Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1948—Second and Subsequent Stages.

Thursday, 11 March 1948

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 34 No. 24

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Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Defence (Dr. O'Higgins): Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  As the Seanad is aware, this is the annual Army Bill which has to be renewed each year. Unless this Bill, or some such Bill, were passed before the 31st March there would be no legal authority for the Defence Forces on the 1st April. I would appreciate it very [2222] much if the Seanad would consider the advisability of giving me all stages of the Bill to-day. I am aware of the fact that frequently there has been objection—it is quite an understandable objection—to giving a Minister all stages of any Bill in one day. The circumstances of this year are rather peculiar, and of necessity this Bill is being introduced in the Seanad rather near the date that I have mentioned, the 31st March next. The hands of the clock are going around all the time, and that is my excuse and apology in asking for all stages of the Bill in one day.

Normally, in introducing a Bill such as this the Seanad would be justified in expecting a rather full, detailed and comprehensive survey of Army matters: a detailed account of Army policy from the Minister in charge. On this occasion I would ask to be excused from making such a statement because, if I did attempt it, it would be made with a remarkable absence of knowledge and information. I have been just a couple of weeks in the Department of Defence, and if I was to base any statement on the superficial scratching of a couple of weeks' knowledge that statement would be unreliable and, possibly, misleading.

At a later date I will be anxious for such a discussion. That is merely in relation to myself. I do not in any way want to suggest curbing or interfering with any Senator in expressing his views. I am sure the views of experienced Senators would be helpful to any Minister for Defence in arriving at a sound judgment of Army affairs. All that I would like to say by way of warning to Senators and to the public generally is that there has been an amount of speculation in Press and in journals, the main speculations being entirely unreliable and groundless. I would not be worried about any such speculation except in so far as it causes uneasiness and unrest in the minds of good officers, N.C.O.s and men. The speculation and rumours are, in the main, groundless. The only assurance that I am in a position to give at the moment, and I can give it with knowledge and conviction, is that whatever economics may be found justifiable or [2223] necessary no single economy will interfere with the present conditions of service, pay or prospects of any single officer or man in the Army from the Chief of Staff down to the youngest recruit that we received, say, last night.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  Having heard the statement made by the Minister I would like to say at the outset that it is not our intention to oppose this Bill in any way. Over a number of years we have had a similar measure coming before the Seanad. On every occasion on which such a measure came before the House I will not say that it was opposed, but it was very definitely criticised by the then Opposition. Now that we have the efficiency experts in the position in which they can put their ideas into effective operation, it is only natural to expect that this will be the last time we will be faced with a Bill of this kind. I believe we should have a permanent measure dealing with the Army, and, as that course has been advocated for a number of years by the Opposition, as they were then, and now on the Government Benches, I hope they will put their ideas into effective operation before this time 12 months.

With regard to talking all stages of the Bill to-day, neither I nor the people on this side of the House who were formerly on the other side ever opposed the taking of all stages. There were a few people who did and, while I do not like to mention names, I cannot avoid mentioning a few—Senator Hayes, Senator Baxter and Senator Duffy, who, I am sorry to see, is not in the front bench where I expected him to be. I appeal to them not to object to-day, but to give the Minister all stages. As has been pointed out by the Minister, it is a matter of urgency, and if by any chance the Seanad were to adopt the contrary attitude of objecting to the measure being taken through all stages, it would cause a lot of inconvenience which would not do any good to any Party in the House, if there are any Parties in the House, and would certainly do no good to the country.

On the question of Army policy, no reasonable person would expect that [2224] we should have a discussion on Army policy, as such, at this stage. The Minister has been in office for a matter of only a couple of weeks and I was glad to hear his statement to the effect that, so far as he is personally concerned, there would be no curtailment of pay and no interference with the conditions of any officer or N.C.O. We have had a lot of what the Minister referred to as unreliable and groundless suggestions and conversations. We had, as I am quite sure the Minister will agree, a lot of wild statements made by various sections who now form the Government, during the election campaign and even since the election campaign, to the effect that certain economies were necessary and that these various Parties who were criticising the previous Government for what they termed their lavish expenditure would insist on these economies. One Department which got special notice in that respect was the Department of Defence. It was suggested by numerous speakers during the election that the Army was entirely too big for a country of this size and that, if and when they were returned as the Government, they would reduce the Army. I appeal to the Minister not to be carried away by any of this wild talk by irresponsible people, by people who perhaps did not expect to find themselves in the position in which they would have to implement their promises.

I should like the Minister to realise, as I am sure most of the people here realise, that the men now serving in the Army are the men who held the front lines, so far as the country is concerned, during the war, and, while it is not necessary for us to go into the various reasons why we were not invaded, one of the principal reasons was that a lot of young men, representative of every section of the community, of every political organisation and even of families who disagreed violently with the Government on various matters flocked into the Army. Because we had a solid front in that Army and because we had a number of very efficient and responsible officers prepared to take charge of that Army, and, if necessary, to risk their lives, this country was saved during those [2225] seven terrible years. If there was any suggestion of reducing that Army—in other words, of dismissing a number of these men—pensioning them off and throwing them back on the waves of the world, throwing them into a new life for which they are not very well prepared and to which they did not look forward, it would be a disastrous step and definitely a step in the wrong direction.

I am well aware that it is the policy of the Government to introduce economies here and there, and I know very well that some people will say to themselves: “No matter what we cut down on, provided we can say that we are saving the State hundreds of pounds or thousands of pounds, it will be a popular move”; but I appeal to the Minister not to be carried away by ideas or suggestions of that kind. I have particularly in mind in this connection the Army jumping team. I am aware that there are some people in the Government, and in the country, for that matter, who would say to themselves: “Here is one item of expenditure on which we can cut down.” I do not believe that would be good policy; it would, in fact, be a very shortsighted policy, because, as somebody said a good many years ago, the horsebreeding industry of this country is of the utmost importance. It is one of our foremost industries, and, apart altogether from its value as an industry, I believe that the jumping team, the officers and the horses of the Irish Army jumping team, are our ambassadors all over the world and the best possible ambassadors we could send out.

