good thing, and as a result of the fright we have had, we may make provision against such a thing happening again. I know that the tendency is, and will be—and perhaps it is the natural tendency — for people to say that you cannot put back the hands of the clock, and that when the war is over we must go back again to tractors and motor-cars, and all the rest of it. I know very well that nothing that I will say will have the effect of eliminating motor transport or mechanical transport altogether, and I would not go so far as to say that that should be done, but I would say that we should put ourselves in the position that we will not be totally dependent or almost totally dependent on mechanical transport so long as that mechanical transport is dependent on outside supplies for its maintenance.
Unless we say that this war is a war to end war, we must provide for the future. My belief is that if this war had not come for another ten or 20 years we would find ourselves at the end of that period in the position that our mechanical transport had failed for lack of fuel oil or spare parts, or tyres or something else, and we would not have sufficient men in the country capable of tackling a pair of horses and putting them to work. The same thing would apply to horse machinery, equipment and everything else. Therefore, in any post-war planning, we should ensure that the transport, at least as far as agriculture is concerned, will be, to the greatest possible extent, horse transport. If that is done, it will mean that we will have a market for agricultural produce; we will have employment for the saddlers, the carpenters, the wheelwrights, the blacksmiths, and various other people, which did not exist under the previous methods.
 I was surprised that Senator Counihan referred to the cattle industry without making any reference to the canning industry. I think it would be well if the Minister would let us have some idea as to what the future of the canning industry may be. I believe the tendency is to buy foods in a more or less prepared condition, cooked foods, and in post-war planning particular attention should be given to that development.
Mr. Quirke: That, I understand, is the position at the present time but it may be possible to make provision for the continuance and development of the canning industry, not only in connection with meat but in connection with fruit, vegetables and so on. The question of artificial manures was stressed by Senator Baxter, Senator O'Callaghan and others. I believe that much can be done without going into what might be called the actual production of what we understood by artificial manures. I was glad to hear Senator O'Callaghan refer to the waste products at the beet factories. I have seen these piles of stuff there and often wondered why it was not utilised to a far greater extent by the farmers. I went to the trouble of finding out the results where it had been used and I found they were very satisfactory. The difficulty, to my mind, is the question of transport. Perhaps, if something could be done along the lines suggested by Senator O'Callaghan, it could be manufactured into something more easily handled. The difficulty at present is to find some way of handling it. It is more or less in the form of mud; even the stuff that has been there a considerable time still retains the moisture and is very difficult to handle.
The results where it was used—of course, it can only be used within a reasonable distance of the factory — were very satisfactory. The material is composed largely of lime and largely of the tare from the beet, that is, the stuff that is washed off from the roots  of the beet, which must contain a lot of the best of the manure which adheres to the plant when it is growing. That stuff remains around each of the factories. If that were utilised, I believe it would not go a very long way towards supplying our requirements or making up for the shortage of artificial manures. I do not know how many tons would be at the factories, but I doubt very much if it would replace very many thousands of tons of artificial manures, but it would go some way.
I believe much could be done if the people would only get back to the system that obtained 100 years ago or 50 years ago or even a shorter time ago. I remember, when I was growing up, the efforts that were made in every farm in the country to produce farmyard manure. Fences were cleaned down, furze was cut and put down in the farmyard and straw was put over it. Nothing of that kind is done now. The gaps and the gateways were all covered in with waste material which was walked over by the stock and in that way very valuable manure was manufactured. If that sort of thing were encouraged, a good deal could be done to make up for the loss of the artificial manures that we cannot obtain at the present time.
I think everybody is in favour of doing all that can be done for the production of such artificial manures as can be produced here. In addition to that, there should be far greater encouragement given to farmers to utilise the produce of their own farms. Notwithstanding all the lectures and propaganda, you will find people burning some of the most valuable stuff. I met a man who proposed burning straw. He said: “What else can I do with it?” There is great need for propaganda in that connection. It is somebody's job, not alone to tell the farmers these things, but to keep on telling them, and to explain that material of that kind is invaluable and, if they keep burning it, they will eventually get to the stage when they will not be able to grow any crops.
As regards utilising horses as a means of transport, something should  be done in that connection also. You will find some people saying that horses cannot be used on the roads at the present time. Others will tell you that they can be used, but the only way in which they can be properly used is to fit them with rubber shoes. We all know that very soon rubber shoes will be a thing of the past. The time is opportune for some statement on that subject by a recognised authority. I do not claim to be an authority, but I may say I have used horses consistently for years — I have never given up driving horses and ponies — and I have never used rubber shoes, and yet never knew of a horse or pony to fall.
Mr. Quirke: I do not know that I am lucky. I am not much of a believer in luck. Prudence is far more important than luck and, if you take the necessary steps, you can prevent a lot of the disasters that are laid out for people who drive horses or ponies along the roads. It is important that the Minister should get an expert, such as a veterinary surgeon or some other person thoroughly conversant with horses, to give advice to the people. I believe a lot could be done if horses were properly shod.
Mr. Quirke: There you are coming against a greater difficulty. There are persons driving horses at the moment who, although their fathers and grandfathers were accustomed to driving horses, do not know over which end of the horse the bridle should go. I think it is essential for people using horses to ascertain the proper way to shoe a horse. I believe that rubber shoes are bound to have a disastrous effect on the horse's hooves. The hooves will become contracted and disease of the hoof may ruin many a good horse. If horses are shod in such a way that the frog will rest on the ground, you can trot that horse on any street in Dublin without any danger of a fall. If horses are properly shod you  will cut down the quantity of iron required for shoeing and, more important still, you will allow the horse to travel in the way he was intended to travel — that is, to allow the frog to come in contact with the road. That will prevent the animal slipping and prevent disease.
With regard to the post-war planning scheme referred to by Senator Baxter, the Senator mentioned that the Minister is handicapped because he is connected with a Party Government and that various difficulties exist because of that. He stated also that there must not be a change of policy with each change of Government. Most people agree that it would be disastrous if you were to change agricultural policy with every change of Government. Once the people are satisfied that you have the right agricultural policy, there is no danger that even in the distant future they will be anxious for a change in that policy. Unless we can remove international boundaries and seas which have existed since the Ice Age, the only sane policy for our country will be the policy of producing, as far as we can, the requirements of our people, whether during an emergency period or during a period of peace.
Senator Baxter said that the proposed committee should not be composed of civil servants. I agree with the Senator. I do not believe it would be a good thing if a committee of that kind were composed solely of civil servants. But it would be equally foolish to set up a committee without the help of certain civil servants who have at their disposal numerous statistics relating to various parts of the country and who would be in a position to give assistance which could not be given by other persons. The fact that a man happens to be a civil servant does not mean that his individuality has been absorbed by the service. I believe that a man who is the son of a farmer and who enters the Civil Service continues to have some connection with the farm, and, if he happens to be in a position in the Department of Agriculture and thus kept in touch with the agricultural industry, he would be invaluable on such  a committee as that proposed to deal with post-war planning.
Senator Doyle said the growing of wheat as a long-term policy would tend to increase the flight from the land. I do not think it is necessary for anybody to reply to such a statement. If you continue to increase the acreage under wheat and other crops while people are leaving the country we may eventually arrive at the delightful stage when we can all live at the seaside and work charms to produce the crops. Of course, that cannot be done. The greater the production of wheat and other crops, the greater will be the employment in rural areas and there will be a greater tendency for the people to drift from the towns and cities back to the land. At present, there is a tendency in that direction. I believe that people have become land minded and that their eyes have turned from other countries to their own country. They realise, as a result of the emergency, that the only way they can expect relief when they feel hungry is through what is produced by our own agriculturists. Every encouragement should be given to the farmers to produce the necessaries of life for our people in this emergency and they should be given to understand that not alone will it be the policy of this Government to encourage and allow them to work the machinery which they have now set in motion, but that for many years to come a similar policy will prevail.
Mr. Hawkins: I was glad Senator O'Callaghan mentioned the by-products of the beet factories. I understand those by-products are being used with great success by Mr. James Haverty, a member of the Beet Growers' Association in County Galway. I understand the factory delivers these by-products free of ordinary costs, but the person to whom delivery is made is responsible for the cost of transport. I think that is very reasonable.
