Dáil Éireann - Volume 5 - 22 November, 1923


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. BAXTER: In the Address under discussion, which we are to assume represents to the Dáil the policy of the Ministry, we are told by the Governor-General that high prices and high profits can no longer be sustained. I think I will be speaking what is in the minds of Deputies on this side of the Dáil, and in the minds of our farmers in the country, when I say that for the farmers in Ireland to-day there are no such things as high prices or high profits. For many of our commodities there are hardly any prices at all.

MINISTER for AGRICULTURE (Mr. Hogan): On a point of explanation, I do not think the Governor-General said that there were high prices or [1093] high profits in agriculture, or even suggested that. If he suggested anything, he suggested the contrary.

Mr. BAXTER: I am glad the Ministry puts a different construction on what appears to me to be meant by these words. We can only read what is in the Address. The Governor-General, in his Address, said: “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.”

Mr. HOGAN: I do not like the use of that word “meant.” It is not a question of whether the Governor-General meant it, but the fact is that he never said it.

Mr. BAXTER: I can only read what is in the Governor-General's printed Address. When he speaks of high prices and high profits, I think I have the liberty to assume that we can read these words as applying to agriculture. It seems to me that the words apply all round. If the Governor-General meant that his words did not apply to agriculture, he has not said so, and, therefore, we can only assume that they do apply to agriculture. If he did not intend anything like that, I think he should have made the point clearer. As I was saying, there are no such things to-day as high prices or high profits for the Irish farmer, but, on the contrary, there are any amount of losses. I think a share of the responsibility for these losses must be left at the door of the Administration. For the last three or four months, the trade in the agricultural industry has been practically at a standstill. The channels of trade were closed against the farmers of Ireland. During the time that these channels of trade were closed, covering a period of two or three months, our ports were shut up, so that we could hardly send anything out of the country, unless we could manage to get it away by Belfast. During all that time the Irish farmer was expected to pay his rates and his rents, his Land Commission annuities and his income tax. There was no relief from these burdens, as far as the farmers were concerned. I believe there has been a failure on the part of [1094] the Ministry as far as we are concerned in this matter.

I am sorry that Deputy Davin is not in the House at the moment, but I heard him suggest yesterday that some time ago negotiations might have taken place which would eventually work out in bringing a great flow of trade to the North and to the port of Belfast in particular. I am sorry the Deputy is not here, but I would like to tell him that I do not know of anything that conduced more to bring a flow of trade to the port of Belfast than the fact that, for several months, the ports in Southern Ireland were shut down, and that for several months the farmers in our Southern counties were not able to get anything practically out of the country.

Mr. JOHNSON: Whom do you make responsible for that?

Mr. BAXTER: In our county town we have had for several weeks and months past as many as seven engines waiting on a Sunday morning to take the produce of farmers in the West and in the Midlands to the port of Belfast. It was not a bad thing for our Southern and Western farmers that it was possible to get some of their produce through to the port of Belfast. Indeed, but for this fact agriculture would have suffered even much more than it has already suffered. Deputy Johnson asks me, whom do I make responsible for that? I presume the Deputy himself will tell the Dáil that he and his party were in no way responsible for the closing down of the ports. If the Deputy tells the Dáil that, it will be for us to look around and see who was responsible. It seems to me, however, that the failure of those engaged working on the docks and engaged in the trade of the country in the South to come to any arrangement, caused this grievous loss to the farmers of the country, and that it is a matter for sincere regret.

I just want to remind Deputy Davin that if produce could be brought to the port of Belfast and if a flow of trade was brought to that port, the Labour Party in Southern Ireland would have to examine their consciences and see what part they were playing, and had [1095] played, in bringing trade to that port. Deputy Johnson, I am sure, would tell me that they were not paid sufficient wages, and that the workers would not work for what was not a living wage.

Mr. JOHNSON: They were satisfied to go on.

Mr. BAXTER: I will be partly in agreement with the Labour Deputies when they tell us that because of the high cost of living they are not able to get as much for the wages they are paid as they might get. I think I must find fault with the administration, as no effort has been made to reduce the cost of living. I think that has been during the past twelve months, is at present, and must always be, in this country, the root cause of whatever economic troubles we may have to suffer from here. I think as long as the Administration passes over this and does not recognise this root cause of our trouble, we will have a recurrence of these troubles perpetually. There is no doubt that the cost of living to-day is exceedingly high. It is much higher than it ought to be. I may be asked, what is the remedy? I think all parties in the country can, working together, find a remedy. I would say that it is up to the Labour Party, above any other party, to seek a remedy. They certainly suffer more, or at least as much, and complain perhaps more, than any other party, because of what they are suffering from the high cost of living. It is true, when we sell an article of produce in one of our country towns at eighteen pence, that it costs in a poulterer's in Dublin 6/-. That is nothing less than a public scandal. I think where anything like that is going on it is up to the Administration to see what they can do to effect a change. I would suggest to the Labour Party very seriously that if they get together a few of the men in their organisation with business capacity, and if they spend some of the money that has to be spent when strikes occur, in capitalising a concern, I think they would be able to build up in the city of Dublin a food depot, with branches of that depot, that would supply the workers with food at a smaller figure than they are paying to-day. [1096] They could purchase directly from the producers in the country. It seems to me that that is the first step towards reducing the cost of living.

We have unquestionably in this country too many people living between the producers and the consumers and passing on what the producers can supply to the people who are consuming. We have enough people living like that to-day to serve a nation of thirty millions. I am sorry to say that they are doing this badly, but they are making certain to pay themselves well. I think if the Labour Party took that step it would be up to the farmers to take some steps to meet the consumers, and it would be up to both parties to bring pressure on the Administration to assist them, and the Administration could assist them. That is the first step towards reducing the cost of living, and I would commend it to the Labour Party. For the Administration, perhaps, it is a difficult matter to make a suggestion. We know that there are vested interests, very influential interests, working as the middlemen in this country to-day, and I am sure the Administration will be very chary about tackling these interests. It is possible that the Minister for Finance may be looking to many of these to assist him now when floating his loan. We know, for other reasons, the Administration in other countries is generally slow to tackle vested interests, but I am afraid, unless an effort is made, we will have this recurrence of economic unrest one year after another, and, unless a bold step is taken by the Administration towards reducing the cost of living by introducing legislation, if necessary, any other section in this country cannot hope to effect very much.

I said a moment ago that the Ministry, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, despite the fact that our trade channels were closed against us, expect us particularly to pay our land purchase annuities. I would like to tell the Minister for Agriculture that, whatever opinion he himself may have about the Land Bill that was passed during the last Dáil, I think I am voicing the opinions of the farmers when I say that that part of the Land Bill which applies to unpurchased [1097] tenants is very unsatisfactory. I go further and say it is well for the landlords of Ireland that the present Administration was returned, for if the Farmers' Party and the Labour Party had come into this Dáil in stronger numbers there is every possibility there would be an Amending Bill to the present Act that would have been more fair to the unpurchased tenants than the Bill that went through the last Dáil. We have been asked for one year's arrears, less 5/- in the £, and the Minister for Agriculture may think, because that one year's arrears came in quickly, that the Bill is acceptable and that the people are satisfied with it. If he is, he is making a mistake. That year's arrears came in quickly because many of us advised the unpurchased tenants up and down the country that they would have to pay one year's arrears at any time. We would have been prepared to go off and pay one year's arrears. They knew that, and when the Bill went through we advised them to pay it. That is why they came in so quickly. But the remainder will not come in so quickly, because it is not to be had in the country. We are asked for half a year's arrears. I am expressing it mildly when I say there is consternation among the farmers who have been asked to pay this half year's annuity. I want to urge on the Minister for Agriculture the fact that for the unpurchased tenant who did owe three years' arrears the position is very serious. I presume under the Bill the tenants will be paying at the same time their annuities or interest in lieu of rent and paying their arrears of rent as well. The Minister for Agriculture ought to know that to-day, money is not to be got in the country or got from the farmers, and I would suggest to the Minister for Agriculture that he will be very well advised to see that the Land Commission will not press in the immediate future for the payment of the remainder of the arrears of rent. If there is pressure put on, the Land Commission will, in thousands of cases, have to go to the courts and the bailiffs will come on the land and in some cases the land will have to be sold in the courts. I do not think that will be good from the economic [1098] point of view for the country as a whole. I suggest to the Minister he will be very well advised to consider what steps he will take, if he would anticipate taking any extreme steps in this matter.

Yesterday there was a question raised as to the position of the Minister for External Affairs and the continuance of that Ministry; also a point or two was made as to the position of the representatives of this country abroad. We are given to understand that something like £37,000 is being spent on representatives of this country in other countries. I would like to know, when Consuls were being sent out from Ireland or representatives to Berlin, Rotterdam, Paris, Geneva, and New York, if the Minister for Agriculture had anything to say as to the type of man that was sent out to represent this country in those foreign places. The reason I put that question is, we all agree that agriculture is the one industry from which we are able to export anything worth mentioning from Ireland at all. Our main exports are from the agricultural industry. What we send abroad and sell abroad we take from the land. I do not think this country can ever be built up either by great statesmen or great politicians or great soldiers unless we have got at the same time good workers in trade and commerce. Whatever may be said for having representatives abroad, it seems to me that if those men are to do anything for the country at all they will do it, not by paying tribute at a foreign Court, but they will do it if they go there from this country, understanding the real position of the foundations of this State, going there as trade representatives of this country, knowing what we have got to sell, going there to try to make markets for us for what we have got to sell, and as well capable of understanding our industry at home and understanding the same industry abroad, capable of advising the Minister for Agriculture at home as to the position in foreign countries, what we can send to the people of those countries, and to advise us as well what is the nature of the product our competitors are sending to the markets of the world.

I do not think any man can do very [1099] much for Ireland in a foreign country unless he understands everything about agriculture in Ireland, and as much as it is possible for him to learn about agriculture in the country where he is a representative. I regret the fact, if it is a fact, that Ireland has no representative in Denmark. Of all our competitors none is doing more to retard Ireland's progress and prosperity than Denmark; Denmark is the most dangerous and most able competitor of our small farmers. She has practically beaten us in the world's markets in every article of produce that we have to sell, and she is the country that our farmers need to watch. We cannot all go there to do so and to see how things are done, but if this State sends out any representatives at all Denmark is one of the countries where we should have a man, understanding the industry there and at home and advising us of the nature of the competition we may expect. I commend that point very strongly to the Minister for Agriculture, and I hope to hear something about it from him.

I regret the fact that no mention was made in the Governor-General's Address as to the operation of the Boundary Commission. I do not know if the absence of any reference to this matter goes to show that nothing will be done in the immediate future. I hope not. A fortnight ago we were given to understand here that something would soon be done. It is some months, I think, since we were notified of the fact that our representative on the Boundary Commission was appointed and that the whole case was ready as far as the Saorstát was concerned. I think it is time that that Article of the Treaty had begun to operate and that the Ministry was showing to the people of the Saorstát, and to the people in the North-East and elsewhere, that they were really in earnest in seeing that the Clause would be made operative. I do not know if it is intended that there shall be a conference on this matter. If there is, let it be; but, if not, let the Administration say so and let steps be taken to make the Clause operative; otherwise let them tell the country that it is not to operate.

[1100] I have also to regret the fact that no mention is made in the Address as to when the financial position between Ireland and England will be straightened out, when we will be in a position to see where we stand under the Financial Clauses of the Treaty. It is a terribly serious matter. To-morrow a statement is to be made, and we will know the nature of the Loan the Minister for Finance is to float. I think that before we can expect investors to put money into any Loan we should know where we stand with regard to the Financial Clauses of the Treaty. We should know what we owe England, or what England owes us, and I am afraid that no matter what statement the Minister for Finance may make regarding our internal position it will not be anything like a full statement until we know where we stand with regard to England, and what we owe England. Then we will know whether we are a bankrupt State or whether we are in a strong financial position.

