Dáil Éireann - Volume 5 - 21 November, 1923


[1025] Debate resumed on Motion: “That the Dáil returns thanks to the Governor-General for his Address and approves of the legislative programme of the Government, as outlined therein.” (Mr. James Burke.)

Mr. THOMAS O'CONNELL: I beg to move as an amendment:—

“To delete all after the word Dáil,' line 1, and to substitute therefor the words `regrets that in its outline of proposed legislation, as disclosed in the Governor-General's Address, the Government has not included any proposals for the encouragement and development of the fishing industry.' ”

Several weeks have now elapsed since this amendment appeared on the Order Paper. My object in putting it down was to direct attention to the fact that in the comprehensive outline of the proposed legislation set forth in the Governor-General's Address, no reference had been made to this very important matter. Since then we have had many discussions in this Dáil in connection with the fishing industry, and the Ministry of Fisheries, in one form or another, and we have had notice, by the Minister for Fisheries, of a Bill to make certain provision in connection with inland fisheries. That all goes to show that the Governor-General's speech is not always to be taken as a true criterion of the programme of the Government's legislation. The proposed Bill refers entirely to inland fisheries, and my remarks will deal largely, if not entirely, with the question of deep sea fisheries. In my opinion the fishing industry in Ireland is, or ought to be, and could be, an industry second only to agriculture itself, and I think there is very great room, indeed, for the development, and for the fostering and encouragement of this industry.

Much attention has been paid, in the past, to the development of agriculture in the country, though we all agree that sufficient attention had not been paid to it. Possibly one reason for the [1026] neglect—the wholesale neglect—on the part of the former Government of this country of this important industry of fisheries, was that while England undoubtedly wanted our cattle, and our poultry, and our butter, she had little or no desire for our fish.

I may say at the outset, believing as I do, that there is in this industry very great room indeed for increased action and development, I do not hold the view—it is a personal view—that there is no need at the moment for a distinct and separate Ministry of Fisheries. I believe that economy, or so called economy, effected by savings on such matters as education or on an industry of this kind, is not true economy, and will have the effect only of increasing the waste of effort and opportunity in other directions. The Government and the country have done a good deal for agriculture. The credit of this country has been pledged, to a very great extent, and it may be necessary that something in the same direction will need to be done to put the fishing industry on a proper basis. The success of the fishing industry depends, like every other industry, almost entirely on proper organisation and proper education of those engaged in it. This organisation and education ought to be undertaken by the Government. We have the question of production, in the first case, and the question of marketing. From the point of view of production we have to consider the people who are engaged in it, the provision of fishing gear, boats, and such matters, and also we want to have the fish. I might say that so far as the man power is concerned, this industry is a skilled one, in the strictest sense of the word, and undoubtedly, owing to the neglect of the fishing industry during the past few years, the number of skilled men is now rapidly decreasing, and this is a matter that will have to be looked into very urgently.

It is rather a strange thing that only one side of the question has really received any attention at the hands of those whose duty it was to foster it. It is almost entirely, so far as Ireland is concerned, a seasonal occupation and is concerned with the inshore fishing for herring and mackerel, whereas [1027] in other countries very much attention is paid to fishing for other varieties of fish rather than herring and mackerel which find a market during the greater part of the year. There is a question of the provision of gear. That is especially a matter in which the Government can give very great help. There is first of all the necessity for experimental and educative work. It is necessary that those fishermen engaged in the work should know the most suitable class of gear to use. There is also the question of the provision of gear, and, as there is very great initial outlay required, the Government must come to help of those engaged in the industry in order that they may be able to help by short loans or some such method. I am informed that most of the gear used in the fishing industry is manufactured outside the Saorstát. If that is the case I think there is here a great opportunity of developing what might be regarded as a side line to the industry in connection with fishing.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE at this stage took the chair.

Mr. O'CONNELL: Nets, for instance, are not made except in one place, I believe, in the Saorstát. Barrels for curing the fish are imported. If that is the case I think this is one of the first things with which the Ministry might concern itself because in these things the production of gear and accessories would in itself form a very useful industry. In some countries very great help is given to those engaged in the fishing industry in providing information as to the movements of fish. I do not know whether that has been attended to here. In some countries aeroplanes are used for this purpose. It is not so much a question of production of the fish that is necessary, as a question of marketing the fish. Fish is a perishable food and rapid transit is really the key to the problem of marketing. Nothing has been done, so far as I know, in the way of organising transit to suit this particular industry. The railways have made no efforts, so far as I know, to accommodate the fishermen and very often we have instances of large catches of [1028] fish which have to be thrown into the harbour again because they cannot be dealt with. This provision of cheap and rapid transit is one of the first things which the Ministry should take in hands. I do not know whether they can do that with the powers they already have. If they cannot, I suggest that they should look for increased powers, because, as I have already stated, this is really the key to the development of the industry. There is also the question of the provision of motor transit in certain districts.

The Arran Island Fisheries are some of the most important we have in the country, and fishing for herring especially is done in the Sound between the Arran Islands and the Galway coast. They take their fish into Galway, a distance of 30 miles. The fishermen lose one or two days per week, and there are other delays whereas there is a harbour along the coast of Galway about nine miles from the Arran Islands at Coshla, where, if the fish could be sent by motor to Galway, the fishermen could fish and land their catches inside an hour. There are several instances of that kind especially in the Connemara area where a motor service could be established and they would help very much in expediting the transit of fish to the markets, but in addition to transit you have the question of providing markets, and here, I think, there is a great scope for the efforts of the Minister. The inland markets are not developed. There is nothing being done to bring the people in the Midlands and the inland portion of this country into touch with people engaged in the fishing industry on the coasts. The result is that whatever little fish is used in the country is, to a great extent, imported from the East coast of England with the exception of some herrings and mackerel in season. There could be a market in Ireland, if a scheme of advertising or organisation were undertaken whereby the Government would come in to help the people who want this cheap and wholesome food to get it from the people engaged in the industry. I do not know of course, as I have already stated, whether or not new powers or new legislation were required by the Ministry to do the things which I have [1029] been suggesting in outline are necessary to develop the industry. Any powers necessary I hold should be asked for by the Minister, and I have no doubt the Dáil would agree to give him these powers.

There is a question which has been touched on here before, namely, the protection of the fisheries. I am not quite satisfied that there is not at the moment sufficient protection provided for our fisheries. Foreign trawlers are invading our fishing grounds, and more measures should be taken to increase the measure of protection for our fishing grounds. A branch of the industry which has been neglected, I think, is the provision of curing stations. I do not know whether in the Saorstát any form of curing fish, except one, that is the salting of fish and the packing of them in barrels, is resorted to, but I suggest that there are other forms of curing which ought to be encouraged, for instance, the provision of kippers and bloaters. I do not know whether Irish kippers and bloaters could be provided or obtained. I rather think they cannot. The whole question of the fishing industry is so very wide that there are very many points which can only be touched on in a debate of this kind. My object will be served if I succeed in directing public attention to the necessity of encouraging this industry established on the western coast: It will solve to a large extent the problem of the Connemara areas where agriculture as such is really out of the question, and where this industry is the only mainstay of the inhabitants. The matter of inland fisheries is being dealt with in a Bill which has just been introduced, as I have said, by the Ministry of Fisheries since this amendment was put down, and I have no doubt that other deputies who are more competent than I am to deal with that particular branch of the industry will have something to say to that matter in the debate.

SEOIRSE DE BHULBH: Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rádh ar leas-rún Theachta Uí Chonaill ar chúrsai iasgoireachta na h-Eireann. Deputy O'Connell's amendment is very interesting and most important to a very large number of people; in fact, it is one of [1030] the most important subjects that we could possibly discuss. I agree with a great deal that he said, but I do not agree with him in this, that we should scrap the Minister for Fisheries. I think fishing is an industry that well deserves to have a Minister at its head, being of such importance.

Mr. O'CONNELL: I am in agreement with the Deputy, but I rather said that we should keep the Minister.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: We cannot go into the question of the retention of the Minister or of dispensing with his services on this amendment.

Mr. WOULFE: Deputy O'Connell dealt very fully with sea fishing, and he has not left very much for me to say. except that I might suggest, in addition to the industries in connection with it that might be developed, the making of barrels and nets, there is also an opening for the manufacture of ice to be used in connection with the removal of the fish, and this, with the other industries he mentions, if developed and fostered by the Government, would give a great deal of employment. It is a monument to the inefficiency of the Government from which we have escaped, that the industry has remained in the state in which it is. In fact, the English Government were only shamed into doing something for Ireland in regard to fishing by the philanthropic action of Lady Burdett-Coutts when, years ago, she enabled the fishermen of the North-Western coast to obtain proper fishing vessels. That was a matter that ought to have been done by the Government, and it should not have been left to any individual. Leaving the sea fishing, so ably dealt with by Deputy O'Connell, and proceeding to the inland fishing, of which I know a little, I can say that there is no doubt that in the fisheries of the lakes and rivers, we have, or ought to have, a great source of wealth. I have seen it stated that they would be worth about £2,000,000 a year if properly developed. If the Scotch people had our rivers and lakes in addition to their own, they would have developed them to the last degree. Somehow or other, we seem to [1031] have been apathetic in working them up as they should have been. There is no doubt that in Scotland a great revenue comes to the Government through licences for fishing, and a great deal of money comes into the country in other ways—about £1,000,000, or perhaps more—through what hotel-keepers make and otherwise. In Ireland, I am afraid, the amount received from licences is extremely small.