With regard to artificial manures, we have all seen in the papers advertisements offering sulphate of ammonia and other artificial manures during the season at very exorbitant prices. I know of one or two cases of merchants  taking in some of the emergency artificial manures and selling out a mixture at very high prices. I am not quarrelling so much with the prices, because I believe that, if people run the risk of taking stuff across the Border, they are entitled to fair compensation, and that while they are doing themselves a good service, they are also performing a good national service. What I should like to know, however, is whether there is sufficient supervision or inspection to ensure that the article which a person buys is the type of article he expects to buy. Is this material analysed and inspected as it should be? When a person ventures to pay £25 a ton for what he expects is a special manure, does he really get that special manure?
Another point to which I want to draw the Minister's attention is that, going through the country, one sees manure heaps in the farmyards of country houses which are composed mainly of dried matter, and I suggest that if the Department gave a grant for the erection of proper manure dumps which would preserve the liquid condition of the manure when taken from the stables, it would be a great advantage. It would help towards the cleaniness of the farmyard and would provide much better material than the semi-dry hay or straw which is available under present conditions.
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): A very large number of points have been raised, and I feel it would be rather unfair to those faithful members who remained to see the debate out that I should keep them too long. However, some very interesting points have been raised with which I want to deal. The big matter which Senator Baxter raised was that of post-war planning. We have been considering this matter for some time in the Department, and have given a good deal of thought to it, and to the question of how to approach it, as it were, in the beginning. I suppose the first point we should have to consider is that of having the land in the best possible condition for increased production, if we can have increased production when the war is over. Towards that end,  we decided, at the beginning of the war, not to continue the scheme of reclamation and drainage, and so on, but, on considering the matter further and looking to what we thought would be post-war conditions, we thought it might be well to have whatever secondary land there is improved somewhat under this scheme of reclamation and drainage.
The next point that would strike one is that which we hear so much talked about at present — the fertility of the soil. That is a matter which we have been considering. We have had under consideration various proposals, firstly, for the preservation of the fertility of the land as far as possible. During the war, of course, that is not feasible, if we are to produce the food we require, without a supply of artificials while the war lasts, but we have been considering how to preserve that fertility as far as possible, and, in addition, to see whether we could have some scheme of improving the fertility of the soil immediately the war is over.
Another point one must think of in relation to production is markets because there is not much use in asking a farmer to produce an article unless he can sell it, and can sell it at a remunerative price. That brings us into very big questions which can scarcely be decided by my Department alone. Big questions will arise in that respect — they have been touched on in this debate — in regard to what we must import when the war is over, what we shall pay for those imports and whether it will be necessary to have certain agricultural exports, at least, to pay for those necessary imports. Coming away from these matters which might be dealt with by my Department on the supposition that certain imports will be necessary, we then have the question of home needs — whether we should supply all these needs and whether or not we should grow all the wheat and other commodities which we require when the war is over. There is then the question of whether we should go in for a big export, and, if so, in what particular lines and where is there  likely to be a remunerative return for what exports we might have.
These are all very big questions. There is a good deal of conjecture about the future and I suppose that, on the whole, anybody considering these matters would only have to use his best judgment as to what the position will be. He may be wrong, and if he is wrong in his judgment, his recommendations also will be wrong. Then such questions as the method of production, marketing and so on —— co-operation, for instance — will have to be considered, with a view to seeing whether we should develop co-operation more fully than we have developed it, or whether in certain lines of production some sort of State organisation is not preferable. In respect of sugar production, we have a State organisation, if you like to call it such, for dealing with beet, and butter production is practically entirely co-operative. These are two very good and now well-established systems, and it is easy for anybody to look at the working of co-operation in the butter industry and the working of a State institution in relation to beet, and to see which is the better for application to any other commodity which we might have under consideration.
We might, for instance, consider bacon and ask whether it is advisable to convert the present system of bacon-marketing either to a co-operative system or a State system, such as we have in the case of beet. These are matters which would have to be considered. I do not know, at the moment anyhow, what the answer would be. There is also the other point that the Department or a State organisation has had to take over control of the export of certain commodities. It is a matter for consideration whether that should not continue when the war is over, or whether that control should be dropped and export be allowed to go back to the old system of freedom to the exporter. Take, as an example, eggs. They are all exported now through one organisation, and there is a good deal of advantage in that control by one organisation, but there may be, at the same time, certain disadvantages.  There is always the disadvantage in these schemes that an enterprising person may be able to do better than the general body but, on the other hand, there is more likelihood of having a higher level all around by having an organisation of this kind. These are matters to be considered.
Senator Baxter wants to know how far we have got with the consideration of these matters. I say we have been considering the various aspects of the questions I have enumerated here, but I think if we want to get down to what people expect in the way of post-war planning, we should have to find an answer to all these questions I have just put. What is the best way to deal with them? We have been dealing with them in the Department and we have gone some distance in the consideration of some of them. Others we have only put down on paper as things thought of but not yet decided.
I do not agree with some speakers, particularly Senator Baxter and Senator Quirke, that the officers of the Department would not be the best body to carry out this work. I think myself they would be the best body, but there are two objections to that. The first objection is that it is not easy to find a mature and able man in a Department such as mine to deal with everything that comes up, and if I were to pick out one or two of them for a job like that, it would be hard to find substitutes for them to carry on the current work of the Department.
Dr. Ryan: The second objection is that evidently they would not be acceptable to most people. I take it that Senator Baxter and Senator Quirke are voicing only the opinions of people generally, that civil servants alone — taking Senator Quirke's qualification — are not the best to deal with matters like this. However, I did decide a short time ago—I am only in the process of asking certain people whether they would be willing to act — to set up a very small committee to deal with this matter. That will be practically an exclusively expert committee. I do not think it would be advisable to get the Agricultural Commission which was composed of 27 or 28 persons—a number of them farmers, a number of them economists, and a number of official people like professors — to do this particular job. It is not so easy, in fact it would be impossible, to get a large body like that to deal with it, because I think whoever is to deal with it will have to meet often and give a great deal of thought to it. They will have to go very minutely into statistics and returns of various kinds. They will have to study the subject very deeply. I think on the whole the best type of body to deal with it, from every point of view, would be a small committee, a very technical committee. That is the line upon which I have decided and, as I say, I have only so far got to the point of asking certain people if they would be prepared to take on this particular task. It will be a difficult task because they will have to give a great deal of time to it. I think, too, it will be a rather unenviable task because it is not very easy to present a report that will convince everybody that it contains the best solution that can be arrived at. I think, however, we shall get people willing to undertake the job.
Dr. Ryan: Yes. I am glad the Senator has raised that point. They will be only too glad to examine any proposal, which they think is a sensible proposal, that is submitted to them by anybody. It will be a matter for themselves to decide, however, but I think it would be better if all these proposals for the present were put in writing, so that the committee would have an opportunity of going through them before deciding to call witnesses.
Dr. Ryan: I am sure they will be anxious to find out everything they can in that way. I think I can leave that subject by saying that I hope we shall be able to make a more precise and public announcement in the course of a week or two.
On the question of fertilisers various points were raised and I should like to disabuse some Senators' minds of opinions expressed here. This is not a question of a shortage of sulphuric acid. I think perhaps the best way to approach this question is to say, first of all, that we are not going to have much imported raw phosphates. We got none or practically none, last year. If the wheat crop turns out to be as good as we hope, we shall have enough wheat for our own requirements. In that way, we shall be somewhat better off as regards shipping. If we do not require any shipping for wheat, it may be possible to get some allocation of shipping accommodation for raw phosphates. The question then is to get the raw phosphates. Senators know where they can be got — Africa. Africa is a very hard place to get at, at the moment. There are various difficulties with regard to permits from belligerents before we can get in there. There are other difficulties, too. If these difficulties can be overcome, if in the first place we have enough wheat for our own requirements and can spare shipping and if, in the second place, we can overcome the external difficulties we are up against, we hope to import some raw phosphates but the quantity will not be large. A quantity of 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 tons is a fairly big proposition considering the amount of shipping  we have at our disposal but it is very small in proportion to the amount of phosphates we want in the country.
Dr. Ryan: I think we would need at least 150,000 tons. In addition we have got native phosphates. There are three difficulties in regard to native phosphates — the speed at which the raw material can be mined or quarried as the case may be, transport and sulphuric acid. I believe the real controlling factor is transport. In other words, we could I believe get as much phosphate as the transport companies are able to carry. The transport companies can only take a certain amount away from the native mines or quarries. We have a certain amount of pyrites in the country to make sulphuric acid. We can, if necessary, get all the native pyrites required. They are not as effective as the imported variety but still they will do and we can get enough to carry on. Therefore, the real controlling factor is transport as far as native phosphates are concerned.