With regard to the Army as a whole, the suggestion has been made, and several people who are now in the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, as I regard it, have said, that the Army would be cut down. If anybody can tell me that we are facing a period of world peace, then I should be prepared to consider the advisability of cutting down the Army. One man's guess is as good as another's, but I, as an individual, believe that we are facing a very disturbed period in the world, and particularly in Europe. I believe it is up to us not alone to keep the Army at its present strength but at greater [2226] strength, and rather than cut down the Army for the sake of saving a few pounds here and there, we should try to make our Army more perfect, if that is possible, and try to arrange that, if and when another emergency arises, we shall again be able to sink our political differences, if there are any left, and come together in appealing to the young men to respond as they responded in the past for the sake of the country. Rather than create any doubt in the minds of the officers and men in the Army, it should go out from this House to-day that we, regardless of political Parties, appreciate the sacrifices made by these men in the past, and that, so far as we can do it, not alone will their positions remain as they were under the previous Government, but, if possible, they will be improved and made more secure.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I should like to welcome the Minister on his first appearance as a Minister in this House, and I should also like to welcome the very excellent speech we have just heard from Senator Quirke. I find myself, strange to say, in almost complete agreement with nearly everything he said, and that should constitute a red-letter day for this House. But in his anxiety to overflow with the milk of human kindness, particularly in regard to the Army, I think the Senator rather mistook his history. He talked about the Minister as being a Minister of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. That is absolutely contrary to the facts and he has even forgotten some of the recent nomenclature if that is not too big a word to use. I entirely welcome his statement and I agree with him entirely that some wild statements were made, but Senator Quirke and everybody here will agree with me when I say that wild statements were no monopoly of those who were supporting the groups which at present constitute the Government. I think wild statements came into fashion long before the recent election, and, if Senator Quirke can put his hand on his heart and say he never made a wild statement, he can throw a whole heap of stones. I am perfectly sure that the Minister is one of the people in the country who is peculiarly able to resist. [2227] the temptation to yield to wild statements. In fact, I rather think he is a Minister to-day because he did not yield to wild statements—quite the contrary.

With regard to the Army, I do not think anybody can have more sympathy with the Army, or more admiration for its achievements, than people like the Minister and myself, who were, both of us, foundation members of the Army as far back as 1913. It is not usual for a father to belittle his own child, and I do not think that anybody in the Army, whether officer or man, will think he is being belittled by the Minister or that his achievements or efficiency are being in any way decried. With regard to the Army jumping team I entirely agree with Senator Quirke, and, so far as I recollect, the only criticism of sending the Army team abroad and getting it into effective operation as ambassadors of Ireland on a very high plane and as people who would improve one of our most important industries, the horse breeding industry, came—I may be at fault because I was naturally not prepared for this—from the present Leader of the Opposition and of Senator Quirke's Party before he came into office; but, like other people, he possibly learned something after he came into office.

I should like to say this to the Minister: the Army jumping team was a very important part of the Army. It performed a very important function and was well worth the money expended on it; but I have personal knowledge that, both under the previous Government and under the Government which preceded it, officers who went abroad with the Army jumping team, achieved great distinction and secured considerable trade for this country, very often suffered personal financial loss. I hope that when the Army jumping team is revived and resumes its previous glory in achieving these results for us, the officers concerned will not find themselves in the position that they have to be at a personal loss. I do not think the taking of all stages of this Bill through the Seanad in one day was opposed by me on any previous occasion. I welcome [2228] what has been said about the general view of this House, and of the other House, too, in regard to the Army. Its function during the war was very important, and all the members of both Houses, of every Party, did support the then Minister for Defence and did what they could to develop the Army and keep it in a proper position to fulfil its functions. I am delighted that that spirit should remain and I am delighted also that we should meet on this occasion—I hope we shall continue to do so—in such an admirable spirit of unanimity.

Liam Ó Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Níl mórán le rá agam i dtaobh an Bhille atá os ár gcomhar, go háirithe mar an méid a bhí le rá agam tá sé ráite, agus ráite go rí-mhaith, cheana. Níl aon athrú tuairime againn i dtaobh an Airm, nó i dtaobh dualgais an Airm ón méid atá ráite ag an Aire, agus ón méid atá ráite ag Seanadóir Ó hAodha. Níl ach aon rud amháin le tuiscint as go dtí seo, agus sé an rud é sin ná gur deá-obair, agus obair éifeachtach, an obair a rinneadh faoin Rialtas atá tar éis dul as oifig, agus gur léir dúinn go leanfar den pholasaí a bhí ag an Rialtas sin.

Rinne an tAire agus an Seanadóir Ó hAodha tagairt do dhaoine a rinne ráitis do dhaoine a bhí ag dhéanamh áiféise mar gheall ar chúrsaí nar thuigeadar go ró-mhaith. Ní féidir leis an Aire ná leis an Seanadóir Ó hAodha a rá nach raibh údar ag muintir na hÉireann bheith imníoch mar gheall ar chuid den chaint a rinne daoine áirithe atá páirteach sa Rialtas anois. Bhí údar leis an imní sin, mar bhí na ráflaí sin á scaipeadh ag daoine atá páirteach sa Rialtas atá ann faoi láthair. Deireann an tAire agus an Seanadóir Ó hAodha nach bhfuil fúthu géilleadh don áiféis sin. Nach bhfuil brí ná údar leis na habairtí ná na ráflaí atá ag baint leis an sórt Rialtais atá ann, nuair is féidir le haon Aire seasamh suas agus rud a rá agus is féidir le Aire eile a rá nach n-aontaíonn sé leis.

Mícheál Ó hAodha: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  An féidir leis an Seanadóir a rá gur thárla sin i dtaobh an Airm?

[2229]Liam Ó Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Ba mhaith líom a rá sul a dtugad freagra ar an gceist sin gur úsáid mé an focal “Aire” níos mó ná aon uair amháin. Is fíor é nach raibh na daoine atá i gceist agam ina nAirí nuair labhradar mar sin; ach pé scéal é daoine údarásacha a bhí iontu agus muna rabhadar ag cur an phobail amu, ní lá go maidin é.

Mícheál Ó hAodha: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Sé an cheist a chuir mé ar an Seanadóir ná seo: an ndúirt aon Aire aon rud mar gheall ar an Arm agus an ndúirt aon Aire eile an rud contrártha?

Liam Ó Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Tá me ag míniú agus is féidir leis an Seanadóir é thuiscint ar aon bhealach is mian leis ach ní féidir leis leagan dó féin a chur ar mo chuid cainte. Tá mé ag rá go ndúirt daoine atá páirteach sa Rialtas anois, bíodh nach raibh siad in a nAirí, thuas agus thíos ar fud na tíre, go rabhadar i gcoinne an Airm a choinneáil mar a bhí sé. An fíor nó bréag é? Tá súil agam go bhfuil sé tagtha i dtuiscint don Aire nach mbeidh muintir na hÉireann sásta cur isteach a dhéanamh ar an Arm nó ar éifeachtulacht an Airm. Is maith liom go mór an méid a dúirt an tAire mar gheall ar an rún atá aige—nach ngéillfidh sé don áiféis agus go leanfadh sé leis an obair a rinne an tAire a bhí ann roimhe.