I come to another point in the Address that I regret is not in accordance with my personal point of view. A few days ago we were given to understand, during the discussion on the question of economy, that there were to be cuts all round. I expected that next day we were to hear of further cuts. The Bill under discussion the following day and yesterday did not give us any reason to believe that further cuts were to be discussed. The Governor-General suggested that there should be all round economy. I do not think that any Deputy disagreed with that statement, which voiced the opinions of the Ministers, but I expect and would hope that an example would be given by the Governor-General himself, and I think it would have been much better if, instead of starting the cuts very low down indeed, the start had been made at the top, from the Governor-General down. I think I am stating a fact when I say that the Governor-General and his establishment is costing £37,000 in the year. I say that that is doubtful, and the Governor-General is not worth the money. It is too much for this poor State in its present financial position to contribute towards the upkeep of [1101] one individual and one household, and that is where the start in cuts ought to have been made. It is not too late, and I think it would be well for the Ministry to make an effort there, and make it very soon, and I suggest they should not stop there.

Let them come all the way down through the Ministers, through the Dáil and Seanad, and let them wield the axe on the salaries of all, because I think if we are to be consistent when we preach economy, we must give an example of it. It is easy to cut down other people's salaries. Many people can be very brave when that has to be done who will not be so courageous when it comes to cutting down their own. I think that is a point of view the Ministry should consider, and it will not be an unpopular action to take. In no other way, I think, can economies be effected. We have prisons with many prisoners costing the country many thousands, and a huge army costing at least five times more than the country can afford to pay for an Army, or as the Army ought to cost. We are told that the Army was essential for the maintenance of peace and order. It seems to me that peace and order have been restored, and that there is room for cutting down in the Army, and cutting down immediately. I suggest to the Ministry that if they would put into operation the advice that has been given pretty frequently, and even the advice given to them the other day by the head of the Irish Church, to release the prisoners, and let them go home to their peaceful avocations, no step they can take would go farther in cutting down expenditure. I know that at the moment this is not a popular question to raise in the Dáil.

Mr. HOGAN: It is.

Mr. BAXTER: I am glad to hear the Minister remark that the question of releasing the prisoners is a popular question in the Dáil, and I am very pleased indeed that he has come round to that point of view.

Mr. HOGAN: It is not mine.

Mr. BAXTER: We were told two or three days ago, at least, the President [1102] told me when I raised this matter the other evening, that the question of the release of the prisoners did not depend on whether or not there was to be a resumption of civil war. I take it that the civil war was responsible for these seven or eight thousand prisoners being confined. I cannot see why, if the civil war has come to an end, and I believe it has come to an end, and that the Ministry itself is satisfied it has, that there is any reason for maintaining an army to keep these men in prison, some of them, perhaps, before many days to die. I can understand keeping men in prison when they have been charged, and put on their trial and convicted of some crime, but if it is to be the order of this new State that an individual can be flung into prison — and I know many of these men from my own county who are in prison, and I know their offences are very trivial, if any offence at all, and if they are to be kept in prison in definitely, because as has been often and truly said some officer in control for some petty reason of his own, felt that a certain man should be confined, and if these men are to be confined indefinitely without any charge or trial, it is not a good foundation on which to build up a new and democratic State. I heard the Minister for Defence tell us yesterday evening there are brave and generous men in prison, and some of these men have gone very far on the road to another world. I do not think that the Dáil, and I said it here the other evening, should remain silent, when we have reached the stage that the civil conflict has come to an end, and when the accredited leader of the Republican party told us clearly and unmistakeably it is at an end, and that there is no intention of resuming it. I cannot see, for the life of me, any reason in the Minister's action in keeping these men in prison any longer. I think the Government would be very well advised to take into account, as I have said, the point of view expressed by the head of the Irish Church, and release these men against whom there is no charge, and who have not been tried, and send them home. I make that suggestion, and let the Administration say whether they intend keeping the men or sending them home.

[1103] If they make their position clear on that matter, let the other party then take the responsibility, if there is a responsibility on them—and there is a responsibility on both sides to this conflict—let the other party take the responsibility then for what may take place if the Government are prepared to tell the country that they are going to release the prisoners before a certain date. This has to be done some time. It may as well be done in two months or in one month as in two years. The prisoners will have to be released some day, and the country will have to see what will happen when they come out. There is the same danger from them coming out in three weeks or a month as there is in six or twelve months. I think that the Minister for Finance would be doing a good deal to help forward the project he has before him in the floating of a Loan if he could bring back to the country a spirit of peace. I think it is in the hands of the Government to bring about that spirit of peace. It is in their hands, because they are in a strong position. If we like to say it, they are in the position of dictators. A little statesmanship has to be shown. Statesmanship is even better in the end than dictatorship, and the Government, by an act of statesmanship, can do much to bring peace to the country. They can, too, enhance their reputation, and they can win confidence from some of the people in this country who, up to the present, have not much confidence in them. If an act of statesmanship can help to restore peace and bring union to Ireland, the responsibility is on the shoulders of the administration of the day to show us that act of statesmanship.

Mr. K. O'HIGGINS: Speaking as one of the dictators who answer daily here to the representatives of the people for the policy pursued in this country, and for the administration of the affairs of this country, speaking as one of the dictators who hold no power, and could hold no power for half an hour, without the support of the majority of the representatives of the people, I want to deal very briefly with some points raised by Deputy Baxter towards the conclusion of his speech. [1104] Peace and order, Deputy Baxter tells us, have been restored. We are glad to have that tribute from Deputy Baxter to the efforts that we have made and are still making towards the restoration of peace and order. Peace and order have been restored to an extent and in certain areas, and they have not been restored by mealy-mouthedness. Peace and order have been restored by men who faced facts; by men who did not mistake blackguardism for misguided partiotism; by men who, verbally and mentally, called a spade a spade. Deputy Baxter, as an agriculturist, ought to try to call a spade a spade. He invites us to say what we intend to do with the prisoners. Let me remind Deputy Baxter that when this hunger-strike started the Minister for Defence was signing release orders at the rate of about 100 per day, and let me ask Deputy Baxter whether it is not conceivable that it was that very fact that brought about the hunger strike. There was a process of selection going on, a process of judicious selection. Men were being returned home at the rate of 700 or 800 or 900 a week, and then, with a little preliminary propaganda with regard to prison conditions, you had the hunger strike. Why? Was it because 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 felt that the selection was going to be too judicious, that the dupes would be returned home, and that there might be some little delay before those on whom the real responsibility lies would return home? Was it the all or none mentality? Why was it that when men were being released at the rate of about 100 per day you had this hunger strike, this freedom-or-the-grave campaign?

Peace and order have been restored, says Deputy Baxter. I am prepared to go with any Deputy through the police reports for the various counties and ask them honestly, as between man and man, whether those reports reflect an ideal or even a normal situation in many counties. I invite Deputies from West Cork, from Leitrim, from Offaly, from Tipperary and from Roscommon, to say whether they would put their hands on their hearts and endorse the dictum of Deputy Baxter that peace and order have been restored. Peace and order are in process of being restored, [1105] and are in process of being restored because the Government has faced odium, has faced the odium of irresponsible people, has faced the taunts of irresponsible people and has acted with a certain strength and a certain definiteness of purpose. I can assure Deputy Baxter and other Deputies interested that the Government will continue to pursue that course very much regardless of the superficial jibes and taunts of people who either wholly fail to appreciate our national position or who are utterly reckless about the sentiments they express.

We cannot afford to gamble. We have no right to gamble. We have no right to take risks because they are not our own risks, because they are not personal to ourselves. We cannot afford to throw our bread upon the waters in the vague hope that it will return to us after many days. We threw our bread on the waters in the early months of last year, and on a flimsy undertaking we armed men who were against the Treaty, sent them into strong places throughout the country, and agreed to treat them as soldiers of the nation, if they would respect the nation and respect their own people, if they would say that they would not use their power to prevent the free expression of the people's will at an election, nor turn their arms against any Government that would come into existence as a result of such election. We threw our bread upon the waters and it returned to us, not after many days, but in a very short time, and we will throw our bread upon the waters no more. These prisoners will be released, gradually released, with a very careful watchful eye to the general situation in the country, released with a very full advertence to the activities and the general attitude of those who have been already released. This hunger strike will not be the means of releasing any man one day sooner than we think it safe to release him. It has already been the means of holding up for a month releases that were proceeding at the rate of 700 or 800 a week. Let them go home, said Deputy Baxter, to their peaceful avocations! Their peaceful avocations of burning the homes of their own people, wrecking [1106] the railways and the bridges of the country, cutting the very arteries of the Irish nation!

Deputy Baxter complained, in the opening portion of his address, that for a month the channels of trade were closed against farmers. Was it for a month or was it for close on two years that people have been doing their damnedest to close the channels of trade against farmers and against every other section of the community? Mallow Bridge, every railway, every road bridge in the country was menaced, menaced by the most criminal, the most wanton, and the most utterly degraded conspiracy that ever menaced the political and economic life of any nation. It is not our of any desire to throw stones or use hard words against any section of our people that I speak like this, but so that facts may be faced, so that we may realise that there cannot be two Governments or two armies here, so that we may realise the truth embodied in one of the opening Articles of our Constitution, that “all power of government and authority, legislative, executive, and judicial in Ireland, are derived from the people of Ireland.” Let them go home to their peaceful avocations, said Deputy Baxter, while the country is flooded with proclamations under the heading “Government of the Irish Republic”; while Mr. Aiken signs himself “Chief of the General Staff.” What General Staff? From whom does he hold his commission or his authority? There are not going to be two Governments nor two armies here. Peace and order will be fully restored by the methods that have led to a measure of peace and order in the country now. The prisoners have not, we are told, been charged, put on trial, or convicted. Does Deputy Baxter think that the judicial machinery of any country would stand the strain of charging, and of the trial and conviction of the 13,000 men who were called out to wage this wanton criminal campaign against their own people? He says we must assume their innocence because they have not been charged, tried and convicted. Assume the innocence of people caught in arms or caught in the act of burning the homes of their fellow-citizens!

[1107] We will deal with the situation that surrounds us in the country according to the light God gave us and according to our own appreciation of our responsibilities to the citizens of the country, but we will not be rushed or stampeded by people who get up and talk vague sentimentality about our bravest and best, and about letting them go home to their peaceful avocations. Economy is on many lips at the moment and there are many suggestions, some sound, some utterly far-fetched and unsound, but the economy that points to gambling with the situation in the country, that urges us to take the risk of a renewal of the campaign that already has cost the country upwards of 100 millions, is something we cannot understand and that we have no intention whatever of adopting.

The accredited leaders, we are told, tell us the thing is at an end. The accredited leaders have told us many things within the last few years. Let them tell us one thing. Let them tell us that they abandon any claim to style themselves a rival Government; that they abandon any claim to maintain a rival army to the Army that is the people's Army and that is responsible to the people through this Parliament. Let the accredited leaders tell us they regard themselves as a political party like any other political party in the State, and that they are prepared to convince the minds rather than to coerce the bodies of their fellow-citizens. Arms are sown from one end of Ireland to the other. Why are they sown? To be used against whom? If there is recognition that the people are the source of authority here, why are those arms sown?

If Mr. De Valera or Mr. Aiken or Mr. Rutledge and their friends can secure a mandate from their fellow-citizens, they will be entitled to all the military and financial resources of this country; the man who attempts to oppose them will be a rebel against lawful authority here, and I have no doubt these people would know how to deal with him. Why then are those arms secreted from one end of Ireland to the other? To shoot crows, perhaps, that are eating Deputy Baxter's corn.