It ought to be very big, but the apathy that has been over us seems to have covered the fishing industry entirely for years as regards the lakes and rivers. There has been no proper supervision over these for a great many years. It is notorious that Ireland has been the happy hunting ground of the poacher. The man with the rod and the gun practically walked all over the place, paid nothing, and had a very comfortable and very pleasant time for himself, but it was not a profitable time for the revenue of the country. This is a thing which will be for the Minister for Fisheries to settle. I have been, for my sins, on a bench of magistrates for 30 years, and during that time I do not think I have ever seen a conviction for poaching carried through successfully. It has been notorious that poaching on the rivers and lakes was carried on to such an extent that it would be impossible to develop them in any way until it was stopped. Certain efforts were made to stock the rivers, but it was only putting so much more fish into them for the poachers. A great deal of this is, of course, owing to the multiplicity of riparian owners, who do not act together, and what is everybody's business is nobody's business. The consequence was that nothing was done, and the rivers and lakes were simply left derelict. That is not a healthy state of affairs, and it will be for the Minister for Fisheries to put a stop to, for no industry can prosper if it is at the mercy of everybody who chooses to poach. The recent Land Acts have been greatly responsible for this. The multiplicity of owners makes it impossible for anybody successfully to keep the rivers free from poaching, or the lakes either. I would suggest to the Government that it will be necessary [1032] for them to have a much stricter control over the rivers than hitherto, either by putting life into the derelict Boards which are supposed to manage this matter, and making them see that prosecutions are carried out, and that rivers and lakes are worked for all they are worth. Until that is done, it will be hopeless to do anything with this industry, as far as the lakes and rivers are concerned. If they do that, I think it will be well worth any expense that they may have to incur, because I am sure that from the fishing a very large surplus will go to the Government from licences, and in other ways money will be brought into the country. I am sure that if the Government do this they will have the country at their back, because it is a notorious fact that for years this industry has not been fostered, has not had the Government attention that it should have.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: To develop the sea fishing Deputy O'Connell has laid down three main factors with which I entirely agree, the teaching of the men how to fish, rapid transit, and the obtaining of suitable markets. There can be no doubt that these three things are necessary to make sea fishing a success.

He also mentioned that nets and other equipment for this purpose should be produced in Ireland. I thoroughly agree with him that the Saorstát should be able to do its own work in that respect, but I am sorry to disagree with him in the method by which he wishes to carry out his proposal. It would not require one, but three Ministers to carry out efficiently the proposals which Deputy O'Connell laid down. I represent a constituency where there is a very large sea fishing population. I know the conditions of the trade and the hardships that the men have to suffer, and I know where the shoe pinches. Mention was made by a previous Deputy that the British Government deserved blessings for having left the fishing trade in an excellent condition. My own observation is that the intervention of the British Government Departments in the fishing trade has caused more ruin than the greatest calamity that could occur.

Mr. WOULFE: On a point of order, I did not say that. I said that the state [1033] the fishing industry was left in was a monument to the late Government's inefficiency.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: I apologise to the Deputy. My own plan is, and I think it is a course that should be adopted by Deputies representing constituencies where the fishing population is pretty large, that the Deputies should organise the fishermen in their districts and lay before them some practical scheme that would suit their districts, and present it to the Minister for his investigation. I hope to have a little representation made of that kind myself. To give effect to Deputy O'Connell's first suggestion, we should have trained fishermen. We should take up first of all the scientific training of the fishermen, and for that purpose the best course, in my opinion, is to employ a skipper from Grimsby, Hull or Fleetwood, with a modern trawler, and place her, with a crew of fishermen in the district concerned to learn the trade. They could be paid on the results of the fishing, which should also pay for the overhead charges of the boat. I understand that boats of that kind can be chartered for six months at a cost of £500. The overhead charges, payment of the skipper, engineer and fireman, and the cost of marketing the fish, would come out of the results of the sales, and the rest would go to the fishermen. With six such boats you could train in six months something like 120 fishermen, and in this way you would have 120 skilled skippers ready to take up this trade. It would also prove that the fish are there, and that the business could be worked commercially. That being so, at the end of six months no difficulty would be found in setting up companies and providing capital to carry out fishing in a scientific way. I suggest to the Minister that that plan might be adopted. Deputy O'Connell might see in the West whether the fishermen can supply a scheme. It need not necessarily be the one I have sketched. I think it would be the easiest way out of the difficulty, considering the straitened financial condition in which the Dáil finds itself.

Mr. GOREY: I see the necessity for [1034] this addition to the Address. Our fisheries, inland and sea, have been neglected, and no attempt has been made to develop them. We have been only tinkering with this question before and since the war, and there is no use in saying that at any time an attempt has been made at protection or development. I will deal with the question shortly of inland fisheries. Except the State is prepared to finance the Ministry of Fisheries I see very little hope for inland or sea fisheries. These fisheries ought to be the property of the State absolutely, and there ought to be no private ownership in inland fisheries. To justify State expenditure, we cannot spend money in the interests of the individual. Fish is a different quantity from anything else. You cannot keep fish fenced in on a farm. They are passing through the sea and rivers, and what would be good nationalised in a river would be altogether wrong in regard to the land. The Ministry of Fisheries, and the inland fisheries, will never be a success until we have proper protection. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of our streams never had protection. I have letters from Portarlington complaining that spawning fish has been hawked round the town and sold at anything that can be got for it at present. I have the same complaints from Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir, and from every part of the country I am acquainted with, and that has always been the way. I knew cases where spawning fish were taken in such quantities that they were salted, put into the barrels and fed to the pigs—spawning salmon taken at weirs and mills. If a proper system were adopted this could be changed. The money at the disposal of the Boards of Conservators is not sufficient, or anything like it, to police the rivers. The system is all wrong in a good many districts, but it may be right, or nearly right, in others. The Civic Guard and the Military have been mentioned as being of great assistance. In order to make me believe that statement I would like to see the exact figures, and the names of the places where this assistance has been given. The Royal Irish Constabulary under the old régime were not of much assistance; in fact [1035] they were none at all. Their operations were few and far between.

It is not intended, I believe, to have as many Civic Guards in the Free State as there were R.I.C. If that is so what assistance can the Civic Guard be as they will have other duties to perform? If you attach to the Civic Guard a certain number of men specially trained in protection duty, and the detection of poaching, you could easily form a very effective force for the purpose. They could always find accommodation at the Civic Guard barracks, and could be transfered from district to district as the occasion requires. By that means you could form a very effective machine. You would not require so many, just a few in every Inspector's district. It has been suggested that we should have organisation amongst fishermen. That might be possible, but I would have very little hope from such organisation, because we find that some fishermen bring out their boats in the close season and kill spawning fish as well as other people. As to sea-fishing, I am not competent to deal with that matter. On the question of inland fishing I would ask the Government, and the Minister in particular, very seriously to consider the position and endeavour, if possible, to make it a State concern. There is no use saying that money cannot be found. Money can be found for other things that are not necessary at all, such as in connection with the Bill which has just got a second reading. Yet we are told that money cannot be found for an industry that would give a means of living to thousands of people. A Government with that outlook does not deserve to be the Government of the country. I put it seriously to the Government to make this a State concern, and to put finances at the disposal of the Minister to develop the industry.

Major COOPER: Deputy Gorey issued a challenge just now as to the effectiveness of the Civic Guard and military in protecting fisheries. I am glad to be in a position to answer that challenge. I own a salmon fishery in Co. Sligo, and in the early part of this year, when I was a private individual, I applied to the Minister for Fisheries [1036] to see if he could give any protection to my water-bailiffs to check the poaching on a large scale which was going on. The Minister took the matter up with the Minister for Defence, and the latter undertook to give protection. As a result four poachers were caught, and they were fined by the District Justice on a far higher scale than poachers were ever fined by any Resident Magistrate. That is, at any rate, one instance in which the Government have been effective, and I know Deputy Gorey will be glad to hear it. As the proprietor of a salmon fishery I felt rather sorry that Deputy O'Connell, in his reasoned speech, made so much reference to sea fisheries, and so little to the inland fisheries, because the value of salmon and trout fisheries is really far greater, from a financial point of view, to the country than that of herring and mackerel, although the herring and mackerel fishing gives more employment. I am in general agreement with what he said about them, except on the question of transit. I do not think the transit question is quite as bad, at any rate where there is a railway system, as he suggested. No doubt in Belmullet and places like that, where there is no railway system, it is as bad as possible, and if the fish cannot be sold locally it has to be sold for manure. I have been most successful in marketing fish, mostly in Liverpool and Manchester. Even last year while the fighting was going on at the Four Courts, and when it was extremely difficult, I was able to get my fish to Greenore, and from thence to Liverpool and Manchester. I think if it is a regular business, with regular supplies, the railway companies will make an endeavour to deal with it. Perhaps it is lack of regular organisation and of making regular consignments that causes these complaints of bad transit to be made. With regard to markets, particularly in the Saorstát, I am in complete agreement with Deputy O'Connell. Not only are there inland towns in which you cannot get fish, but there are seaport towns where you cannot be sure of getting fish. In the town of Sligo, on five days out of six, you cannot count on getting fish. There may be an old man pushing a barrow [1037] round the town from whom you may be able to buy herrings, but if you want to be sure of getting any fish for a specific purpose you have to send 130 miles to Dublin. That is actually where there is tidal water, and within eight miles of a place where there are fishermen with fishing boats. If you go to a shop that is supposed to sell fish you probably find a couple of old hens and a rabbit in the window. Part of the blame lies with the fishermen. Fishermen, I think, are very apt to be easily discouraged. They do not realise the importance of keeping regular markets. If the day looks inclement, or for one reason or another they very often do not go to sea. They do not realise that that means that people will get out of the habit of eating fish. I am not at all sure, although Deputy O'Connell said that fish is a cheap and wholesome food, that it is very much appreciated by the average Irishman. I think we are naturally a meat-eating people. Historically we have always been a meat-eating people. The ancient Irish eat a very large quantity of meat and very little of anything else. I agree with Deputy O'Connell that it is very desirable that we should eat more fish because it is cheap and wholesome and gives employment. I gather that the Minister has some scheme of marketing, and I hope he will give some details of it when he replies.

On the general question, I do not dissent from Deputy O'Connell's amendment, but I would point out that the Government have been better than their word. Though they did not promise legislation they are promoting legislation in regard to inland fisheries, as there is a Bill down for Second Reading to-day. What is really needed is not legislation. As Deputy Gorey said it is administration and protection that we need more, so that if the Government resist this amendment and do not accept it I shall certainly vote with the Government.