An tArm—cad tá ann nuair smaoiníonn tú air? Rud ionmholta sa tír, ach, ó thaobh an chostais, ní fiú bheith ag caint ar an méid airgid a bhíomar a chaitheamh air le linn an chogaidh. Cé deireann gur caitheadh aon scilling amháin ar an Arm nar cheart agus nar chóir a chaitheamh? An tArm mar atá faoi láthair agus an tairgead atá á chaitheamh air, ba cheart dúinn breathnú ar an airgead sin mar árachas náisiúnta. Fear gnótha ar bith, ní maith leis airgead a íoc ar árachas—ní hé gur maith leis airgead a chur amach—ach íocann sé é; agus ar an mbealach céana leis an Arm—an tairgead atámuid a chaitheamh ar an Arm, is árachas náisiúnta é. Níl aon mhaith bheith ag rá nach gcaithtear go ciallmhar é. Nach bhfull Coiste nar gCuntas Poiblí ann agus nach féidir ceisteanna a chur i nDáil Éireann chun lán-eolas d'fháil i [2230] dtaobh imeachtaí an Airm? Is féidir linn bheith sásta gur caitheadh an t-airgead go ciallmhar, agus bhí áthas orm a cloisint ón Aire agus ón Seanadóir Ó hAodha gur dóigh leo gur caitheadh an t-airgead go ciallmhar. Taispeánann an rún atá acu, gan cur isteach ar an Arm, gurb é an intinn a bhí acu gur caitheadh an t-airgead sin go ciallmhar. Árachas náisiúnta atá ann agus níl ann ach codán den méid airgid atá á chaitheamh againn ar sheirbhísí na tíre. Tá sé ana-bheag, nuair atá gach rud ráite.

Ní maith liom a thabhairt faoi deara go bhfuil rún ag an Aire an Coiste faoi stair mhíleata na tíre a chur ar ceal. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil an t-am tagtha, agus tagtha go maith, chun eolas a chur ar fáil i dtaobh cúrsaí agus stair mhíleata na hÉireann. Is suarach an méid airgid a bhí i gceist ann—£3,000 no £4,000—agus sílim, nuair dhéanfas an tAire machtnamh ar an rún a chuir sé os ár gcómhair inniu go bhféachfaidh sé chuige go gcoinneofar an bureau sin ar bun agus go dtiubhraidh sé cead do na daoine i seilbh na seirbhíse sin dul in aghaidh lena gcuid oibre.

Tá rud amháin eile ann. Más fada gearr a bheas an tAire ann, ba mhaith liom go dtuibharfaí aire faoi leith do cheist Ghaelú an Airm, an oiread agus is féidir. Ba mhaith liom go bhféachfaí cuige sin agus an cath Gaelach atá againn cheana, go méadófar é chun go mbeidh gach reisimint san Arm, agus gach brainse díobh chomh Gaeleach leis an gCath Gaeleach atá san iarthar.

Mhol mé rud éigin eile níos mó ná aon uair amháin, creidim, nuair bhí an Bille seo ós ár gcomhair cheana, agus molaim arís é, go mbfhiú don Aire féachaint chuige go ndéanfaí iarracht speisialta chun go mbeidh fir óga sásta dul isteach sa gcath Gaeleach. Ní hé amháin ar mhaithe leis an Arm ach an mhaithe leis an náisiún agus ar mhaithe leis an nGaeilge go mór mór.

Mar fhocal scoir: thaithnigh go mór liom an méid a dúirt an tAire faoi rún atá aige maidir leis an Arm a choinneal le chéile agus maidir le féachaint chuige nach laghdófar ar a éifeacht. Níl fhios agam cad é an t-údarás atá aige mar gheall ar sin ach tá súil agam [2231] gur buan-intinn é agus gurb é rún an Rialtais é. Níl fhios agam nach bhfuilmuid ag an gcros-bhóthar agus má táimid, ba mhaith liom, ar ócáid seo, bfhéidir an cruinniú deireannach den tSeanad seo, go nglacfaí ár mbuíocas do na fír san Arm i ngeall ar a ndílseacht agus a ndualgás seirbhís an náisiún agus do na fir agus mná a thug an oiread sin seirbhíse agus a rinne an oiread sin oibre sna fórsaí cosanta áitiúla le linn na héigeandála. An méid atámuid faoi chomaoin acu, is ar eigin is féidir linn é chur in iúl choíche trí bhriathra béil. Le cúnamh Dé, ní bheidh aon ghá le seirbhís mar sin arís, ach, má bhíonn, beidh fir agus mná óga réidh, mar bhíodar cheana, le seasamh ar son na tíre.

Mr. Hawkins:  We were pleased to have the statement from the Minister to-day that there will be no worsening of conditions, so far as the officers and men of the Army are concerned, because of the change of Government. But that statement of itself is not sufficient. What the House and the country want to know is if there will be a change of policy. Will the future policy be the policy enunciated by the Minister and many of his supporters prior to and during the election?

I agree with the Minister that this is not, perhaps, the time when we should go into questions of policy. This Bill is a temporary measure. We hope, as the Minister indicated to the Dáil, that when he is introducing his Army Estimate we shall have from him a statement on general defence policy. Some time will elapse and in the meantime the Minister will have an opportunity of considering what he should do as a responsible Minister of the State as against what he had in mind before he became a Minister. I feel that if he adopts the policy to which he gave expression in the Dáil on every occasion when a Bill similar to this was presented, and when the Estimates for our Defence Forces were under consideration, then we will have a change of policy in relation to our Army.

I urge on the Minister that before [2232] he takes a step of that kind, which might be very detrimental to the interests of the Irish nation and which might lead us into much trouble in the future, he should cast aside the ideas he had prior to becoming a Minister. I have no doubt, if he does so, he will live up to his responsibilities and view this from an impartial and not from a political angle. I have no doubt that if he does so he will not take his advice from sources calling out for economy when that is not in the best interests of the nation; that he will take advice from the responsible officers in our Defence Forces; that that advice will be acted on rather than the advice of what might be termed political advisers.

Many of us are meeting here to-day probably for the last time and, when we are discussing a Bill of this kind, it is only right that we should express our appreciation of those men who joined our Defence Forces during the emergency. We should also express our appreciation of the action of those who gave employment to the individuals who were disbanded. While we may express such appreciation, we must also express deep regret because of certain actions taken by the Government during recent weeks, and in regard to actions which they propose to take in the future—that is, if rumour is true. It is stated that many of those men who found employment in organisations such as Bord na Móna will find themselves once more thrown on the unemployment heap.

There is a campaign being carried on in many of our newspapers and by many of our political Parties against expenditure on the Army. It is suggested that a small nation cannot afford expenditure on this, that and the other, even though essential services may be involved. The money spent on the maintenance of an Army is, in my opinion, a national insurance. That money is our safeguard for the freedom of our nation. The time may come when we may have to defend that freedom and it is essential that our Army should be as efficient as the nation can provide.