Mr. HOGAN (Minister for Agriculture): [1108] I do not think there is room for any misunderstanding as to what the Governor-General said about high wages, high profits and high prices, and there is no use pretending there is. I assure the Farmers' Party and Deputy Baxter I have not just discovered from him or anybody else that wages, prices and profits in agriculture are lower. It was with full advertence to that fact we drafted the Governor-General's speech, and there is no doubt whatever as to what he said and what he meant. He dealt with agriculture in one section and with industry in another. Dealing with agriculture he referred to the depression which has overtaken agriculture generally in Europe, and then he went on to explain the measures necessary to combat the depression in agriculture in this country. Dealing with industry, he spoke of high profits, high wages, and high prices being impossible in an agricultural country. We talked now about De Valera. I do not believe anybody else except De Valera could possibly have mis-read or misinterpreted that section. He could do it.

It is quite impossible to deal with this extremely grave question piece-meal. I know, and we all know, that agriculture is depressed, and we know this country above all places cannot afford to have agriculture depressed. The agricultural industry is vital to this country. I believe, as Deputy Baxter has stated, that realising the seriousness of that position, we must all do our part—the Government and the various parties—and I think the situation from the agricultural point of view is serious enough to justify me in saying that we can do a certain amount, but all men of good-will in all parties in the country must come half way to meet us. There is no use bluffing; there is no use in telling you what we can do if we do not mean to do it. The situation, though quite hopeful, is too serious for that. It is essentially a situation that needs the co-operation of all parties and all men of good-will in the country. With such co-operation it can be solved quickly and expeditiously; it can never be solved by the Government alone.

What is the position of agriculture? I am sorry to have to go into this matter [1109] at some length. This matter has been criticised from many different points of view. We can never get any real understanding of the position if we approach it in piece-meal fashion. When Deputy Davin, who made an excellent contribution to the debate, speaks, I know perfectly well he will talk about the railways. Yesterday, after telling us a lot of truth about the railway position, he ended by saying: “The result of high freights for agricultural produce is to put the farmer out of production.” That is dealing with the case piece-meal. If there were nothing else but high freights it would be easy to solve the problem. There is no use in picking out one item —an item that suits the particular point of view of one party. There is no use in concentrating on that, no matter how important it may be, and blaming it for the general situation. When Deputy Heffernan or Deputy Baxter rise, I know perfectly well that one-quarter of their contribution to the debate will be on the general agricultural position, and three-quarters of it will relate to Land Commission annuities or payment in lieu of rent. We cannot approach the question that way. We must diagnose the case properly before we can even begin a cure.

The position in a nut-shell is that the farmers' prices at the present time are between 40 and 50 per cent. on an average over pre-war. It is hard to get the exact figure, but that is the average. I speak of the price of the produce which the farmer produces. Remember that the farmer produces 75 per cent. of the real wealth exported from the country. I will stand for that figure as accurate and as a minimum. Remember also that the index figure for his price is between 40 and 50 per cent. It is stated that farming is not paying and that farmers are producing at a loss. I will be quite frank about that. That may be the position with large farmers at this particular moment. It is not the position with the small farmers. Nobody can say that I have stated that the farmers are making a huge profit. I want to assure Deputies that I have not said that. What I am saying is that as far as the bulk of the farmers of the country are concerned, taking in the whole year, they [1110] are not producing at a loss. They are not producing at anything like the profit they should receive, but they are not producing at a loss.

Mr. JOHNSON: Would the Minister be able to tell us what, in his estimation, is the portion of the 75 per cent. which is produced by the small farmer—the farmer under 50 acres?

Mr. HOGAN: I would have only to guess at that. I should say it would be at least 50 per cent. I want to be safe. Consider the position of the average farmer, his overhead expenses, rents, rates, labour, freights, fertilisers, foodstuffs and seeds. He gets something between 40 and 50 per cent. over pre-war for what he produces. His rates are about one hundred and fifty per cent. increased.

Mr. WILSON: Three hundred per cent.

Mr. HOGAN: On an average. We can never get at remedies unless we diagnose the case. I understand that that is the average. His freights are increased about the same amount. You can pick out freights that are increased far more but on the average——

Mr. WILSON: On a point of order——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Is Deputy Wilson sure that it is a point of order?

Mr. WILSON: A gentleman representing the Department of Agriculture, before the Agricultural Commission, stated that agricultural produce freights on the Dublin and S.E. Railway was increased 475 per cent. above pre-war.

Mr. HOGAN: Agricultural produce on the D. and S.E. Railway was 475 per cent. increased——

Mr. WILSON: It is the evidence of your own servant.

Mr. HOGAN: I make a statement here. It is not going to be the last meeting of the Dáil. I am making a statement after having given the matter a considerable amount of thought. If we are dealing with various items we must get a bird's eye view of the position. On the average [1111] the freights are 150 per cent. increased. Labour is increased between 70 and 80 per cent. That is the average. Fertilisers and feeding stuffs have increased between 50 and 60 per cent. It is hard to get the averages for each, having regard to the fact that Basic Slag, which is used very largely by the farmer, is increased much more than 60 or 70 per cent. We find in any case that 60 or 70 per cent. would be about the average increase under this head. So you have the position in a nut-shell. His prices are about 40 to 50 per cent. over pre-war. His overhead expenses now are increased by 150 per cent., 60 per cent. and something like 80 per cent. Now examine that. These figures do not inevitably show that the farmer is producing at a loss. Examine them for a moment. Take rates. The average rate on land is little less than 7/- in the £ per acre. It is a little less than 7/- in the £, and hence the average rate paid on agricultural land in Ireland is about 7/- per annum per acre, taking the average valuation at £1 per acre, which is a bit high. That is not going to kill the farmer, and it is not killing the farmer. There are exceptions. There is the Co. Waterford and the Co. Dublin. But the Co. Waterford and the Co. Dublin do not matter, in making the calculation, because we have to look at the country as a whole. I say the rates are not killing the farmer. He has a genuine grievance that rates are 150 per cent. above pre-war. But it is not the rate question that is doing the harm. It is not the amount of the rates in an average Council that is doing the harm. His greater grievance is the wasteful and inefficient way in which the money is spent. That is a far greater grievance too than the 7/- per annum per acre. But that is not killing the farmer.

We are asked what we are going to do about the rates. There is a Bill being introduced, practically immediately, I understand, by the Local Government Department. That will give far greater control to the Government, not only over the total rate but over the spending of each item of the rate all over Ireland than the Department has now. In addition the abolition of the local bodies, like District [1112] Councils, will have the effect of throwing the onus directly on the County Council. It will be far easier to control when the small local bodies are, so to speak, agents for the County Council. There will be a tightening of the grip; and these measures will give the Local Government Department control over the amount of the rate, control over the various items of expenditure, and also put the onus on larger bodies which are more likely to be efficient as they will be elected from larger areas. These measures undoubtedly ought to deal with the rate question.

The agricultural labourer cannot be expected to lose more. The agricultural labourer has done his part, and a little more than his part. If Labour in the other industries of the country, in the industries that are living on the farmer, to the extent of 75 per cent, of the total production, the distributive and non-productive industries, would do half as much as the farmer and his labourer, the situation would be saved.

Mr. GOREY: They are not needed. They are drones. They are not industries.

Mr. HOGAN: Then you have the question of fertilisers, feeding stuffs and manures. They are high. They are under the figure of 80 per cent. on an average, 80 per cent, being the index figure. Sixty would be the index figure for them. Finally we have the question of freights. Now, Deputy Davin dealt with this question to a great extent yesterday. He asked when was the reconstruction of the railways of the country to be dealt with, and complained that it was taking a very long time to deal with. I agree that that is a question which cannot brook very much more delay. But Deputy Davin and the other Deputies in the Dáil know the difficulties. It is not a question, as everybody who has thought about it or who knows anything about it knows, of taking the railways of Ireland and putting a ring round Ireland and considering the railways within that ring. You all know that the railways of Ireland take the produce of Ireland out of the country. You all know that there are reactions in regard to the English railways. I am sure that Deputy Davin knows that there are very grave difficulties, [1113] and that it is not a simple question but a complex question, and that it may result in very serious differences between the railways of Ireland and the railways of England. I do hope that if these differences ever come to a head, as possibly they may, whatever little inconvenience or loss may be suffered momentarily in any endeavours which we may make to make our own settlement of our own railway question, that we will get the support of Deputy Davin and the other Deputies in the Dáil in taking up that attitude.

Now, these are the overhead expenses of the farmer; these are the prices, and what he must buy to produce; but much more important are the prices of what he must pay to live —the prices of tea, sugar, coal, stout and the rest. That is where the shoe really pinches. These are the problems. Bring down the rates and freights and bring down the price of manures, seeds, agricultural implements, tea, sugar, coal, meat; in one word, I am looking at it from the farmer's point of view, the cost of living, and that is what it comes to. The greatest relief the farmer can get, I agree with Deputy Baxter, would be to reduce the cost of living. I have left out rents. I will deal with that question of rents separately. I will only say now that if you were to wipe out rents—not merely to give a reduction of 25 or 55 or 65 per cent., but to wipe out rents entirely— you would give far less relief to the farmers than the relief that would be given by a 5 points drop in the cost of living. Some people have the habit of concentrating on non-essentials. This is a very difficult and a very complex subject, and this habit of concentrating on one point of it, of which you know something about, or upon non-essentials saves us from thought and leads nowhere. You have to face the situation as a whole. Deputy Baxter was right in saying that the essential thing for the farmer at the moment, and for the country as a whole, is to bring down the cost of living. Who is keeping up the cost of living? Not the farmer; he is looking on listlessly.

Mr. WILSON: And helplessly!

Mr. HOGAN: Not helplessly!

[1114] Mr. NAGLE: Hopelessly?

Mr. HOGAN: Well, I will not pursue that any further; but who is keeping up the cost of living? I have given the figures for the farmer, who is producing 75 per cent. of the real wealth of the country, and I have invited Deputy Good, or any other Deputy, to find a way out of the dilemma which I am putting up. You have the farmer with his index figure at 40. I do not know what the index figure of the prices retailed to the consumer are by the various distributing businesses of the country, but it must be 80. I do not know any index figure of the retail non-productive and distributing trades. I do not know what it is but it is something between 150 and 200. Therefore you have the farmers of the country producing 75 per cent. of the wealth of the country, and I include the agricultural labourer. I will not state his index figure. I put the farmers at 40, and possibly I may put the labourers at 80. You have on the other side at least 80 for the employer and between 150 and 200 for the employees. That is keeping up the cost of living.

Now, undoubtedly the farmer will go out of production. That is certain— slowly, of course—but if he goes out of production it will prove a disaster for farming. But the small farmer can live, and will live, and most of the farmers in the country are small farmers. It will be a disaster all the same, and it will be a real disaster for our friends who are causing all the trouble and who are living on the farmer. The employer and the labourer here in Dublin will learn for the first time if they insist on killing the goose that lays the golden egg that they have been living on the farmer, who produces 75 per cent. of the wealth of the country. There will be nothing to distribute; no profits to be made, no wages to be earned. That is the situation. It is a national danger, and it is up to both employers and labourers, through their organisations here in Dublin, to face it. They are on their trial before the country. They are killing the main producer in the country, and they are on their trial not only as business men, but as patriots. If they united they could bring down the cost of living. I make [1115] them a present of this—it is an extremely difficult thing for the Government to try to do it. Anyone who likes can call that weakness, but I say it is an extremely difficult thing for any Government to interfere in trade or in trying to rule prices; but the situation is so serious that if both the employers and the employed in the distributing and the non-productive trades of the country insist on fleecing the farmer, I see no other alternative except to come to the Government and ask them to fix low prices.

