Dáil Éireann - Volume 2 - 14 December, 1922


Mr. JAS. DOLAN: I have not much to add to complete what I intended to say yesterday evening when the adjournment was moved. I would just like to say a few words about the expression of regret that is here that the Executive is not dealing with the report made to the Government by the Commission on Irish Railways. Personally I think it is very wise for the Government to postpone consideration of this big question until we can discuss it, having established ordered government, until we can discuss it in normal times and look at it from a normal point of view. I feel sure there will be big differences of opinion on the question, and I am certain that many Deputies in this Dáil will take different points of view. I do not intend to express any point of view at present until it comes [269] up in another form. I merely say that I think the Government are wise in postponing consideration of this big question.

(At this stage Mr. G. Fitzgibbon took the Chair.)

Mr. DOMHNALL O'CALLAGHAN: I have heard with surprise the remarks of the Deputy on my right, and the references to the policy of the Government in deferring consideration of the railway question. The railways, it has always been said, are the arteries of a country. If they are, the arteries of the body are always looked after by a doctor, and if you neglect the arteries of the body, the body will not live; and I expect, if you do not look after the arteries of the country, the country will not live. To my mind, the railway companies at the present time are in a precarious condition, and it is the duty of the Government to look after this very vital question, which will not admit of delay. It must be attended to. The Government well knows that the agreement between the men and the company is nearing its completion. The thing must be gone into thoroughly. It will not bear to be put off from day to day; it must be dealt with at once.