On the other hand, whatever Government [2233] may be in power, they might decide that we should be involved in what many people believe to be a very near war. In these circumstances it is essential that the Army should be so equipped as to be able to participate in that war, if it is to be the decision of the Government of the day that it should so participate.

During the Dáil debate reference was made by several speakers to another branch of our Defence Forces— what they termed our toy Navy. The Minister for Defence was advised that this toy Navy should be scrapped, and it was suggested that the money spent on maintaining the Navy was wasted. If the Navy were never to be involved in a war, it should be remembered that we are an island State, we are building up a merchant fleet and we have to develop our fishing industry. What better training ground could we have than this Navy of ours in which recruits could be trained to participate both in our merchant and our fishing fleets, apart from the service they would give in that particular branch of our Defence Forces?

The Minister, before he comes to a decision as to the future of our Defence Forces, having regard to the amount the country can afford to expend in defence of the nation, should forget what he said in the past and live up to his responsibility as a Minister. He should do the best that can be done, so as to provide this country with the most efficient Army and Navy that we can afford.

Mr. Duffy: Information on Luke Joseph Duffy  Zoom on Luke Joseph Duffy  I think the scene here to-day must have struck many people as rather a strange one. Not merely have the members of the House crossed the floor—changed from one side to the other—but they have changed their characteristics.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  No.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  It is too soon to speak.

Mr. Duffy: Information on Luke Joseph Duffy  Zoom on Luke Joseph Duffy  Senator Hawkins has been an effective speaker to-day on the Defence Forces Bill. It is the first time during the past four years that I have heard him in that effective rôle. I am very glad to see that he can be trenchant [2234] when he likes. In previous debates of this kind he was usually defending a Minister who wanted every measure through in a few hours or, indeed, in a few minutes and without discussion of any kind. Senator Quirke was right when he said that I am one of those who traditionally opposed any attempt to rush a Bill of any kind through this House at one sitting. I adhere to that view. I have not crossed the floor here to-day—I was driven across. It was the Fianna Fáil members of this vocational Chamber who insisted on crossing to the other side.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  On a point of order. It would be well to get this on record. The first person in this House who advocated that these benches, as they are situated now, should be filled by political supporters who would sit together rather than that they would sit here in the panels in which they were elected, was the present Minister for Education.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  That is not a point of order—it is rather a point of explanation.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  And not so relevant.

Mr. Duffy: Information on Luke Joseph Duffy  Zoom on Luke Joseph Duffy  I hope I will not be taken as being responsible for what any Minister said anywhere.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  The Senator will need to watch his step.

Mr. Duffy: Information on Luke Joseph Duffy  Zoom on Luke Joseph Duffy  I am opposed to this House being asked to put a Bill of any kind through all its stages at one sitting. I admit at once that this Bill must be distinguished from the general run of Bills. In the first place, it is merely continuing the life of existing legislation for one year. It introduces nothing new and it is being submitted to us by a Minister who has been, I think, only two or three weeks in office. I am prepared to say that that distinguishes this Bill from other measures and from the claims made on other occasions by other Ministers—claims which, I can assure Senator Quirke, I will assist him in resisting in the future as in the past.

The point made by Senator Quirke was, I think, an echo of what was said [2235] in the Dáil last evening by the late Minister for Defence—that we want a permanent Army Act. I want to go on record now as repeating what I said two or three years ago, that I am opposed to a permanent Army Act. I think we should have an annual Army Bill for the purpose of having a discussion here, just as we have had an opportunity this evening, in relation to Army matters. It is the only chance that we have got. We do not get Army Estimates; we do not get Estimates for the Department in the way Deputies do in the Dáil. The only opportunity we have of a discussion on Army matters is on the Finance Bill or the Appropriation Bill. Here is an opportunity offered to the House for a discussion on Army affairs. It has been availed of by Senator Ó Buachalla and Senator Hawkins. They are quite entitled to avail of it. It is an opportunity that would not have offered if we had not an annual Bill presented to us. I think if Senators will reflect they will agree that there is an advantage in having an annual Bill which affords the House an opportunity of discussing what should be Army policy.

I suggest that our present Army legislation needs an overhaul. So far as my researches go, the Act of 1923 was never debated in either House of the Oireachtas. It was put through without a debate because at that time there was no opportunity to debate it. The Bill became law overnight. There is a lot to be said for having that legislation re-examined and for the introduction of new legislation. But I do not want that legislation to take the shape of a permanent Act.

A point was emphasised by Senator Hawkins when he admonished the Minister that he must not listen to demands for economy. I cannot subscribe to that point of view. I think every Department should be expected to have every item of expenditure connected with it closely examined to see whether or not there can be economies made. I agree that we should not have economy at the expense of efficiency. I will draw attention to this fact, that for every 4.6 men in our armed forces we have one civilian employee on the [2236] Book of Estimates. In Britain the corresponding figures are 13.5 armed men to one civilian. That indicates that we have almost three times as many civilian employees, between clerks and doctors and dentists, per 100 soldiers as compared with Great Britain.

There may be a good case for that. It may be they have a highly mechanised army and they do not want as many civilian personnel as you would in the smaller army. I do not know, but it is a matter for investigation. If it is found by the Minister, on close examination, that we have far too many civilian personnel pro rata to Army personnel, then it is his duty to see that the number is reduced. Somebody will say that you are creating unemployment. That is the line that is being taken by the people on the other side of the House, that wherever you find a man in a job you must leave him there whether or not there is work for him. That is a monstrous suggestion and one that I cannot subscribe to and that cannot be subscribed to by any intelligent observer. The country does not believe in that.

The late Minister said the other day that Ireland is the only country in the world where a Labour Party is in favour of reducing the number of people in any given employment. Of course, that is not true. When the Labour Party took office in New Zealand the first thing they did, in their effort to conquer unemployment and to raise the standard of living for the people, was to introduce the most modern and effective machinery in order to reduce the labour content. I am making the case now that, if we can induce the Minister in this case to cut out unwanted personnel and get the highest degree of efficiency with the minimum number of persons in the service, we will be doing something useful for the country, we will be saving money and getting a better service.

On the whole, I think this discussion, brief as it has been, has been admirable. I think that the attitude of the House generally towards the proposal before us has been a very [2237] reasonable one and very satisfactory. I think the Minister has no reason to find fault with the attitude that the House has adopted. That is strictly in accordance with the traditions of this House. Personally, I would like to conclude by assuring members who have spoken that I entirely endorse what they have said in appreciation of the services rendered by the Army. My personal desire is that nothing will be done to create any feeling of dissatisfaction, any feeling of uneasiness amongst Army personnel. I am quite sure that, as a result of the discussion to-day, if there has been occasion for any such uneasiness, it will have been dispelled.