It does not matter, so far as the farmer is concerned, how the cost of living is brought down. It does not matter if you attack the very high prices of agricultural machinery which he buys in order to produce; it does not matter if you attack the question by dealing with tea or sugar which he buys in order to live, or if you attack it from the point of view of bringing down the price of stout, which he does not want so much as the dock labourer, or clothing, which is absolutely necessary for the labourer here in Dublin. The real necessity of the moment is to bring down the cost of living. If that diagnosis is correct I ask the employer and the trade unionist here in Dublin, are they prepared to help and meet the farmers of the country, instead of sitting still and looking at each other across a table to see who will begin first? They are on their trial now, and the situation is urgent and serious, and if they are not prepared to come half way to meet us we must go more than half way to meet them. We see no other way out of it, although it is an extremely hard thing for any Government to do. You can approach the question of bringing down the cost of living from another angle. As I said a moment ago in reference to the County Dublin farmers, there were exceptions as far as the rate was concerned, and as far as the agricultural labourer was concerned. Their rate is much higher than that of any other farmers in Ireland.

Mr. WILSON: Or in England.

Mr. HOGAN: Yes, the rate paid by the County Dublin farmers is higher than that paid by any other farmers in Ireland, or, as Deputy Wilson said, in [1116] England. On the other hand, of course, it has to be remembered that the County Dublin farmer has great advantages. He is near his market. Milk is coming into the city of Dublin from the farmers of Louth and Meath at 1s. per gallon, ex Amiens Street. The price may have increased lately to 1s. 1d. or 1s. 2d. per gallon, but the milk is sold, retail, in Dublin, at 2s. 6d. and 2s. 8d. per gallon. That is the position you have to consider. Milk, as I say, was coming in last week ex Amiens Street at 1s. per gallon, and the retailers had not even to pay the carriage on it, but they sold it in Dublin at 2s. 6d. and 2s. 8d. per gallon. What, I ask, are the County Dublin farmers doing? There is a small fortune there for them. I take that as one item. If the farmers wake up from the listless lethargy that is over farming, and over most other industries in the country, they have the situation in their hands. I am glad to say there are some farmers waking up to the possibilities in that direction, as, for instance, Mr. Fahy, who did not get into the Dáil at the last election, but who is justifying his existence at the moment down in the County Cork. He is going on the right lines, and is now marketing his own produce.

Take the question of milk. Farmers around Dublin could sell and distribute milk in the city and make a big profit on it at 1s. 6d. per gallon. The consumer in Dublin could then get milk at 1s. 8d. per gallon, leaving the County Dublin farmer, or any other farmer who wished to get into the business, a well off man. I ask the County Dublin farmers why they do not do that. They answer, “Labour.” They say that if they bought 30 or 40 cows to provide the city with a supply of milk they would have no one to milk the cows. They say they are now paying 43s. a week to their agricultural labourers, which is a rate higher than that paid in any other part of Ireland, or in England, to agricultural labourers. They say also that if they sold 100 cattle and bought 25 cows, the labourer would turn around and say “This is a different class of work,” and that he would have to get a wage of £3 or £4 a week, the same as the Dublin cow-keepers are paying. I do not know [1117] whether that is so or not; I do not know whether these are labour difficulties or not, but I believe there are faults on both sides. I do know that on this question, if labour and the farmers are standing in the way of an understanding being arrived at between them that they are doing a bad turn, not only to the farmers but to the whole country, and in particular to the Dublin consumers, composed mainly of poor people. Bring down the cost of milk in Dublin, and I say the farmers and the labourers can do it, to 1s. 6d. per gallon, and what will the cost of living fall to? I could pick out other ways of increasing the farmers' price which at the same time would bring down the cost of living. I agree that that cannot be done without good will, and with a facing of facts from the labourer on the one side, and the farmer on the other.

If they agree with me that this is a correct diagnosis of the position, and that this high cost of living is actually killing the country, surely it would be possible, with a little bit of intelligence and good will on both sides to have the situation tackled on these lines. That is, in respect of these two items. I could mention others; I could mention other directions in which farmers, business men and labour, knowing anything at all of the country, could help to bring down the cost of living. We cannot do it here, but you are forcing us to do something which is essentially the work of the citizens themselves. We could go in and run a business; we may have to do it yet, and we may have to take over the milk trade. Possibly we may have to go and distribute milk in Dublin, if this thing goes on much longer, but we should not be asked to do it. You could do it for yourselves. We are prepared to go half-way to meet you and to give you all the assistance that we can. If the farmers will wake up we will co-operate with them, and the same applies to labour, but if they do not they are forcing us to do something which may achieve an immediate object, but which will have reactions that are not healthy. That is the situation as I see it. There is no use in concentrating on freights or talking about rents.

As regards rents, Deputy Baxter [1118] complains that we are expecting them to pay their Land Commission annuities. In saying that he said he was voicing the opinions of the farmers of the country, and in doing that I thought I heard a catch in his voice that seemed to remind me of a member of the old Irish Parliamentary Party talking about the land for the people 20 years ago. He said he was voicing the opinions of the farmers of the country and that they were not going to pay these annuities or rents, that in fact they were going to bring in an amending Bill, or were thinking about it. That is humbug. There was not a single farmer candidate who got up and told that to the electorate two months ago.

Mr. BAXTER: On a point of order I did.

Mr. HOGAN: If that is so, I withdraw and apologise, but I may say this that I took the trouble to go through a file of newspapers containing speeches delivered during the late election campaign, and I also got the official programme of the Farmers' Party, and neither in these speeches nor in that programme did I find a single suggestion that the Land Bill was even to be amended. In taking up that attitude the Farmers' candidates acted very wisely. If I may say so, I read the speeches that appeared in the “Independent” newspaper delivered by Deputy Baxter, and I must confess that I missed the point he now makes. I am quite willing, at the same time, to accept what the Deputy has stated. I also read the speeches delivered by Deputy Heffernan in Tipperary, and I noticed that any reference in them to an amending Land Bill was conspicuous by its absence.

Mr. GOREY: Did you read mine?

Mr. HOGAN: I did.

Mr. GOREY: Did you find any references to an amending Land Bill in them?

Mr. HOGAN: No.

Mr. GOREY: Then you must not have read them.


Mr. HOGAN: Not a single member [1119] of the Farmers' Party made this an issue at the election. They did not even say a word about an amending Land Bill, but now, two months after the election, we have Deputy Baxter, with this catch in his voice, coming forward and saying that he is voicing the opinions of the farmers of the country and that they are not going to pay annuities or rent.

Mr. BAXTER: I did say that, and was put in on that issue.

Mr. HOGAN: All I can say is that you managed to hide it very successfully.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: During my speeches I referred to an amending Land Bill, and the remarks I made were reported in other of the Dublin newspapers. The Minister says that he only read the speeches in the “Independent.” I just wish to make that point clear. I do not think the Minister is in order in making that statement because all the speeches did not appear in the “Independent.”

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The Minister said he read the speeches in a particular newspaper, and did not find the reference in it. The Minister is entitled to say that he read a particular newspaper and did not see a particular thing in it. The Minister is quite in order in saying that.

Mr. GOREY: Everybody knows that the newspapers did not publish all the speeches delivered at the recent elections.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: The papers are not a point of order.

Mr. HOGAN: We find now that all three, the “Freeman's Journal,” the “Independent” and the “Irish Times” were the mouthpiece of one particular Party. I did not know where the strength came from before, but now we have it all. As they had the whole Press, the Farmers' Party should have got in first, but that was a mistake of theirs. Of the three candidates who went up at the last election, stating in their official programme that they proposed, not to repeal, but to amend the Land Act, not one of them got a sufficient number of votes to qualify them to get a refund [1120] of their deposits. There was not the slightest suggestion in the official programme of the Farmers' Party about amending the Land Bill. I have only got to say this—that there were no references as regards an amending Land Bill, except there may have been some made in out of the way villages which were not reported in the Press. References as regards an amending Land Bill were conspicuous by their absence in the speeches delivered during the elections by members of the Farmers' Party. Now they come here, two months after the event, talking about amending the Land Bill. As regards rents, these are less than 10 per cent. of the annual outlay of the average farmer; I should say they are even less than 10 per cent. They always get 90 per cent. in the time occupied with speeches which we hear delivered here, but in reality rents are less than 10 per cent. in the annual outlay of the average farmer.

We have dealt with rents. We have given a reduction of from 25 per cent. to 35 per cent. in rents, and that leaves a payment under that head of from 25 per cent. to 35 per cent. below pre-war. That is the problem that has got all the attention from Deputy Baxter, Deputy Heffernan, and other Deputies who think they are living twenty years back.

Mr. BAXTER: Not all.

Mr. HOGAN: Concentrate on the other 90 per cent. of the farmers' outlay. Do not be trying to humbug the country on the land question. I will not ask you to reduce that outlay 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. below pre-war but to 50 per cent. above pre-war, and you will be doing something. Five points reduction in the cost of living would do more for the farmer than the abolition of all rents, and if you have any doubt about it get a piece of pencil and paper and work it out. That is all I have to say on the Land Bill. We will endeavour to deal with the cost of living question. I ask the support and co-operation of labour and capital as well as of the farmers. They can solve it easier than we, but we will go half way. If this is a correct diagnosis of the case, is not the country in danger from the present high prices? I say to [1121] employers “are you not cutting your own throat,” and I say to labour, who are claiming something like 200 per cent. above pre-war in the distributive trades, “you are killing labour.”

Mr. JOHNSON: Has the Minister made any calculation of the effect of the reduction of wages in the distributing trades on retail prices?

Mr. HOGAN: I do not suggest, and never have suggested, that you are going to make a tremendous difference by any measures taken to deal with one side of the problem. All I do say is, that both clearly are to blame. Clearly, you cannot justify, in the face of the index figures produced by the farmer and his labour, the wage at present paid to the distributive workers, just as you cannot justify the profit there must be which the distributor is getting at present. You must have co-operation on both sides, but if they do not co-operate and face the facts as they are, they are going to kill the country, and we cannot afford to let them. We must then come in and control prices. That is a difficult thing to do, but we must do it. We cannot allow a situation like this to go on. The farmer gets 36 per cent. over the pre-war level, and the retailer sells at something like 100 per cent., and the retailers, plus the retailers' labourers, are getting their undue proportion of that. Deputy Johnson suggested some time ago that the real solution is to increase wages and there will be more to spend with the increased purchasing power. When you realise that 75 per cent., or very nearly 75 per cent., of the labour of the country is in the distributive, retailed, non-productive trades and that they are living at present on an industry which is certainly very depressed, surely you will agree that increased wages, in that situation, of the distributor, at the expense of the producer, who is depressed, is absolute madness. There is no way out of it on those lines. There is only one way out of it, and that is for labour and capital to face the situation, to get the facts, and if they agree on the facts, to do the patriotic thing and, if I may say so, to do the business thing as well.

[1122] Mr. J. GOOD: I think the Deputies listened with the greatest interest to the remarks that have fallen from the Minister for Agriculture. I look upon it as being a practical and useful speech in the present situation. He has pointed out that the cost of living is the real trouble at present. Those of us who are engaged in connection with commerce will agree with him wholeheartedly in that. The cost of living is the real trouble, and it is to the cost of living that we ought to address ourselves if we want to get the matter put right. He has mentioned two items which, on the face of it, demand some explanation as to why the charges are so high at the moment. The question of milk has long been a topic in Dublin, and it needs a considerable amount of explanation as to why the price should be at its present high figure. It is a very important item in the cost of living. Another very important item in the cost of living is the question of meat and, in view of the present price of cattle, it is exceedingly difficult for an ordinary lay man to understand why the price of meat should be at its present figure. I think an explanation also is needed as to why the price of meat should be so high. These are two exceedingly important factors in the cost of living. There is a third important factor in the cost of living, and that is the question of rent. I think Deputy Johnson will agree with me when I say that in a city like Dublin and its suburbs, the question of rent is one of the most important factors in the cost of living. On that question of rent one might say a good deal at the moment. When I was speaking on the subject to an amendment a few days ago I pointed out that wages at the moment in the building industry, which produces the houses, were at an exceedingly high figure, and I pointed out what the result of that wage was on the production of houses. The figures, you remember, were in the case of tradesmen 150 per cent. over pre-war level, and in the case of labour 220 per cent. over pre-war level. When we were discussing this matter I was anxious to draw attention to a point mentioned by Deputy Johnson. You will remember when he was speaking [1123] on the subject on the Address of the Governor-General he drew attention to the case of Copenhagen, and much attention has been directed by Deputies to the remarks which fell from him on that occasion.