Mr. Robinson: Might I ask the Minister a question? Can he tell us whether the necessary explosives are available for the mines, and whether every effort is being made to release those explosives to the mines in order to secure as great an output as possible? I have some reason to suppose that there has been difficulty not in obtaining explosives from outside but in releasing to the mines the explosives that are in the country.
Dr. Ryan: I have not heard that they are held up for want of explosives, but I am glad that Senator Robinson has raised that point, because I should like to inquire into it. Of course, those things change from day to day. At the moment, it would appear anyway that transport is our difficulty; we could get a little more if the transport were improved. Taking the most optimistic view of the whole thing—getting what we can out of our native mines, importing what we can with the shipping at our command, and  getting all this raw material manufactured into superphosphates — we will still have very little more than we had in this present year. We will have something more, but not a great deal. Of course, as every Senator knows, that is entirely inadequate for our needs.
Dr. Ryan: The position with regard to potash and nitrogen is very much worse. There is no prospect whatever at the moment of any supply of potash or nitrogen for the coming year. As I say, those things change from day to day. The position may improve, but at the moment it looks very bad.
Dr. Ryan: Clover seeds, of course, are very scarce, but I suppose something could be done by way of fertilisation of the land for wheat by putting in clover or some other leguminous crop and ploughing it in for wheat. A question was raised by Senator Dr. Doyle with regard to blood and bone manure. I have seen the analysis of this particular manure to which Dr. Doyle referred and it is very good. At the price at which it was sold, it is very good value compared with other manures at the moment. Of course,  the supply is very limited, and there is no chance, so far as I can see, of increasing it. I agree with Senator Quirke that we ought not to draw any deductions from one year's root crop.
Dr. Ryan: There was one compound made for the 1942 crop. We got a compound manure made by the fertiliser manufacturers here, and they included in it all the nitrogen and potash available in the country. That was sold as a compound manure. The retail merchant could sell only to a farmer who had purchased manure from him in 1941. Under an Order made by me, he could sell to that farmer a certain proportion of the 1941 supply. I was pressed to make that Order by many farmers who were afraid they would not get their fair share of what was there. I think we would have had very bitter complaints from some farmers if they got none at all while perhaps they saw their neighbours getting as much as ever.
The retailer would naturally be inclined to give a fair supply to his good customers, while perhaps not giving so much to the man who was a bit slow about paying, so we thought it advisable to make that Order so as to ensure a fair distribution. We did not see how we could deal with the farmer who had not purchased any manures in 1941, but there was a clause put into the Order to the effect that the merchant could ask the Minister for Agriculture for a permit to sell to such a person. I cannot remember that very many applications were made under that clause.
Dr. Ryan: If a good case were put up for a farmer who had not purchased any manures last year, and wanted to get some this year, the application would certainly be considered. I was about to say that I do not like to see deductions drawn from one year's figures. The fact that the root crop  went down somewhat this year may be due to one cause or another, so we had better wait for another year before we come to the conclusion that there is going to be a continual decline in the root crop. I may say that I myself was quite prepared for a big drop in the beet acreage, because I did not see how the people who used to grow a large number of acres in the past, with artificial manures, could continue to grow that acreage. It was only natural to expect that they would have to come down to the smaller number of acres which could be grown with farmyard manure. On the other hand, mangolds and turnips were usually grown, I take it, with farmyard manure, and it is not so easy to see why there should be a decline there, but, as I say, it is better not to pay too much attention to one year's figures. For instance, there was a very poor yield of wheat last year, and many people were inclined to take it for granted that the yield would be down from year to year on account of the scarcity of fertilisers and so on, but it would now appear that certain Senators anyway believe that there will be a bigger yield of wheat per acre this year than there was last year.
Dr. Ryan: They have not given any opinion on the yield so far. We come, then, to this question of bacon, which was raised by a number of speakers. At the beginning of the war I remember discussing this matter — I am not sure whether it was in the Department or whether it was discussed publicly, but I think it probably was discussed publicly — and thinking that, if the war  went on, and all imports of grain and imports of artificial manures were shut down, it was inevitable that we should have to turn over to the production of human food, particularly, of course, to the growing of wheat; that that would mean less grain for animals, and that the number of animals would have to be reduced. At the beginning of the war, for instance, I remember reading a report that in England they had provided for the total destruction of the pigs and poultry of the country if necessary, and it did look as if even here we might have to go some distance in that direction. I do not think we should be too surprised or even too disappointed at the reduction in the number of pigs in the country. We did want at the beginning of the war, in order to replace all the wheat and maize, and so on, that was coming in, another 1,000,000 acres under grain. Of course, we have not got that 1,000,000 acres yet, although we have done very well, I believe, in all the circumstances, in going up to at least three-fourths if not four-fifths of the 1,000,000 acres this year. It looks, anyway, as if we had reached the point of growing enough grain for human food. If we can add to that a little more, we may be able to get back to the number of animals we had when the war commenced.
Professor Johnston: Would the Minister say whether the Department has any policy with regard to increasing the number of ducks even if we must reduce the number of hens? Ducks do not eat anything which would be needed for human food; they can live on what they forage for themselves.
Dr. Ryan: There is one great trouble about ducks now, and that is that we have not an export market for duck eggs. We had a market up to about 12 months ago, but that has stopped. They are very good, of course, for home food, but there is no export market. The result is that the price of the duck egg is very much more lower than that of the hen egg.
Dr. Ryan: Perhaps it is, although ducks eat a good lot too. With regard to the point raised by Senator Dr. Doyle that it may be too late when the war is over to get back to full butter and bacon production, and that we should try to do it now, that matter requires some consideration too. First of all, I do not think that our creamery butter production is very much lower; at least, I should put it this way, that the number of cows is not very much lower, but apparently what is happening is that the cows are not fed so well as they were before the war.
Dr. Ryan: I have not got them with me. The number of cows as compared with last year is down by only about 2,000 or 3,000. If those figures are correct — and as I have said before, both here and in the Dáil, although they may not be exactly correct down to one cow those figures are comparatively correct taking one year with the other — we may take it that there is a slight reduction in the number of cows, but not nearly enough to account for the reduction in the output of butter.
We can only conclude, seeing that the cows are there, that they are not so well fed. The difficulty I want to put before Senator Doyle is this: How can we keep more cows and more pigs? How are we to feed them? We have 700,000 or 800,000 acres less for grazing. We have still the same number of cattle, almost as many sheep, as many horses, and we are grazing as many animals as when the war commenced, but we have 700,000 or 800,000 acres less to graze them on. That is the difficulty. Senator Doyle said that we could deal with it by giving a large subsidy. It is true that we could give encouragement, but no matter what encouragement we give how could farmers keep more cattle? I do not think they could do it. If we were in a position to import artificial manures we could say to farmers: “Your land is not carrying as many animals as it should carry if properly treated.” We might then encourage  farmers to bring in artificial manures to increase the grazing capacity. We are held up there and we cannot do it. I am afraid we cannot do very much in the way of increasing the number of cows. In fact, we might be better off if we had somewhat fewer.
Dr. Ryan: That is a matter we have to watch. The number of cows exported this year is not up to normal and not up to what the number was pre-war. I cannot say whether there are better cows going out this year than in 1937 and 1938. I do not know of any reason to assume that that is so, or that the cream of our cows are going out now.
Mr. Robinson: If the grants for the reclamation of land that people get were 100 per cent. instead of 50 per cent. would not that bring a good deal more land into condition for the grazing of cows for a long period, and eventually increase the amount of stock that farmers could keep?
Dr. Ryan: Senator Doyle says that we ought to get back to keeping the normal number of sows and boars and, if necessary, subsidise the export of bacon, so that the farmer would have a return and keep in production until the war is over. I do not think we  have the feeding to do that. The reduction in the number of pigs is entirely due to feeding. Anybody who examines certain charts showing the number of sows and the number of fat pigs as well as the price of feeding pigs and store pigs, will have to come to the conclusion that it is entirely a matter of feeding. If the feeding position improves, as it may this year, provided that the yield of oats and barley is good, then we may be in a position to get a greater pig production than we have had for some time past.