Mr. JOHNSON: I would like to point out that the amendment proposed by Deputy O'Connell does not suggest that there should be proposals for legislation, but that there should be contained in the Address proposals for the encouragement and development of the [1038] fishing industry. I suggest that there are powers in the hands of the Government at present, without legislation, which would enable them to encourage and develop the fishing industry. Deputy Gorey has stated that he does not know very much about sea fishing, and he, therefore, prefers not to enlarge upon that. I do not know very much about inland fishing, and I do not intend to enlarge on it. On the principle he suggested to the Government, that inland fisheries at any rate, and possibly also sea fisheries, should be State protected, if not State owned—I think he stated State owned—I commend his advice to the Dáil, just pointing out that Deputy Gorey when he comes up against a practical proposition arrives at the conclusion the Labour Party came to some time ago. The Minister has set up a Committee of Inquiry into inland fisheries. I want to put to him the importance of taking into consideration the views of men who are engaged in salmon fishing at the mouths of such rivers as the Shannon. Men have been engaged for generations fishing at Limerick. I do not know how many men are engaged in that industry in a similar way throughout the country, but there are a considerable number, and their interests are of great importance. I would suggest to the Minister that he would be well advised to add to this Committee members of that fraternity, and I use the word advisedly because in the case of Limerick, at any rate, you have a fraternity of men whose families have been for generations so engaged. They have made it a success more or less, and generally have provided for probably two or three hundred people. I think Deputy O'Doherty and others would be well advised before they pin their faith to plans such as were outlined to consider the situation of the fishing industry around the English coast. We have to bear in mind that there are altogether too many fishing boats around these coasts, fishing for the English market. I am speaking now of sea fisheries. There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of boats laid up, not by virtue of the absence of skilled fishermen, but by the fact that fish has been too plentiful for the market to [1039] absorb supplies. There were too many boats built and engined and geared, and as a matter of fact they have caught more fish than the people were prepared or able to buy. It might well be borne in mind, paradoxical as it may seem, that the fishing industry around the Irish coast has been developed. What has been defective is that the fish is not landed and consumed in Ireland. I would like Deputies to remember, that supposing boats were built and equipped, comparable with the North Sea, Fleetwood or Milford trawling fleets, to fish out of Western Irish ports, the fact that the market at present is in Great Britain would lead to those boats doing exactly with the fish what the Fleetwood or Milford boats are doing to-day. They would get the fish to the English market by the cheapest and most economical routes. Such boats as have been trawling from Irish ports have as a matter of fact sent their fish to English markets. Some of them tried fishing out of Dublin and went to the North, but failed. I do not think one has to look for the development of sea fishing at present from the point of view of building new high-powered boats, but rather the development of the market at home and organising supplies to that market. That is not going to mean a tremendous and immediate development in the fishing industry. The market in Ireland is limited by the population, and, as Deputy Bryan Cooper stated, Ireland is not a fish-eating country. I am one of those who believe that the fishing industry will probably have to be revived through the teaching of domestic economy in the schools. If in the eight or nine hundred thousand households there were means, as well as knowledge, for the proper preparation and cooking of fish there would be a greater liking for it, and very soon a much bigger market. I suggest to the Minister for Fisheries that perhaps if he is able to induce the Minister for Finance to assist him, it is rather by advertising the value of fish as a food, and the organisation of supplies to the local market, he will find the ultimate and the greater benefit than from any other means. I am sorry to think that may well mean a supply of [1040] imported fish, perhaps caught and landed at Grimsby or Milford or Fleetwood, in the first instance. There is no use talking of marketing or of organising markets unless a fairly regular supply can be assured. The Minister will agree with me when I say that there is no such gamble known as the gamble of the fisherman. It is a gamble from the beginning of his livelihood to the final consumption of the fish, and it is even a gamble then if the consumer is eating tinned fish. Deputy O'Doherty and others ought also to bear in mind that in view of recent developments the high powered vessels in Scotland, and on the East Coast of England, at any rate, are likely to be displaced by lower powered vessels, strange to say, because they are cheaper to manage. That is a tendency which has shown itself within the last year. It is remarkable, and perhaps, if one may say so, encouraging to Irish fishing, because if it is only possible to compete with rival fishing fleets by meeting them with the same class of boats, it will mean the provision of money, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds, because of the tremendous cost both in production and in running expenses.

I think the Minister is well advised in the line that has been indicated to encourage the market for fish in Ireland. I think he will find, by that means, that eventually there will be an encouragement to fishermen along the coasts to fish regularly and to fish for a larger variety than hitherto. Mackerel and herring are the most important so far as our fishermen are concerned. Possibly the greater money values that are taken out of Irish waters are in trawling fishing, ground fishing, and larger trawl fishing. But the fish are never landed here. Certainly they are never eaten here. I think the dependence upon mackerel and herring has been a mistake, though there is a great food wealth in these two fish. I believe that they are only going to be made valuable to the country or to the fishermen by a very much more extended system of curing and preservation.

Now, perhaps it would not be out of place for me to remind the Dáil that the predecessor of the Dáil in 1920 and 1921 appointed a Commission to inquire [1041] into the resources and industries of Ireland. That Commission, as a matter of fact, reported very fully in regard to sea fisheries, and I think the report is still on sale and it is very valuable. I would venture to suggest to the deputies who are interested, that it is worth reading and the recommendations made there are worthy of consideration at least. But the recommendations of that report are the recommendations of Deputy Gorey, Deputy O'Connell, and Deputy O'Doherty. I think every Deputy in the Dáil is interested as to the expenditure involved. I believe that the expenditure would be quickly repaid and I believe it would be a very valuable investment. Certainly, in respect to inland fisheries it would give a quick return. When the Minister is pleading for money he should emphasise the importance of that. I think he could easily prove to the Minister for Finance that a quick return in a high degree could be obtained from money well expended by the State in fisheries. I am going to repeat what I have said before. Unless there is money available I think it would be unwise to pretend to have a Department, or at least a Minister for Fisheries, who will be supposed to be doing things that cannot be done without that money. I think that it is not much use to be making a pretence of being able to do work for the fishing industry and for the development of the industry in the country unless the means of doing that work are at hand. It would be far better to delay the operation or the pretence at the operation unless the means of carrying it on were provided. I hope the Minister will enlarge upon the statements that have been made in the past and give the Dáil some further assurance that the proposals for the encouragement and development of the fishing industry are in hands and that the means for those proposals are being provided.

Mr. McBRIDE: I am rather interested in fisheries and fishes, but I cannot altogether agree with the Quixotic schemes propounded by Deputy O'Connell. There are plenty of fish. There is no doubt about that. We want the fishermen and we want [1042] the buyers. Off the coasts of Ireland there are illimitable fishing grounds, rich fishing grounds where those trawlers and drifters that we hear so much about poach and to which they are absolutely tempted by a clear field within the three-mile limit of the Irish coast. The fishing of the mackerel, which is more or less a luxury in America, and the fishing of the herring, which ought to be cured, is really the trade which ought to be cultivated, because in normal times the trade in cured herring is something enormous on the Continent of Europe. It is the king of fishes, a fish from which most of the money is made both in England and Scotland. The reason there are such a number of boats laid up along the sea coasts in England and Scotland is really the result of the fiscal conditions in Germany and on the Continent. That is the reason they are laid up and that is the reason for the present state of the market. They cannot sell the fish. They cannot sell it in Germany on account of the state of trade. I hope that the trade in this cured fish for export will be cultivated in Ireland, and that the Minister and Department of Fisheries will do whatever they possibly can in order to encourage it. As to why there is no reference in the Governor-General's Address on the state of the industry, it strikes me that the Governor-General, being the man he is—a man of great capacity and a man of affairs —felt it would be rather silly for him to make any reference to the fishing industry in this country because it would be based upon a report which is practically two years old. I presume that the other Ministries turn out their reports in a reasonable time. The Department of Fisheries turns it out practically two years after date. I think it was in October the Report for 1921 was issued. As far as I can remember, the value of the Scotch fisheries in 1921 was £5,000,000, the value of the Irish fisheries was about £200,000. I hope that under the new conditions prevailing in the Ministry of Fisheries that the Report will be turned out at least two or three months after the end of the financial year.

Mr. COYLE: Ba mhaith liom beagán [1043] a rádh ar an g-ceist. Ní morán atá agam le rádh an iarract so. I have listened carefully to all the Deputies who have spoken, and I must say that I fully agree with most of what they have said, though not with all. We all know that the fishing industry has been very much neglected. At the same time, I do not think it would be fair to blame the Ministry of Fisheries for this neglect. There has been a terrible lot of poaching going on. We all know that. It was just as difficult for the Minister for Fisheries to stop poaching as it was for the Minister for Defence to stop the burning of houses. Deputy O'Connell referred to motor transport. Certainly I am very much in favour of that where railway facilities are non-existent at present, or where they are not likely to be available. In the constituency that I represent, North Mayo, there are two bays which are very rich in fish, Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay. The fish that is caught in Blacksod Bay must be sent to Achill Sound, that is the nearest place. The fishermen have in one day to catch the fish, and in the next day to take it to Achill Sound. They can only get into Achill Sound according to the condition of the tide. The railway station at Ballina, which is the nearest station to them, is 42 miles from Belmullet. In that case certainly a motor lorry would be very convenient and very useful. The fishermen could fish every day and have their fish sent away every morning. With regard to the question of market for fish, if you take Athlone or Mullingar or those inland towns you will find that you can get no fish there, and at the same time the fish is going bad at Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay and other places.

We had Deputy Bryan Cooper referring to Sligo, and he said that he could get no fish at all in Sligo. I am surprised to hear that there cannot be a man found in Sligo who would open up a proper establishment for the sale of fish, and say to himself he would open up a trade for fish in that town and district and arrange with the fishermen to supply him with what he would require. The same applies to other towns. Certainly they ought all be able to produce [1044] one man who would take up this business and supply fish to the district. He also said that some of the fishermen are very easily discouraged. I quite agree with him in that. They are very easily discouraged. But if you take the case of one or two men who are going out in a boat with a carrying capacity of 8 or 9 cwt., I think you will not be surprised to find that they are very easily discouraged.

Deputy McBride says that we wanted fishermen and buyers. We have the fishermen; let us get the buyers. There are plenty of fishermen, and all they want is the gear. If they got proper substantial boats and proper gear, the fishermen are all right, and we can look for the buyers. There is a matter I would like to be made clear on. I have been informed that the territorial waters embrace the three-mile limit, and that in some places the fishing limit is nine miles. The result is that foreign boats can fish between the 9 mile limit and the 3 mile limit. I would like to be made clear upon that matter, and if that is the case I do not think it is very fair to Irish fishermen. I hope the Minister will accept a lot of the advice that was given here. I am sure all the Deputies can be of great assistance. If they all interest themselves as much as some of those who have spoken, I am sure they can render assistance to the Minister and help very much in this important matter.

