Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 13 December, 1922


AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Shé an ceúd rud eile na an diosbóireact a cuireadh ar ath ló indé ar Oráid an tSeanascail. The next business is a motion on the adjourned debate that the Dáil returns thanks to the Governor-General for his speech, and approves of the programme of the Government as outlined in the speech. Before the Deputy resumes I wish to say I have received two amendments, [169] one of which is already in the hands of Deputies, I think.

The amendment by Deputy Johnson reads:—

“To omit all after `Dáil' (line 1) and insert:—`regrets that the policy of the Executive Council transmitted through the Governor-General should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people, especially the evils arising from widespread unemployment; and also regrets that no indication has been given of the intentions of the Executive Council respecting the recommendations of the Commission on Irish Railways.' ”

The amendment by Deputy T. O'Connell reads:—

“To omit all after the word `Dáil' and insert:— `regrets that the programme of legislation outlined in the speech of the Governor-General contains no proposal for the reform of the present educational system, including the provision of an effective system of compulsory school attendance.' ”

Mr. Gerald Fitzgibbon took the chair at this stage.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: I rise to speak to the motion proposed yesterday so clearly by Deputy Seoirse McNicholls and seconded in this Dáil. There are one or two matters I notice that are dealt with by amendments that I think possibly might best be kept to the amendment. We have had put into our hands quite recently the Report of a Committee which was set up to look into the condition of Irish railways, and one would imagine that the present state of the railways was such that we would have some indication of what the Government would do in that matter, and I am sorry that there has been no such mention in this Address, for frankly this Address should be treated for what it is exactly. There is a formality in other countries by which Addresses of this kind are treated as if they came from the Governor-General on his own initiative or from the King. Actually we know the fact to be that these Addresses are written by the Ministry for the time being, and they are the statement of the Ministry to Parliament of the measures they propose to suggest for legislation [170] during the coming session. It would be better if we treated them frankly in that spirit, instead of dealing with some sort of circumlocution which pretends that the Address of the Governor-General was his own, and which he delivered here as his own, though it is really the composition of our friend President Cosgrave, who is head of the Executive Council. There is one matter, however, that I think touches everybody in this country dealt with in paragraph 4, where the Address speaks of the decision of Ulster to contract out of the Free State. I am saying what I think everybody in this Dáil will agree with, as also will everybody in the country, that this decision has been received by the fellow-citizens of the Irishmen in the North who live in the South and West with sorrow, but, after all, we have to accept the Treaty, under which they have that right conferred upon them. Having had that right conferred upon them, they have exercised it. I am perfectly convinced that the economic necessity of this country will decree unity in the very near future both in that matter and in certain other matters where there are divisions. I think perhaps the best thing to do for the future is not to lament too greatly over this decision that they have taken. We are sorry that this division has occurred, but we have at the same time to remind ourselves that the Treaty is before us, and, therefore, I am particularly glad to note in this Address the statement by the Ministry that they intend to proceed with the setting up of the Boundary Commission at a very early date, and that the case of those in the North—whose desire it is to continue relations of unity with those in the South —will be prosecuted by the Government of the Free State before that Commission. We have noticed certain statements in the public Press by which it has been suggested that the Boundary Commission will not necessarily function. The Boundary Commission is a necessity equally with the right of the Northern Parliament to contract out of the Free State. They have exercised their powers under the Treaty. There are also other rights under the Treaty which must be equally well recognised. I hope a statement will be made by the Minister for Home Affairs when he deals with this paragraph 6 of the speech which refers [171] to the constitution of the judicial system and the setting up of a Judicial Commission. We are informed that a committee of persons of expert knowledge upon the subject is being set up immediately, and we have been promised that the terms of reference to be placed before this Committee or Commission will be put before this Dáil. I would like an assurance also to be given that not only will the terms of reference, but that the names of the persons who are to be put upon this Commission will be laid before this Dáil before the Commission is brought into being. There is also paragraph 9, which is a little puzzling in the wording adopted —it reads: “A Bill relating to your National Defence Force in time of peace will be shortly offered for your consideration.” We have had many protestations that this is a time of war and exactly what it means to the conception of a National Defence Force is not self-apparent, because it seems to me that at the present moment if only to save a great many questions that are being raised the Bill should be brought before the Oireachtas in order to provide for legalising the existence of the National Army both now and later on whether in times of peace or in times of war.