MINISTER for INDUSTRY and COMMERCE (Mr. Joseph McGrath): I would like to say at the outset that with practically every word in Deputy Johnson's speech of yesterday I agree. That is, of course, if the times were normal. There is no doubt about it, if the times were normal I would agree with almost all of what he has said. I believe he mentioned in his speech yesterday—I unfortunately did not hear the whole of it, but I read the report of it—he admitted that the times were not normal, and he said that he expected to be met with the answer from the Ministerial benches that there was no money. That is a fact, of course. There is no money. I would like to point out that, even if there was money, and any amount of it, at the disposal of the Ministry ready to expend, I would say it would be very foolish if the Ministry attempted to expend that money without first having prepared proper and well-considered schemes— schemes that had been considered by men who knew what they were considering. I would like to remind you of an occasion about four weeks ago when this question of unemployment came up. A [270] very direct question was put to me by Deputy Johnson as to what our policy was. I think he congratulated me upon being so frank as to say that we had no policy. At that time I said it was our intention to see if it were possible to get at the root of this unemployment evil. We have not lost time since then, we have been investigating it and we have been doing everything humanly possible to get at the bottom of this. This week we had definitely decided that a certain Commission must be set up. We decided it before the Address was framed. The personnel of this Commission or Committee has been named. The members of it must be, and will be, approached this week, I hope. The idea is that all that count on representative bodies will be represented on the Committee, and they will investigate and inquire into and will approach all bodies that are now—numbers of them at least —overlapping in the payment of moneys from different sources—I refer to St. Vincent de Paul Society, the White Cross, the Poor Law and others. There is absolutely no one body knows what the other body is doing. The idea of this Committee will be to find out what money is spent, yearly, for instance, by those bodies, and the class that benefits. Along with that they will see the actual amount, and put that along with the money expended on unemployment and uncovenanted insurance. Now, about unemployment insurance, what is commonly known as the Capitalist class come along to you and say this money is absolutely thrown away, and you get no return. Some members on the Labour benches will know what I am referring to now. But when you put it up to those people to put some concrete proposal before you, they can put up nothing, and in the end the bubble is burst, and there is nothing there. They must admit that the payment of unemployment insurance benefit is necessary. The Government is, and has been, for the last six months—particularly the department that I represent—receiving deputations from every part of the country and from public bodies in general. They all come to us with the suggestion that it is a question of Government Grants. There is no money. The Government cannot do anything. Then the question of Unemployment Benefit comes up, but when we put a definite [271] concrete proposal before them they can do nothing. This Committee I have referred to will, we hope, go into all these things. It will be a really representative Committee, and the matters to be investigated are ones on which we are hoping Labour will give us assistance. We are hoping that a Scheme or Schemes can be brought out within a couple of months. I agree with Deputy Johnson that it is not right that we should say until this war is over nothing can be done. The Ministry agree with me in that. But, even if we had the money, we must have some definite scheme before expending anything. I have recollections of money being spent in this city to relieve unemployment, and Deputies will know very well how that money was spent, and whether it relieved unemployment or not. Consequently, I am sure, members of the Dáil will agree with me that we must have definite schemes before we lay out any money. It may appear from the Governor-General's Address that matters were indefinite, but I am hoping that when in April next we will be budgeting, provision will be made for definite schemes that will be brought before us. We will then know what we are doing, and I hope we will be able to get a fair amount of money to carry out these schemes, the object being to help the country generally and relieve unemployment. It is hardly fair, and I do not think it was really meant, that we should be expected to be in a position to definitely state beforehand what we intend to do in regard to this question of unemployment, or the economic condition of the country generally. Undoubtedly, had things been normal, we would be in a position to do something, and if we were not in a position we would be deserving of criticism. Things are not normal; I think that is recognised. We have not got any opportunity of deliberating or seeing the people whom we should see, or settling down to those things. Deputy Johnson yesterday was quite correct when he said that the enemy, as he called them, were out simply to destroy us economically. He pointed out at the same time that there were portions of Ireland where we might introduce some schemes. He is correct there also, but if those people are out to destroy us economically, naturally the first thing they would do would be to [272] go to the portions of Ireland where we would be introducing those schemes. Deputy O'Shannon would say to that, that it shows we are not competent to govern, when we could not prevent those people going there. That is the fact all the same. We cannot do these things. As to the railways, we have not shelved the Railway Commission's report. We have not pigeon-holed it; by no means have we done so. The position at the moment is extremely delicate. The Government have made up their minds on the matter. The position, as I say, is delicate—so delicate that I do not want to say anything in this Dáil about it. I think the real anxiety of the Deputies on the other side was as regards whether we were letting things drift—not dealing with the report, not looking ahead, and forgetting that the agreement ends this month. I can assure them there is no reason for such anxiety. We are not overlooking those things. The situation is so delicate that any statement here might, perhaps, render all our efforts up to the present fruitless.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: If the Minister will take it from me, let me assure him that we, too, recognise the delicacy of the situation so far as the railways are concerned. So far as the Ministry is concerned, I do not think that the report of the Railway Commission will be shelved. I fancy the report is haunting them by night as well as by day rather than that it is shelved. Now, we have always recognised the difficulty in which the Government is. Nobody has been more ready to make allowance for the Government than we on these benches here. If the times were normal and this Dáil were normal, you may take it we would be much more severe in our criticisms, and would take much greater pains in our attacks in certain directions upon the Government. But even the abnormality of the times is not, to some of us, sufficient excuse for all the things that are being done and all the things that are not being done. As I listened to the Minister speaking about the difficulty and the abnormality of the times and the particular task upon which the Government was engaged—the task of restoring order and orderly government throughout the country—it occurred to me again, as it occurred to us frequently within the last month or two, and particularly in the last [273] week or two, that it might be well worth the Government's time to see if they could not devise some means of using what I may call the ordinary governmental functions of Governments different from those functions which they are at present required to carry out in the conduct of the war. I think, if we had some kind of separation of functions like that, perhaps even the war might get a chance of being carried on better, not to speak about the better carrying on of the ordinary civil functions of the Government of the country. I think if the Government to any extent devoted less of their attention to the military—I am not making a concrete suggestion upon that because I am a little out of order—but if they consider that aspect of things, perhaps it would be better. The Minister says a Commission has been set up. I hope his last reference to it more accurately describes what it is going to do than his first reference; but while that Commission is being set up, and pursuing all the investigations he has been speaking about, he knows perfectly well there will be people dying who are now on the verge of starvation, and he knows that there are people now on the verge of starvation. I came across a case last night of two such people, both of them adults, but one considerably up in years, and they have got to exist on about 22s. a week, for the two of them. That cannot go on for very long, and while this Commission is probing, rooting and investigating the whole situation is getting worse, and worse. Has the Government in the meanwhile anything at all to offer to the unemployed beyond the Unemployment Insurance? Can it do anything in the way of making a stop-gap. I notice that the British Government and the Belfast Government are making some little effort in this direction. I think the effort is altogether insufficient, but they are making a little effort. There is something that they define as loans granted