Mr. SHAW: I would like to impress upon the Minister for Fisheries the great importance of hatcheries. For the past 2 or 3 years the trout coming up the rivers have been all destroyed, and the result is there are very few fish of that type at the present time. Around Mullingar there was a small experiment carried out last year, as a result of which fifty thousand trout have been turned into the Co. Westmeath lakes, at practically a nominal cost. As Deputy Gorey said the other day, fishing is nearly as important a matter as the farming industry, because the lakes are teeming with wealth and teeming with food. It is really a most important matter. I do not intend to go into the details of the various causes of the fishing trouble, and I go no further than to impress upon the Minister the [1045] desirability of developing the fish-hatching industry. That is the way to produce the fish, and if they are supplied to the various lakes in the manner I have mentioned, in a few years, if they would not be poached, there would be plenty of fish.

There is another matter which may be news to the Deputies, because it is a thing that is not generally known. It is in connection with pike, the fish that destroy the trout. All the young trout in the lakes and rivers are simply food for the bigger fish. About March or April in each year the pike go into the shallow waters to spawn. At that period you will get pike up to 30 pounds in weight. I have been myself responsible for shooting thousands of them. In Belvidere Lake the number destroyed in the month of March would amount to thousands. The result of destroying pike is that the young fish get a chance to thrive. I wish to emphasise the necessity of preserving the young fish and the great possibilities that exist with regard to hatcheries. I would impress upon the Minister the necessity of devoting a great deal of his attention to the industry with a view to restocking the lakes that have been depleted by poaching, especially in the spawning time, during the last two or three years.

Mr. McGOLDRICK: I do not think this question presents such difficulties as I have heard pointed out. I have some experience of sea fishing. In two areas of the county I come from, there were, three or four years before the war, five landing places. One of these landing places contributed, in dues, a sum of £500 to the County Council. As the dues were small, a very large quantity of fish must have been disposed of to realise a sum of £500 in dues alone. I think if the collection of these dues is taken charge of, in some shape or other, by a Government Department, or by the Minister for Fisheries, it would provide a basis of security to enable the Ministry to assist in properly equipping and fitting out fishermen who would be unable to buy gear themselves, and this, I contend, would help in the development of the industry. If such a scheme were introduced, making provision for the security that I speak [1046] of, I do not think the cost to the State would be very much, if it were to assist in properly equipping the fishermen in the country engaged in the industry. In this connection, too, the assistance of the County Councils might be invoked. These dues could be collected in the manner I suggest, and could be availed of as a security for the development of the industry. It may be, as Deputy Johnson pointed out, that the times have changed as compared with the period of three or four years before the war, and that the conditions that obtain now are altogether different to what they were then. It may be, too, that the market for fish is not as good now as it was then, and that although you might have as good catches of fish, that the return in dues, owing to the financial condition of the country, would not be as good as it was some years before the war. I know that you have the fish and you have also the fishermen. These latter constitute the very best material that you could get anywhere. They are men who are prepared to face anything in the pursuit of their undertakings. They are the very best class of fishermen that you could possibly get.

With regard to the question of finance, I do not think the Ministry should allow that to stand in the way of the development of the industry, seeing that the return from dues alone would be a guarantee to the State against any expense the State might incur in providing proper equipment for the fishermen. The industry in my opinion is one of the most important that we have. The people engaged in it are the most worthy people that we have in the country, and I must also say, they belong to a class which is least able to help itself. They live in remote parts of the country, and are not in touch with centres that might be able to assist them in one way or another. They have to rely, almost entirely, on the Ministry, and on the agents it sends out, to assist and guide them in pursuing their undertakings. I do not think the Governor-General, in his Address in referring to forthcoming legislation, could have touched on a subject of more general importance or interest to the country, than the development of the fishing industry. Although [1047] the industry has not been referred to in that Address. I am sure that it is none the less being considered by the Government and its responsible officials. The Government has placed a Minister in charge of this industry and I am sure that it will now be dealt with in a manner satisfactory, not alone to the nation, but to all concerned in its development.

FIONAN Ó LOINGSIGH: Cúis athais dom iseadh é fheicheall go bhfuil na Teachtai a chur suim 'sa cheist seo. Ceist tabhachtach iseadh ceist iasgaireachta na hEireann agus ma bhi aon amhras nach rabh Teachtai na Dála a' chur suim 'san cheist tá a mhalairt de thuairim ann anois.

If anybody had any doubt in his mind before this, that the question of fishery development was a matter of no concern to members of the Dáil, they have surely been relieved of that doubt. It was, I might say, a pleasure to me to find that Deputies, from every part of the country, take a very intelligent interest in the fishing industry, both sea and inland. To come to the amendment itself, I think Deputy Johnson practically answered that. Legislation will not be needed to develop the industry. I feel that, under the Ministers' Bill and the powers of the Congested Districts Board and of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, which have been handed over to us, that we have sufficient power to carry on without any further legislation enabling us to do so. Deputy O'Connell referred to the fact that, under the old régime, more attention was devoted to the development of what might be called casual fishing, that is to say, drift-net fishing and occasional fishing of salmon and herring, than to trawling, which is of a more permanent type, or, as one might say, all-the-year-round fishing. The Deputy referred to the fact that in other countries it was on this aspect of the fishing industry that the people concentrated. In Great Britain that is so, but it was not through Government agency. The development of trawling is a matter for private or capitalistic enterprise.

And now we are bringing that forward, [1048] and we have brought it before the Chambers of Commerce. Deputy O'Connell referred to the possible development of the supply of gear. That was done by the old Boards, and continued to be done until comparatively recently by the Ministry. Its financial provision for the supply of gear is curtailed for the moment, at least, owing to the financial conditions. I might say that outstanding loans amount to between £120,000 and £140,000, and this fact, of course, governed a good deal the action of the Minister for Finance in stopping any further financial loans for the moment. Deputy O'Connell referred to the industries in connection with fishing, the making of nets and fishing barrels, etc. Nets are made at one place in Ireland— Baltimore. There are no barrels made at present. But it is difficult to know whether the suggestion is that the Government should start factories. The Government is encouraging, as far as it possibly can, any enterprise that is undertaken in this way by private individuals, having in the past provided loans. As a matter of fact, there is, I understand, a proposal for the barrel-making industry now being revived in West Cork. The Deputy referred to what we are doing in regard to the provision of information as to the movements of fish, and he referred to the fact that aeroplanes have been used by other countries. But the fact is no satisfactory result was effected or accomplished in that way, and the aeroplanes have been a practical failure as far as getting any real information is concerned. The next point he mentioned is a very important one, namely, that of marketing and transit. Nearly every Deputy referred to these two things, as they naturally would, as the most important in their speeches. To take transit first; we are, of course, always in close communication with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in regard to transit. We have got some concessions, not a terrible lot, because we are always met with the reply from the railway companies, if we ask for reduced freights, that they are up against high wages bill, high cost of coal, etc. The Deputy mentioned the Arran and Coshla Bay Scheme. That [1049] is being examined at the moment by the Department, and if it is found practicable it will be adopted. It is known, I think, that we have under way a plan for the development of markets. As a matter of fact, one section of the Department is at the moment devoting all its time to it. A general outline of their scheme is the organisation of the retail trade in certain selected towns for a start.

The appointment of salesmen from the Ministry to work up the trade, a scheme of propaganda to encourage the eating of fish, and then, after having encouraged people to eat it, to organise regular supplies to these inland towns. Deputy O'Connell also raised the question of protection. That is, of course, an old sore. There has always been considerable poaching, It has continued, and it possibly increased in recent years from one reason or another. But we hope that with the aid of the additional patrol vessels, now placed at our disposal, and that have actually done considerable work already in aid of the Ministry, we hope to make this poaching not so profitable for those persons as it used to be. Then he mentioned kippering stations, and he wanted to know if there was any such thing as an Irish kipper to be got. There are kippering stations at Dunmore, Howth, Clogherhead and Baltimore. These have all been assisted by the State in the past. Then Deputy Woulfe referred to ice making plant. These are, as a matter of fact, being now gradually developed—and developed by private enterprise. There is one in Cahirciveen and one in Galway. In the past, the procedure of the Department was that they supplied the ice at a low cost during the season. This was found more practical than setting up anything in the nature of Government ice factories for the short periods that it would be necessary to use them during the year. With regard to the question of licences, that at the moment is being considered by the Ministry. It was one of the questions submitted to the Advisory Committee on Inland Fisheries recently. Provision is also being made to enable the Board of Conservators to deal more effectively with the question of protection by [1050] putting them on a better financial basis. Deputy Gorey wanted to know what the Civic Guard or the military had done, and Deputy Bryan Cooper was good enough to mention at least one specific case. I can quite easily give many more, but I cannot do so offhand, and I can give figures of prosecutions at the instance of the Civic Guard and the military. I know, as a matter of actual fact, that they have been effective, and much more effective, than the old R.I.C. Deputy O'Doherty referred to organising the fishermen on something like a co-operative basis. Well, I am waiting to see a scheme in writing before I commit myself. I am prepared to scan, very carefully, any scheme submitted to me by any Deputy, but I will be quite candid and say that I will look very carefully at any scheme of that kind. My first few months after the formation of the Ministry, had to be devoted practically to cutting losses as a result of former schemes of co-operation undertaken by a former Minister, all of which proved to be failures. It is, as a matter of fact, the general belief, by persons who know them best, that before co-operation can be undertaken, our people engaged in the fishing industry will first of all have to have a long educational course. Their life and work is individualistic, and it is extremely difficult to get them to accept even the very first principles of co-operation.

Mr. JOHNSON: How does a crew work?

Mr. LYNCH: Occasionally they work on the share system, but you will find, at any rate, that even in the buying of their ordinary provisions, if you except the crew of one boat which does not mean co-operation, they will not co-operate. The crew of one boat will be trying to down the crew of another boat, and co-operation between four or five persons does not mean a scheme of co-operation, surely. You might as well say that because one family will try to work things out for the benefit of themselves that that is a sign that co-operation is possible generally. Deputy Gorey referred to the sale of [1051] spawning fish. That is an offence; and if there has been neglect in the way of prosecution there, it is the fault of the bailiffs, and, of course, if it is done openly, it is also the fault of the Civic Guard.

Mr. GOREY: Who ever saw a bailiff in Portarlington?

Mr. LYNCH: The Deputy is a member of a Board of Conservators, and they are supposed to have control.