Mr. THOS. JOHNSON: The motion I have to move as an amendment is as follows:— To omit all after “Dáil” (line 1) and insert:— “regrets that the policy of the Executive Council transmitted through the Governor-General should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people especially the evils arising from widespread unemployment; and also regrets that no indication has been given of the intentions of the Executive Council respecting the recommendations of the Commission on Irish Railways.” It may seem to the casual reader that the reference to the social and economic problems is precise enough and showed signs of earnest desire to consider these problems, but I want to draw attention to the phraseology of this particular paragraph. After pointing out that it must be the first and most urgent care to bring these disorders to a speedy end, it goes on to say: “In the mean-time”—that is, during the time when this disorder is being dealt with, with the object of bringing it to a speedy end— [172] “my Ministers”—by the way, “my Ministers”—“are giving their best attention to the working out of schemes dealing with the problem which they hope to have ready to submit to your active consideration as soon as circumstances will allow of their being put into operation.” In another place that would have been criticised as a policy of “Wait and see.” Wait until we have tackled successfully the war-problem and then we will begin to deal with the civil problems. I submit that there is a good deal of connection between the two, as has been stated here before, and that it is not enough to wait until you have solved the military problem before you begin to put into operation your civil problems, particularly your economic problems. It is not merely enough to give consideration as to how to deal with these problems after the military problem has been closed. I contend that in this particular kind of military problem the argument that an army marches on its belly applies. The military problem runs concurrently with the economic problem as was the case in Europe from 1914. The Governments found, and this Government ought to realise, that the two problems ought to be dealt with concurrently and that one of the most considerable factors in bringing an end to the military difficulty will be to deal effectively with the social and economic difficulty. Ministers if they had been observant, if they had not been dependant entirely on the advice tendered to them by the Military Council would have noted that the enemy, as I think we might designate him, has an economic objective as well as a military objective. It is fighting its war on an economic plane as well as on a military, if we might call it so. It is not only trying to take life, but is trying to destroy the economic and social structure. We find the answer which the Ministry gives to that attack is to say: “Wait until we have defeated this enemy on a military plane, then we will begin to tackle the economic and social problem.” I contend that that is the wrong way to deal with this question, and that it is negligence and it is ill-advised on the part of the Government to remit to some indefinite future the tackling in a practical way of the problems of unemployment, low prices and the cessation of production. The attack is [173] being made on the economic life, and I think that everybody admits that that is the most effective and disastrous of the two, if one is going to take monetary values into account. The loss of life is infinitely more deplorable even than the destruction of property, but the virulence of the attack is being made upon the economic life, yet the defence is being made only on the military side. A campaign of destruction I contend ought to be countered by an acceleration of production and construction, and if the Government were wise they would counteract that attack by the introduction of schemes for actual production and construction. We shall be met no doubt with the argument that while destruction is going on, while the enemy forces are engaged in a campaign of destruction it is useless to attempt to construct, but I do not think that the Ministry will argue that the whole of the country is in the position of being liable to destructive attack upon its economic front. If it is so, then we are indeed still in a parlous position, and some change of military policy ought to be adopted, because it would imply that no improvement, but rather the opposite is taking place in the military situation. We know there are very large areas in the country which are not subject to persistent attack upon the economic plane, and if it is a good thing to counter destruction of civil and economic life in one part of the country by the rehabilitation of economic life and schemes of construction and intensified production, then those schemes ought to be put into operation in every place outside the range of fire from the Irregular forces. It is not enough to wait until the victory over the destructive forces has been accomplished. Conceivably that might take quite a long time, and if we are not going to utilise our human and material resources in building up in these other places, distant from the points of attack, then the end of it all is going to be calamity indeed. I think there are many lessons to be learned from the European War. We look back and find that in England and in Ireland and in France and in Germany and in America during the time of war, by one means or another all the elements of construction—all the elements of production I should say—were in operation within the country, actively producing something and living by the process. [174] That something happened to be material for destruction, but I would submit that we could learn a lesson in this country from the examples that were shown by those countries how to set into operation all the various kinds of machinery of production, construction and consumption. The answer will be given, I have no doubt, as it has already been given on other occasions when similar questions have been raised, that there is no money; that until the present warfare is brought to an end, until the industrial and commercial life be set moving, there will be no money and no credit. I submit, on the other hand, that unless these forces of production are set moving and brought into operation, there will be no money and no credit, and that it ought to be by the setting into motion now of these forces of production that success may be achieved militarily, and that when the time has arrived, when peace has been accomplished, that the intensified production will have had a good start, and that the demobilised men will have something to turn their hands to. I said that the answer would come no doubt, that there was no money and no credit. The European War cost England and Ireland something like eight thousand million pounds, and it was financed somehow—the money was found somehow. It was not saved up money; it was found simply by the process of putting into operation the processes of production. These processes of production were set going by the definite initiative of the Government. They floated loans, no doubt they conducted certain book-keeping operations which were called the flotation of loans, but they did not gather eight thousand million pounds of actual wealth to carry on their war. They bound themselves no doubt, at least they bound the future, to pay certain interest and principal to certain money-lenders large and small for ever and ever, Amen, but they did it by a process known to bankers and known to financiers, and known to the Treasury here no doubt, which did not cost the country, at that time, unemployment. The process that the Ministry is proposing to adopt is going to cost the country unemployment; it is going to cost the country the loss of money, of many million pounds worth of production, that should be in operation, and is not. I took out of the official Gazette [175] this morning certain figures which throw a little light upon the process of financing civil and military operations. There is in the issue, dated the 27th October, a statement of the amount of Irish bank notes in circulation. The average circulation for the four weeks ending September 2nd was £17,358,000. The gold and silver held by the Irish banks against the notes in circulation was placed at £10,589,000. Now, that does not seem so bad. There are £17,000,000 worth of notes in circulation against which gold and silver valued at £10,000,000 is held, but there is an informative little note at the foot of that table, saying that this column referring to the gold and silver includes currency notes deposited at the Bank of England, which, by virtue of a certain Act, is treated as coin. The currency notes are treated as coin, and therefore we find that the average amount of notes issued by Irish banks in circulation amounts to £17,000,000, against which currency notes, British currency notes, are held. Now I find from another table that the currency notes outstanding amount to £300,000,000, and the gold and silver held in England against the £300,000,000 worth of currency notes—and you are all supposed to be able to cash these currency notes for gold at the same time— is declared to be £34,000,000, so that we have the Irish banks circulating £17,000,000 worth of notes of their own against which they hold, perhaps not gold at all, but they