Mr. Quirke: If the price was increased slightly would it not encourage farmers to produce more food to fatten pigs? Has the Minister considered the advisability of fixing a minimum price for pigs and a maximum price for bacon?
Dr. Ryan: I have considered that. It is a big question. As to Senator Robinson's point, the amount done under the farm improvement scheme is as much as could really be expected. In fact, we had to refuse a certain number of applications, first, because we had exceeded the amount of money voted, but we have made that the basis of getting more, and, in the second place, because the work was more than the staff we had could deal with. I doubt if it is necessary to give a larger grant. Evidently the scheme is very popular.
Dr. Ryan: And we have dropped control of distribution. In future it will not be an offence to sell oats to anyone, but the person who is buying the oats can, if he wishes, insist on getting oats inside the fixed price.
Dr. Ryan: I do not know. I think it would have been very hard to give priority to anybody in that particular line. One Senator made the point that the officials of my Department were not the best people to bargain with Great Britain in the various negotiations about the export of agricultural commodities, and that we should send exporters. I do not agree with that. The object of an exporter, if he were a selfish man—and we have always to be careful to see that he is not selfish—would be to get a volume of exports near the margin. Probably the great majority would do the best they could for the farmers, but an exporter told me once that it did not matter to him what the price was as long as his margin remained; whether it went up or down it did not make any difference to him. In case exporters took a selfish view, it is better that officials should do the negotiating.
Invariably they bring members of the trade with them who are present at the negotiations. In some of these lines men in the trade have practically dropped going across to Britain as they said that they could not do very much to help. We are anxious that they should accompany the officials on these negotiations. Senator The McGillycuddy mentioned that the Taoiseach gave some figures. I am not sure if I followed the Senator correctly, but he misunderstood what was said. The Taoiseach said that he was taking it that we would get five barrels to the acre delivered to the mills. That has been the experience  for years. From 1933 our experience has been that about five barrels are delivered to the mills. That was after the farmers got back what they required for seed, for sale for seed, and what they required for their own households, as well as whatever wastage occurred. I do not know of any reason why there should be less than five barrels this year.
Dr. Ryan: Yes. Questions were asked about the regulations regarding wheat. Growers can only sell to millers or millers' agents or sell for seed. That is all that they can dispose of. They cannot dispose of it to anybody else. Growers can keep for themselves one barrel for each member of the household and for men working with them. They are entitled to keep a barrel for every person in the household. I agree with Senator Counihan that stall-fed cattle will disappear at present prices. As the Senator said, it is the comparative price of stall-fed and store cattle that is going to kill that trade. We have tried to make the British Minister of Food see that point, but we have not succeeded in impressing him so far. We intend to press that point again for the coming year, because I feel there has to be an improved price for stall-fed cattle between March and May, as farmers who intend to stall-feed would want to know that by the end of next month. I suppose they should know sooner in order to have turnips sown. We will use the usual pressure, but I do not know whether or not we are going to succeed. We can, at least, show by the figures that we were right in our contention, that that trade is disappearing, and in that way we may have some influence with those concerned. With regard to bees' fittings, there was a great scarcity of wax, but I was told by some exporters that they expected more wax this month. As it is getting late now, there is not much use in putting foundations in the crates and sections. It was my experience  that there was a fair supply of crates and frames, and that the only things scarce early in the year were the foundations.
Dr. Ryan: No. I hope we will have it next year. A consignment is expected next month. As a result of a talk with Senator O'Callaghan and his colleagues I raised the question of lime at beet factories with the beet company and they informed me that they had discussions with the transport companies and that it is under consideration; it is too early yet to say with what success, but the matter will not be lost sight of. Senator Doyle raised a point about 40/- being paid for wheat in the last century. It is hardly fair to compare that 40/- with 50/- now and, at the same time, to compare the value of money. Senators will at least have to allow for progress in the elimination of labour as far as the wheat crop is concerned. At that time wheat was sown by hand, covered with a shovel and reaped with a reaping-hook, but things are different now. We could hardly take it as fair to compare 40/- then with 50/- now. It was advocated by Senator Doyle that when the war is over we should have a large-scale tillage policy with no preference for wheat. I do not see any great objection to that but a price must be fixed for wheat. Otherwise I do not see how such a project would operate. If a price for wheat is not fixed naturally the price would go down to the level of imported wheat, and that would mean that wheat would be out of control. I do not see how we could have a large-scale tillage policy unless we agreed also to stop the imports of wheat or maize or, at least, to control wheat or maize or both. That will mean having dearer wheat here. It is assumed that the foreign stuff would be much cheaper than what we could grow. Otherwise, we would not want any regulations for having stuff here for our animals dearer than we could import it. If we do export pigs it will be held by some that we are in competition with countries that have cheap feeding-stuffs for producing bacon and  eggs. I am just mentioning the things said to me during the last ten years.
Professor Johnston: In that connection, has the Minister any policy for growing rye, especially on land which has already grown two or three crops of oats or other cereals? I am told that rye is good in the autumn as a catch crop and partly as a grain crop. It cleans up the land, as you can cut down the rye when it is green or grow it into a grain crop.
Dr. Ryan: I believe that is right. We gave some consideration to the rye crop last year. The difficulty was to get any seed. I do not see that we could advocate the growing of rye, as we have only a few tons of seed.
Dr. Ryan: Senator The McGillycuddy said that, if we are to get our full requirements next year in wheat, we may need a larger percentage of tillage. That has to be considered, but I think we have almost reached the limit. It is extremely difficult for certain farmers to till more than 25 per cent., especially if they are doing the proper rotation, and if, in addition to that 25 per cent., they have 8 or 9 per cent. on their first crop meadow, that brings their tillage, as computed in the last war, up to 33 per cent.
There are two things troubling me more than an increased area. The first is with regard to wheat. It has been advocated from various quarters that we should have compulsory wheat growing. That suggestion does not come, by any means, from cranks or people of that kind not in the business themselves, but has come to me more from farmers growing their own quota and who say that, while they are growing probably more than would be necessary if everybody grew wheat, their neighbours are getting away with the refusal to grow it. We must consider whether we should have compulsory wheat growing or not—that is, a certain percentage under wheat, subject to a right of appeal in the case of certain types of land.
The second thing troubling me is the continuous cropping by certain farmers. They never tilled before, and they have probably the best land in the country. They have tilled the very worst part of it, and they mean to go on growing there until the war is over. That is not obeying the spirit of the law, though it may be obeying the letter. It is a very bad spirit.
Dr. Ryan: They look upon wheat as an “untouchable” crop, and they try to save as much of their farms as possible from that contagion. We cannot rule out the possibility that the area  must be increased to more than 25 per cent.
Dr. Ryan: The exemptions are very few. There are certain exemptions, in the case of sports fields, for instance. That includes golf courses, but in the beginning of the war I was strongly urged to exempt such places in view of the very good employment given. The total amount we would get, if all the exempted land were tilled, would not be more than 100 or 200 acres altogether. It was held that, if we had tilled those places, some of them would find it impossible to carry on, and the loss in employment would be very serious.
Dr. Ryan: If there is any such portion, tillage is insisted on. In fact, some of the golf courses have tilled all the available land, outside the course, and in that way are practically complying with the Order as if they were not exempt.
Dr. Ryan: Another exempted class is the stud farms. In the last war, a case was made for these stud farms, and we seem to have adopted it this time on the same argument. In the case of a high-class stud farm for horses—and in some cases, for cattle and sheep—they must have a large amount of grass land as pasture and for the young horses to run on. We allow ten acres for every brood mare actually bred on the stud farm, but we make no allowance for young horses or yearlings. Only the ten acres are exempt. On a stud farm of 100 acres, with two brood mares, we allow 20 acres off, and the rest is subject to the tillage Order. There is no stud farm entirely exempt. The  only other exemption I can recollect is the accommodation parks, as on the north side of the city, for cattle coming to the market and to the abattoir. It is hard to see how these cattle could be dealt with unless the parks are there. I do not know the total amount of land concerned in these exemptions, but it would be a very small amount. If Senators are interested, I could get the total acreage, but the amount of extra tillage that would be obtained if there were no exemptions would not be appreciable.