to meet not the whole situation that has been created by the tremendous unemployment, but temporarily to bring in to employment certain people not presently in employment, and will it be only until such time as this Commission places its investigations before the Ministry that any scheme to meet the unemployment existing can be carried out by legislation? Now, in this amendment we are making objection that the Government [274] does not apparently contemplate legislation on these things. In the Government's programme here is laid down nine or ten measures that are to be proposed. I heard Deputy Cole say yesterday evening that one would think from Deputy Johnson's speech that the thirty or forty millions we have passed were going to be spent upon administration and not on reconstruction. Now, if the Deputy will look over the list of legislation specified he will find that 9/10ths of it is administration and war legislation of one kind or another. I agree that in order that you may have reconstruction you will have to complete some kind of framework first, and that a good deal of money will have to be spent upon that. The Government did not meet fairly and squarely, with few exceptions, the case put up from these benches. Deputy Dolan referred to the Land Purchase Act which is to be brought in. Of course Deputy Dolan knows that the Land Purchase Act is not an Act that is going to be the legislative fruit of the Agricultural and Land Commission presently sitting. He knows that it is really an Act intended to complete the British Land Purchase Acts passed for Ireland. He said that it would bring a certain measure of land to certain landless people and small farming people in the West. Quite true, and in other places too, but the great bulk of the unemployment is not in the West, and it is not going to be remedied to any extent at all by the Land Purchase Act, and Deputy Dolan knows that very well. I was glad to observe that the Minister, with that frankness which is characteristic of him, did not pretend that this Government is only in office for a week as other Deputies are apt to do. We used to hear the sing-song that this or that cannot be done before the 6th December. We now hear a number of Deputies with a variation of that sing-song that it is too near the 6th December and that the Government has only been established for a week and that they should get a chance of seeing where they are. Deputy Wilson yesterday evening made a speech after which I think we should invite him to come over and sit on these Benches, because he put all our case when he said, and I presume he had authority for the statement, that if all the people of Ireland or of the twenty-six Counties were [275] employed for three weeks in the production of textiles they would produce as much textiles as the people of Ireland required, and that if they were engaged for another period of, I do not know how many weeks, in agricultural production, they would produce all the agricultural produce necessary for the people of Ireland, and so on through the gamut, if engaged in certain production or distribution. They would be able to produce enough for the whole population in Ireland, but in spite of that there are people who cannot get enough textiles or agricultural products or any other things produced in Ireland. Why? Deputy Wilson did not answer, because he knows why. Tinkering with those things will not solve these things at all, and we know that the root of the whole trouble is the system. Deputy Wilson says, “Do certain things in three weeks, and certain other things in three months.” When you have got all those products, you mismanage the whole distribution of them. They are distributed in such a way that some people have got too much of them and other people have got too little; and while people are suffering and while stomachs are empty in Ireland, some of those products are shipped away to other countries. There is something rotten in the state of Ireland there. The whole system is wrong, and it is the job and the duty of the rulers of the country to see that the system is so changed that those old evils which we suffered in the past are minimised now; and they can be minimised now if the job is gone about in the right way. Another Deputy seemed to take it as a grievance that we here, Labour Deputies, are desirous that the working people of Ireland should have higher wages than the working people of anywhere else. We do. We are not in the least ashamed of the desire. To us the general interest is not what it seems to be to Deputy Milroy—a means of getting away from the particular needs of individuals. We are concerned with the good and decent living of the individual, because to us his general interest is not an abstraction at all, and the community is not an abstraction at all. But this people, this Ireland, this community of ours is composed of a certain number of individuals, and when we talk about Ireland [276] or the nation, or the people, we are talking about the men and women, the boys and girls, the whole manhood and womanhood of Ireland, and therefore we have got to consider the chances of the decent livelihood and the decent and honourable living of the men and women in this State. For that reason we have not been willing, and shall not be willing to agree that because people in Belfast or in England, or in France or in Germany, have had their wages and standard of living cut down and reduced, that therefore we here in Ireland must suffer the same reduction in our wages, standard of living, and so forth. We are not willing that that should be so. We would want the whole body of the Irish people, to use a Scotch phrase, rather “to have a good conceit of ourselves.” That is one of the things that is wrong. Undoubtedly it is one part of the legacy of our years of slavery that the ordinary life in Ireland is not considered as highly as it ought to be considered. Now, we are not asking in this particular thing for higher wages. We are asking for employment; that those who live in Ireland should have the right to as decent a living as anybody else, should get a fair opportunity to live in Ireland and work in Ireland. The Minister is quite in agreement that the mere giving out of doles is not going to get you very far, but that is better than nothing. But there are people in Ireland who would give nothing, who would allow starvation, who say that in order that we may have profits a certain number of people must suffer. We are dead up against that. We on those benches may seem a bit remarkable to Deputy Dolan who was speaking for a class. I have no hesitation in speaking for the whole citizenship of Ireland, and we see that unless remedies are got for those things, and got soon, that the whole citizenship of Ireland is going to suffer, because you cannot have any part of the body politic suffering or diseased without that suffering and disease affecting the whole of the body politic. There was a certain untruth in the statement the Ministry put into the mouth of the Governor-General when he said that if it were not for civil war there would be much less unemployment in Ireland than in any other country. That is not true. It is true that the civil war led to an [277] aggravation of unemployment, but there was unemployment, and growing unemployment, before the civil war at all, and this Dáil knows it, because some of us came up when the Second Dáil was wrangling over the Treaty, to warn the Second Dáil that the menace of unemployment was getting very serious indeed. Unemployment is not an Irish question alone, nor an English question alone. It is a question affecting most countries, but we in Ireland, with our good conceit of ourselves developed too much on the one side, think that the Irish nation is so good, so national, that we cannot see that the things affecting us are the same things as affect other people. In one respect our conceit is too great and too little in another. I hope the Minister will be able to reply that even for this “No Man's Land,” this interval between the preparation of those big schemes and the necessary legislation, something is going to be done, even if it is only an increase, first of all in the amount of unemployment insurance, and secondly, an extension in the area over which the insurance may be paid. Deputy Wilson in running away, because it was nothing else, from one suggestion made by Deputy Johnson yesterday said that Deputy Johnson wanted the Government to issue scrip, and if that were done the same consequences would follow in Ireland as followed in Russia and Germany. They would not, because the state of Germany and Austria are not due to the things Deputy Wilson thinks or pretends to think they are due to; they are due to quite different causes altogether, and no Deputy supporting the Government has faced the proposition which Deputy Johnson made yesterday. Not a single one of them has attempted to understand what the proposal actually was. I hope some of the Ministers will face it and answer it. Deputies said yesterday that if you increase agriculture you would not get markets in this country. I submit it is the duty of the rulers in this country to devise ways and means for finding markets for the products of the country. While not in a good many things a protectionist at all I subscribe to Deputy Johnson's dictum that there should be certain measures taken to find markets in Ireland for certain Irish products which are going outside Ireland. Deputy Milroy, Deputy [278] Cole, and other Deputies have been deprecating hasty and immature legislation. They were referring particularly to the reports of the Railway Commission. I am not going to go into the delicate position of the Railways at all, but I am going to remind those and other Deputies that there has been no haste or immaturity about the work of that Commission.