have deposited currency notes in the Bank of England, and against these only about one-ninth or one-tenth is backed by gold. Now, if that can be done—and it is done in England—it can be done in Ireland, and the same kind of credit, the same kind of security, for these loans—not only these loans which are called currency notes, but the other seven thousand million pounds, the only security is the future but the other seven thousand million productivity of the people. The people that accepted them believe that they would be met by something to be produced in the future, or by something which exists to-day and is exchangeable. It is based upon faith—faith in the productivity of the soil, faith in the value of human labour applied to the soil, faith in the belief that the community will at some time or other become orderly and [176] productive; and if that security is good enough for the banks it is good enough for the Government. If it is good enough for the banks to issue notes to the value of £17,000,000, if it is good enough for the banks to issue all kinds of loans, believing that order will eventually come, and that the sun will continue to shine and the rain will continue to fall and the earth will continue to give forth her increase, then it is good enough for the Government to finance production just as well as it is possible for the banks to do that thing. And that is the answer I am making to the anticipated objection that there is no money to finance undertakings, that there is no money to finance production. I want to plead that the Government ought to enter upon a policy of production, financed by itself, upon the security which every other lender will base his loan upon—the ability of the people of this country to produce wealth from the soil of this country. The farmers will tell us that they have large supplies of food, crops, and cattle awaiting a market. We tell you that there are large numbers of men, women and children that could eat a good deal more than they are eating, and that the most of these families are willing to put their labour into the soil, to put their labour to the work of production, which production will repay what is expended, and repay the farmers for the produce which they have handed over. We have to set in motion this cycle of production and consumption, and we have to ensure—and here you have the kernel of the problem—that consumption equals production, and that there is no block on the way, there is no blocking up of the channels and the cessation of production because the way is blocked to consumption. I submit that it is the duty of the Ministry to set into motion this cycle, and that it should have its first operation on the land. Deputy Gorey will tell us that the farmers cannot sell what they have already grown. Why? Because the people have not the wherewithal to purchase these commodities. I think you will have to set about the work of production, and, incidentally, the work of consumption, immediately. And I repeat with more knowledge, what I said a few weeks ago, that you would cut very deeply into the forces of Irregularism if you could ensure that the [177] demobilised Irregulars were in a position to obtain civil employment. Also I submit that when you set into operation a course of consumption you will find it necessary to devise ways and means of ensuring that a larger proportion of the purchasing power of these consumers shall be directed to the purchase of home manufactured commodities. I believe that just as it is necessary to curb natural impulses by self-discipline— sometimes coercive forces—so it will be necessary for a considerable time to curb the natural desire of the people in general to purchase imported commodities because they are better advertised, or because they are more tastily produced, or even perhaps because they are cheaper. We come very naturally from that consideration to the whole question of fiscal relations between the Saorstát and other countries. I invite the Ministers to tell us whether they have any views on fiscal policy. I want just to touch upon a paragraph in the Message that deals with the boundaries. There is an aspect of that problem that very closely relates to the fiscal problem. We are met with complaints that low-paid industries over the border in the “wee” land, as I might call it, are taking advantage of their lower wages to compete with the higher wages and higher standard of life of the people in the Saorstát. We have reports like this: a certain millowner in Newry is competing with a millowner in Dundalk over the Counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Louth. The wages he is paying in Newry are 10s. or 15s. per week per man below the very moderate wages paid by the competing employer in Dundalk. We maintain, and we ask the Government to accept the proposition, that the end of their government, the purpose of it all, is to maintain and improve the general standard of life as well as the freedom of the people. That is the purpose of government, and we for our part are determined, in so far as it is necessary to act beyond the Government, to maintain that standard of life at as high a level as it is possible. We are not willing to reduce the cost of production in Dundalk by reducing the price of labour there to the level of the price of labour in Newry. There we have frankly stated a very difficult problem affecting both parts of this island. I want to know [178] whether the Government has any policy, or whether what we may call direct action on the industrial plane is to be brought into operation to prevent the lowering of the standard of life for citizens of Saorstát Eireann by the competition of a lower standard of life among the residents in the Six Northern Counties. We can prevent that competition. We can prevent the destruction of that Dundalk mill. (I am only giving a specific instance of a mill, but it applies to many other small industries.) We can prevent the destruction of that Dundalk mill by preventing or by controlling the distribution of the commodities produced over the border under sweated conditions. There are quite a number of men already disemployed as a result of that particular competition, I mean in that particular small industry. There are very many men and women disemployed by virtue of that particular kind of competition. Through disorganisation and through political manipulation in the North of Ireland, men have become disorganised and their political and religious sectarianism has led to their disruption, and to the destruction of their standard of life and the standard of wages. That competition is facing us in all parts of the border line. Similarly, it is facing us in other parts of the Saorstát from the competition of other countries, but I am quoting especially the northern competition, because it touches upon an aspect of the border problem that appeals to us very closely. I believe that if there is to be any fiscal barrier set up we will have to follow the example of Australia and see that it shall be directed to ensure that the standard of life of the workers is maintained, and that no protection of any kind, fiscal or other, shall be given to manufacturers or employers who do not maintain the right standard of life for their employees. I will put forward on my own account this definite proposition—that we ought not to allow imports from the Six Counties to compete with the manufacturers and producers in the Twenty-six Counties when that competition is only made effective by the low rate of wages paid to the workers in the production of those commodities. I come to the second paragraph in this amendment which regrets that no indication has been given of the intentions of the Executive Council respecting the recommendations of the [179] Commission on Irish Railways. That report has been issued for some time. We do not know whether it is receiving the consideration of the Government. We do not know whether they have decided upon any policy, or whether they are awaiting a decision upon any policy to pursue. We believe that it is essential that they should come to a decision at a very early date and that they should give some indication that the decision either has been come to or that such a decision will not be very long delayed. I do not want at this stage to raise a general discussion upon this question. I want rather to give an opportunity to the Ministers to tell us whether they are thinking of this —whether they have come to a decision or whether they are likely to come to a decision within a very short time. I could go on to make suggestions as to direction of a policy that in my opinion the Government ought to adopt. But after all it is the business of the Ministry, knowing better than we do its powers, its facilities, its machinery, and the prospects of the future, to state its policy. I repeat what I began with, that if you are going to bring about an early cessation of the military strife you ought to attack it upon the double front—the economic front and the military front. If it were clear that you are dealing effectively and practically with the social and economic problems and that you show signs of understanding the importance of those problems to the daily lives of so many thousands of people, it would be the most rapid solvent of the military problem in so far as seventyfive per cent. of the operators on the other side are concerned.