Mr. GOREY: I am not.

Mr. LYNCH: Deputy Johnson referred to the fishermen at the mouth of the Shannon. On the Inland Fishery Committee already there are two representatives of the net fishermen in estuary waters, one at the mouth of the Liffey and one from the mouth of the Boyne. I will look into the question of whether we can add further to the present Committee.

I do agree, as Deputy Johnson thought I would, that the fishing industry is a gamble from start to finish. I may say that it was because of that that I think the system of finance, which I will be raising with the Minister for Finance, in regard to the development of fisheries that prevailed with the C.D.B. is preferable to the actual control of every detailed item of expenditure that prevails at present. That matter will have to be dealt with departmentally. The Deputy from Mayo referred to the territorial water fishery limits. The limit is, of course, three miles, and we have certain bye-laws which are extra territorial. The actual position with regard to those is that a foreign boat can fish legally outside the three mile limit and within our bye-law limit. A French boat can do so. At the moment the bye-laws that existed prior to the 6th December, 1921, affect British vessels as they affected them formerly.

Mr. O'CONNELL: Might I ask the Minister to say whether British vessels can legally fish there?

Mr. LYNCH: That is what I say. At the moment British vessels are governed by our bye-laws as if they were Saorstát vessels. In other words, at present they are not treated as foreign vessels.

[1052] Mr. O'CONNELL: They ought to be.

Mr. LYNCH: It would hit ourselves. The British vessels would be very glad to be treated as foreign for that particular purpose. Deputy McBride referred to the delay in the publication of fishery reports by the Department of Agriculture. I myself was pressing for a long time for the issue of these reports, and I know that one of the causes for delay was the change in the Government and also a technical point as to the difficulty of presentation—a certain procedure about the presentation of the reports. Deputy Shaw referred to the hatcheries and their development. That is a question that is receiving the attention of the Ministry and certain proposals were put up with regard to those of the Inland Fisheries Committee. There is not very much use in going very far in the establishment of hatcheries until first of all we have secured protection. Even though I am glad that the amendment was brought forward, since it has resulted in such a useful debate, I feel that there is really no necessity for it, and that there is no necessity for inserting anything in the Governor-General's Address with regard to the encouragement and development of the fishing industry.

Mr. O'CONNELL: My main object, as I said in introducing this amendment, was to draw attention to the fact that this important matter seemed to have been forgotten when the Government was preparing its legislative programme. Now the Minister has satisfied me that, at least, it has not been forgotten, even though it was not mentioned in the Address and, while not wholly satisfied that everything is being done that might possibly be done, we will wait further to see the results. I ask, therefore, the leave of the Dáil to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: The main motion is now before the Dáil.

Mr. DAVIN: I am very glad to notice that Deputies generally have thought fit to ignore the suggestion of Deputy [1053] Nicholls in seconding the vote of thanks when he said: “I do not think that there is any need for dealing in detail with a subject like this.” As we all know, and as Deputy Nicholls should know, it is very important that the Address of the Governor-General, which is not a personal matter but merely an expression of the opinion of the Government regarding their future policy, under the circumstances which prevail in this country and under which the Ministry has been returned to office, every aspect of that Address should be thoroughly discussed. As Deputy Captain Redmond said, it should be finally disposed of before any legislative measures outlined in that Address are introduced into this Dáil. One would imagine from the very short statement of Deputy Nicholls that he was returned to support the Government without knowing the programme that he was returned to support. Unlike every other country, or the governing party of every other country where normal conditions prevail, this Government has been returned without putting any definite legislative programme before the people. Therefore I think that is a very important reason why Deputy Nicholls, even as a member of the Government party, in seconding the vote of thanks, should have dealt in detail with the address of the Governor-General. The Governor-General in the Address refers to the recent Electoral Act passed in the last Dáil, whereby every person has a right to share in the setting up of the government of the country. I deny that the Electoral Act, which brought a certain register into operation, gave the people who are entitled to it the right to share in setting up the Government and participating in the administration as a whole.

I know of many instances where hundreds of voters' names appeared on the first print of the register, and when the final register was produced those names were omitted without any explanation being given to the parties who had a right to have their names on that register. I am very glad the Minister for Local Government indicated a few days ago that it was the intention of the Ministry to set matters right on that point. One fails to understand, [1054] however, why in the recent election a very large section of the community failed to exercise the franchise. It is quite true that in other countries a certain section of the community failed to exercise the right which they have in the setting up of the administrative machinery. To me it appears that the people who in the recent election refused to take their share in the election of the Government were, to a certain extent, ignoring Parliamentary institutions.

If such was the case I should say people should be compelled to go to the polling stations and register their opinions in the ballot boxes under the penalty of a fine. Those who refused to acknowledge their duty in the setting up of the Government of their choice should be penalised. The Address goes on to state that time and opportunity in the past year did not permit of any but temporary provision being made for the Civic Guard and Military forces and states that it is the intention of the Government in the Dáil to introduce measures giving a permanent form to the Civic Guard and Military Forces. I cannot fail to notice the manner in which the Civic Guard have conducted themselves under the very trying conditions in which they were working as compared with the general conduct of the military. Might I express the hope in the new re-organisation foreshadowed by the Minister for Defence that only those who have conducted themselves in a proper way will find a place in the new Army organisation, and that any officers or men who have by their misconduct thrown discredit and dishonour on the Army and the Government will find themselves in the ranks of the demobilised.

I think it is eminently desirable that it should be made quite clear to those who compose the army that this army, which is paid by the whole of the people to protect the people, is not conducted on the amateur lines of the army which had only the support of a section of the people previous to the Treaty being signed. The method of demobilisation indicated by the Minister for Defence is generally satisfactory. It goes further than the statement made in this Dáil two or [1055] three months ago when he said it would be quite possible to reduce the army to 30,000 within the year. He has now stated it will be possible to reduce the army to 20,000. May I express the hope, especially in view of the great amount of unemployment, that demobilisation will be gradual, and will, as far as possible, only take place in accordance with the requirements of the labour market. It might be far better under conditions existing at the moment to have 5,000 or 10,000 men in the army under discipline than to have them going out on the unemployment dole and misconducting themselves in a manner in which they could not be dealt with as if they were in the army. I do not want to go very much further into the question of army discipline. It is rather a delicate matter, but I think the Government will realise that the overbearing attitude of many army officers resulted in the last election in a considerable number of people voting anti-Government not so much because they were anti-Treaty but because of the overbearing attitude of the servants of the Government. I want to draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the practice of military officers going about in civilian attire. This should be discouraged, and in any other country is not practised to the extent to which it is here. There is also the question of the non-payment of old outstanding accounts. I happen to be one of the members who frequently receive communications from constituents of mine who are still owed old accounts dating back to 1922. I see no reason why those old accounts should be outstanding and why Deputies in this Dáil should be called upon to go to Portobello Barracks frequently to ascertain why such and such an account, which has been outstanding for two years, has not been paid. The Minister for Finance, in a statement to the Dáil, said that many of those accounts were fraudulent. That may be so in some instances, but it is a remarkable thing to find fraudulent accounts or overcharged ones certified by local officers as being correct. I hope he will give this his attention [1056] so far as the years 1921 and 1922 are concerned.

The Address claimed that the Government intend, have, and will, continue to take effective steps to deal with all those who challenge its authority. So far as I am concerned, I have always been quite prepared to support the Government in any effective steps they might take, so long as they were constitutional, which they might deem necessary to deal with those who challenge the authority of the people's Government by force of arms, and I am quite sure that every Deputy is prepared to give every possible support to the Government to see that armed robbery, which has recently been such a menace to the citizens of the State, shall be put down, and put down in the strongest possible manner. I realise that while this armed robbery goes on it makes it very difficult indeed for the State to come forward and ask the people to lend them money, so that it may carry on the ordinary work and machinery of Government. In my opinion, the extent to which it was going on until recently helped to reduce the credit of the State and to bring down its borrowing powers when it is necessary, as at present, for the State to look to the people for the money required to carry on.

We have had a very interesting debate on that aspect of the Address dealing with the question of high prices, high profits, and high wages, and, mark you, the Governor-General says: “High prices, high profits, and high wages can no longer be sustained by a country whose economic life has agriculture as its base and foundation.” I deny that high prices, high profits, and high wages exist in the country's main industry, agriculture, and so far as that aspect of the Address is concerned, it does not exactly picture the situation as we find it today. So far as I can gather, representing, as I do, an area that depends to a large extent upon the prices which it receives for its agricultural produce, profits to the producer have gone down in many cases below pre-war figures, but notwithstanding that there is no reduction whatsoever to the consumer. I [1057] was deeply interested in the speeches of the merchants, made from the Government benches, speeches largely, perhaps wholly, directed to the question of high wages, without making any attempt whatever to justify the profiteering going on in the community in which they themselves were associated. So far as I can see the producer, on the one hand, and the consumer on the other, are being fleeced, and it is quite possible that if the producers were better organised and the consumers were organised through the co-operative movement they would eliminate that very dangerous section, the profiteering section, which, in my opinion, is the principal cause of the industrial upheavals in recent months. The Government set up a Commission on Prices that sat for a considerable period. Deputies have been furnished with the Report and Recommendations of that Commission, but up to the present we have had no indication from the Government, except this very vague thing from the Governor-General, as to what the Government intends to do to deal with the question of profiteering. It may appear strange to say so, but we have to face the facts, and so far as Dublin is concerned, in my opinion the greater part of the trouble is due to the high prices of beer and stout. Deputies may laugh and may appear to think that is not correct, but beer and porter or stout is looked upon, and is, in fact, a food to a certain class of worker, and while the prices stand at their present high level, I think that the Government is not justified in failing to deal with the question. I have figures to show the profiteering going on in that particular trade. At the present price the gross profit on the sale of one barrel—32 gallons—of draught porter is £3 5s. 0d., draught stout, £5 3s. 0d.; bottled stout consumed on the premises, £9 6s. 7d.; bottled stout consumed off the premises, £5 10s. 5d. The nett profit on the sale of one barrel of each of the above per week would show, in fifty-two weeks, a gross profit of £1,189 10s. 0d. If five barrels of each per week were sold the total profit for the year would be £5,947 10s. The corresponding figures for 1914 were: profit on one barrel a week of draught porter for fifty-two [1058] weeks, £277 11s. 0d., as against £1,189 10s. 0d., and the profit on five barrels of each per week for fifty-two weeks was £1,387 15s. 0d., as against £5,947 10s. 0d. I would like to hear from some Minister what has been done or what they intend to do to deal with the question of profiteering in the licensed trade. If they deny that it exists, then we know where we stand. But if they admit it exists to the extent of the figures I have given, I would be glad to hear what they intend to do.