Mr. GOREY: Question.

CATHAL O'SHANNON: The Commission came into being early this year, it sat continuously for several months, it made its report some time early in August and there is a pretty good stretch of time between August and Christmas, and if you take in that time and the time that the Commission actually spent in investigating the question you will have at least eight or nine months. Not only that, but this Commission was not the first Railway Commission to enquire into the Irish Railways or to come to almost the same conclusion. It is a good many years since that was done. When I heard Deputy Cole say that once upon a time he believed in Railway nationalisation as a panacea for all the ills, I can recall Deputy Cole and nearly every other Deputy, except those who sit on these benches, and all the eloquent speeches that they have been making for ten or fifteen years and all the fine and well-reasoned arguments and articles there used to be in “The United Irishman,” “Sinn Fein,” “Nationality,” and “Irish Freedom,” and the schemes and specifications of schemes of one kind or another under the old National Council of Sinn Fein and the pamphlet after pamphlet and the heaps and heaps of literature that used to go out to the country. These Deputies said, “As soon as we got independence we will be able to do all these things.” Then Deputy Dolan, Deputy Cole, and Deputy Milroy turn around now and say we must not do anything hastily and without mature deliberation. We must not have any legislation which is not grounded over a long period of investigation. I remember people whom these Deputies followed who went back to Grattan's Parliament to find schemes and plans suitable for adaptation when the first Irish Parliament would be sitting. The first Irish Parliament is sitting now, and we have the spectacle of [279] Deputy Cole and Deputy Milroy stripping off legislative measure after legislative measure until they produce nothing but legislative barrenness, and standing naked before us and throwing overboard everything by which they climbed to power. They say they have experience of all these things, and that all their experience has driven them against such Government schemes as nationalisation. No, their experience has not done anything of the kind. They never believed in these things at all; but they were in Opposition then. They were out against the brutal British Government that was preventing all these things from being done—the only thing standing between Ireland and salvation. They find, of course, that when they come into power they have other responsibilities, other duties; and so the Government produces, instead of ameliorative legislation or promises of ameliorative legislation, seven, eight, nine, or ten proposals that are not constructive proposals at all. There has been talk here of immature legislation. Now, for instance, I am waiting to see how far the new Ministry of Fisheries is going to act with the report of the Fisheries Commission, because I know there is a principle in that report that many Deputies are not willing to admit, and it would bring the fisheries into the state they ought to be in and it would give considerable employment. Although the Government says it is willing to do something for unemployment, it has not taken up that report, and it has not promised legislation on it. How many more Commissions are we going to have and no promise of legislation? We have had the Army, Land Purchase, Civic Guard, Judiciary, and everything else like that, but none of these other things. Deputy Cole says that the more competition is adopted to trade and the more competition among Irish railways the better would be the development of Irish industries and Irish trade. The truth is that cut-throat competition has compelled this Dáil to inquire into the whole system of the railways, and it will compel it to inquire into the prices of things and into a great many other things as well. I do not exactly understand how Deputy Cole arrived at the conclusion that the more competition there was amongst the railways the better for industry and trade. [280] We want to see the competition among the railways. We all know that the Great Western Railway runs through certain areas, the Great Southern and Western through others, and the Dublin and South Eastern through others, but I hold that these are not competitive railways, though they may be here and there. If you follow the Deputy's argument logically, you would give some employment, if only in the building of a railway. You would run another railway to Wexford some distance away from the Dublin and South Eastern, and let them compete one against the other. That is a case of the more competition the better. He instanced the Post Office as a horrible example of nationalisation. Now, Government control is not necessarily nationalisation at all, and there is no particular reason why people should grumble and grouse if the Post Office lost half a million or a million a year. The whole thing, as I said before, depends on this, whether the Post Office or any other service is giving value for the money spent on it. You might as well turn round and say the public streets and the public roads should either give a profit or pay their way. Of course they pay their way, but they do not bring in revenue to the Government. A service that pays its way is not necessarily a service that brings revenue to the Government at all. Not necessarily. There are certain services which are of vital national importance. We maintain that these services should be helped by the State, if necessary should be controlled and managed by the State, and that there is no reason at all why we should chew the rag with the Postmaster-General, or the Head of any other Department, as long as his Department is giving full value for money, even though that Department does not bring in the revenue that some people would like it to bring in. I hope the Ministry will be able to assure us that while this Commission that is spoken of is being set up that something here and now is going to be done for unemployment. There is a certain vicious circle and it is almost as impossible for some people to tell whether the egg or the chicken came first as it is to tell whether certain people engaged in operations against the Government produce a certain amount of unemployment, or [281] whether that unemployment produced these operations against the Government. I have met not a few people connected with the present jails and internment camps, and I will tell you what one told me, and I found his statement pretty well confirmed by a good many others, including some of those that the Government has since released from these camps or jails. He said that the people in the jails and camps could be divided into three categories, and that one-third of these certainly were not likely to have been there, and would not have been likely to engage in the operation that brought them there, had it not been that they had nothing to do. They had no work to go to, and because they had no way of earning their living they developed into bandits pure and simple—perhaps bandits neither pure nor simple. They had developed into bandits and it was purely due to unemployment. If something is not done to meet the unemployment, even though you jail all the Irregulars, gang after gang, company after company, of them, your present system will still be producing people, who have got to live by some means or other, and they are going to live by force, by stealing, by banditry, or some other way. I hope the Minister will face the argument fair and square and try to meet Deputy Johnson's case, and be able to assure us that in the meantime the Government will take steps, so that as few as possible will die, in spite of the fact that we can produce all the textiles we want in three weeks and all the other things in a few months.