Mr. DAVIN: I desire to second the amendment moved by Deputy Johnson, and to deal as briefly as I possibly can with that portion of the amendment concerning the failure of the Government to deal with the recommendations of the Railway Commission. I quite agree with Deputy Johnson that this is not the appropriate occasion, and personally it is not my desire or wish that the Dáil at this particular period should be asked to discuss and to deal with all the implications in the recommendation of the Commission—the first Commission that was set up under the auspices of the Provisional Government. I [180] would like, however, especially in view of the fact that at this particular moment negotiations between the Railway Managers and the representatives of the men have broken down, to urge the Government to try to face this particular problem as soon as they can. Negotiations have been going on between the Railway Managers and representatives of the Railwaymen's Union for the last week or two, and to-day these negotiations have definitely broken down. When the members of this Dáil realise that part of the proposals of the Railway Managers invited the representatives of the Railway Union to agree to the abolition of the eight-hour day and to substitute for it a forty-eight hour week, including Sunday duty, I believe you will agree that it is quite clear that no body of representative Irish railwaymen could entertain such a proposal. Personally, I do not see any good reason why that and other particular proposals were put up, except for the reason of forcing three or four thousand Irish railwaymen into the ranks of the unemployed. That, at any rate, is the meaning of that particular proposal if put into practice or accepted by the representatives of the men. I would like, when the opportunity is afforded, that the members of this Dáil, and the Government in particular, would try to approach the consideration, and if possible the permanent solution, of this railway problem, apart altogether from the prejudices that it has been endeavoured to create by an interested Press in this country. The Railway Commission was the first that was set up under the auspices of the Provisional Government. The recommendations of that Commission have been before the Government and in the hands of the members of this Dáil for at least two months. The President himself has admitted, in answer to a question here, that the matter has already been discussed by the members of the Executive Council and possibly a decision of some kind has been arrived at by them. I cannot see, therefore, what advantage is to be gained by the Government delaying or preventing the members of this Dáil from discussing whatever decision the Government have arrived at on that particular Commission. I fully realise, and I have always tried to realise, that there are difficulties in the way of this Government, especially in regard to the solution of this particular [181] problem. The difficulties may be quite obvious to some, but I think it is fair that we should ask the Government to give us an opportunity of dealing with the decision which they have arrived at, so that the people of this country may, at any rate, know that this, the first native Irish Government, tried to permanently settle the problem of the transport industry. If this first Parliament of the Free State really means to lay a solid and permanent structure for the full and free development of the agricultural industry, then the transport services of Ireland must be placed in the hands or under the control of people who will develop and use the railways and canals in the interests of the trading and travelling public. I have been wondering and trying to find out what are the possible difficulties and what is in the way of the Government coming to the members of this Dáil and putting their particular proposal before them. I have been wondering whether it is part of the policy of the present Executive Council to try to carry on a policy of spoon-feeding so far as the people of North-East Ulster are concerned. The representatives of North-East Ulster have of their own free choice, without submitting the matter to the consideration of the people who live within the area—of their own free choice they have decided to vote themselves outside the Free State. I believe that if they have taken that deliberate action and that particular responsibility upon their shoulders, that they must face all the consequences, economic and commercial. I do not think that the Executive Council of this first Free State Government should hold back in regard to a policy of this or any other kind, or that they should defer the consideration of any scheme that would help the Free State on progressive lines, for the purpose of spoon-feeding people who have taken the action I refer to. I do not wish to force, or ask the Government to force, a debate upon the merits of the recommendations of the Railway Commission at this particular time. But I invite them, in view of the seriousness of the position on the railways at the present moment, to give this Dáil the earliest possible opportunity for discussing the recommendations of that their first Commission in all its implications.