Dr. Ryan: When we leave out whatever is exempted, the inspector's opinion must be taken on the land itself. He visits the farm and gives his opinion as to the amount of arable land on it. I can see no other way of doing it. We cannot go on the valuation basis. I had a certain farm in County Clare investigated. The valuation was very high and, no doubt, it was very good fattening land for cattle; but the report I got was that there was not a perch in it where there was not a rock coming up through the surface and that it could not be used for tillage, though it was very good for grazing.
Dr. Ryan: Land that is too wet for tillage would be exempt also, as well as mountain land. I feel we have to take the inspector's opinion. I got some complaints last year of this nature, and sent four senior inspectors of the Department to visit every inspector on tillage work. They spent a day or two with each tillage inspector and, taking some farms at random, asked the inspector to bring them out to those farms. They saw the tillage inspector's report as to what he had classed as arable land on each farm. The report I received was that, while they would not agree in all cases with the tillage inspector,  and while they would have put a few acres more into the arable capacity in some cases and a few acres less in other cases, on the whole the inspectors were doing their duty as reasonably as could be expected. They are practically in a judicial position in such cases, and they are doing their best.
Dr. Ryan: I understand. Senator Quirke raised a point about tractors as against horses and said, quite truthfully, that fuel for tractors is dependent on shipping and is, to some extent, the same as bringing in wheat, if we have to work the land for the wheat. That is quite true. It is, undoubtedly, a dangerous form of power, as far as we are concerned here, but I am afraid that there is no administration or no law that could stop that sort of change-over, to some extent at least, from the horse to the tractor. I think, however, that when the war is over we should do everything we can to discourage it.
With regard to the future of the canning industry, before the war started there was some canning done here. Waterford, for instance, was doing it for the home market before the war, but they never could compete on the foreign market. As far as I know—I am not exactly sure—they were not able to compete on the foreign market at all until the war commenced. Since the war began, of course, our canning industry is doing well, but when the war is over it is very hard to say what the position of that industry will be. I have taken a note of Senator Quirke's point about the shoeing of horses and will try to  get some expert opinion on that. If the expert opinion is likely to prove useful to farmers, I shall try to get it broadcast for their information.
Dr. Ryan: Yes, I see. There is some supervision of artificial manures that are for sale. We have some inspectors, but the number is very small—only two, I think—to go around the whole country. These inspectors take samples, and there is an Act governing the matter of analysis, and so on, and where-ever they think that anything is wrong they apply the Act. I have also taken a note of Senator Hawkins' suggestion as to a grant for liquid manure tanks; but unfortunately another difficulty has arisen in that connection in the last few days, and that is the scarcity of cement. On the whole, therefore, I do not think that in the circumstances we could advocate a grant at the moment. I think, Sir, those were the only points that were made. I am grateful to the Senators for raising the particular points they did raise. Some of them were really very useful, and, in conclusion, I should like to assure the Seanad——
Mr. Counihan: Before the Minister concludes could he tell us something as to the position in regard to binder twine? Farmers are very much concerned about statements made by distributors of binder twine, to the effect that they can get only 50 per cent. of the amount they got last year. It must be remembered that we are tilling 25 per cent. this year, more than last year, and if that is the position in regard to binder twine, it is a very serious matter.
Dr. Ryan: The position about binder twine, as I think I said before, both here and in the Dáil, is that with great care and, in fact, more than care —generosity, as it were, between one farmer and another, where, if one had a little over, he would share with one who had less—we should have enough,  but it is terribly hard to distribute it when the supply is so very tight. Supplies were issued by a certain number of importers, and also by Irish Ropes, Limited, who were manufacturing the twine, and the result was that some retailers got about 100 per cent. of what they got last year—in fact, it is alleged that some of them got a little more than 100 per cent.—while others got as low as 25 per cent., for a start off, but I think that under the arrangement for distribution that we have now—we had them in the Department up to recently and will have them again in a day or two—every trader, by now, should have at least 75 per cent. of what he had last year—at any rate, if he has not 75 per cent., there is some mistake and we should like to hear from him. That will mean that, by now, the position should be that everybody has 100 per cent., with the exception of certain traders who have only 75 per cent., and an attempt will be made to deal with those. I do not know if we will really have enough to bring those up to the 100 per cent. also.
Dr. Ryan: Well, both are dealing with it. Another point is that I understand that that twine is given out by weight. There is a greater length in it, for the weight, this year than last year, and on that account it should go farther. I was just concluding on the other point. I was going to say that I hope to have this small commission —or perhaps I should call it a committee—for planning set up soon, and I am sure the members of it would be very glad, as I would be glad, if any Senator would send along suggestions.
Cathaoirleach: The next specific  items on the list deal with the Department of Industry and Commerce. The Minister, I regret to say, will be unable to be present, but the Minister for Finance will, I am sure, note points made by Senators in respect of matters on the paper.
The McGillycuddy: I have been concerned for some time as to the eventual effect of the very large number of young men and women who have been permitted to go to various places overseas during this emergency. These young people have been allowed to go overseas during the last two years. Now, at first sight it may seem to be the obvious solution or remedy, at a time when there is not full employment for them in our industry or our agriculture, and of course it relieves the Government from paying very considerable benefits in unemployment. It relieves the country from the possibility of unrest, due to unemployment, and the country also benefits by the very considerable remittances which a great number of these people send home to their families in this country. It seems to me, however, that the exodus has gone a good deal further than is desirable or necessary.
We hear in the Dáil of the turf production board complaining that there is insufficient labour and that the turf workers are holding a pistol at the head of the Turf Controller and actually drawing, for a very short day, plus food, a very much higher wage, in proportion, than what the farm labourer, who makes a contract with the farmer, draws for a seven-day week, plus extra time at night, naturally. At the same time, we see an advertisement in the paper from the Minister for Agriculture, stating that a considerable number of farmers are going to be short of labour during the coming harvest and asking them to report their shortages and, at the same time, to tell him what arrangements they can make for food and accommodation during the harvest. We all know that very few, except big farmers, have any extra decent accommodation to put men into. The farming system is dependent on two factors. There is, first of all, the  farmer and, secondly, the labourers living in and between the farms who can get to their work on a bicycle and can go to their own homes for their meals. It would be a very serious thing if we were still to allow these foreign agents to come into this country to clear those people out. While that is the situation here, I fear that that part of the machinery of production will finally break down altogether.
If this emigration goes on it may have very serious repercussions, indeed. At the end of the war it may lead to the repatriation of a lot of those boys and girls. That will be necessary because the allied nations fighting now will want to get their service personnel back into the ranks of labour. Otherwise, the latter will get restless. In order to place them in employment, the natural thing to do will be to send our emigrants home. When the latter come back the problem of dealing with them will be a vast one. They have been accustomed, while away, to spending money very freely. A great many of them have been able to take holidays on which they spend a good part of their savings. When they return, if they are offered very much lower wages than they have been accustomed to, they will become discontented and dissatisfied. That may lead to unrest. It may lead to all sorts of trouble when the war is over. I think I have said enough to make it possible for the House to realise that there is an immediate aspect as well as a future aspect to this problem. I am sure Senators are anxious to know what view the Government take of it.
Mr. Crosbie: I would like the Minister to take a note of the situation regarding the proposal to replace the Barrels and the Conisberg lightships with whistling buoys. This has already been done in the case of the Barrels lightship. It is also proposed to remove the Conisberg lightship and replace it with a whistling buoy. This proposal is regarded with the gravest concern by the Waterford and Cork Harbour Commissioners, and by the  owners of ships going to Waterford and Cork. The masters of those ships consider that, even with these light vessels there at the present time, they are running very considerable risks, and do not consider that the replacement of the vessels with whistling buoys is going to give them anything like adequate protection. I would be glad if the Minister for Finance would point this out to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, so that that Department might make representations to the Irish Lights Commissioners. The masters of those vessels say that a whistling buoy will not work in very calm or foggy weather, and that in stormy weather, when they come downwind on the whistling buoy, they will not hear it until they are on top of it. There are only a few cable lengths between where it is proposed to put this buoy and the mine-fields, and there is only one and a half miles on the other side to the Conisberg rock, so that the Minister can appreciate that the passage for these vessels is a very narrow and perilous one. The proposal to replace with buoys is being made, apparently, because of the risk that the lightships' crews run from drifting mines. It has been suggested that if the crew were armed, even with a rifle, they could sink or explode any of these mines that come adrift before they could make contact with their ship.