Mr. SEAN MILROY: On a point of personal explanation, I would like to correct three inaccuracies made by the last speaker. First, I have not abandoned principles that I once held; I have never advocated measures in which I did not believe, and I have not climbed to power.

Mr. D.J. GOREY: I take the view that the speech we listened to the other day, defining the Government's policy was a sound and fair intention to develop and do its best for the country. There may have been a few items lacking, and there may have been a few aspects of the situation that were not dealt with, but taking the speech as a whole, as far as it went, I think it was a fine and statesmanlike forecast of the [282] policy they are going to pursue. I listened yesterday to Deputy Johnson's amendment to the Address, and I was trying to find out from his speech what he meant and more particularly what he meant to do. I could not find anything really constructive in his whole oration. He certainly advises us that the first move should be on the land, but he was very wise in not telling us what that move should be, or what form it should take. His party indulged in that sort of thing a few months ago, and I suppose they did not want to do it again. One of the results of agricultural production at the moment is that one million barrels of barley are lying about and can be bought at 12/- a barrel. I bought it myself at that price, and potatoes are selling wholesale for less than 5/- for 20 stones. These are some of the things that the land produces. Do we want more of that? Do we want more agriculture? True, Mr. Johnson has not mentioned a policy. He was very wise in that, I think. Now, do we want the State to subsidise operations on the land, and to what end; or do we want the State to compel owners of the soil to take responsibility that should belong to the State? I as the representative of the owners of the soil will see that we do not shoulder any responsibility except our own and so far as my efforts go nothing in the way of State responsibility will be shouldered by us. Anything in the nature of responsibility belonging to other sections of the community will not be shouldered by us. Now, we hear a good deal of cheap claptrap about what the State owes the citizens. I have been on these benches for months and I have never heard a word inside this Dáil or outside of it of what citizens owe the State. The power and wealth and prosperity of the nation cannot come from the top; they must come from the bottom, and they must be measured by the individual efforts of the members of the community. If individual members of the community will not give of their best the State must be poor and nobody is to blame unless the people themselves. Now, are we giving of our best in this country? It is all very well for Deputy Cathal O'Shannon to say that no matter what the wages are in other districts and other countries “We will not agree to that; we must have a higher wage if we can.”