In the wages disputes during the last six or twelve months the Government have thrown the weight of their influence and support on the side of the employers to bring down what they said were the high wages, while at the same time they have made no attempt to deal with the profiteering. Deputy Egan referred to what he called the standard of luxury, and indicated that the large increase in the number of picture houses in Dublin, compared with the time when he was a boy, was due to the high wages which the workers are spending in the very foolish manner of patronising picture houses. He did not exactly say that he would rather see the workers remain at home, after a hard day's work, in the slums in rooms for which they paid 10/- or 12/- a week, or go into the nearest public-house and pay the high prices I have indicated for porter. I do not happen to be a patron of picture houses myself, but it would be very interesting to know from Deputy Egan what liberty or what pleasure he will allow the ordinary worker who has worked hard for eight hours on the Dublin quays, or at some other business. He referred also, and naturally we have had a good many references of the same kind, to the domestic differences supposed to exist in the ranks of the Labour movement, and indicated pretty clearly that the industrial disputes were created by these alleged differences. It would be rather an unusual experience, not alone in the family circle, but in the wider sections of the community, among labourers, manufacturers or employers, to find that everybody, in the days in which we are living, were united. It is quite true that certain individuals who took very little part in the building up [1059] of the Labour movement, and have recently issued a challenge—a challenge which to me, and I am only speaking as an individual, meant the setting up of a dictatorship within the Labour movement. As a Labour Party, recognising that the governing principle and the foundation of our movement is that the rule of the majority should prevail, it was up to those of us who stood by the principle of majority rule to stand up to the challenge, and if workers or people associated with the Labour movement, and they are very few, thought fit to support such a claim as that, a claim that definitely meant the setting up of a dictatorship, and if the country suffered as a result of the struggle that went on, not in the Labour Party, but in one particular union, then I think that whatever has been done to defeat that challenge was in the interests of the country and, no doubt, also in the interest of the Labour movement.

There seems to be an impression in the minds of many speakers, particularly those from the Farmers' and Government benches, from the employers' side, that the only people who pay taxes in this country are the farmers and merchants. It is quite clear that so far as the taxes of the merchant are concerned they are in all cases passed on to the consumer, so that that aspect of the case does not impress one who finds himself in the position of the ordinary consumer. There was a very lengthy discussion on the question of finance and high salaries, and the Minister for Agriculture, in dealing with the question of high salaries in the Government service, said: “The Dáil is entitled to know that the salaries we pay are what we can afford to pay.” Looking through the Estimates, which we scanned very closely in the early part of the year, and which we dealt with at considerable length, one finds it hard to understand why there should be any necessity for three individuals in the Governor-General's establishment drawing £2,800 per annum, and salaries of £1,100, £1,000 and £700, while at the same time the Minister for Agriculture comes along and says there must be a cut in the teachers' salaries, which are not a quarter of what these [1060] individuals' salaries are. In fact, the item of £2,800 for A.D.C.'s to the Governor-General represents, roughly, the average salary of ten teachers, or the payment at the maximum figure of 107 old age pensioners. I would be very much interested to see on what grounds the Minister for Agriculture would justify that item, and there are others like it in the Estimates which we passed some time ago. The Minister for Agriculture also indicated that the cost of living could be reduced only by some superhuman effort on the part of Deputy Johnson. He did not tell us how he thought Deputy Johnson could do that, but there are ways which I would suggest to the Minister for Agriculture by which he himself could help to bring down the cost of living. We are well aware that the high internal transport rates are placing a very unfair burden on the charge of the commodity to the home consumer, and on the other hand, that the low rates from British towns, either inland or sea borne to the Irish port gives a decided preference by their low rates, the British articles being dumped into the home market as against our produce. I would like to give one or two figures to bring it home as clearly as I can to the minds of the Deputies how it works out in practice. Some time ago I was speaking to a constituent of mine who is a very large egg exporter, and he told me that he was gradually losing his trade in the British market on account of the very high internal freight charges. I made inquiries, and looked up some of the rate books to see how the position affected him. I took the cost of eggs from Port Laoghaise to Dublin, a distance of 57 miles, and found it was 9d. per ton per mile; the rate for eggs from Port Laoghaise to London, 385 miles, works out at 3⅓d. per mile. The rate from Dublin to London, 334 miles, is 2¾d. per ton per mile, showing that the home consumer is having an unfair burden placed on him by the high internal rates prevailing as against the charges from Dublin to the British markets. The rate for butter from Ballybrophy to Dublin, 72 miles, is 7d. per ton per mile. From Dublin to London, 2⅛d. per ton per mile, and from Ballybrophy to London, 400 miles, the rate is 3d. per ton per mile. Bacon [1061] from Roserea to Dublin, 83 miles, is 6½d. per ton per mile, and from Dublin to London it is 2⅛d., and from Roserea to London it is 2¾d.

Within the Ministry for Agriculture there is a department which used to function previous to the setting up of the Treaty, whereby people who were affected by these very high rates on agricultural produce could seek assistance, and bring their grievances before the Railway Rates Tribunal. To that extent public funds were at the disposal of people who suffered in this way, and in many cases they succeeded in having the high rates on agricultural produce reduced. Deputy Gorey would say, no doubt, that the high internal rates are due to the higher wages of the railway workers in Ireland. I will tell Deputy Gorey in advance that if he can produce evidence in support of that I will be agreeably surprised. The general conditions of railway men in Ireland and England are the same, with the exception that railway men in Ireland are paid a lower rate for Sunday and overtime work, and 2,000 Irish railway men, who work the very small companies, work 10 per cent. below the average rate for other railway men in Ireland and England. It is not a question of the higher rate of wages, in this case, and it must be a question of bad organisation in Irish railways. It is for the Minister for Agriculture, and those behind him, to justify that system, or to say in what way they intend to have it remedied. I have quoted rates, from my own constitutency, for agricultural produce, and it is a constituency that was a large exporting area so far as these commodities are concerned. The rates quoted may appear high, but as many people know, for the last two years the railway goods service was very bad; so far as export is concerned, and in many instances these commodities had to be forwarded by passenger train, where the rates are 100 per cent. higher than those I have quoted. A significant thing in connection with this question of high internal railway rates is that the Northern companies, and companies serving the border in or around the Six Counties area, have reduced their rates to a considerable extent. Some [1062] time ago a Commission dealing with this question went very closely into the existing railway rates, and an official of the Department of Agriculture in his evidence said that the railway companies, such as the Great Northern, the Midland (Northern Counties), the Belfast and County Down, Dundalk, Newry and Greenore, the Derry and Lough Swilly, the Sligo and Leitrim and Northern Counties, the Cavan and Leitrim, the Clogher Valley, Castlederg and Victoria Bridge, etc., having a total road distance 1,303 miles, of which 530 miles are in Saorstát Eireann—I merely draw attention to this aspect of the railway rates, so that the Northern companies, which it cannot be said are in a different position to those in the Southern area, have reduced their rates from 150 per cent., pre war, to 100 per cent., as well as abolishing many of the flat rates.

The result of that is that the people in Mayo, Sligo, Cavan and Leitrim who forward traffic are getting a natural inducement to send their traffic through Belfast port. That is probably one of the reasons why the railway companies in the Six County area have agreed to this reduction. The official attached to the Department of Agriculture was asked whether any representations were made to the Southern railway companies to bring about similar reductions. He stated representations had been made, and that the companies declined to agree to any of the reductions that were given by the Northern companies. The financial position of the Southern railways was pleaded as the reason why they could not adopt these reductions. The official further stated: “At the present time none can challenge the reasonableness”—and this is a very important matter for the Minister to explain—“of the rates originally imposed by the Minister of Transport on the 1st September, 1920. Under the Act it was laid down that any increases directed by him were to be deemed to be reasonable. The present position is that until there is some repeal of the provisions of that Act, as far as Irish produce is concerned, these high rates of Sept., 1920, obtain, except in so far as the companies may voluntarily modify them as the Northern group did, but [1063] none can compel them to reduce them.” That is the evidence of an official associated with the Minister for Agriculture, given at a recent Commission in connection with railway transport rates. The Minister taunted Deputy Johnson with having in a speech which he said lasted over an hour — and which got only three inches in the Press——

MINISTER for AGRICULTURE (Mr. Hogan): That is not my fault.

Mr. DAVIN: He stated that the only suggestion Deputy Johnson made was that of a tariff on imported goods.

Mr. HOGAN: He made two suggestions — two wholly distinct suggestions. One was to increase taxation and the other was to put a tariff on imported goods.

Mr. DAVIN: I suggest that the Minister, by agreeing that the railways should be allowed to set up and continue to impose these high rates, by his own action imposes a tariff on our exports, and, on the other hand, by allowing the low railway rates on British imported goods to be continued, is associating himself with a tariff on our exports and with the giving of a decided preference to imported goods into this country. If the Minister is prepared to justify his association with such a policy as that, the Dáil would like to hear how it can be done. The result of the high rates on farm produce is that the land is being let out to an alarming degree in many areas, and that, in time, will create more unemployment. If things go on as they are going on at present, Ireland will have lost her large export trade, and in addition will become, as England is at present, a country relying largely upon imported articles.

There is another aspect of profiteering to which I would like to draw attention, and that is the failure of the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with the question of weights and measures. Owing to the peculiar conditions under which we have been living in this country for the past four or five years there appears to have been no check on weights and measures. I had a complaint made to me two or three [1064] months ago by people in a certain town in my area that scales were being used for weighing live pigs which were far from being accurate. When the weight of certain pigs was afterwards tested on another scales it was found that the pigs were considerably heavier than the weight which was given to the owner when the pigs were weighed on the original scales. If there is any person in that area capable of dealing with that matter I would be very glad to give him information to enable him to institute a prosecution. It is a very important matter, and some explanation is due to the Dáil for the failure of whatever Ministry is responsible for dealing with it. Some months since I put down a question drawing attention to that particular aspect of profiteering, and, so far as I can see, nothing has since been done.