Mr. Crosbie: Of course not. I appreciate that is a risk they will have to run, but these risks have got to be run in war time. The crew of that light vessel is certainly not running any graver risk than are the men who are bringing supplies to us in our ships. I had also intended to raise the question of freight rates between Lisbon and Dublin. As I understand that something is being done about that I ask the permission of the House to withdraw the notice I gave on it.
Sir John Keane: In regard to the control of emigration, has the Minister considered at all the boundary aspect of the problem? We know that smuggling has been very rife on the Border. I have no doubt that, if any  undue restrictions were placed on the export of human beings, it would be almost impossible, without employing an enormous armed force, to prevent the movement of those who wished to cross the boundary.
Mr. Counihan: There are just a few matters that I would like to have a statement from the Minister on. I would like to know first of all what are the Government's intentions with regard to family allowances for children.
Cathaoirleach: I desire to point out to the Senator that the House has agreed to deal first with and complete debate on matters of which notice has been given as set out on the paper. The House can then deal with general matters afterwards, when these have been disposed of. Family allowances is a matter that is outside the scope of the matters of which notice has been given.
Mrs. Concannon: I do not know if the Minister is aware that there is a constant flow of young men from the country. For months and weeks I have seen them go from Galway. The number of girls going across is very greatly on the increase. Some of the girls from Galway have left situations to go across. I think they complied with the regulations to a certain extent by leaving these and registering at the labour exchange, but they were lured by the promise of high wages. I think £3 10/- per week was offered to girls in service. I do not know whether any inquiry was made as to the conditions under which these girls would work or the dangers to which they might be exposed and what is to become of them when the war ends and they come back to us. These are  very grave matters and they certainly deserve the consideration of the Government.
Dr. Doyle: Senator McGee is not here, but he wishes to raise a point about broadcasting, chiefly about the method of giving the Irish news at 6.45 p.m. and 10.10 p.m. His point is that it is mixed up with foreign news in such a way that it is most uninteresting and actually hard to understand at times. He suggests that the Irish news should be given first and that included in it there should be such items as the cattle market report, reports as to the price of eggs and similar announcements and, in addition to that, the racing news and the greyhound news that is usually given at the end. All the Irish news should be given first and then let them talk about Benghazi, Mersa Matruh and those other places at the end.
Cathaoirleach: That has not been finally decided yet. It will be fixed later, by arrangement, I presume. We will now take questions arising on Votes for which the Minister for Finance is directly responsible. As I explained yesterday, these are only to be questions. We have concluded the special matters of which notice was given. Senator Counihan may now ask his question concerning family allowances.
Mr. Counihan: I have only a few questions to put to the Minister. First of all, I should like to have a statement from him as to the Government's intentions with reference to family allowances for agricultural workers with children under 15 years of age. The Seanad passed a resolution some months ago requesting the Government  to put such a scheme into operation either by introducing legislalation or by an Emergency Powers Order, but we have had no intimation since as to what the Government intend to do in the matter. I do not want to recapitulate the arguments that we used on that occasion, but I think they were convincing because the House passed that resolution unanimously. Therefore, I should like to know if the Government have considered the matter and what they intend doing.
I should also like to ask the Minister if he has examined the recommendations of the conference which he so very kindly set up to consider the question of credit facilities for farmers. Personally I am very grateful to him for calling that conference. I do not want to refer to the discussions which took place, as I understand they are confidential, at least for the present. But I would be glad if the Minister would say at what time he proposes to put the recommendations of that conference into operation and if he will consider putting them into operation before the time comes for the letting of land which is generally about the 1st October, as he might consider giving advances to those farmers who have not sufficient credit to stock their own lands. If it is to be done at all, I think it should be done fairly quickly. I think it should be done in the course of the next couple of months. As the Minister understands, the time for making provision for tillage and grazing is in the early autumn. I know it is not an easy matter to arrange, particularly with Civil Service Departments. But, if it is to be done at all, it should be done within the next two or three months. Therefore, I request the Minister, if he intends to do it, to do it before that time; otherwise there will be another year wasted.
The McGillycuddy: On a similar Vote, which is to be accounted for by the Minister for Finance, the question of the Irish Tourist Board arises. The report of the discussion on the Estimate for this particular board in the Dáil was quite a short one, but it  amounted to this: that the board was functioning; that owing to want of funds in the present time of stringency, they were not actually carrying out any works, but that they were contemplating several very considerable schemes. That is all very well and we would be very glad if they went forward with them when the money is available. But what we all felt and recommended to the Minister for Industry and Commerce when the Bill was going through the House was that the first thing we should do would be to urge, and to help by grants or loans or instructions, hotel proprietors throughout the country to modernise their hotels and keep them on the same standard as the smaller hotels on the continent or the road-houses all over England and Scotland to which the hikers go. That is what tourists expect and what our people from Dublin and other cities expect when they go to country districts.
I come from a big tourist area and in the biggest town there, which is an actual tourist centre, there is not what I would call one really modern hotel. There is one in Tralee which is absolutely first-class, but that is due entirely to the personal efforts of the proprietor without any help from the Tourist Board. The remainder are what you would call second-class so far as modernity is concerned, which is what the young people who want to take their holidays in this country are looking for. I know there are other Senators who have the same ideas and the same experience. I do hope that some influence will be directed on the people who run this Tourist Board—I understand there is quite a considerable number of them—and persuade them to work on these lines rather than on the more grandiose schemes which they are contemplating for the future. Let them be ready when the war is over so that people can go to these hotels and get what they expect.
With regard to the Vote itself, can the Minister give us any indication as to how this £6,500 which is shown for 1942-3 is proposed to be spent? Is it for salaries and directors' fees, or is it for grants-in-aid to various hotel keepers who want to improve their hotels?
Mr. E. Lynch: I would like to know if the Minister is going to inform us whether individual coupons will be used in the near future in respect to the issuing of tea and sugar? Tea and sugar are issued at present on a household card, and the regulations governing the issue of that card are rather complicated. I would have something to say on that, but I have been informed, I do not know how authentically, that individual coupons will be used in the near future in regard to tea and sugar as in the case of drapery goods. I do not know whether that comes under the Minister's purview or not, or whether he will be able to inform us about it, but I would like to have that information if it is available.
Professor Magennis: I would like to associate myself with what was said just now by Senator The McGillycuddy. About 50 years ago the hotels in France —apart from those that were hotels de luxe and meant for moneyed tourists—were of a very low quality, and a philanthropic body styled The Touring Club of France took the matter in hand and provided all the smaller hotels with proper modern sanitary equipment and adornment of the type that would make a stay in the hotel a source of pleasure. They made the allowance in this fashion: they defrayed half the cost themselves out of their own funds, and permitted the hotel proprietors to pay by instalments for the remaining half of the expenditure. In a very little while France became an ideal place for lower middle-class tourists, and particularly for the French people themselves. It is that type of thing, the making—I hate to use clichés but it comes to my lips—of a home away from home, a place where it is pleasant to be, a place which is a pleasant centre to stay at, from which to survey and enjoy a country place that counts.
There is also the question of food. I remember one of our fellow-citizens, a lady critic, incurred great odium by  saying what I am about to say—that cookery, especially in hotels that are not of the highest flight, is anything but what it ought to be. A few years ago in connection with this very praiseworthy attempt to establish tourism as one of our national industries, to exploit all the advantages of the beautiful country, in a country where there are historical things and artistic things as well as beautiful scenery, one of the drawbacks was the fact that cookery was bad. Therefore, a committee of hotel managers and proprietors was set up to visit the Continent. Of course, they went to Switzerland, which is the university for all hotel proprietors, and before they left I prophesied in a public writing that I should announce the report they would make without going there, without waiting for their return. I found they were unacquainted with my sarcasm and they actually made the identical report: we have nothing to learn. We had so much to learn that they had nothing to learn. Things have remained, I venture to say, though it is not at all a popular thing to say, pretty much what they were 30 or 25 years ago.
In or about 1927, as a politician, going through different centres in the country, I had a very ample opportunity for testing the qualities and characters of the hotels. I remember the late Senator Colonel Moore and I arrived one evening at a hotel and we apologised for being late—it was after the usual time for dinner—and we were assured most courteously that it really did not matter. And it did not matter, for the dinner supplied was tea, eggs and bacon; the following morning, breakfast was tea, bacon and eggs; luncheon was eggs, bacon and tea, and dinner, tea, bacon and eggs. That seemed to be exhaustive of the culinary resources of the hotel or the skill of the kitchen. In another midland hotel I found there was something peculiar about what was served and discovered we were having liquid eggs from China and Chinese bacon. That — in Ireland which is supposed to be the place of all places for supplying good and wholesome, and above all, fresh food.