[283] He did not say it, but our output is less than in any other country; is less than any other country in the world; our individual effort is less than in any other country. How then can we reasonably expect a higher standard of living than any other country? Surely we must come down to bed-rock and admit we are living on this earth and not living in the clouds. If we go to Rome we must do as Rome does. If the people of other countries are satisfied to work for a lower standard and give a better output, surely, if we want to exist, we must do likewise or go to another and a better world. Now, I have said that the standard of output here is lower than anywhere else. So it is, and I challenge a contradiction on it. I know something about what houses are; I heard a discussion here about the Postal Commission, and in connection with it the rent of houses and why they are not cheap here as anywhere else and why the poor man cannot get a house at a reasonable price. Nobody has the pluck to tell you, although everybody, in this Dáil and outside it, knows. Could you have cheap houses when the bricklayer is only allowed by his Trade Union to lay 240 bricks in the day? The English output is between a thousand and twelve hundred, and the American output would be between 1,700 and 2,000, and here we are tied down to 240 bricks a day. Surely nobody in his senses will stand up and say they were going to build up a great Ireland and a great Nation at the rate of 240 bricks a day. It is because we are not honest with ourselves, because we are not inclined to put our finger on where the wound is and where the disease is that the ills of Ireland are as bad as they are at the moment. Here are samples of suitings bought in Kilkenny—the price in Kilkenny would be £6 19s. 6d. Yet the very same stuff, pay the railway carriage to Leeds, get it made there, and pay the carriage back, and one gets a difference of £2 1s. 0d. less. In another case it is £3 less, and in another case it is £2 17s. 6d. less. Surely to goodness, if we are going to get on, if we are going to be a successful people, we have got to realise facts. Perhaps I would be met by the argument that this is the result of sweated labour. I think it would be a very wholesome [284] thing for all of us if we did a little sweating. I never felt as well as I did when I sweated at hard manual labour for twenty or twenty-five years. Now, what is another thing that will strike you? You see a contract for a big building, and one of the clauses inserted in it is that Irish labour must be employed. Why is that? Because the threat is there that if that clause were not in we would have to go outside of Ireland for our common labouring men and artisans. I think it is the greatest insult that could be offered to Irishmen. Would you see that in England? Nothing of the sort. Would you see it in America? No, because the market is open for everybody; because the Englishman and the American is prepared to stand up in competition with anybody. Is an Irishman prepared to do that, according to the rules and regulations of his trade? A house that will cost £1,000 or £1,050 in Dublin can be bought for £530 in England—the same class of house— and it can be bought for less in America. It can be let at less than half the rent. If we could get down to these hard facts, and have everybody try to do their best to remedy all these things, we would arrive at the solution of a number of our difficulties. With regard to the Railway Commission, I heard it stated in this Dáil that it was representative of all interests concerned. It was not. It was not representative of our interest, and the agricultural interest of Ireland is a big interest, and it was not represented. We asked to be represented, and we were not given representation, and we are not bound in any way by that report.

Mr. JOHNSON: Do you stand by your witness?

Mr. GOREY: My witness? We produced none.

Mr. JOHNSON: The Farmers' Union's witness?