You will remember in Deputy Johnson's reference to Copenhagen, he did not give us pre-war figures. He only gave us present figures, and he said, “Taking the rate as we find it in Dublin pre-war, and taking the rates as we found them in Copenhagen to-day, I draw certain conclusions.” That, to my mind, was an exceedingly erroneous basis to take. That is, to take the present rate in one country and to take the pre-war rate in another.

Mr. JOHNSON: I took both pre-war and present rates.

Mr. GOOD: I have had some enquiries made into the matter, and I have succeeded in getting the pre-war rates in Copenhagen. I have not got a report of the proceedings when Deputy Johnson made his remarks on the subject, but the Deputies will remember that he told us bricklayers receive a very considerable wage in Copenhagen. I think the wage he gave us was £5 5s. 7d. The information I have does not bear out that. Wages of bricklayers in Copenhagen at the moment are identical to what they are in Dublin, 1/10½d. per hour. The only difference in the gross amount between what bricklayers receive in Copenhagen and here is that the bricklayer works two hours more in the week in Copenhagen. They work 48 hours there in summer and 42 in winter. If you take the average of 46, a bricklayer gets two hours more per week there than in Dublin. If you take two of them working the same number of hours you get the same rate in Copenhagen as in Dublin. To make a comparison with the other trades on the same 46 hours basis, a carpenter gets £3 18s. 7d. in Copenhagen, and £4 7s. 4d. in Dublin, while the bricklayer gets the same money in Copenhagen as in Dublin. The Dublin carpenter gets 11/3 more on the 46-hour basis than the carpenter in Copenhagen. Coming to the question of [1124] labour, labour gets £3 9s. per week in Copenhagen, and on the same basis in Dublin £3 1s. 4d. The labourer gets 7/8 per week more in Copenhagen than in Dublin, the carpenter 11/3 less, and the bricklayer the same money. What is the effect of this, taking the pre-war rates? Every bricklayer in Copenhagen to-day has 95.6 increase in wage over the pre-war rate. The bricklayer in Dublin to-day has 150 per cent. over the pre-war rate. The labourer in Copenhagen has to-day 118.2 per cent. increase over pre-war rate. The labourer in Dublin has 220 per cent. over the pre-war rate. So that on those figures I am afraid if we have to take Copenhagen as a basis for the increase, that we have an amount of increase out of all proportion in Dublin. It may be said to us what is the effect of wages with regard to costs in the building industry; in other words, in the cost of houses. I pointed out the other day that wages in the average building are 50 per cent. of the total amount. One can see at a glance the very large and important effect that wages would have on the cost of building, and consequently on the rents of houses which would be let for occupation. Now, it has been pointed out by Deputy Johnson that we employers seem to take the most inopportune moment and the most objectionable way of enforcing our demands. Might I remind him, however, though that may be true of other industries, and I think it is very questionable, it is not true of the building industry. This question of high prices has been killing the building industry for a very considerable time. A great many would be inclined to say that the masters should have taken very much more drastic steps than they have to keep wages down and to provide employment for the unemployed at the moment in our cities. As regards the building industry, it cannot be alleged that the masters had taken those drastic steps, and the Minister has suggested there should be more co-operation between employers on the one hand and the employed, or trade unions, as representing the employed, on the other hand. With that I am in entire agreement, but the difficulty is to get that proposal carried out. In April last, [1125] attempts were made to bring about a conference between labour on the one hand and the employers on the other in the building industry, with the object of bringing down wages. Those proposals fell through, because labour would not consent to meet the employers. What is the alternative? You speak about both sides being anxious to meet and confer. I agree with the Minister that should be the line, but it is very difficult to get it carried out in Ireland. In the building industry on the other side, to which I have drawn attention, wages were on a higher level than they ever reached in Ireland, and they are down now to a very much lower level than they stand in our cities. A tradesman is paid in London to-day what is looked upon as a super rate of 1/7½d. per hour. The same tradesman here is paid 1/10½ an hour. Wages have been reduced from a higher level to a very much lower level on the other side, through friendly negotiations between the two parties, and all through those reductions there has not been any disturbance in the industry.

I cannot understand how they can bring about these reductions on the other side and how we cannot act on similar lines. If we have not been able to do it in the past, I think, in view of what our country has passed through, we should endeavour to see if we cannot do it in the future, and as far as I am concerned, speaking as an employer, if Deputy Johnson will undertake to speak to those whom he represents in connection with the building industry, I will undertake to speak to those on the masters' side of that industry and see if a conference cannot be brought about with the object of reducing these wages, admitted by all to be too high, and to avoid, if at all possible, some of the conflicts between capital and labour of which we have had too many during the last six months.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: One felt two difficulties——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Is Deputy Figgis going to speak on this question?


[1126] AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: He spoke before.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: I spoke on the Financial Statement only.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: No. The Deputy asserted his right to speak on the main question, and he spoke on it.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: I do not recall doing so, if that is your recollection. I think I only spoke once; that was on the Financial Statement.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: I endeavoured to make myself clear on this point before, I think, on three occasions. The Minister for Finance made a statement on the Motion now before us. Deputy Figgis moved the adjournment of the debate and made a speech which was a speech on the motion. It would have been impossible for anybody to have made a speech on the Financial Statement. One can only speak on a motion or an amendment, as Deputy Figgis is well aware. At that time I asked Deputy Figgis whether he would give way to the mover of an amendment. He desired to speak on the main question, and he has spoken upon it.

Mr. GOREY: I think I will have to begin where I intended to leave off. The Minister for Agriculture has made a very interesting speech, as he always does, but he has a knack of saying only what suits his point of view and of leaving out the facts and figures that might tell against him. We are used to that class of speech from the Minister, and he has let us have one this evening. He has given us the index figure of farmers' produce — 40 per cent.; he gave us the index figures of taxation, what I will call the index figures of subsistence, broadly, labour and freights, and he has made a statement on the assumption that these things, entitled the channels of export and import, were at our disposal. Were they? Have they been for the last two or three years, or for the last three or four months? One would have imagined that the Minister for Agriculture was dealing with a normal position and that there was no interference with the business of agriculture. Had we facilities for export and [1127] import? Had we facilities to our markets to which we export 75 per cent. of our produce? What did the Government do to secure these facilities? It may be said that it was only the Government's business to keep order, but did they keep order? I pay them the tribute of saying they did their best to keep order as far as they could, but order was not sufficient. Order is not all that this nation requires. We wanted the channels and the arteries of the nation kept open, and they were shut. The Minister's figures are absolutely useless in the absence of economic liberty. We have not economic liberty, and the Minister's statement was made on the assumption that we had. The agricultural industry in England is depressed; the agricultural industry of the world is depressed, but how much more depressed was the agricultural industry of this country, the country that could not get away a ton of its produce or one of its beasts for three or four months. They are here now, almost within a few days of Christmas, when the value of any decent beast has been reduced and it has deteriorated to the extent of £4, £5, or £6, by at least one hundredweight, no matter what food they got and regardless altogether of any deterioration in the market in the meantime. I am not talking at all about the amount of food they consumed during that period.

The Minister tells us that it is an extremely difficult thing to interfere with trade, to interfere with the distribution of milk and the sale of the other commodities for the subsistence of our people in the City, but the thing they could and should have done was to establish the means of keeping open the arteries of the nation. At the last moment the farmers and those interested in the cattle trade opened an artery for one particular item, but it should not have been left to any section of the community, and a small section at that, to do so. It should have been done by the Government. I will come back to this later, because I took notes. I suppose I will weary the Dáil, but I will risk that. Deputy Good gave us a very clear statement about pre-war and present day figures with regard to wages. One thing [1128] Deputy Good and Deputy Johnson, and others who have talked on this question, have omitted. They have been very clear about their figures in regard to wages, but they never said a word about the work done for the wages, either here, in Copenhagen, in England or anywhere else.

Mr. JOHNSON: It cannot be measured.

Mr. GOREY: I am sorry Deputy Good did not tell us the output in Dublin and the output in Copenhagen. I am sorry he did not tell us the number of bricks usually laid in the trade in Dublin and the amount laid in Copenhagen, in England, and America, and the return that a bricklayers' labourer gives for the wage he receives. I think I could, if I wanted, express the real opinion of the provinces, and the provinces know a little about this question and what Dublin means to the rest of Ireland. The opinion held of those engaged in industries and the building and other trades in Dublin is that the industrial community of Dublin is largely a community of parasites living on the backs of the rest of the nation. A good many people suggest that Dublin ought to be handed over to the Six-counties, or taken away out of Ireland altogether. When Deputy Johnson was addressing the Dáil he made statements that I either did not understand, or if I did, I take considerable exception to them. He made a statement of which I must take some note, that “peace was hampered by disagreements.” He also expressed sorrow that employers are hampering prosperity. I think the exact words were that “the active agents in promoting disagreements are not the men but the employers.” The people I represent are largely employers. I do not think he intended to exempt them from coming under the heading “employers,” and when he says we were largely “active agents in promoting disagreements” he stated what to my mind was not a fact, to put it very mildly — I could use another word but I refrain from doing so. He also pleads for a recognition of facts, and I think he was very eloquent on that. Now I pleaded for a recognition of facts, and I want to come down to the [1129] ground with Deputy Johnson. I will not go into the question as it affects Dublin or industry generally, but I will go into it as it affects agriculture. What facts has Deputy Johnson produced to justify his assertion that the farming employers were the active agents in promoting disagreements and hampering prosperity? What, I think, Deputy Johnson did when he asked for a recognition of facts was to ignore them himself, and I think he showed considerable wisdom in that. Here are some facts in connection with this question. The agricultural wage in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridge, and the great agricultural centres of England, was arrived at last year after a strike by a recognition of facts by both parties, and that wage was fixed at 25/- a week. I could bring in other side lines if I choose. I could bring in the fact that the Irish labourers in the rural areas live in a cottage and have an acre of ground at one shilling, and perhaps less, a week.

A DEPUTY: A half-acre.