I want to refer very briefly to the failure of the Government to get any agreement on the question of future railway policy. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, on the 3rd January last, made a very long and, apparently, well-considered statement of Government policy on this matter in the Dáil. He indicated briefly that the Government had turned down the Railway Commission's report, and that they proposed to give to the Irish railway companies three months to make up their minds upon a scheme of grouping which would meet with the approval of the Government. He further stated that if at the end of a further three months, namely, the 1st July, a scheme of grouping which would meet with the approval of the Government was not brought forward by the railway companies that the Government would proceed to bring in a Bill to deal with the matter. On the 17th July last the question was discussed rather briefly in the Dáil on the Estimates, and we were informed by the Assistant Minister at the time that President Cosgrave was attending a conference in London with Sir James Craig on the question of the railways. We have had no indication whatsoever since the 17th July of what transpired at that Conference, or as to whether any progress had been made on the lines of the Government policy at the time. Sir James Craig, speaking at Belleek [1065] on the 13th October, said: “They had schemes in view to case the situation with regard to the railways. The present railway system was not a good one. In the old days the railways worked their traffic from North to South, but in future there would be amalgamation and they would be worked from West to East and East to West.” I want to ask the Minister whether that statement of Sir James Craig was made as a result of the conference which took place in London between Sir James Craig and President Cosgrave. We are now five months beyond the period that was allowed to the railway companies to bring in their agreed scheme of grouping, and I think it is in the interest of the Government, of the business community and of everybody who will be affected by whatever change will take place, that the Government should make an immediate statement as to the present position, and as to whether or not there is any likelihood of an agreement being arrived at between the companies concerned; also as to whether or not the Government have definitely made up their minds to go ahead on the lines of the policy indicated by the Minister on the 3rd January. In case such a decision has been come to I would like the Minister to give us the approximate date for the introduction of the Government's promised legislative proposals, and if he would also indicate whether the Government intend to deal only with the railway companies wholly within the Free State area or with all the railway lines that are within the Free State area.

Until some such statement is made on the lines I have indicated considerable unrest will prevail in railway, agricultural and commercial circles. Although the railway companies, to all outside appearances, have made no attempt, or as far as I know, have not come to the agreement that the Ministry wishes, still they are preparing the ground for the time when some scheme of unification, grouping, or nationalisation will take place. They are effecting economies in many directions and two railway companies recently gave notice of dismissal to members of their staff. That is a very serious position because I anticipate that in whatever scheme of [1066] grouping, unification, or nationalisation that is eventually passed through the Dáil, whatever railway staffs are found redundant will have to receive reasonable protection and compensation if dismissed. That is what happened in the grouping schemes passed in England where servants were displaced as a result of the combines legalised there. I think it is very bad policy on the part of any railway company, and especially on the part of a railway company that apparently does not think fit to fall in with the wishes of the Ministry, to prejudice the position of their officials in anticipation of anything that may take place in the near future. I hope the Ministry will drive it home to the companies concerned that such a policy will not be tolerated.

I want also to draw attention to the treatment that the Great Southern and Western Railway Company are meting out to many members of their staff who joined the Railway Maintenance and Protection Corps when it was established. I have received complaints from Cork and from other areas where men were demobilised from the Railway Maintenance and Protection Corps that when they went back to report to the railway company they were kept a considerable time walking about idle before being taken back. They went to the local station and reported to the stationmaster, agent, or superintendent that they were available for duty. The stationmaster, the agent, or superintendent wrote to Dublin, and headquarters in Dublin wrote to someone else. In that way men who have been demobilised have been kept out of employment for 3 or 4 weeks. I suggest that that is not in accordance with the spirit of the undertaking that was given by the company when the men joined that particular Corps. I trust the Minister will take the matter up and see that no undue delay of the kind takes place in reinstating men who offered their services when the outbreak occurred in June of last year.

I want also to ask the Minister if any assistance is given by the Transport Department associated with his Ministry towards the development of tourist traffic. It is well known that in prewar days this country benefitted to the [1067] extent of four or five million pounds per annum from the large number of tourists who visited it. I suggest that no more useful work could be done by the Transport Department than encouraging, as far as possible, the development of tourist traffic. It is pretty well known by those who come into contact with travellers that the hotels in this country are very badly organised for tourist traffic. Tourists who come to Ireland do not get, in many ways, that attention and consideration that they receive in other countries. The Transport Department could do a lot of useful work by trying to organise hotel keepers and by assisting to develop a traffic that brought considerable revenue to the country previously.

On the question of the financial statement made by the Minister, Deputy Milroy indicated in a speech that he made, that there were other means of taxation. I am sorry he did not indicate what was in his mind when he made that statement, or say if he was in favour of the taxation of bachelors. From what one can see by looking around the Dáil, if the Minister were to introduce legislation for the taxation of bachelors there would be a considerable revenue from the Government benches alone.

Mr. P. HOGAN: Provided the bachelors had the money.

Mr. DAVIN: I also want to draw the attention of the Minister for Finance to two questions that I think deserve immediate attention. On the 10th October of last year dealing with the question of compensation to members of the R.I.C. who resigned, the Minister for Home Affairs said: “It is the intention of the Government to grant compensation to certain R.I.C. men who resigned or were dismissed in recent years because of their national sympathies. It is intended that such men will receive as generous treatment as if they had remained in the Force until the date of its disbandment. Legislation will be required to cover such compensation, and it is proposed to introduce appropriate measures as soon after the enactment of the Constitution [1068] as is practicable.” That was 10th October, 1922, and I think it is very bad policy on the part of the Government to have delayed giving the compensation that was promised. Recently two cases came under my notice. One man came to me in this building a week ago from the area that the Minister represents, and told me he had not enough money to pay for his lodgings that night. I heard of another case where a man was dying in the poorhouse, as it was called, in Cork. Honest men, and some of them were honest, who made sacrifices by resigning from the R.I.C. in response to the appeal that was made in July, 1918, do not deserve to be treated in that disgraceful manner. I suggest that the Sinn Fein organisation that made such promises, as it was entitled to do on behalf of the nation, is in honour bound to carry them out. I hope the Minister will be able to tell us that it is his intention to lay regulations on the Table that will enable him to pay the men in accordance with the promises that were made to them.

I also wish to refer to the question of compensation in connection with the Shaw Commission. In dealing with that matter some time ago the Minister stated: “The Commission which deals entirely with pre-Truce damage has made considerable progress in the issue of its awards, and the machinery set up by the Ministry of Finance has for some time been working at a rate which has overtaken arrears, and keeps pace with the making of awards by the Commission.” I want to draw the particular attention of the Minister to the fact that that is not exactly the case. Two or three people in my area whose homes were burned in pre-Truce days for assisting a then united nation, are now being denied compensation, because they are supposed to be sympathetic with the Irregulars.

They are alleged to have sympathies in that direction. I cannot say whether that is correct or not, and I cannot say what is the information at the disposal of the Minister on that aspect of the case. In making inquiries into the matter I found that there are 50 such cases being held up by the Minister for Finance, or someone acting on his behalf in his Department. I consider that [1069] is a very bad policy on the part of the Minister to deny these people the compensation to which they are rightly entitled for damage done by the Black and Tans. I suggest that it is not one of the ways by which we can heal up old sores that are open in this country as a result of the dispute over the Treaty. I suggest it would be a good policy on the part of the Minister to pay such claims without any further delay.

There is another question dealt with in the Governor-General's Address, the housing question. That question has been very fully gone into by people who are more competent to deal with it than I am. I, therefore, only wish to make one point in connection with it. I happened to be around the Irish coal areas on a couple of occasions recently. One of the things that appear to affect the workers, particularly in the mining districts of Arigna and Wolfhill, is the lack of proper housing accommodation.

I hope the responsible Minister, when dealing with this question of housing, will make provision for the building of houses in mining areas. It would not take much to deal with that situation, but it would be one of the ways by which the coal resources of this country would be better developed. I think it is unfair to see miners having to walk six miles to their work, and working under the horrible conditions which we know exists in some of the Irish mining areas, and to have to walk home again six miles when the work of the day is over. I make that suggestion to the Ministers and hope that in dealing with the matter they will keep in mind the question of housing in mining areas.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE resumed the chair at this stage.

Mr. PETER DOYLE: Ni gádh dhom puinn a rádh anois tar éis an meid atá ráidhthe. In rising to support the motion of thanks to the Governor-General for his Address there are a few matters to which he referred on which I desire to offer some observations. On the many matters dealt with in that Address, I presume many Deputies may hold different opinions, as to which is the most important problem. To my mind, the unemployment problem is [1070] one of the most vital, and I am sure that any schemes introduced by the Government will receive every possible attention and support from all sections in the Dáil. Rather, I should say that anything that tends to give employment and reduce unemployment will receive attention and welcome. While dealing with the unemployment problem I do not suggest that if unemployment were even now normal that we would be at the end of our troubles and disputes as between capital and labour. I trust that in our deliberations in the future that some definite effort will be made to set up or formally establish an Industrial Arbitration Court with a view to dealing with industrial disputes. I am glad to know that the Governor-General has suggested that a larger provision is to be made for dealing with the housing question. Notwithstanding the number of houses that have been built throughout the country during the past couple of years there is still a considerable dearth of housing. In Dublin alone the Corporation have built 200 houses, but that has not diminished the great demand for housing accommodation, and there are thousands of people at the moment living under the most unchristian conditions possible.

The Governor-General makes a very important statement on the re-organisation of our railway systems. They have for a considerable time exercised the minds of the Ministers. Now I think that is about as important a problem as can be tackled, and I have no doubt that the Government have full scope for their activities in dealing with that matter. It may be rather a difficult subject to refer to here, but I feel that a little criticism will be very helpful in outlining any future scheme of management which may be in the minds of the Ministry. The manner in which the Irish railways have been managed in the past, particularly during the old regime, has, in my mind, been most unsatisfactory. The Irish railway management has been more detrimental to Irish industry and enterprise than any other cause of which I am aware. I am sure any change in the system of management that operated in the past will, I believe, be for the general interest and advancement of the [1071] country. The existing rates on merchandise require immediate revision. The fixing of Irish railway rates and charges in London has been a very serious impediment to progress in Ireland in the past, and has considerably hindered the development of Irish transport, including the utilisation of our canals.