Mr. GOREY: Now, if the revenues of these railways are not able to meet the expenditure, what is the alternative? The State will be asked to step in to meet the losses to uphold a certain standard of wages and a certain standard of work and a certain standard of time—the eight hours' day. Now, anybody who knows Ireland knows the application of the 8 hours' day is not suited to it. I can understand the 8 hours' day in busy centres like Lancashire, or even about [285] Dublin, but the 8 hours' day in a rural district in Ireland, where perhaps there is only one train passes in the day, and the rest of the time the man is lying on his back with his toes cocked to the sun, and he must be relieved at that for fear he would lie there too long, is a scandal. I think it is a scandal to apply it to Ireland. Now, what is the railway worker's standard of living? His wage is a very substantial one. His standard of comfort and his wage is 200 per cent. higher than the farm worker and that of the average citizen of the Irish Free State. It is 200 per cent. higher, practically speaking, than that of all the inhabitants of Cavan or Monaghan, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Kerry, Galway, Roscommon. In several of those counties their standard is nothing like it, and there are Deputies here, representing Western districts, who know very well that the standard of the average railway worker at the present day is 200 per cent. higher than the standard in those districts. I am dealing with their standard of comfort, their standard of wage and luxury. I will come now to the hours. What is the standard of work in the agricultural community in the counties I have named? It is not an 8 hours day, but more like 14 or 15 hours, and his output, the return that he gives for the time he is employed—I will not talk about the wages—is 300 per cent. higher than 70 per cent. of the railway workers. Now, what would enable this country to carry on? What has enabled any country to carry on? There is one thing—and that is individual effort, and the moment you sap or tamper with individual effort, you sap the spring of the nation's life. Talk about nationalisation as much as you like, but once you destroy individual effort you sap the life of the nation. What is everybody's business is nobody's business. Now, I suggest to different sections of this assembly, to be a little bit more candid, a little bit more honest, and to tell the truth, and if we have ills —and we have ills—cannot we be honest and call them by their proper names? Cannot we admit that we are lazy, that we are not doing our best, and cannot we try to remedy that? There used to be an old phrase, it is a bit out-of-date now; I think it is what the Lord said to Adam in the Garden—“Earn your bread by the sweat of your brow.” In practice these days it is, “Get your [286] bread by the sweat of some other body's brow.” There is one paragraph in the speech dealing with Land Purchase, and that I welcomed. One thing was omitted, and that was the question of ranches.

ACTING CHAIRMAN: The Deputy is not in order in going into the speeches in general. He will have another opportunity of doing that, but at present we are confined to Deputy Johnson's amendment.

Mr. GOREY: Very well. Now, I believe that if the salvation of this country is ever to be achieved it will be achieved by co-operation and by sinking class differences. There is no use in Labour demanding a wage and a standard of living except they are going to put their backs into the business and work in earnest. I have no objection to giving a good wage to the man who earns it, but I do begrudge a wage or subsidy to the man who does not. Our education has hitherto been all wrong.

ACTING CHAIRMAN: I have to remind the Deputy that education is not before us now.

Mr. GOREY: I merely mention it as applying to some of the ills we are suffering from to-day. I mention it in connection with self-reliance and the want of it. Our people should be taught self-help. If they tried to help themselves they could do it very easily, but the vast majority do not help themselves; they are content with an existence, and that is a wrong attitude. There are people at home all day doing nothing, who are not actually earning a wage. With proper education and proper upbringing, and with the inculcation of a spirit of self-reliance all this could be greatly remedied. Now the man, or the body of men, who begin with the idea that the nation or the individual owes him or them something will very soon find out his mistake.

At this stage An Ceann Comhairle took the Chair.

Mr. GOREY: We are made of different clay altogether from that. If a man begins with the idea that the nation owes him something and will not depend on self-reliance and self-help, that man will be in a position which will be very hard to remedy. It is no use trying to expect prosperity in a [287] nation if we are all going to be a nation of go-slows and born-tireds. If we want to build up this nation let us put our backs into it; let us work together and each give of his best.

Mr. NAGLE: I support Deputy Johnson's amendment, and I hope the Dáil will bear with me for a few moments; I do not often waste their time. When Deputy Gorey was speaking he made some remarks that were inclined to set one thinking, and he brought me back to some of the statements made by his colleague, Deputy Wilson, yesterday evening. He said that the workers of Ireland, implying, I think, in particular, members of the Transport Workers' Union, were lazy, and that if the workers did more work they would be better off and the people of the country would be better off. Now, that is rather a peculiar statement, to my mind. We were told by Deputy Wilson yesterday evening that there was a surplus of agricultural crops in this country, as there was in Britain. There are a great number of men out of work at present, and assuming that there are ten thousand men employed, say, in agriculture, and if each man doubles his efforts he will get through the work that the farmer wants him to do in half the time. Consequently you will double the amount of unemployment.

Mr. GOREY: On a point of order, I do not want to be misinterpreted like that. What I meant was that farmers at present do nothing only what is absolutely necessary. There are any amount of other things that we would do if we could get a return for what we are paying.

Mr. NAGLE: I am sorry. I always understood that farmers were business men, the same as other men.

Mr. GOREY: Oh, no.