Mr. GOREY: I know of no case where a half-acre is still in existence. This gentleman must not live in the country. I will not go into these small details, as I would be only wearying the Dáil, but does anybody want to contrast the resources of Norfolk and Cambridge and Lincolnshire, and the other great English agricultural districts, with the resources of this country? Do you want to contrast the size of the farms there and their size here? In England you have huge areas owned by one man; here you have small scraps where a man has to make his living and pay his way. Has that contrast been made, and has the contrast been made between the cost of transit in this country and the English centres of agriculture? Has any contrast been made of the proximity to markets? These are facts, and why have they been omitted? No contrast has been made of the output of work here and there. Everybody has been silent about these facts. Another most important fact was that one man here, with the assistance of a few select Bolshevik followers like himself, has for months held up the whole trade of our ports. That is a fact that has not been mentioned. [1130] I wish to be candid with Deputy Johnson and his party. I do not blame Deputy Johnson in any form for the acts of this gentleman and those with him, and I do not hold him responsible for any acts committed by this man or his followers. One fact I cannot shut my eyes to, and there is no use in anyone on the Labour benches or anywhere else shutting their eyes to it, is that this country cannot afford a wage almost 50 per cent. greater than other countries. Wages in Co. Dublin, I understand, to-day are 43/- as compared with 25/- in Norfolk. I wish to say that I do not believe that the farmer or agricultural workman is getting his fair share. I know something of the facts the Minister for Agriculture has stated. I have always contended that the reason the wages of agricultural workers in the provinces are so small is that both farmer and labourer have been robbed, and have allowed themselves to be robbed, by interests engaged outside agriculture. To justify these wages this country should be making 50 per cent. greater profits than they could be making in Cambridgeshire, in the Garden of England, and we should be getting 50 per cent. more output. Has Deputy Johnson dealt with any of these facts? They will obtrude themselves whether we like them or not, and there are other facts that have to be dealt with also, whether we like them or not. There is no use in going up with our politicians and living in the clouds. The great non-productive occupation of Ireland at the present day is politics. I listened to the Governor-General's Address, and to Deputy Johnson's speech on it, and both struck me as having a great similarity — a lot of talk and very little said. I think the two speeches contained more platitudes than have been contained in any other two speeches. We know Deputy Johnson has the great knack of speaking a lot and saying very little.

Mr. JOHNSON: It takes a long time to reply to it at any rate.

Mr. GOREY: He said one thing, that “if we get more wages we will consider giving more output.” Very good of him to consider it even.

The farmers have been held up as the great enemies of labour. They are [1131] nothing of the sort. It has been well established that the farmers are making no profits at present. The farmer who has to pay wages is running his business at a loss. The only man with a semblance of safety or stability is the man who is running his farm with very little labour, or with his own labour. That can be proved to any person who wishes to see the facts and figures. Nobody would dream of contrasting the income that is derived from farming at present with that of a primary teacher, or the average railwayman, or even the docker. Agriculturalists would be delighted at the present time if they had an income of 15/- per day. We would be solvent.

Mr. JOHNSON: We would be delighted if you had.

Mr. GOREY: We would not be threatened with bankruptcy. I might even mention the Civic Guard as our envy at the moment. That might be news to the Minister for Home Affairs.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Are you thinking of joining?

Mr. GOREY: I am a bit too old. There was a time that I would. Most of all we envy the nicely-placed Government official. He is in a very happy position with a nice income, very short hours, and very little to do. I will not say whether he does it well or ill. If he pleases his Department he will have to please me, for the moment. When we get hold of the Departments it will be a different matter. One thing that Deputy Johnson said I do not think I can subscribe to. He was talking about men selling their produce in the best market, and of a labourer selling his labour in the best market. I quite agree that we should have all those best markets which should be open to the labourer as well as to everybody else who has anything to sell. But I do not think it should be open to anybody to intimidate his fellow man by force or even by combination to force opinions upon him. This is a matter for the Minister for Home Affairs. I have often asked about this question of picketing. I have never been able to get an answer because something or other has intervened. [1132] I saw the Minister one day rising to give an answer, but he was stopped. I hope he will not be stopped now. We have no such thing as peaceful picketing practised. Picketing has been one of the greatest causes of disturbance in this country. If peaceful picketing is to be allowed, let it be peaceful picketing, and let us have it clearly defined. Let us know where peaceful picketing ends and intimidation begins. I have had some experience of strikes in the country, and I have been unable to distinguish this peaceful picketing. I do not think it exists at all. It is intimidation pure and simple, as it is carried out — gross intimidation. I do not think that Deputies on both Opposition Benches would attempt to contradict that. I do not think that any Government, especially a Government like ours, should allow any section of the community to paralyse the whole life of the nation. I think that the people of any nation having any regard for the things that are happening about them, would be foolish if they did not take to heart the lessons of those happenings. We have to compete in foreign markets with the people of other countries, and we had better recognise facts and keep our feet to the ground. It is a foolish gospel to preach that if we give more wages people will be able to buy more. It is foolish to preach that this country should isolate itself and take no notice of what is happening outside. We must take notice; we cannot be a world to ourselves. This is a country that is depending absolutely on outside trade. If we had not that outside trade we would not be here at all. We must take notice of what is happening in other countries and of how agricultural products are produced in other countries. We must take notice of wages, transit, output and other things that affect us. While we are living on this planet we must do as this planet does. If we do not, the only alternative is to go to a better one. If we want to retrieve our position, human effort must be as great in this country, if not greater, than in any other country. I agree with Deputy Johnson that there are too many people living on non-productive employments, or services, as he calls them. Politics [1133] is the most pernicious and the greatest non-productive occupation there is at present. I will not say it is a service— I think dis-service would be better. If we thought more about the things that matter and less about keeping our heads in the clouds, we would do better. We should not be flying kites like the politicians—ladies and gentlemen— who are making a very good living apparently by doing nothing except going round the country preaching and creating turmoil. Our farmers have to compete in a market where income tax is less than it is here — that is when we can get to that market. It is the duty of the Government to see that we do get there.

I want to draw the attention of the Ministry to this question. All the liabilities of the agricultural community are at present owing to the nation. We owe income tax, indirectly we owe local taxation, annuities, money in lieu of rent, arrears and other things. If the Government cannot give us free and open channels for our trade, what is the position? It is our duty to discharge all the liabilities that we owe to the State. Has the Government discharged its duty? Let us consider the duty of the State to the citizens. It is the duty of the State to secure personal and economic liberty. There is no use talking of personal liberty if we cannot have economic liberty. There is no use talking to a man about what he can do if he has an empty stomach. If the citizen must discharge his duties, the State must discharge its duty, and I suggest seriously to the Government, that if there are any more strikes, or any more attempts to get hold of the key industries of the country, such as the ports and the railways, it is their duty to set up a State organisation which could be done and manned within twenty-four hours.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: Nationalisation?

Mr. GOREY: No, we will give our services voluntarily if the Government does its part. Commandeer the vessels and the railways and we will run them. The State has assumed the collection of these liabilities, and should therefore do its duty. The Minister for Agriculture [1134] has talked about all these things, but he omitted the great fact that as the arteries of the nation were not open to the farmer, who it was stated was getting forty per cent. more for his produce, he was getting nothing at all. There is no use telling that to people when eggs, fowl, cattle, butter and pigs were held up—even the poor man's pig was held up. I know fishermen engaged in the South of Ireland whose boxes of salmon were left on the quays at Waterford until the fish were rotten. These men had to cease fishing because a few dictators held up the life of the country, and because the Government did not do the right thing. That may amuse some Deputies, but the Government did not do the right thing.

There is another question that I wish to deal with — the question of the dole. I know nothing more degrading in our national life than the giving of the dole. The chronic type of man it has bred makes a most undesirable citizen. I prefer to see every man out of employment given constructive work on roads, reclamation, forestry, drainage —anything at all—and pay him the equivalent of the dole for useful work. It would prevent men from becoming demoralised and would make them realise that they were doing something for the money they got. If I were to repeat some of the stories of the methods adopted in the country to qualify for the dole, I would occupy the time of the Dáil for hours. There should be no such thing as a dole. It is a most degrading and demoralising thing, and in its place something should be done towards providing work of a constructive character, such as road making. If reconstructive work was provided it would help to reclaim a man who has become almost a degenerate. The man who was in receipt of the dole two or three years ago, it will be found, is still in receipt of it, and will continue to look for it. Machinery should be set up to deal with this question. We want work for money. Nobody with any spirit wants a continuance of the present system. How to deal with the chronic individual who will not work — and there is such a man —I do not know. It would take an [1135] Act of Parliament of forty or fifty sections to deal with that type. Railway rates have been mentioned and have been dealt with by Deputy Wilson. Contrast English and Irish railway rates, and what do you find? The trade of this country is hampered but not altogether by railway freights. I will give you a case in point. I bought five cattle recently in Tralee, which the Minister for Fisheries knows very well. I put the cattle on rail for Kilkenny, and when they reached Kilkenny I had to pay £6 8s. 7d. for the half-wagon. The actual result was that I owned four of the cattle, and that the railway company, or Deputy Davin's people owned the other animal.

Mr. HOGAN: Very cheap cattle!

Mr. GOREY: They were good Kerries.

Mr. HOGAN: You had a good profit.

Mr. GOREY: Deputy Davin's people took one animal and I took the four others. That is what it amounted to.

The building trade has been referred to, but as Deputy Good dealt with it, and as I have already spoken on the subject, I will not pursue the matter. I want to talk about a question that concerns us in the country, and that is the maintenance of trunk roads. The trunk roads should be a State charge, and the sooner they are made one the better.

Twenty or thirty years ago the present system could be justified, but it cannot be justified now. The present system of locomotion and heavy motor traffic has revolutionised all that, and to do justice to the community all our trunk roads should be made by the State. I ask the Minister for Local Government to take a note of that. I do not know that he can act very well without the rest of the Cabinet, and in his absence I ask the rest of the Cabinet to take a note of it. I think, and all who think about the matter must agree with me, that our trunk roads should be made by the State and they ought to be made a State charge. Some Deputy referred to security for enterprise and security for brains. Is there any security for brains and enterprise in this country [1136] at the moment? Very little. I think that this country is remarkable at the moment for insecurity for brains and insecurity for enterprise. One thing I will say here, and I think I may say it to the people outside, and it is meant for the people outside, that the nation as a whole has got into the spending habit. I have got into that habit myself; I am sure we have all got into the same habit. The big monies of the war years have not yet gone out of our heads. During the war, when profits were high and money was plentiful, we got into the habit of thinking in terms of pounds where we used to think in terms of shillings before. We have not got out of that, either in public Departments or private life yet. Neither individually nor as a State have we got out of the habit. The sooner we go back and think in terms of “bobs” instead of pounds the better. I remember the time when a shilling represented a lot to me. Our people in their private capacity must get back into thinking in terms of shillings and pence, and get out of their heads thinking in pounds and in fivers. Things are changed, and I hope I will set an example myself. I do not intend to back any dogs this year.

There is one thing that struck me particularly in this debate on the Address, and that is, some references that were made to the cause of strikes. Deputy Johnson told us that the employers were active agents in promoting strikes, and Deputy Davin said it was the profiteers that caused them. Well, between the employers and the profiteers I will leave it to them; but it is very funny that there are two divergent views on the Labour benches on this matter. Now which is it? Which is it, the employers or the profiteers? Deputy Davin said Irish freights are high and that Irish freights are killing Irish trade. What is the cause of high freights? What is the cause that our Irish railway companies have those high freights? Is it not because their running expenses must be balanced by their freight charges?


Mr. GOREY: My answer is that their system is run at too high a cost. I do not care what that is due to, whether [1137] it is the Directors or whether it is to having too many men. See the different balance sheets of these railway companies. Do they show profits? Do they show a good business concern? Their balance sheets are there to peruse. There are too many high overhead charges on these railways. There is too much of the eight hours' day system in Ireland. Ireland cannot afford an eight hours' system on its railways. Again, we want to recognise facts and come to the bottom of things. I can understand an eight hours' system in England. I can understand it in big industrial centres here. But an eight hours' system applied down the provinces and down on rural lines is ridiculous. I do not think it could obtain in any country but this, a country that for the past few years has been remarkable for its madness. Deputy Davin is not right when he tells you it is the high freights charged by the railways. He has not put his finger on the evil. Our railway freights are caused by the eight hour system and the cost of labour. He did not tell us the cause of the high freights, but the sooner Deputies recognise that cause the better. If those railway companies cannot run their business on economic lines they must charge higher freights, they must put on higher passenger rates. This thing must be settled. Freights must come down and overhead charges must come down, and if they do not come down the railways cannot run. Now I think I occupied the Dáil long enough, and I want to finish, but when the Minister for Agriculture is making a speech again he ought to be mindful of all these facts and not be giving us some of the facts. When he talks about our obligations in the future and about what we owe to the State, and we do owe the State obligations, I hope he will be mindful of what the State owes us, and that we will have free transit, free markets, and free methods to get there.