Mr. Corkery: Information on Daniel Corkery  Zoom on Daniel Corkery  I would ask the Minister to tell the House whether there is to be any change of policy towards the F.C.A. and the building of halls for it. I understand that plans have already been prepared for the building of a number of halls in different parts of the country, that sites have been acquired and tenders invited for building. The building of such halls will encourage the enlistment of a civilian army. At the present time the F.C.A. is working under the greatest disadvantage due to the absence of halls. I believe that if the building of these halls is carried out quickly, the force will increase in numbers, and that we shall have in the future a civilian army in every part of the State. I think the Minister should try to forward that policy as much as possible.

Mr. Summerfield: Information on Frederick M Summerfield  Zoom on Frederick M Summerfield  One thing that emerges from the speeches that we have already heard is the expectation there is of economies and the clamour there is for economies on the arrival of a new Government. I think that what we need most of all is to keep a sense of values, a sense of proportion in this matter of the defence of the country, and to decide what is essential for the good of the nation. There have been many articles published and speeches made suggesting that this country could do without an Army altogether: that all we want is a glorified police force. Looking at the world situation to-day, I do not think anybody who [2238] feels a thrill in the distinguished Irish nationhood which has been a characteristic of our people would want to see us left entirely dependent for our defence on a police force to meet any threat that might be made against our territory. What we want is the retention of our Army force, such as it is, and the bringing of it to the highest degree of efficiency possible within reasonable limits, having regard to our general national expenditure.

I would like to join with those speakers who have urged, apart from its utilitarian value to the Army, the Army jumping team should be maintained and brought up to that degree of efficiency that in pre-war years did so much to win lustre for itself and for Ireland. I doubt if any expenditure that we have incurred as a nation has, in fact, brought such a splendid return to us materially and in prestige as the amount we spent on those occasions when our Irish Army jumpers went abroad. I would like to add a word of praise on the high degree of skill of the riders. I would like to support the suggestion made by Senator Hayes that, if we are to continue the Army jumping team, we should not be parsimonious in the expenses we provide for the members of the team. I happened to be in a certain foreign capital on one occasion when our Irish jumping team were taking part in competitions there. It was a matter of regret to me to find that, in the midst of the hospitality that was being extended to members of the team, some members of it were in fact embarrassed because the financial commitments they had entered into were greater than the expenses allowed to them. That is a matter which should be considered in the future.

I hope the Minister will get this Bill through all its stages to-day. If we are now going to have a clear-cut realisation of values in everything that comes before the House, I trust that, where economy is urged, it will be economy without sacrificing efficiency to what is in the best interests of the nation.

Mr. Honan: Information on Thomas V Honan  Zoom on Thomas V Honan  I wish to join with other Senators in expressing satisfaction with the remarks made by the Minister in his opening statement. It is true there was a good deal of uneasiness [2239] amongst the military force arising out of reports which appeared in various newspapers. I think we are all agreed that this would be a very inappropriate time to cut down the Army. I am aware myself that there are many men serving as officers in the Army who, were it not for the call of duty made during the emergency, would have entered the medical or legal profession. Instead of doing so they decided to join the Army during the emergency when the call was made. They found that when they did so they liked the Army and hence made it their career in life. Most of those men have now passed the age when it would be possible for them to take up another career. Therefore, when you take everything into consideration it would be a great pity if anything happened to disturb them in their present career.

I was very glad indeed to hear from the Minister that the rumours which have been in circulation are entirely unfounded. We all remember that during the emergency when the call was made young men came to the colours from every walk in life. They were representatives of all Parties and creeds. They gave their services when they were badly needed. Therefore, I think we should show respect to them now. I am sure it is true to say that during the war period there was the danger of an invasion. To some extent that was avoided by the presence of our young men in the National Army. An invading army has to think of what its attempt is going to cost it. In our case, I am sure the fact that we had a fine National Army saved the country from the danger of an invasion. Such an invasion would be fought at a very dear price by our boys.

Quite a number of organisations throughout the country have provided employment for those who were demobilised from the Army. I hope that institutions responsible for taking over a great number of ex-Army men will be left untouched. I hope, too, that everything possible will be done not only to maintain the Army at its present high efficiency, but make it better, if possible, and that those who are serving in it will not be disturbed.

[2240]Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Some very interesting things were said in the discussion on this Bill to-day. There was not much said that one could quarrel with. I did hear some members of what is now the Opposition, in addressing themselves to the problem of defence, express fears as to the future of members of the Army. I cannot help recalling that during the period of office of the last Government the services of quite a number of officers and men who had given long service in the Army were dispensed with. I would ask those Senators to recall that fact when addressing themselves to the problem which confronts the present Minister for Defence.

It seems to me that none of us here can claim to be great military strategists. The Minister himself is only a short time in office. Naturally, the survey which he will have to make of our defence will take some time. It can only be made in conjunction with information of what the outside world is thinking and of what it probably can do. So far as I am concerned, I am not so much inclined to pin my faith in the matter of defence on the size of our Army. I think it is very important for us to realise what other nations discovered during the last war, namely, that a country's greatest defence, in the last analysis, is not its Army at all but its working people. As I see our conditions to-day I feel that a rationalisation of our manpower is our country's greatest need, our front line of defence. Far from desiring to hold men in the Army or to build it up with greater numbers, I am much more concerned to see that the people we have in the country—to the greatest possible extent—are, in numbers and capacity, utilised to build up our economic life and to increase production, because it is there, I believe, that we can have the country's greatest defence.

I think that the Minister would be well advised, when looking over this whole problem, to take account of that fact in consultation with his colleagues. I think myself that we have been inclined in the past to take rather short-sighted views of what is best for the nation. We have been inclined to [2241] do things that were rather spectacular and superficial and that weakened our defence rather than strengthened it. The building up of our defence for the future is not going to be simple because of that attitude in the past.

I must confess that I have a great deal of sympathy with the point of view that was expressed by Senator Duffy. I think it is a good thing for the country to have an opportunity for this annual survey of our military machine. Military strategy in the world to-day is all the more effective because of its flexibility. As far as one can judge, the people engaged in the tactics of defensive warfare appreciate how important it is to have their defensive machine a flexible thing—a thing that will respond to the ever-changing needs of military knowledge and of modern warfare. All that, I take it, will have to be taken account of by our new Minister for Defence. The mere plea not to cut down the numbers in the Army, because that is going to weaken our ability to hold on to what we have, is, in my opinion, a purely superficial approach to the whole problem. I believe that the defence of this nation requires a much closer and deeper study than a statement such as that indicates. It requires, in my opinion, a survey of our total man-power resources, and the best way they can be utilised. It may be discovered by the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues that our defence will call for a reorientation of the policy adopted with regard to the size of our Army, and as to the way money will be spent on it in the future as compared to the past.