Mr. NAGLE: And that they never employed men, no matter how small the wages were, for work that they did not require to be done. But, of course, if they are philanthropists, I am glad, although my experience is otherwise. Now, as to the question of individual effort, an individual has not the opportunity of putting forth any effort—an individual who swells the ranks of the unemployed year after year, for the very good [288] and sufficient reason that he has nothing to expend his energy on. He will beg day after day the right to work, and he is refused it, and if he does get a job, the more effort he puts forth the quicker he is going to finish the job and be on the streets in the unemployed ranks again. It struck me as peculiar that Deputy Gorey, in discussing the railways, stated that on an average the agricultural worker does 300 per cent. more work than the average railwayman. If that is true, no matter how lazy or incompetent the railwayman may be, the agricultural labourer should be in a highly flourishing condition. If the agricultural labourer does 300 per cent. more work than the railway worker certainly it is not his fault that agriculture is in such a condition. It must be the fault of the owners of the land—whether they are large or small landowners. Deputy Wilson yesterday evening stated —and I see he had some authority for it, though I doubted it at the time— that the textile workers in Great Britain, by working three weeks, could produce sufficient textiles to keep the country going for a year. I saw, according to last night's paper, that Mr. Kennedy, at the Food Prices Commission yesterday, made a similar statement. That may not be true in its entirety, but it is truer in my opinion than a good many Deputies in this room may believe. It is true, not alone of the textile industry, but of every other industry in this country and in every other country, and that is one of the reasons of unemployment. Unemployment, in my opinion, is due to the fact that more goods are produced in this and in every other country than people can afford to buy. Otherwise there are more goods than there is a market for. There is what is technically known as “under-consumption” and there is consequently unemployment. That is true not only of Ireland, but of practically every other country in the world. Deputy Wilson reminded me of the story of “The Iron Heel,” by Jack London. The hero of the story, Ernest Everard, addressing a meeting of “The Grangers,” which was a political organisation representing farmers and small manufacturers, traced the development of capitalism and showed that ultimately every country in the world would have a surplus which naturally could not be [289] exported, and he said the only way to get rid of this surplus under the capitalist system would be to take it and dump it into the sea. Deputy Wilson admitted that there is a surplus of farm produce in Ireland. We do not want to ask that Ireland would do what Jack London thought would happen ultimately. We do not want this surplus to be dumped into the sea, but we want them to consider that it is quite easy and possible, without giving the unemployed work to do, or giving them doles, to dump the surplus of the farm produce of this country—the textiles and the other things— at the feet of the men and women and the children who are at present very badly in need of them. I was very interested in this debate for various reasons—apart altogether from the fact that we are members of an Assembly here. I got a lot of view points that were interesting to me. I found out, in dealing with the questions, that the majority of the Deputies here took the very same attitude as members of the property owning classes. Deputy Dolan, I think, stated that we all knew what was the cause of unemployment. I thought we all should know what was the cause of unemployment. But I learned, as he developed his argument, that he meant to imply that Irregularism was the cause of unemployment. That is not the cause of unemployment in this country. It is the cause of some unemployment, and perhaps a large cause of unemployment. I mentioned about a month ago—and the President objected very strongly to my mentioning it—that Irregularism was caused, in a measure, by the fact that there were young men who were unemployed during the past nine or ten months. I want to say now that the ranks of the Regular Army are being recruited from the unemployed. I know personally that very many young men joined the National Army during the past few days—while scores of others made attempts to join it—for the simple reason that they were out of jobs. To get back to the cause of unemployment, we claim that the present private property-owning [290] system is the cause of it, and that as long as that lasts there will be more goods produced than people will have money to buy, and there will be periodic slumps, or under-consumption, and unemployment. I was reading a monthly magazine called Business Organisation and Management, in the November issue of which I saw an article by Sir Arthur Latta, Baronet, on “Labour responsibility for unemployment.” This gentleman admitted that much of the present unemployment is unavoidable in the circumstances. That is an admission from a prominent business man in Great Britain—that in the present world's circumstances a great deal of unemployment is unavoidable. So far as his outlook is concerned, it is simply impossible to conceive a time when there will be an opportunity for working and giving a decent living to all. He goes on to say that not an inconsiderable amount of unemployment is due to labour policy, inefficient leadership, and the regrettable ignorance of many British workmen. He goes on to point out about the tragedy of Russia. He states that the English workingmen do not understand the meaning of the tragedy of Russia, and because the workers of England are led by men who are Bolshevically inclined, or are inclined towards the establishment of Soviets, there is a great deal of unemployment. I think that there are some Deputies in this Dáil of that opinion also—Deputies who are as ignorant of the meaning of Russia as this gentleman accuses the British working classes. One Deputy suggested that Russia and Germany were almost in a state of collapse. Whether or not he implied that a lot of that was due to the situation in Russia brought about by the workers there, who tried to do something for themselves, it was outside the ordinary orbit of economic politics.

Motion made and question put: “That the debate be now adjourned until three o'clock on Friday, 15th December.”


The Dáil adjourned at 8.30.