Professor Magennis: It was under the last régime, no doubt, but surely we are not going to fasten on the then President Cosgrave, amongst other things, that he was responsible for Chinese eggs arriving in barrels. But the fact is this, as the Senator who spoke on this has pointed out, that instead of ambitious projects of superb hotels, we could serve the main purpose of the setting up of the Tourist Board very much better by looking to our own natives as the tourists who will stay in the hotels that are to be equipped. We want to make Ireland a playground for Irish people in their times of leisure rather than to attract the foreigner and it is for our own people that it is so desirable to have that type of nice, middle-class, pleasantly-equipped hotel. It seems to me that the work of setting up these and encouraging the setting up of them could be done now without waiting for world peace. In fact, it would be easier to pray for world peace if one's holidays were spent in an agreeable situation.
There is another point with regard to the tourist question. I may be egotistic enough to mention myself. There is one thing that I have most at heart and that is the union of Ireland, the disappearance of the Border, and it seems such a happy thing that, owing to the inability of our fellow-countrymen in the Six Counties to take their holidays outside the island, they came here, descended in hordes on the southern counties. It is lamentable that anything should happen that would provoke a reaction in their minds that have been made favourable to union with the Twenty-Six Counties by their experiences here. I have met and spoken with a great many of my Ulster compatriots during the past few weeks who were here as tourists. They regretted that they were not under the benignant system of government which we have the good fortune to enjoy. Then some Civil Service mind advises a scheme of souring and embittering those people by descending on them at the Border as they returned with their purchases from this part of the  country. Girls' lipsticks, lipstick equipment, cosmetics of various sorts for their friends, are seized, and the whole thing is treated like one of those operatic scenes in which the brigands fall upon the party, only there was no delightful music to accompany it on this occasion.
It seems to me that no matter what may be the economic aspects of it, the side of policy and the side of patriotism which presents itself to me is in favour of turning the blind eye to all those things rather than to make an enormity of them on the part of tourists. I know we have soured the minds of a great many people who were turning to look upon this as a blissful land, whose Government they would like to live under. It seems a petty point, but very often in history big things have turned upon very small events. There was a stage in the French Revolution when all might have been well, when the mob from Paris that had assailed Versailles had been moved to change their whole attitude towards the system of government, and a voice from the crowd shouted: “To Paris!” and the King and Queen were brought to Paris and then there followed the reign of terror. There are innumerable instances of that sort. It may seem, perhaps, to some of us that we are making mountains out of molehills, but I think anything that tends to turn the current of the Six County mind against us when it had begun to run in our favour, is a political blunder.
Professor Johnston: I would like to add some of my own personal experiences. I frequently receive visits from friends and relations in the North and they never come down without bringing a liberal supply of tea, with the result that the tea ration in my family is very much higher than that common to the rest of the country. That is very kind of them and, up to some time ago, I was able to return the compliment by sending a dozen or two of eggs, or lettuce or tomatoes, in the opposite direction, but under a recent order of our customs authorities we are prohibited from sending anything like that out now, so that no matter what these people are kind enough to bring, one cannot return the compliment in kind.
Mrs. Concannon: The way in which this debate has been arranged has certain advantages, but it might tend to deprive us of an opportunity of thanking God that we can once more discuss an Appropriation Bill in an atmosphere of peace. I do so now, and the atmosphere of peace is emphasised by the fact that we are able to discuss the possibilities of tourism. I am very glad that this was done. I do not know what are the prospects of the big luxury hotels for the future; that will depend largely on the kind of world we are going to have. But there is a great opportunity for the modest, middle-class hotel being made a model of comfort and of welcome. It seems to me that when the Tourist Board was set up a great mistake was made by not including on it a competent woman. There should have been a woman appointed, because it is a woman's job. At least one of the five should have been a woman and there were a lot of women who were eligible and from whom a good selection could have been made. We understand that women will be employed by the Tourist Board, but the direction of policy is for the board and the direction of policy needs the advice of a woman.
In my view, we should endeavour to make our modest, middle-class hotels models for all Europe. We have the best food in the world and it is a great mistake if we do not cook it in the proper way. When I say that, I do not think we should be imitating French cookery or anything of that kind, which is largely a matter of disguising the inferior qualities of the article. Irish food has its own flavour, and the whole art of Irish cooking is to make the most of the natural flavour. That is an art that is not beyond any intelligent person's acquisition. The training of girls in their proper sphere would ensure that it would be done. In addition to that, it would be quite possible, I think, to have a system of apprenticeship. There are certain hotels in Ireland, family hotels with no great pretensions about them, and they are models. I could name some of them that are familiar to most members of this House. If there was a system of apprenticeship to these  hotels, where the traditional methods could be learned and carried on, that would help a great deal.
The Government, in their social policy, have sponsored compulsory holidays with pay and that has led to a large increase in tourist traffic among our own people. It is very important that they should find in the areas where they go places for their reception that will not fleece them, that will charge them a reasonable amount, give them good clean beds, good proper food and a welcome. In those places there will be a welcome for their children and they will be encouraged to come again. We do not need much Government help for that; it is a matter of stirring up people and educating the women and it is a great shame for us if we neglect the opportunity that is given us.
Mr. Goulding: This talk of tourism is rather interesting. Anybody who has ever travelled in Europe has had it brought home to him very forcibly what a great advantage the tourist traffic is to European countries. These countries take it very seriously and regard it as a regular professional business. In a hotel abroad I remember meeting one of the staff and she informed us that her people were large hotel proprietors in Switzerland. They were very well-to-do people. She had travelled in Italy, Germany, America and England. She went to those countries to learn in the various hotels what the people wanted, what sort of food the English or the Germans or Americans required, and she learned all their languages. That girl went back to Switzerland and took control of her father's hotel. She was able to meet tourists from different countries on their own level. She knew what they liked, she knew what food they needed and how to speak to them, and she made a success of the business. I do not know if that idea ever occurred to a hotel proprietor in this country. People elsewhere take tourist traffic very seriously and make a commercial success of it.
As we are dealing with tourists, there is one class that the Tourist  Board would do well to cater for. I am thinking of the tourists amongst our own people. There are many fairly well-to-do people in the country who do not like to go to noisy seaside resorts, where there is probably a noisy show of some sort on and in which people assemble in considerable numbers. They are people who want quiet places and who would prefer to go to some very remote seaside place where there are very few people, and, going along our coasts, one notices very many nice bays and inlets of the sea which provide safe bathing and safe beaches for children to play on but which are absolutely deserted. I wonder if it ever occurred to any of the people there to build small bungalows in these places which could be let to families at a reasonable rent? There are people all over the country who would jump at the chance of getting such places, and one often thinks it a pity that all these beautiful beaches should be neglected when people, who dislike crowds and noise, are crowded into certain well-known seaside resorts. Perhaps the Tourist Board would see its way to finance local farmers or small villagers to erect such bungalows. I think they would be a paying proposition and would certainly be of great advantage to many of our own people who want places to which they can go for the summer months.
Mr. Hawkins: Many of us who come from tourist areas must regret that more money is not being put at the disposal of the Tourist Board. A number of speakers have already dealt with the hotel problem, and I believe that the board has already undertaken some work in which they propose to utilise the Construction Corps in the development of some of our tourist and holiday resorts. I hope nothing will happen to prevent them or handicap them in this work. No objection will be raised to the utilisation of the Construction Corps for this type of work, because it is work of national importance, and it will be very good for the particular places in which the work is carried out and for the country as a whole if our holiday resorts  are developed and made attractive for tourists, that is, for our own people and for people from across the water and from foreign countries, when things become normal again.