The response to this Bill has been very gratifying. If there has been a little criticism from the people on the other side of the House it is due, I think, to a certain extent to the fact that they have been accustomed to defend Government policy. It was well, I think, to have the statement from Senator Quirke when he indicated that, if the nation's defence required it, we would be all ready to sink our differences. That is what the nation requires to-day and will require to-morrow.

[2242]Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  It is a real pleasure to listen to this discussion to-day, and I think the opposition are entitled to great credit for their attitude towards this Bill and towards the Army generally. The Minister is entitled to every credit for allaying the suspicions and fears which have been created in the Army. It is a pleasure to me to sit here and know that the Army is outside Party politics, although, judging by the speeches of some people here, they would have politics introduced there now and again. That would be a fatal mistake. We are on right sound lines if we set up the Army and keep it apart from Party politics.

I have said that the Opposition are entitled to great credit for their attitude towards this Bill on this occasion, because my mind goes back some fair number of years when those who now constitute the Government were in opposition. They were prepared at that time to sabotage the Army. The Opposition to-day show no tendency whatever in that direction, and, to that extent, they are entitled to very great credit. It augurs well for the future of the country when people are so wililng to co-operate when the interests of the country are involved. The Minister has given an assurance here that there will be no interference with the Army and that the young men who did so much during the emergency and who have set themselves for an Army career need have no fears, that they will not be disturbed. That is all to the good, and, I am sure, will be generally appreciated and will create a good, healthy atmosphere in the Army and outside the Army as well.

I do not know if we can get any assurance with regard to the future of recruiting. I do not know the Minister's mind on that point. He may or may not tell us, but he may not be in office long enough to know the needs with regard to recruiting. Just before he came into office, however, there appears to have been launched a very effective campaign for recruiting. Whether that is to be stopped or encouraged I do not know, but there is one aspect of the Army which has not been referred to. The Army jumping [2243] teams which went abroad have got a considerable amount of credit and they deserve every bit of it. They are indeed great ambassadors for the country abroad, but, apart from what has been done abroad, a good deal has been done at home and a good deal more can be done at home, when we think of the tattoos carried out by the Army, displays which impressed the citizens and showed them the Army they had and what they were paying for. I hope this pageantry, in the form of tattoos or something on these lines, will be continued, because it is a good thing to let the people see and know the Army at its best, as it was at Ballsbridge and during the manoeuvres. It gives people a knowledge of the Army and a pride in the Army when they watch it march past.

The Army has not done really as well as it might have done in the sphere of athletics. We should have in the Army the finest athletes in the world. Whether it is due to lack of attention or training, I do not know, but the situation is not satisfactory in that regard, although we have the material, if we do our best to exploit it. The jumping team has shown that we have the best horses and riders in the world, and I think that, if attention were given to our athletes, we would figure well in the forthcoming Olympic Games, because we certainly have the material. There is no doubt that it is there—latent and not exploited to the extent to which it might be exploited. I conclude by saying again that I am extremely happy to know that the Army is not to be the plaything of Party politics, and I was very pleased to hear the Minister giving the assurance that those in the Army need have no fear whatever about their future careers. That is very encouraging and all to the good.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Louis O'Dea  Zoom on Louis O'Dea  I rise to refer to a statement made by Senator Baxter. He said that the late Government got rid of certain members of the Army. Evidently Senator Baxter is not aware that the only members of the Army the late Government got rid of were those who had reached or exceeded the age limit [2244] and that that was done on the advice of the Army Council, in connection with the reorganisation of the Army.

The Senator also said that the principal safeguard of a nation in times of war was not so much the Army as the working man. I do not quite know what Senator Baxter meant by that. There were in other countries, like Belgium, England, and France, very effective working men, and yet they were not able to prevent attacks upon these countries. I take it that Senator Baxter meant the increased tillage production brought about in this country by the late Government.

Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha: Information on Padraig An Seabhac O Siochfhradha  Zoom on Padraig An Seabhac O Siochfhradha  Níl a lán le rá agamsa i dtaobh an Bhille seo. Ní dóigh liom gur cóir ná gur gá aon díospóireacht a dhéanamh faoin scéal. Do réir mar thuigimse, tá gach duine sa Tigh ar aon aigne gur ceart an Bille a chur i bhfeidhm agus gur ceart go leanfaí leis an scéal mar a bhí sé cheana.

Tá áthas liom an geall a thug an tAire i dtaobh ná déanfar aon chur isteach ná laghdú ná aon chur ar gcúl ar staid nó fostaíocht nó status na daoine san Arm, go leanfar de mar tá sé. Is dóigh liom gur cóir an sásamh aigne sin a thabhart, mar, gan aon amhras, bhí imní tagtha le déanaí ar chuid den Arm agus é tagtha mar gheall ar cad a bhí le dáiliú dóibh. Mar gheall air sin, is maith an rud é gur thug an tAire an ráiteas sin.

Ba mhaith liom anois labhairt ar rud ar leith i dtaobh an Airm, sé sin, ceist na Gaelige san Arm féin agus a fheidhmiú i ngóthaí an Airm. Níl mé anois, mar ní rabhas aon uair, sásta, pé Rialtas a bhí ann, go bhfuil an Ghaeilge san ionad ba chóir di san Arm. Is fíor go raibh agus is fíor go bhfuil an tArm chomh fíuntach, chomh claontach le aon rud sa tír chun daoine a choinneáil Gallda nó chun daoine ón Ghaeltacht go raibh Gaeilge acu nó aon áit eile go raibh Gaeilge acu do dhéanamh chomh Gallda leis an gcuid Ghallda den tír.

Iarracht chun é sin a leigheas a beadh an chúis ar cuireadh bun na catha Gaelacha. Is mó bliain ó rinneadh é sin agus deirigh leis an iarracht sin. Gaeilgeóirí a bhí ann a [2245] bhí mórálach astu féin. Do réir mar feictear dom, níl an méid céana gradaim ag dul dó agus a bhí nuair cuireadh ar bun é. An duine is mó a bhí freagarthach leis an gcath sin a chur ar bun, tá sé anois arís ina bhall den Rialtas agus tá súil agam go mbeidh a thionchur ann chun an cath sin a dhéanamh níos Gaelaighe agus ní amháin sin, ach chun catha eile agus an tArm go hiomlán a Ghaelú.