Dr. McCARTAN: I would like to draw the attention of the Ministry to a statement [182] made yesterday: “Accordingly, it becomes the duty now of my Government to take such steps as may be necessary for constituting the Commission which is to determine in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions, the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.” It seems to be that we are going to get beaten on the Boundary Commission as we have been beaten so often before diplomatically. A short time ago I heard that the present Prime Minister of England in a private conversation said that he had to make a selection between Southern and Northern Ireland. Presumably he has made the selection, and he has selected to settle with what is called Northern Ireland. That is quite clear if one reads even part of the English papers.

ACTING CEANN COMHAIRLE: I think the Deputy is out of order in discussing this question upon the amendment. We have got a particular amendment under discussion, and my view is that when that amendment has been either adopted or defeated we will then be back to the general question of the Address as a whole. It will be then open to the Deputy to put forward his views. It would lead to interminable delay in dealing with Deputy Johnson's amendment, if we were to revert to other questions; but the Deputy will not be shut out. I will do my best to see that the question the Deputy is raising is not shut out when the amendment has been dealt with.

Mr. SEAN MILROY: On a point of order, does not Deputy McCartan's point arise out of the amendment inasmuch as the proposer and seconder have dealt with the matter to which Deputy McCartan has alluded?

ACTING CEANN COMHAIRLE: The proposer and seconder of the amendment were dealing with the question of the railways in so far as they were affecting the Northern Province. Deputy McCartan was going into the matter generally, and was not confining himself to the railways.

(At this stage An Ceann Comhairle resumed the chair.)

Mr. WILSON: With regard to remarks of Deputy Johnson on the question of increased productivity in this country, I [183] am informed that if the people of this country were to work full time for three weeks on textiles they would make sufficient garments to supply the whole of the country. Similarly with regard to production on the land. If we were to increase our tillage we would find we would have no market. The Deputy, I think, is basing his argument that the money to pay for those over-productions would be obtained by the issue of State scrip. There are two outstanding nations in Europe to-day. Russia and Germany, where they have issued unlimited scrip. As regards Germany, while there is not much unemployment there, the financial experts say that eventually a crash must come in that country, as it has come in Russia. Therefore I think the idea of increasing production by the issue of notes will not commend itself. Deputy Johnson bases his chief argument on the point that we should make the demand equal to the supply by reason of having the notes to give to people to pay for what is produced. If he could translate that into actual practice I believe I could agree with him, but at the present time we have too many cattle and we have a superabundance of potatoes. Our neighbours in England have something like two hundred million tons of potatoes over and above their requirements. Having regard to these two facts, if Deputy Johnson could translate his scheme into actual practice I believe we would be in a measure able to stave off this unemployment. What we are suffering from in this Saorstát Eireann is a little over-appreciation of our own abilities. No man in Saorstát Eireann at the present time considers that what is paid to another man similarly employed in any other white country would be sufficient for any personage dignified by being a member of Saorstát Eireann; that is the position that is put forward. A member of the “wee country” is willing to produce flour at a certain wage; a member of Saorstát Eireann is not willing to produce it at that wage, and we are asked then to put up a barrier so as to prevent the man who gives value for the money. We are asked to put up a barrier to support a member of Saorstát Eireann because he will not give his labour at the same price as a competitor. That is the proposition. Similarly with [184] any other trade you take up. And it all comes from this overweening confidence in our own keenness and ability. We consider that we are the sons of Saorstát Eireann, and by that means that we are entitled to more than anyone else. If we could translate that into practice I would not object. But we have to get down to bedrock fact, and we have got to live, and we can only live by hard work and self-denial and proceeding in the same way as other people who are engaged in similar occupations in other countries, and who are compelled to place their goods upon our markets.