I do not know at the moment if that is still in operation as regards the canals, but I know that until recently it has been so. I think it has had a detrimental effect on the canal transport service, which touches upon some areas where there are no railways. In any proposed extension of the Irish railway system the industrial centres must be catered for in such a manner as adequately to meet their needs and requirements. That remark is particularly directed to where industrial effort has failed as a consequence of neglect in the past. I do not think that it is necessary to remind Deputies that the original intention in the marking out of the railway system in Ireland was not in the interests of the nation, but simply in the interests of military services, and to meet requirements from a military point of view. Industries have in no case received the attention that they should have received. I desire to lay stress upon one important point in the matter of railway management and that is the importation of rolling stock. On this matter recently an explanation was submitted by one of our chief railway companies — the Great Southern and Western — by way of reply in one of the daily newspapers to a statement made to the Fiscal Inquiry Committee set up by the Government. The railway company claim that their works are the largest in Ireland, and they claim that the engines and other rolling stock exclusively manufactured at their works could not be surpassed in workmanship or anything else. I should have said they do not claim that, but I do claim it, and I think anyone who has any knowledge of the work turned out at Inchicore can from no other opinion than that it is nothing short of a scandal that rolling stock is imported into the country when it can be manufactured much better and more economically at Inchicore. That is [1072] what has been going on in the past. It is up to the Government to make some effort to stop it.

As a matter of comparison from an economic side, the Company state it has been their policy to manufacture everything in the nature of rolling stock that they require. It would be interesting to know what quantity of imported rolling stock and equipment has been ordered from Scotland and England within the last 10 or 12 years. A good deal of the rolling stock that is being used was ordered probably a year or two before it reached here. On the Dublin quays at the present moment one can see a large consignment of axle wheels and many other finished requirements for rolling stock. It is very unfair for the railway companies to say that such work cannot be done as cheaply and as well here. The Company admits that six large engines were imported about two years ago. I should like to point out that those engines have only been placed on traffic since the recent destruction of the railways and they have not proved very satisfactory as regards oil or coal consumption. They have already been put down for general overhauling and repairing. That is what I put forward as an argument in favour of the work that has occasionally been turned out at Inchicore. In the case of imported rolling stock there has been a greater cost for overhauling and repairing it, and that has added considerably to the expenses which come under the heading exclusively of overhead charges. Consequently the company put the proposition that owing to the cost of wages, which is generally what they fall back upon, this work could not be done in Ireland. A short time ago some 20 boilers were imported from England and they had some very serious defects. No provision was made for tube plates or steam pipes and the result was that they have to be overhauled and remedied at Inchicore Works at considerable cost. The same applies to other large stocks of engine parts that have like defects. Notwithstanding that the Company have resident Inspectors in stations in England, at substantial salaries, we have not been able to tell to what charge the outlay, [1073] in this respect, has been put to, whether put against the cost of the home product or not; it certainly is not shown against the imported article. Now the question is why should the Irish Railway Companies desire to purchase finished rolling stock in England at a greater cost than purchasing the raw material outside of England and manufacturing their own rolling stock at home would mean, because it is a fact that the cost of the raw material for home manufacture can be purchased at a lower figure outside England than it can be purchased in England. By that I would like to make it clear that there is evidently a ring in existence in England inside which the Irish Companies are compelled to buy the finished article notwithstanding the fact that if they manufactured their rolling-stock in Ireland they could import the raw material from outside England at probably half the cost they are paying through the ring in England and which shows, as I would say, that they are paying through the nose.

The argument in the article that I refer to is a matter that they dealt with some time ago, and it is that the principal cause is that the existing rate of wages paid to skilled and semi-skilled tradesmen here are so much in excess of those paid in Great Britain that it is a question whether we can continue to manufacture new rolling stock at Inchicore as cheaply as it can be imported. That article at the moment referred to the question of importing a number of coaches from England, and I am glad to say that since the publication of that article that whatever communication had taken place between the men and the Company the result was that the men are making the four or five coaches though it had been intended to import them from England. Now the Company have not explained why they made this change. I do not know whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce had anything to do with it or not, but the fact remains that the Company's case that they were paying £300 each more for the home article than for those imported has apparently fallen to the ground, and I hope that is the last we will hear of the importation of rolling stock by the Great Southern Railway. At the moment I do not wish [1074] to refer any further to that particular matter except to say that some of the material which I believe is at the North Wall is for the Cork and Passage Railway. I do not know what amount of plant they have down there for finishing raw material work for minor requirements, but I think some effort ought to be made by the Government to secure that all this money, which runs into huge sums annually, ought to be kept in Ireland and used for providing much needed employment. My main reason in bringing these matters before the Dáil is with that object in view. I do not stand here to take up a case, or to exploit a case on behalf of the men on the wages question, but I do believe that if there is any difference of opinion between the Companies and their men on the question of wages, by which it can be made possible to keep all this work at home, the men will do their part.

There is just another matter to which I may refer, and that is this: the Governor-General in his statement referred with gratitude to the services of the various arms of our National Defence. I feel that the best gratitude we could extend to those men who have borne the brunt of the unfortunate struggle in the trouble in the past is that a good honest effort ought to be made to provide them with employment on their disbandment from the Army.

Mr. A. BYRNE: And their insurance money.

Mr. DOYLE: I conclude these few observations by supporting the motion.

Mr. D'ALTON: The Governor-General's Address provides us with a very large field for debate. It has been used to a very great extent, and to an extent that I do not intend to follow myself. But I wish to refer to one portion of that Address in which the Governor-General deals with the question of unemployment and with the results that follow from it. The words of the Governor-General are:—

“The problem of unemployment which confronts us has had the special consideration of your Ministers. They are confident that, with stable conditions, enterprise will find many opportunities in this [1075] country. Developments are at present hampered by disagreements between employers and employees to the loss not only of those directly concerned but of the general community.”

I think that at the present moment the question of unemployment and what it means for Ireland, and the question of the various disputes that have taken place between employers and employees is a matter that deserves the very greatest consideration from this Dáil. A strike or a lock-out is, to my mind, a war without guns. In its results, it is quite as injurious in its own way as war, and like war, it rarely justifies itself. If we hope for a development of industries in this country we must see that both employers and employees, capital and labour, meet together on the one solid ground, and that is to arrange between themselves that their joint efforts have got to be for the advancement of these industries, and to have these industries so carried on in the country that they will command the confidence of all. There is really little use in counting that those who have money in Ireland they will place it in Irish industries to develop factories in the country if they are to be met with, in twelve months' time, a strike of their workers employed in these factories. Neither can we expect that the workmen of this country are going to remain in Ireland if they are certain, in the first instance, of better wages in another country, and, above all, if they are certain that their employment is to be more constant elsewhere. Labour disputes are injurious to both parties, injurious to capital and to labour. We cannot expect either that those in foreign countries, in America or elsewhere, who may wish to start industries in this country, will come here unless they see some certainty or some security that not alone will they be able to earn a fair interest on the capital invested but that they have security in the industry when it is started.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been engaged several months in trying to arrange the various disputes that have taken place in this [1076] country. We have been confronted with one of them lately in the shipping dispute, and others of them are still unsettled. I ask, why is there not some result to be gained from the labours of the Minister and those who have been associated with him in bringing these disputes for the time being to a happy ending. If these disputes are not to recur within a period of six months or three months, or maybe a month, it is rather a pity that all these efforts have been made only to secure a temporary continuance of the trade of the country. We hope in Ireland that all the hidden wealth of this country will be developed, that her mines and her minerals will be got working, that existing industries will thrive and that new industries can be brought here. Surely if there is a difference between capital and labour to be everlastingly cropping up and coming before us, there will be no confidence; capital will not be invested, and labour will have no confidence in capital unless machinery is found by which these various disputes can be avoided, and until such time that in this country the lock-out on the one hand, or the strike on the other, will only be availed of when every other means has failed to bring the two sections together.

In Australia, in 1890, a big strike occurred when the ranchers and the graziers got into a war that practically destroyed most of New South Wales and New Zealand. They found that it was necessary to construct some kind of machinery by which the trade of the country was not going to be ruined and that financial loss was not going to be brought on the ranchers, and that the employers were not going to be driven to starvation or forced to go to other countries to earn a living. In 1894 they established their Conciliation and Arbitration Courts. There were various Acts of Parliament passed in Australia, New Zealand and New South Wales between 1895 and 1912 by which these Conciliation and Arbitration Courts were brought into conformity with what was necessary for the good of the country. These Courts secured what they desired, and what they were meant to secure, peace between capital and labour. Possibly they have not [1077] attained all that was expected of them, but this they did for Australia, and to a certain extent they have done the same in America; they prevented strikes that would otherwise have taken place, and they succeeded in making capital have confidence in the country, and also succeeded in bringing larger sums of money to be invested in Australia, New South Wales and New Zealand, both in land and in factories.

Now, I believe from what I have heard that there are many Conciliation Boards at present working in Ireland. Some are working on railways and a few are connected with creameries. If it were the spirit of the Dáil, as I believe it is of the people of the country, that strikes and locks-out should be avoided and that women and little children should not be made to suffer hunger and poverty, it would be for us to adopt every available method, to use any machinery within our power to have those evils avoided. The hardships of a lock-out, when men are turned out of their employment, because employers have to compete with the manufacturers in other countries, could be avoided if these Conciliation Boards were set up. These grievances could be met by the formation of such boards as have been formed in other countries with representatives from both employers and employed in equal proportions. If such boards fail to compose the differences in their own particular district they should go before an arbitration court at which a member of the legal profession should be chairman, and whilst that court was sitting a strike or lock-out should be declared illegal with the consent of every member of the Dáil. That suggestion of mine does not interfere either with the right of men when forced to strike for a higher wage, or with the right of the employer to lock his men out, and to fight the matter out as they have already done. My idea is to see that these disputes that are ruining the industry of the country should be avoided, and that people who have money, say in foreign securities because they are afraid to invest it at home, could put it into Irish industries when they knew that such industries would not be upset within twelve months. I hope my views will [1078] fall on willing ears, and that Deputies will consider the matter in the same spirit in which I have brought it forward. If at a later stage representatives from each of the parties in this Dáil form into a small Committee and discuss the possibility of setting up these courts and recommend them to the country, I believe that every Deputy will have the support of all his constituents.

Mr. BAXTER: I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion put and agreed to.