Mr. THOMAS NAGLE: Deputy Gorey asked a request of Deputy Johnson. He wanted to know did Deputy Johnson include the farmers when he said the employers had done something to hamper the arrangements made. I do not know whether Deputy Johnson included the farmers or not, but I [1138] would be willing to include them in a statement of that kind. I know quite well that the action of the farmers of Ireland in the past has certainly hampered agreements, and certainly prevented agreements being arrived at.

Mr. GOREY: May I ask if they broke any bowls of farmers' separators?

Mr. NAGLE: We will deal with that later. Deputy Gorey now talks about the necessity for economising, and incidentally mentions that during the war years profits were high and money plentiful. Now in speaking of the fact that profits were high and money plentiful, the Chairman of the Farmers' Party makes an admission. I know of very many cases in the south of Ireland where there were some farmers who had large profits, and plenty of money, and who refused, until they were compelled by the British Courts and the R.I.C., to pay the then legal minimum wage that had been established by the Wages Board. I have one or two instances in my mind at the present time of which Deputy Gorey might know more about than I do. I remember attending a meeting of the farmers attached to the Mullinavat Branch of the Farmers' Union, and they admitted that they had not paid their labourers the minimum wage. They claimed that they did not intend to pay them, and that they would do their very best to avoid having to pay the legal minimum wage. Now that one instance alone is one of many, and it proves conclusively to me that the farmers as employers did something by their action then to prevent agreements being arrived at in the future. Because when men are forced to compel others to deal fairly with them, they are very chary of entering into agreements, knowing that the others would avail of every opportunity to break them.

Mr. GOREY: Did they break the agreement at Mullinavat?

Mr. NAGLE: They did, of course.

Mr. GOREY: They never did, and they never will.

Mr. NAGLE: The Deputy talks about output, and incidentally mentioned the eight hours day. If the farm [1139] labourers in the past did not give a good output, God alone knows who did, because, until comparatively recent years, farm labourers used to work from daylight until dark, and very often they worked during the dark hours. The wages they were paid in return for the long hours they worked were very low indeed. The labourer then would not require to imbibe very much of Guinness' stout, even at the old price, in order to get rid of all he would have to spend at the end of the week. Deputy Baxter talked about the closing of the ports, and he wanted to know who is to blame. He did not suggest that anyone was to blame. Deputy Gorey suggested that the workers were to blame because they went on strike. For the benefit of Deputy Baxter and Deputy Gorey, and others who think like them, let me explain the position of the workers then, and on all occasions, when they go on strike.

The workers who work for wages have a certain commodity to sell, just the same as the farmers have certain commodities to dispose of at fairs or markets. The workers have their labour powers and their abilities as workers. If they cannot get the price they demand at a particular time, and they refuse to sell, they refuse to sell by going on strike. It was suggested by farmer Deputies that Government should compel them to work.

Mr. GOREY: Nothing of the sort.

Mr. NAGLE: If that were done by the Government, it would be equally sensible to ask the Government to compel farmers to sell cattle at whatever prices would be prevailing, rather than that they should bring back the cattle to their homes because they might be dissatisfied with the prices offered.

Mr. GOREY: On a point of personal explanation, I never suggested that the Government should take sides for or against any party. I suggested they should keep the ports and traffic channels open and let these people fight it out amongst themselves.

Mr. NAGLE: It amounts to practically the same thing. I was very interested in the statement of the Minister [1140] for Agriculture regarding the reasons for the bad conditions of the farming community at present. He pointed out certain things that can be done to improve those conditions. About two years ago, and for some time before that, I remember attending very many meetings of branches of the Farmers' Union in the South of Ireland, and at those meeting complaints were made about the small prices farmers were getting for potatoes, milk, oats, cattle and other things they had to sell. I suggested on a number of occasions that if they brought their commodities, which they sold for consumption in Ireland, and sold them direct to the consumers, they would be able to sell them at a smaller price than the consumers were then paying, and at the same time they would get a larger price than they themselves were getting. Then they would be able to pay the agricultural labourer more decently and have a larger profit themselves.

In practically all instances where we discussed those things, the farmers agreed it was a way out of some of their difficulties, but in no case, however, did they take practical steps to get out of those difficulties. One individual had a rather peculiar objection; he wanted to know if they adopted a system of cooperatively marketing the goods they produced, what would become of the poor shop-keepers. I told him I did not care what would become of the poor shopkeepers. I think the same attitude should be adopted here in Dublin. I quite agree with the suggestion of the Minister for Agriculture that milk should be sold direct in Dublin. I can understand that the farmers would get more than they get at present, and at the same time the people in the city would get a better quality of milk at a considerably reduced price. I go further and I say that all the fruit and vegetables and other things that are produced on the farms and sold to citizens in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere should be sold direct from a large store by a co-operative organisation of the farmers and farm labourers who produce those things.

Deputy Good mentioned something about wages in the building trades, and he compared Deputy Johnson's figures as between Copenhagen and [1141] Dublin. He admitted the wages in Copenhagen were about equal to the Dublin wages, and he pointed out that in Dublin there was a greater increase on the pre-war wage than there had been in Copenhagen. He argued from that that the wages in the Dublin building trades should now come down. Deputy Gorey suggested that the Minister for Agriculture presented the facts he had in a way to suit his own case. We all do things like that. Deputy Good argues that because the Dublin workers in the building trades have had a greater percentage of increase in wages than the workers in Copenhagen, they are now due for a reduction. I argue they are due for a continuance of their present wages, longer even than the Copenhagen workers, in order to make up for the comparatively smaller wages they had in pre-war days. Deputy Good agreed there should be more co-operation between employers and employees, and he stated that in April a request was made by the Dublin Master Builders' Association to get a conference with representatives of the workers in the building trades with the object of bringing down wages, and that the workers refused to go into the conference. The Deputy appears to think that that was wrong on their part. I think they were right and perfectly justified.

If the organised workers suggested to a group of employers that they wanted a conference to consider the question of increasing wages, if the employers thought they were in a good position to ignore the request, they would not have a conference. If Deputy Good and the members of the Master Builders' Association had asked a Conference to consider the whole question of the building trades and its relationship, say to the production of houses for Dublin citizens; if they stated they were willing to allow some people, accountants or technical experts, to consult with representatives of both parties, and if they would be willing to consider the whole question regarding output and wages and profits as related to the present housing shortage and to make some sacrifices, if necessary on condition that the others would make sacrifices in the [1142] interests of housing the people of Dublin, then I have not the slightest doubt the men in the building trades would enter the conference. I have no doubt those men would have little respect for themselves if they openly walked into a conference to have their wages reduced without they or some one else getting some return. We have not heard very much about the price of building materials now as compared with 1914, although we heard a lot about wages in the building trades.

We do not know exactly what profits are made in the distribution of building materials. Some of the building contractors in Dublin and elsewhere are also financially interested in some of the firms that import building materials, and I can quite conceive, if I was in the same position, that I would not like the profits of these firms to be reduced, even though by reducing their profits I might make more as a building contractor. No doubt it would be the same to me so long as I made it in the aggregate. The Minister for Agriculture suggested that we should discuss all the points — not merely the points in which we are directly interested, but all the points, from the employers' side as well as our own. I think if the employers in the building trade want a reduction in wages they should be willing to put all their cards on the table and to submit their books to examination, together with a full account of their profits. Another Deputy talked about the wages paid to the building trade in Dublin and in Ireland and England, and in the different towns in Ireland, and he suggested that the building contractors in Dublin could not compete with building contractors elsewhere, simply because the building contractors elsewhere are paying a lesser rate of wages. I understand — of course, I am open to correction if I am wrong — that in the early part of 1921 Deputy Good carried out a fair-sized contract in Cork City, and that on that occasion the wages paid in Cork City were less than the wages paid to similar tradesmen in Dublin City. I used this as an argument on one occasion against a reduction of the building trade wages in Cork City. I pointed out it was not so much a difference in wages that existed as a difference in methods, and [1143] that Dublin firms had to pay more because of different methods, and therefore that you could not blame the wages in Dublin being higher than in Cork.

The Minister for Agriculture talked about the wages of distributive trades, and he said that most of the distributive workers and employers in the country were really a burden upon the agricultural community. Now, I have some figures here regarding the costs in the distributive trade, and in the first instance I would like to mention that, for every 100/- spent by the wage-earning family on household requirements, about 60/- is expended on goods not produced in Ireland. An average of about 5/6 is paid for rent, leaving about 34/6 as the amount expended on goods produced in Ireland. Of 60/- expended on goods imported, the wages paid for their transport and preparation (that is, bread from imported flour) and distribution, will account for not more than 20/- —probably considerably less. Of the 34/6 spent on goods produced in Ireland, almost wholly for food-stuffs—that is, beef, mutton, bacon, eggs, milk, potatoes—the wages paid to employed labour in their production and distribution will absorb not more than 10/-. The maximum amount spent as wages in Ireland for their production and distribution amounts to about 30/-. If the men employed in this work were to consent to work for nothing, if there had been discovered a mechanical automatic man who could live without food, and if the whole of the saving were handed over to the consumer in lower prices—an assumption not warranted by precedent— the goods which the working man's household now purchases at a cost of 100/- would be reduced only to 70/-. Suppose that it were possible to enforce a general all-round reduction in wages of 20 per cent., what would be the effect upon the working man's family budget? Hitherto the man who has been paid £4 a week in wages and has spent that £4 in the manner of the average family expenditure, as shown in the Cost of Living Report, 20 per cent. reduction would find his wages reduced by 16/-, that is, to 64/-.

Assuming, further, that all the saving [1144] in wages were handed on to the consumer by the lowering of the retail prices, 20 per cent. taken off wages would secure a reduction in prices of only six per cent.; that is one-fifth of thirty per cent. In other words, the goods which hitherto cost eighty shillings could then be obtained for 75/3. Unfortunately the workman who could hitherto purchase 80/- worth of goods with 80/- wages, would then have only 64/- in wages to purchase the 75/3 worth of goods. A reduction of money wages of 16/- leaves him worse off in real wages by 11/3. In other words, the purchasing power of his wages has fallen 14 per cent.

Now, that proves, to me, at any rate, that a reduction in wages will not give a reduction in proportion to the cost of living, and most of the employers who have been talking about a need for a reduction of wages recently are claiming that they must be reduced in order to reduce the cost of living. Now, the workers have resisted these wage cuts as much as they possibly can, and they intend to continue resisting these wage cuts. They do not claim they are not responsible for the conduct of the employers in this country. So long as the employers were able to carry on their industry and make their profits, they did so without consulting the workers, and were always willing to do so, and the workers claim now, when the employers find themselves in a tight place, they want the workers to come along and help them out, but the workers are not justified in making any sacrifices in helping them out. But I say this for the workers; if the whole question were thoroughly gone into, and it was decided by agreement between the propertied classes and the employers on the one side, and the non-propertied classes and the workers on the other, that a return should be given to the people of this country in proportion to the services they render in producing the necessaries and the luxuries of life for the country, then I say that the working classes and those who are responsible for the organised working classes in this country, would be quite willing to abide by any agreement arrived at on those lines, but they are certainly not going to make any sacrifices [1145] in having a reduction of wages, so long as they see that that reduction is to go to swell the profits of any set of employers in this country. But, on the other hand, if it is to be a question of co-operation between all parties, with equal sacrifices and equal rewards in proportion for services rendered, then I say that the workers are willing to do anything that it is possible to do to bring about stable conditions in this country.