Mr. SEAN MILROY: I am in a bit of a quandary, because I am afraid I shall have to speak again if I am to deal with all the topics that I would like to deal with at the present moment; but I think this particular amendment precludes me from speaking upon the Address generally. In some respects, with regard to the economic aspect of things, I am more disposed to agree with the conclusions and the philosophy of Deputy Johnson than I am to agree with Deputy Wilson in his last remarks. This is a matter of national economics that deals with Governmental attitude, not in terms of the individual, but of the general welfare, and it is not a question whether a man on this side of the border has to compete with cheaper methods on the other side of the border. It is a question whether those who have the authority of the State in their hands can counteract the conditions which make the citizens of their State the victims of uneconomic conditions on the other side of the border. Now, that is one of the reasons why, all through our discussions whenever the matter cropped up here, I seized upon every opportunity that came my way to emphasise the vital importance of the Department of Trade and Commerce. I do not want to introduce that now, even incidentally; but I would like to draw the attention of the Dáil to this fact, that that Department and the Department of Agriculture are practically the only two creative Departments of Government functioning. The others are merely putting administrative duties through their hands; and it was because I had some sort of an idea that these vital matters would arise, or that at least matters arising out of them should be the function of the Government, and would in future arise in a very acute manner, [185] such as was indicated by Deputy Johnson this evening, that I was anxious that these Departments should stand apart from every possible obstructing aspect of the administration. Deputy Johnson alluded to the effect of what he called the objective of the enemy. I do not think it is tactful to use that expression. I think someone else previously used the term of our unwise friends, and though they may be carrying out operations that would be wise if carried out by an alien enemy, still I think it is unwise to use descriptions that are calculated to render wider the gulf that has so disastrously come between them and us. It is quite true— and I insisted all along upon it— that their main object has been the economic destruction of the country. It is not, I think, accurate to say that on their side they are running a military objective concurrently with their economic objective, but their whole objective and their whole operations have been, as far as I can study them, a mere assault upon the economic resources of the country. I think it is not inaccurate to assume that the one big weapon by which we can counter and diminish this economic destruction—the immediate instrument—is that of the military weapon. You do not counter the destruction of a railway bridge by immediately rebuilding another railway bridge, in order that it also may be immediately destroyed. You counter it, if it is possible, by preventing a recurrence of such an action in advance. I do not for the life of me see that this passage which refers to the development of schemes for the relief of distress can be accepted by the widest stretch of the most elastic imagination, as a “wait and see” policy. Now, if there is any man in this Dáil, I think, that can be credited with a wide, farseeing and economic policy, it is Deputy Johnson. I believe he has not yet disclosed to us how far-reaching that economic policy is, and I certainly think, if he were challenged at the moment to try to put into operation his scheme of economic and social reconstruction, that under present conditions he would find it absolutely impossible to comply with that challenge. He would in the face of turmoil and destruction have to consider how far the immediate circumstances permitted his scheme to be put in operation. He would be forced to consider how far the cessation or diminution of these [186] hostilities and disturbances would enable the development or enlargement of his efforts to be carried through. I can place no other construction upon this particular part of the Address to which he calls attention except that it is precisely the principle upon which the Government propose to act in the immediate future. It is quite impossible to tackle the matter in any serious way at the moment. That is the tragedy—the appalling tragedy—of the thing, that, as a result of the disturbance and destruction going on upon our economic resources, men and women are disemployed and are compelled to live in filthy disease-breeding slums, and no one can realise it better, I think, than those who have given attention to the acuteness of these problems in the light of Governmental intervention. I think I could credit the Deputies upon the Labour benches with that. No one can realise how utterly impossible it is to cope with anything at the present time that is more than the mere fringe of those social and economic conditions that exist to-day. I see in this Address, not so much a scheme of economic reconstruction, as a ground plan of national reconstruction in which, of course, economic construction will play a most vital part. I want to say a word or two before I sit down on the last matter referred to by Deputy Johnson— that is the Railway Commission. I hope that there will be no attempt to rush this Government into hasty action on that matter. Any far-reaching effect which becomes something like a revolution in control and management would seem to me to imply and necessitate enormous financial commitments on the part of the State, and those are things which at present we should know what they are and what they involve and what they warrant, and the results to be achieved by those commitments. For these reasons I feel disposed to dissent from the amendment of Deputy Johnson. Of course I know he has to propose some sort of amendment. He had to express some dissent from the policy of the Executive Council which is outlined in these. Otherwise he would not have been fulfilling the functions of an opposition leader; he would not have filled the columns of the daily Press with his words of wisdom had he remained silent while this Address was before the Dáil.

[187] I do not say there was anything reprehensible in his opposition. I believe there was excellent purpose served by such an attitude, if it were only in the clash of mind and exchange of different moods.