Taobh amuigh de sin, tá ceist na Gaeilge i ngnó an Airm. Níl mise sásta, agus ní rabhas riamh sásta, pé Rialtas a bhí ann, go bhfuil an Ghaeilge san ionad ba chóir maidir leis sin. Sin obair atá le déanamh in am na síochána agus socaireachta. Is Arm de ghnáthdhaoine óga Gealacha na tíre an tArm atá againn agus tá mór-chuid acu sin agus cloisim gearán acu go minic ná baintear feidhm ar bith as an eolas atá acu san Arm. Tá cuid acu ag gearán gur fearr leo gan ligint orthu go bhfuil aon eolas acu ar an nGaeilge. Ba cheart níos mó feidhme a bhaint as an nGaeilge san Arm chun méadú a dhéanamh ar an méis eolas atá ag na fir oga, chun feidhm a bhaint as an nGaeilge a fuaradar agus iad ag dul ar scoil, chun tuille eolais a chur ar an teanga agus tuille mórtais a bheith acu as an teanga, rud atá anathábhachtach agus níos tábhachtaí bfhéidir ná eolas ar úsáid arm.

Ba cheart an spirid sin a mhéadú san Arm agus tá súil agam go meádófar é i measc na ndaoine atá i seirbhís mhíleata na tíre.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I also would like to welcome the Minister on his first appearance in the Seanad. I am sure he has the best wishes of Senators in his capacity as Minister, even those Senators who might disagree with him politically.

There are few subjects that come before this House about which I know less than the maintenance of an Army, but it is very close to a subject in which I am intensely interested and which was briefly referred to by Senator Hawkins. I do not think I will be in any way misquoting the Senator. If I am, I ask him to correct me. I will give the gist of what I think he said.

[2246] He said that in any consideration or possible consideration of a reduction in the size of the Army, we should bear in mind the danger of another war at an early date. I do not think there is anyone in this country who does not view with grave uneasiness the situation in Europe and, one might say, throughout the world. At the same time, I doubt very much if it is wise to suggest that there is an immediate danger of war. I do not think it very much matters what I or Senator Hawkins might say, but something similar has already been said in America by the Leader of the Opposition. I doubt very much the wisdom of saying that there is an immediate danger of war, because it seems to me that if the leaders of every State on this side of the Iron Curtain say there is a danger of war, then what we will have will be war.

I do not think there is any country in the world, much less a small country like ours, that can prevent war by the size of its army. How then can war be prevented? The only hope I see for civilisation, and the only hope for the independent existence of small countries like ours, lies in international co-operation, and the discussions that are taking place in Europe and elsewhere may be more vital to us and to our existence than anything we could possibly say with reference to our armed forces. I do not want that to be taken as belittling the services given here.

I feel it is important, when we are considering the size of our Army and the money which should be spent upon it, that we should visualise that Army not as something which will prevent us from getting into war, but as something which may be used as part of an international machine and international co-operation and which will enable us to play our part.

I, like others, was pleased at the tone of the debate to-day. It was almost like the weather outside—it was like a little fresh air and sunshine. I hope that means that this House, as well as many a person outside, realises that it is not sufficient simply to have a change of Government, but that it is in the interests of good government that there should be free discussion, [2247] and I hope that in this House in the future, among those who may be its members, there will be helpful criticism from every side of the House and that it will not be considered unwise or infra dig or unsuitable to criticise the Government which you support. Whether I am in this House or not, I hope to do my little part in supporting the inter-Party Government. I believe the way I would be able to support it best is by making concrete, thoughtful and, I hope, suitable suggestions and criticisms. I am hoping that this may be an indication—I will not say I am the oldest member of the Seanad, but I am one of the members longest in it—of the spirit in which in earlier years this House carried on its business. In those years suggestions were made, considered and voted upon. They were then sent back to the other House and considered by Deputies there, not being merely rejected by the majority or the combined Party majority as the case might be.

Mr. Kyle: Information on Sam Kyle  Zoom on Sam Kyle  I am sure the Minister must be pleased with the way the Bill was received to-day. This is not the time to discuss questions of policy in regard to our armed forces. The Minister says he hopes to have an opportunity at some future date of putting before the Oireachtas the policy the Government intend to pursue in regard to our defence forces. It will be all according to what policy the Government may pursue whether we will retain our armed forces or consider to what extent they will be necessary at all. As Senator Douglas indicated, it will be a matter for consideration whether the policy now adumbrated in regard to a western union will be helped or hindered so far as our country is concerned. It will be interesting to know what line of action our Government will take in that connection. We have 12,000 men in our Army and I think it has been hinted that there is a disproportionate number of officers to men.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Civilian workers to soldiers.

Mr. Kyle: Information on Sam Kyle  Zoom on Sam Kyle  I am not so sure that that might not be a good thing if those men are being trained. We would like to [2248] see the scientific education of those men who are in the Army. It will not be the foot-sloggers, as we used to call them, and it will not be the rank and file who will be of value in the tactics that will have to be pursued if and when there is a war. Like Senator Douglas, I decry talking about the next war and I dislike leading statesmen talking about the possibility of war, but we must not blind ourselves to the fact that war is possible. In fact, by the look of things at the moment it is highly probable that in my lifetime there will be another world war. I have not very long to live and that means that within the next five to ten years we might have that war. What our policy will be is something, I am sure, that will give our Government many headaches.

I should like attention to be paid to the scientific education of our young men so that we will be able to harness the best brains of the nation in our defence. When the Government are considering their policy they will have to consider what arms are necessary and whether the arms at present in use would be sufficient to enable our soldiers to resist invasion or any type of aggression by outside forces. We must have a scientifically educated type of soldier so that we may be able to use our moderate resources against possibly superior forces and be able to take lessons from what other small nations did in the war that ended a few years ago. In short, our Government will have to take cognisance of whether or not our personnel is sufficiently trained and what arms we will need for the future.

This Bill does not seem to call for any criticism. I would be sorry to think that it is the intention of the Government to introduce a permanent Act because that would preclude the possibility of discussions here on Army policy. I think it is desirable that this House should be able to discuss occasionally the policy which we think the Government ought to pursue in relation to our Defence Forces.

Dr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  I am extremely grateful to the Seanad for the very generous manner in which they have treated me here to-day on the occasion of my first [2249] visit to this Chamber and also for agreeing to give me all Stages of this Bill to-day.

The general tone of the speeches was not only very welcome but, in the main, the speeches were helpful. In deciding on matters of defence, expenditure, man-power, etc., he would be a very foolish man who would take into consideration only one point of view. The more points of view available for consideration, the sounder the scheme will be in the long run. A Minister for Defence would be making a great mistake in this country or in any other country if he were to regard himself as a military man either from the point of view of directing military tactics and strategy or from the point of view of extracting all he can get from the pockets of the taxpayers in order to spend it on his particular services. In my opinion, the function of a Minister for Defence is to hold the balance evenly and justly between demands quite properly put up by the uniformed service and the capacity of the ordinary people outside to meet those demands. In arriving at a decision he must balance things very carefully.