I think the Government should consider getting the board to go into immediate action and placing money at their disposal for carrying out necessary works in the various holiday centres. It is essential that we should have good hotels and good food, but I think that that matter can safely be left to the hotel proprietors, who, if they see that visitors are coming and that there is a reasonable prospect of their making some money out of it as a business proposition, will probably develop on their own. It is a different matter when you come to consider the holiday centre. In such places, you must have proper sewerage and proper sanitary accommodation, and I suggest that some few hundred pounds should be expended to make Salthill in County Galway what it really should be. It is really too great an expenditure to expect the corporation or the local authorities there to undertake, and it is more or less one of the tasks which should be carried out by the Tourist Board. I know that investigations have been carried out and that the Tourist Board has plans for carrying out work in a number of centres. The work has already been undertaken in some cases, with the utilisation in those places in which labour is not available of the Construction Corps and I hope their efforts in that direction will meet with every success.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I am glad that the Appropriation Bill was not the subject of very adverse criticism and that the time occupied was not particularly occupied in criticism of the subjects for which I, as Minister for Finance, am directly responsible — not, of course, that I should object to such criticism, but it leaves me in the position in which I am not obliged to take up the time of the House very long, and probably the House will not object to that. There were a few points raised which only very indirectly affect me in my capacity as Minister for Finance. Other points  raised dealt directly with the Department of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and these matters I shall have the attention of the Ministers concerned called to, and possibly other opportunities will arise for getting answers from the respective Ministers.
I heard the other day that Senator McGee was interested in the news bulletins of Radio Eireann. I talked to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs about the matter and he explained to me that the news bulletins are prepared by experienced journalists. The matter of arrangement is left in the hands of these journalists who decide the arrangement of the bulletins on the basis of the news value of the different items. They do give first place to important Irish news, but they insist that news value must remain the test, if the bulletins are to hold the interest of our listeners. Many official announcements, they say, are of very limited interest and should not be given preference over news of much wider interest and value. If Senator McGee is interested in the matter further, no doubt he will have further opportunities of dealing with it when he will be able to get a direct answer from the Minister.
The Irish Tourist Board comes only very indirectly under my Department. I am responsible for a Grant-in-Aid of £6,500 in the Estimates for this year. That Grant-in-Aid is issued on the recommendation of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the board in respect of the administration and other expenses of the board. That is in answer to Senator The McGillycuddy who asked what this £6,000 in the Book of Estimates was for.
The other matters raised about tourism and the operations of the Tourist Board would, of course, be matters that should properly be dealt with by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am glad to say, however, that my experience — perhaps it is not as wide, and I do not suppose it is quite as long, as that of Senator Magennis — has not been exactly of the unhappy nature that the Senator described. In the last 20 or 25 years,  I think I have not come across any hotel in any part of Ireland in which I have stayed that was obliged to ring the changes on bacon and eggs in the manner which the Senator so graphically described. I am of the impression that the hotels in Ireland, certainly in the last 20 years, have improved very considerably. I can call to mind hotels in which I was happy to stay in the last 20 years in Kerry — the subject was first raised by Senator The McGillycuddy. Almost all parts of County Kerry is studded with excellent hotels. The same remark applies to Donegal and Galway as far as my experience has gone and I have not always gone to luxurious hotels — I did not always have the money, not that I have very much now. I have gone to all sorts of hotels. I have not been always lucky, I admit. In some cases, the beds have not been as comfortable as one would like but, on the whole, I think there has been a very big improvement in the comfort of hotels and even in the cooking and food generally in any parts of Ireland I have visited. I have visited almost all parts — North, South, East and West, not so much in the North, perhaps, with the exception of Donegal. I have visited County Clare frequently and there are innumerable good hotels in Clare besides in other counties in the South.
In the midlands generally the hotels are not comparable with those in some of the counties I have mentioned, but the towns there perhaps are not such great tourist centres. On the whole, my impression is that there has been a very big improvement in our hotels in recent years, but I do not want to suggest that there is not some room for further improvement. I quite agree with those who urge that the standards of our hotels should be raised. Despite the report made by hotel keepers who visited Switzerland, which was referred to by the Senator, I think there is plenty of room for improvement, if we compare our hotels with hotels as we know them in France, Germany, and Switzerland. I hope the Tourist Board will carry on its good work and encourage hotels to improve their conditions, and at the same time keep their charges moderate.
Senator The McGillycuddy also  raised the question of emigration. That is mainly a problem, on the administration side at any rate, which is the concern of the Department of Industry and Commerce. It is a problem that has grown in recent years, for reasons of which we are all aware, and the Government has given a good deal of attention to it. It is not easy to find a solution. If young men and women are not to be permitted under any conditions to leave the country, well then what are we going to do with them? We have got to provide for them, and even if they are provided for, the attraction of the much higher remuneration which they are offered elsewhere is bound to be a source of inducement to them to go elsewhere. Probably Senators know, as I do, that some young men and women were able to get round the regulations. The regulations, as I understand them, make it difficult, or are supposed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for young persons under 22 years of age, or other persons who are in employment, to get permits to leave the country. However it is managed, I have had some cases of young men and women whose ages I am inclined to think were under 22, who were able to leave the country I certainly know of a number, not a great number, who were in employment and left that employment, regular employment, employment in which there was no doubt they would be retained, to go abroad and take advantage of the higher remuneration. That is a problem which I know is giving the Minister for Industry and Commerce a good deal of trouble. He and his Department, in fact the Government as a whole, have given a good deal of time to its consideration. A variety of aspects connected with the matter is still under consideration.
Senator Crosbie raised the question of lightships and buoys. I am not able to give him any information on that matter but I shall call the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the remarks of the Senator.
Senator Counihan wants to know what we are doing about family allowances. It is seven or eight months  since I set up an inter-Departmental committee to consider that matter. Their report is almost complete. If the holiday season had not intervened, I probably would have it within the next week or two but I shall have it before the end of September. It will then be considered by me and, later, by the Government.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: Not necessarily. I do not know definitely yet; I have to see the report. I do not know what it will be like. Another matter raised by Senator Counihan was the question of agricultural credit. Something has been done since the Senator raised that subject here before. Since I made a promise that I would set up a committee or some body to have it examined, it was examined by a number of people, of whom the Senator himself was one. I have not got the report of the body which examined that subject. I have got some interim reports, two or three, but the recommendations arising out of the decisions that were come to I have not yet got and I have not, therefore, considered them. Some steps, I think, will have to be taken to make credit more easy for agriculturists. What these steps will be I am not able to say. I shall try to have the matter considered with as much speed as possible.
I am sorry I cannot answer Senator Lynch in regard to coupons. I do not know what the position is. I think I read a newspaper report a week or a fortnight ago that sugar was to be rationed and that coupons would be available for that purpose. I do not remember seeing any reference to tea but if the Senator would call the Minister's attention to the matter he might be able to get an answer.
Senator Magennis also raised a question about raids on people returning to the North, and about the fact of their being relieved of goods like cosmetics and butter. I think Senator Johnston also referred to the question of inability to export eggs. I do not know if Senators remember many discussions which took place in the Dáil this spring, and even into the  summer, with regard to the shortage of butter in the Twenty-Six Counties. There was a great shortage of butter. The quantity permitted to be exported last year was very small, but, notwithstanding that, there was a shortage, and there was a determination that there should be no more butter exported. After all, charity begins at home, and, regret it though we may, we have to regard this State as ending at the boundary, and we have first to look after the interests of our own people within that boundary. If there is to be a shortage of butter, we will have to keep all the butter we have for our own people first. That may seem unpatriotic and uncharitable to some, but I think if Senators would remember the strong feeling that was expressed on this subject in the Dáil by Deputies of all Parties during the last few months they would realise that the Government is obliged to see that no butter is exported, certainly that no butter is illegally exported.
Professor Magennis: I should like to ask the Minister if he remembers that one of the great pieces of architecture in Rouen, in the Cathedral there, is called the Butter Tower, because the cost of it was met by the good citizens of Rouen depriving themselves of butter in order to raise the money? I suggest that the national policy with regard to the recovery of the lost Six Counties is worth the sacrifice of a few pounds of butter.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I think every member of the Dáil and Seanad — and I think they could speak for their families and perhaps for others as well —would be quite prepared to do without butter altogether for the next five years or perhaps ten years if they thought that that sacrifice would get us one step further on the road towards ending the Border.
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I would use any method that I thought would be effective in a short time. If I thought  butter would be effective I would plaster them with butter inside and outside, and the best of butter at that. I would not object to the ladies getting the cosmetics; not that so many of them need them, naturally, but, if they have a taste for them, and their men folk have the same taste, they can get all they like to take away with them. If they are taking them in big quantities, however, I, as Minister for Finance, would like them to pay a good deal for what they take away.
|Last Updated: 19/05/2011 00:49:36||Page of 8|