Dr. McCARTAN: On a point of order, is this the amendment now? I was called to order for much less.

Mr. SEAN MILROY: It is. I am simply making a commentary on those Resolutions which were proposed. I say this amendment has not been supported by any evidence to show that what it asks is something this Dáil should assent to. I was sorry that I could not refer to some of the references in the Address on this amendment, especially to the references alluding to the Northern situation. I take it that before this Address is disposed of there will be an opportunity of discussing the Address as it stands, and there are other matters that do not arise out of this amendment which I think it as well that the opinion of this Dáil should be expressed upon before this Address is disposed of.

Mr. W.L. COLE: I think that the suggestion in the amendment where the wording of the amendment says “That the policy of the Executive Council transmitted through the Governor-General should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people especially the evils arising from widespread unemployment,” I think that really would convey—were such an amendment adopted by the Dáil—the idea that there was nothing constructive or definite in any of the proposals of the Government, and that the whole of the enormous Estimates that the Dáil has adopted were simply for administration purposes to carry on the government of the country without in any way developing the resources of the country, or without in any way affecting the social and economic difficulties of the people, and as if this Dáil actually passed this enormous amount of money and spent all the available resources the Government hopes to get in during the financial year without getting any actual results for the country, except to carry on the ordinary administrative work. Such an amendment [188] is nothing more or less than a complete vote of want of confidence in the Government, and I feel assured that the majority of the Dáil will have no difficulty whatever in coming to a decision on this amendment and will reject it, and reject it emphatically. Then we have the further suggestion in the amendment that the Dáil also regrets “that no indication has been given of the intention of the Executive Council respecting the recommendations of the Commission on Irish Railways.” Everyone will remember that Commissions used to be regarded as a way of shelving a question in the easiest and most convenient way for a Government. I do not think we regard Commissions that are set up, or will be set up, in that light, or their recommendations either, but considering that this State is only a week in existence and that it has the whole of the administration of new Ministries and the carrying on of the Government in a state of security such as exists at present surely this is not the time in the midst of all this intricate and very important problems to add to them. At the present moment recommendations in regard to the Commission which has quite recently reported are before us, and I for one would be dead against the idea of this Dáil rushing headlong into immature legislation. The more time that is given during the coming recess towards preparation so that nothing will be done too hastily, the sounder will, I think, be the results and the better the measure which will finally be passed for the good of the people. I believe in the old phrase, “Hurry slowly,” do not let the report go to the waste-paper basket, but do not hurry in legislation without considering so vital a problem as the future of the Irish Railways. Although in younger days I used to regard nationalisation as a sort of panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to in such matters as railways and the like, actual experience has made me feel that in many cases, including the nationalisation of railways, that nationalisation is a greater curse than a blessing to the unfortunate nation that goes in for it.

Mr. DAVIN: On a point of order, are we now discussing the nationalisation of railways?

[189] AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I understand that what is in the amendment is an expression of regret that no indication is given of the intention of the Executive Council respecting the recommendation for nationalisation. It would be better if we had not a debate on nationalisation, although I think it would be in order.

Mr. SEAN MILROY: It certainly arises out of this report.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I would like to warn Deputy Cole that to begin a debate on nationalisation of railways would be a serious thing, although he is quite within his rights to do so.

Mr. COLE: I do not think a more serious issue in regard to the internal trade and commerce of this country could at any time be considered by this Dáil than this question of railway nationalisation. The railways are the greatest means of communication between the traders of the country, and the whole question of transport and the control of transport would be more influenced by the future organisation under which the railways are conducted and controlled than by any other means. I think this question of the railways, when it comes to be discussed, should be discussed by this Dáil as a special question on a particular motion, and not on a motion such as this.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I take it that that is the general intention.

Mr. COLE: Well, the way it is put here seems to me that if we adopt such an amendment as this, it would be practically an instruction to the Executive Council to bring up for immediate consideration of the Dáil the carrying into effect all the recommendations of the Commission on Irish Railways.

Mr. THOS. JOHNSON: Or some other.

Mr. COLE: I think we are entitled to consider how far the amendment would influence the Dáil in coming to a decision on that report. It is too serious a question, to my mind, to be considered on the Governor-General's Address with a view to giving an instruction practically to the Government what they are to do if this amendment is carried. For the reason I put forward first, the crowded state of the programme before us during [190] the coming session, I do not think the railway question is ripe for a concrete proposal at present. We know that the whole question of the control of the railways and the relation between the Companies and the Staffs is very, very acute and critical, and I would be very sorry to see this Dáil give an expression of opinion at present that might possibly accentuate the difficulty that exists in trying to reach what I hope will be a permanent settlement and very much happier relations between the Companies and their Staffs. I hope it will be one of the great triumphs of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce to bring about, without having to take the whole question of the railways into account, such a state of affairs before we consider what the future control of the railways and the work of the railways should be. I certainly did think that the more individual initiative in regard to the trade and transport of the country is encouraged the more will healthy competition be possible and all the means of transport developed, including the canals and subsidiary means of transport, in unison with the railway system. The more the trade of this country will develop the stronger it will become, because it is the experience of other countries where there have been State railways that such railways have not been as efficient as those run by private Companies, and the more competition has been left in the hands of private individuals the greater the trade of the country has developed, and the less there has been of bureaucracy and the less burden on the State than where things have been done otherwise. We see the one service in this country which may be regarded as a National Service is not a paying department—that is, the Post Office. Now I think very probably if the Post Office and railways were nationalised services before long we would have in the railways the same sort of thing we have in the Post Office, that out of the public funds of the country, a great deal of money would be required annually to maintain a service that otherwise should be, and probably would be, self-supporting. We know perfectly well that until the war the railways of Ireland were self-supporting; they paid dividends, and their staffs were not eternally out on strike.