It has been said, in the course of this debate, that with the development of modern war the military defence of the country is only one side of the actual defence. If it were possible for a nation to put all its man power into the armed forces and have no man power behind in the field and in the factory, that nation would be beaten at the very word “go”. There has to be a balancing of the requirements of a particular situation, of how many men it is wise to take into an army if not in the days of peace let us say in the days between wars. If any one of us read a shower into every shadow we would never move without an umbrella. If any of us viewed a rather unsettled world ready for war in every disturbed bit of news, then our whole economy would be organised around war. It would be a very miserable existence for us if we were to organise our lives and those of our people around war. The whole world is war weary and war sick. I think it would be healthier if there were less references to war in the public Press, even [2250] though there may be the danger of war. Let those whose business it is think of war and get all the information available, but do not have the ordinary citizen on the alert all the time.

We can take over a great number into our Army force in quiescent times. The Army in ordinary times is the one essentially non-productive service in any country. We, in a small country like this, must bend our energies in the direction of production and spend our money in increasing production rather than in the direction of less production. That is one of the balancing feats that has to be done by a Minister for Defence. The views of many are helpful in arriving at what appears to be a fair balance between those different points of view.

There is another thing about the Army, and it is that if you take men into it and keep them there too long you are, as it were, training them away from the land and from the factory. On the other hand, as regards the number of people in uniform at any particular time, it is a mistake to gauge military strength, particularly in this country, purely by the numbers in uniform on any particular day. We must remember that we here have a very high percentage of the able-bodied man-power of the country fairly thoroughly trained. A great number have gone through short-term periods in the National Army. A great number have been trained to a fairly high pitch of efficiency in the various reserves and Volunteer forces. We, fortunately, have escaped what many other countries did not escape— heavy casualties. In arriving at an estimate of your military strength you have to take into account the high percentage and great numbers of fairly well-trained able-bodied men who are in civilian clothes at the moment. Recent experience shows that there has been a very gratifying response by the people of the country to any appeal made to them to come to the colours at a time when danger appeared to be on the horizon. That certainly is a source of consolation to anyone dealing with this particular question.

[2251] As Senators will understand, if I do not refer to them by name it is because I am not as familiar with the names of members in this House as in the other. Senators did refer to the school of equitation and its continuation and to the continuation of the bureau of military history. These are some of the things which were liquidated in the public Press in the last few weeks. Personally, I would hope that the last thing anyone would consider doing away with would be the school of equitation. It serves a double function: it enhances the prestige not only of the Army but of our country in foreign lands. In addition, it is a very great asset in advertising our horse-flesh. It would be false economy for anybody to think of abolishing it. Economy is not just a matter of stopping the expenditure of money. Economy is rather a matter of seeing that 20/- worth of value is secured for every £1 spent. Sometimes sound economy directs increased expenditure rather than reduced expenditure.

The rumour of the abolition of the bureau engaged in writing up the military history of this country was an entirely groundless one. I think it is a very inexpensive service. It would be a loss to the country generally, not only to the people in our time but to posterity, if the military history of the country was not competently written up. We are perhaps peculiar in a way that we had a type of history that changed very rapidly in a military sense. Perhaps the last 50 years saw the peak point of some of those changes. History is not a thing that can be adequately written up just at any time. People with the closest and most intimate knowledge of the stirring events of the last 40 years are dying off as one year follows another. If people interested in writing a military history delay too long about it they will have delayed so long that nobody will be left to give them first-hand information of any of the events of those times.

I repeat what I said at the beginning, that for the time being, with regard to all those rumours, we ourselves [2252] pay very little attention to them. I think it would be a good thing for the peace of mind of the Army, both officers and men, to pay no attention to them. I am not the kind of person who keeps anything up his sleeve. Whatever is to be done in the Army or with the Army, then at the earliest possible moment the Army will know all about it. All that is necessary for it to know at this stage is that there is no decision, and that there is no matter under consideration that is going adversely to affect any single human being who is in uniform at the moment. Whatever contract a man has with the State as an officer, an N.C.O. or as a soldier, that contract is going to be fulfilled to the very end without any interference with his prospects. What strength the Army goes up to is quite another matter— that is how many new men or fresh men from civilian life are taken into the Army. That is another matter and is one which will receive very full consideration by the General Staff and myself. I am not sufficiently foolish to think that I can administer the Department of Defence in conflict with the General Staff. I am thankful to be in a position to say that I have a particularly efficient, loyal and hard-working General Staff that is enthusiastic about its work and with a very high sense of responsibility. Whatever decisions are taken are going to be taken jointly between the General Staff and myself, and not by overriding their views or ignoring their advice.

There was a reference to policy. I do not know, even though there has been a geographical change of position affecting some of us in this House and in the other House, that there has been in fact any change in policy. The Government has its responsibilities. The Opposition has its responsibilities too, one not less heavy than the other. The responsibility of an Opposition is to criticise, to ensure that the Minister representing the Government makes the best case he can for every demand that he puts forward, and that he does not come into this or the other House with an unstudied brief. Consequently, it is the function of the Opposition to criticise and to criticise trenchantly, and say to the Minister that he does [2253] not want all the money he is seeking. That is in order to make the Minister make his-case on Army policy. I do not think there is any difference between the Parties on general Army policy. Far from that being the case, it is within the recollection of every Senator that when the ship of State rocked, and when there was danger all round, every Party had its representatives working together in private at a common defence conference. That could not, or would not have been possible if there was conflict on military policy or on Army policy generally.

There were some references to the recruiting campaign. I think every Senator will agree that it would be unwise to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a recruiting campaign until you had first made up your mind as to how many recruits you wanted, if any. The first thing to make up your mind about is your target in the way of recruits, and then spend money on an expensive recruiting campaign. The stoppage of that advertising campaign at that particular point did not indicate any change in policy. It merely indicated that we had not made up our minds for the coming financial year as to the number of people we wanted to take into the Army. Until that had been decided, it would have been a sheer waste of money to carry out a big recruiting campaign.

Senator Corkery asked about the policy with regard to the F.C.A. The F.C.A. certainly will be retained in all its fullness. It is a tremendous comfort and consolation to any Minister for Defence to have such a very large and widely distributed volunteer reserve on the flank of an army, comparatively inexpensive, etc. With regard to the number of halls and the location of halls, at this particular point I am not in a position to answer that question, but the policy will be, in the main, continued. Again, let me express my gratitude to Senators on all sides for the reasonable and considerate way in which they treated me.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill passed through Committee without [2254] amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil, without amendment.

Business suspended at 5.5 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

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