[191] Mr. THOMAS JOHNSON: They ought to have been.

Mr. COLE: Well, if they ought to have been that is another question. They were not, and I am only dealing with the facts. Their staffs were not eternally out on strike, and the trade of the country was not smashed to atoms, as it is at the present time, between strikes and the rest of it. At the present time I think the best interests of the commerce of Ireland will be upheld by leaving to individual enterprise, and by non-interference by the State, except in a controlling capacity, the whole question of transport. I strongly urge that the amendment dealing with this matter be rejected by the Dáil.

Mr. DOLAN: This amendment, I believe, has been proposed with the object of drawing attention to the unemployment in the country. We all know the cause of the unemployment, and to my mind the way to deal with unemployment, and the way to encourage development, is to first put down the cause of unemployment. First take away the source of the evil that has caused unemployment and that has retarded development in the country. The Government has definitely stated that they have a policy, and I think the outline of the policy given in the speech that was read to us is a policy that covers the situation we have to deal with. The amendment “regrets that the policy of the Executive Council, transmitted through the Governor-General, should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people, especially the evils arising from widespread unemployment.” I do not think that is a fair statement to make in an amendment, and I do not think it is fair to ask the Dáil to adopt such a statement. Now, there is a big attempt made to deal with the economic difficulties that are facing us. You have proposals to deal with the Malicious Injury claims that will come before us, and in these alone there will be a big scope for employment with the rebuilding of all the damage that has been done. It will mean a tremendous amount of employment to rebuild all the bridges that have been blown up all over [192] the country. But to my mind the difficulty will be to get the labour to build these bridges, because unfortunately the minds of the youths of this country are turned in other channels, and it is the first duty of the Government to get them to look at their responsibilities, and to take a civic outlook, and to remember that there are other things in life besides the destruction of property. It was mentioned yesterday, I think I mentioned it myself, that there is to be a Land Bill introduced. Those of us from the West of Ireland know that a good deal of economic distress is caused there by congestion, and I hope that the Land Bill will deal with this question. I feel sure that it will deal with it in a way that will be of great economic benefit to the small landholders in the West; of great benefit to the landless men there who now have their eyes on the vast ranches that are under the bullocks. The Government have, to my mind, outlined a policy that is the only practical policy to pursue at the present time. All through it they maintain their first duty to the people, to the labourer, to the artisan, to the small landholder, to the big landholder, to the small shopkeeper, to the shop worker, to the vast monied interests in the country, is to establish law and order. They have put that in the forefront of their programme, and they have asked us in this Dáil, to which we have been sent as representatives of the people, to give them our wholehearted support in carrying out that policy. I think it is our duty not to be critical about i's that are not dotted, and t's that are not crossed, but that we should take a wholehearted stand behind that Government who are establishing law and order in Ireland. We should show all who are carrying on Irregularism in Ireland to-day, all who are opposing ordered government, and backing up the forces of anarchy, that we, at least the spokesmen of the people, who know what is the difference between ordered government and anarchy are not going to put obstacles in the way of the Government; that we are wholeheartedly behind them and that we will give them every assistance that they want from us. I say by doing so we will be voicing the views of the people who sent us here.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Deputy should now move the adjournment [193] of the debate. I think it is the simplest way.

Mr. DOLAN: I beg to move that the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.

Motion made and question put:—

“That the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.”


The PRESIDENT: I would like to say on the adjournment that I expect the Dáil will have to meet on Saturday and possibly on Monday to deal with two Bills—“The Adaptation Bill” and the “Appropriation Bill.” It may not be necessary to meet on Monday, but, as far as I can see, it will be necessary to meet on Saturday.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I have been given notice by Deputy Figgis that he will raise a matter on the adjournment of the Dáil this evening, but Deputy Sears has informed me that he desires to ask first a question of special urgency of the Minister for Local Government with regard to an epidemic in county Mayo, and I understand the Minister for Local Government desires to make a brief statement of what is being done there. With the consent of Deputy Figgis and the agreement of the Dáil, I think we could take the question and the answer and regard the matter as closed.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: My consent was already asked, and I gave it willingly.