Mr. CONLAN: I agree with Deputy Gorey, when he says that the speech of the Minister for Agriculture was an interesting one. I think, however, it might have been more sympathetic. Another thing that struck me in the course of the debate was this: the remarkable exodus of the Government's supporters from the Government benches during the time when this most important subject was being debated, the most important subject which has come before the Dáil since it opened in the present Session. I understand that many of these supporters of the Government belong to the despised class known as the farmers, and whether they are trying to conceal their identity, or whether the cold chain of silence has been flung over them, and that they are, perforce, bound to remain inarticulate whilst a question so closely affecting their own interests is being debated, I do not know. Passing from that, I propose to give some figures in reply to those which we have had from the Minister of Agriculture. He stated that prices for agricultural produce, as compared with pre-war prices, were 40 per cent. in excess. I think that that was altogether an exaggerated estimate. I find from transactions, which I can vouch for as being made personally by myself, that in pre-war days the price of beef per cwt., live weight, was 35s.; at present the price for very prime qualities is 42s., and for secondary sorts the prices range from 35s. to 38s. Barley, pre-war, was 16s. per barrel, and at present the selling price is from 18s. to 20s.; oats, pre-war, realised about 12s. per barrel, and about the same price is being paid to-day; wool was 1s. per lb. before the war, and it is much the same price at [1146] present. At present milk is quoted at 10d. per gallon.

Mr. HOGAN: Could you give us the price for mutton?

Mr. CONLAN: I do not think I could give the exact figure for mutton, because it is not sold by weight, but the sheep are sold at so much a head, and it is difficult, without having access to market returns, to show what the price of mutton is. Probably mutton is something dearer than beef, in proportion.

Mr. HOGAN: Beef is 45 per cent. higher, and mutton 70 per cent.

Mr. CONLAN: I do not quite agree with the Minister in that figure.

Mr. GOREY: The Minister is a mutton farmer, and he knows.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Does Deputy Gorey suggest that the Minister is minding his own muttons?

Mr. CONLAN: There is practically no change in the price of milk as compared with pre-war. A neighbour of mine is delivering fresh milk, free on rail, at 9d. per gallon to the Lucan Dairy Company. What the Lucan Dairy people charge for the milk, when they retail it, I do not know; but probably, as the Minister for Agriculture said, they charge about 2s. 6d. per gallon. Horses have gone down in price about 100 per cent., and probably more. I heard of a farmer at a fair a couple of days ago who was offered only £1 for a fairly decent animal.

With regard to the steps suggested to be taken by the Minister for Agriculture to meet the situation with a view to reducing the cost of living, these steps might be effected near large centres such as Dublin, where the populace, and the poor people especially, are suffering so much from the extortion of prices at the instance of vendors and middlemen. But, taking the situation in the country at large, I do not think the steps proposed to be taken by the Minister would provide an effective remedy. I think the Minister will have to take more heroic measures. We see at present that the great Conservative Party in England is going to the polls on the question of Protection, and that [1147] it is offering the farmers in England eleven million pounds, or at the rate of £1 per acre for every acre of agricultural land. We have seen that the Government in Northern Ireland, in the Six Counties, is allocating £128,000 in aid of agricultural rates. Unfortunately, we have got nothing like that from our own Government, and, as everybody knows, the local rates especially are most oppressive. The Minister has put down the increase at 150 per cent. in the amount of rates. So far as I am aware, the figure is very much higher in certain counties. Certainly, in the County Kildare the rate is 9/6 in the pound, and the local rates fixed by the County Council have jumped up from £32,000 to £72,000 per annum.

With very large claims for income tax coming after that, it is easy to understand that in a season like the present, when the farmer has so much difficulty in disposing of his produce, even at the present depressed prices, how hard it is for him to meet his engagements, much harder than it has been for him at any period within the last 20 years. Men who are lucky enough to have some capital or money laid by have been living on their capital, but the unfortunate people who have no capital have gone back again to the old position they were in years ago of pulling the devil by the tail. I hope that the Government will consider this question carefully. It has been asserted, and admitted on all hands, that the industry of agriculture is practically the sole one that we have, and if that goes down the rest of the country goes down as a matter of course.

Sir JAMES CRAIG: This debate has dragged along to a very inordinate extent, but I do not propose to occupy the time of the Dáil very long. I desire, at the outset, to congratulate the Minister for Agriculture on the clear way in which he approached this subject. On the question of the cost of living, I think he went further than was indicated in the Governor-General's speech, because I gathered from that speech that the Government only meant to hold the ring, but the Minister in his speech to-day went further and suggested that the Government may have to step [1148] in. More than a year ago I gave some figures which corresponded almost exactly with the figures given by the Minister to-day. I stated at the time something about the prices of different articles. I also said that a Commission on Prices would not be very effective and would not do much good, and that turned out to be the case. A Commission on Prices was set up, and I can say that I spent more time in connection with the work of that Commission than I have ever spent on anything in my life. There was very little result from that Commission. I had hoped that, perhaps, the Commission on Prices Report would be discussed here at some time, so that some of us might be able to give an expression of opinion with regard to matters that cropped up during the sittings of the Commission. I regret to say that prices are practically the same to-day as what they were at the time that we discussed the appointment of that Commission.

There is one point that I want to lay particular stress on. It was alluded to by the Minister for Agriculture, and also by the Deputy here on my left. I refer to the price charged for milk. There is no doubt whatever that milk can be delivered at Amiens Street or Westland Row station at 1/- per gallon. That does not say that the poor farmer who produces it gets a 1/-; he only gets 9d. or 10d. per gallon after paying the cost of sending it on rail to Dublin. The point is that the milk is retailed in Dublin at 2/8 per gallon, or 8d. per quart in the majority of cases when distributed through the city. It was stated at the Commission on Prices that the cost of distribution was 2d. per quart. After the distributor of the milk pays 3d. per quart for the milk, and puts 2d. per quart on for its distribution, he still has more of a profit than the farmer who produces the milk. I hope, in particular, that this question of the milk supply will be taken up by the Government, because the Commission on Prices recommended that a second Commission should be appointed with power to compel people to give evidence, which we on the original Commission were not able to get. I would like just for a moment to refer to the question [1149] of porter and stout. It is an extraordinary thing to find that a half-pint of stout can be supplied in a glass for 6d., and that when that half-pint is put into a bottle and poured out into a glass, a person has to pay 8d. for it. Of course, in the meantime a cork has been put into the bottle, and I suppose the 2d. extra is charged for the price of the cork and the putting in of it. There were other figures put before us which I would be very pleased to put before the Dáil, but I do not desire to take up the time of Deputies with them at the moment.

I must say that the evidence given to us by the publicans was disgraceful, and the greater part of it was quite untrue. As regards the question of cabbage, I was particularly interested in that from the point of view of food, because it is most essential to the life of children that they should be supplied with fresh vegetables. Cabbage bought at ¼d. a piece in the market, cost the consumer 2d. in the majority of cases. At all events we had evidence, and you could get evidence if you go to the market, that 60 dozen of cabbage for which the producer is paid from 15/- to 17/6., the consumer will pay from £8 to £10.

As regards coal, evidence was given of the extraordinarily extravagant price which the poor people have to pay for coal by buying it by the stone or sack. We could get no help from the coal merchants on that matter. Deputy Good has stated that these are matters which should be inquired into, but the people who represent the commercial interests would, give us no help in the matter. One gentleman came and the only thing he stated was that there was no ring to keep up the present prices, but I do not think that anybody believed him. He would give no information as to the price of coal at the pit mouth or any information that would help us to find out whether there was an excessive profit on coal when it was distributed. I, therefore, have listened with great interest to the speech of the Minister for Agriculture and I hope the Government will not allow the matter to slide without further inquiry.

Mr. M. DOYLE: I was pleased to [1150] hear the expressions of the Minister for Agriculture regarding agriculture and the curtailing of profiteering which is going on at present. To my mind a lot of party bickering has been introduced into the debate within the last hour or two, and I do not think that this bickering will be conducive to carrying out the measures laid down by the Minister to try and combat profiteering and reduce the prices in the fashion he contemplated. I hope that this scheme of mutual consent and good will on all sides will be a success, but I have the gravest reasons to doubt it. The profiteers will not be as easily got into this scheme of mutual consent as the Minister believes. I do not see anything for it except the Government stepping in, as the Minister said they would do, if mutual goodwill proved a failure. The key industry of the country must not be let down, as the Minister said, not even if the Government should step in. It will be incumbent on the Government to step in because this mutual goodwill to which the Minister has alluded will not, in my opinion, ever materialise. We all know the royal time that everyone has had out of the products of farming for the past two or three years, except the farmer himself. Distribution of prices is one of the real grievances and causes of depression in agriculture at present. The farmer and agricultural labourer are not getting what will pay their way, or even what will pay their debts, out of the industry — they who are putting their sweat and toil into the production of these articles. Take the brewer — what is he reaping from the industry? He is reaping such profits that he does not know how to dispose of them. Take the man who follows him — the retailer in Dublin or the provinces. These people can afford to pay from £18,000 to £20,000 for retail houses. They are not doing that from a philanthropic point of view, but rather from a profitable point of view so as to make still more money out of the products of the farmer and the agricultural labourer. If we had these prices distributed fairly, as they should be, between the producer, the man who manufactured the product and who puts it on the market, and the other people we would be fairly well off and [1151] in a much better position than we are. I fear the Government must step in, as this mutual goodwill business will not do anything for us. The sooner the Minister for Agriculture sees his way to put into operation clause 14 of the Governor-General's speech and brings in legislation the better. This is the only ameliorative clause in the whole speech as far as agriculture is concerned. I will be pleased to see the Government and the Minister do that. If the mutual goodwill business is not a success they should bring this measure in at once.

Mr. CORISH: As this debate has been long drawn out, my contribution to it will be small. The Governor-General's speech deals with the question of unemployment. I think the Deputies who were members of the last Dáil will be familiar with the phrase of ex-Deputy Whelehan in introducing the late unemployment measure. I think it is agreed that the Unemployment Act was passed on the assumption that trade would have improved in the month of August. So far as I can see, the functions and implications of this Act prevent genuine workers from receiving unemployment benefit. I am not here to advocate the dole system or that any but bona fide workers should receive unemployment benefit. This is how the workers are affected by the present Act. A man would have to have twelve weeks employment during the last benefit year to entitle him to draw benefit. In the case of Wexford town I can tell how it operates. The Unemployment Act came into operation in 1912. From that period to 1920 the men in Pierce's foundry, which employs anything from 600 to 800, were working constantly, and had stamped cards for all that period. Now, because trade has been bad for the last two years, the majority of these men who are walking the streets, but who are genuine workers, are disqualified from drawing benefit under this Act. I would like to know from the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he intends to amend that Act so that genuine workers who cannot procure work would receive some relief.

In England and Northern Ireland at [1152] the moment, I understand, the dole system, as it was introduced in 1918, is still in existence. As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Labour in the Northern Government has done away with the gap system altogether, so the men in Northern Ireland draw continuous benefit. I know economy must be practised in the Free State, but everyone will admit that a genuine worker in time of stress should receive some consideration from the State, especially when he has contributed for at least 8 years. In the same paragraph in the Governor-General's speech the question of housing is mentioned, and I have listened with great attention to the speeches of Deputies Gorey and Good on this important question. I believe it is necessary that there should be a general understanding between the workers and the contractors of the Free State in order to solve this important matter in the building trade. I hope in the near future that the Government will endeavour to bring the different interests together, with a view to going into the whole thing, and approaching the question as an economic problem. This is the only way to get a great number of houses built in this country. I would ask for a statement from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or a representative, as to what the intentions of the Government are regarding the genuine worker, and also the housing question.

SEÁN MAC GIOBÚIN: O's rud é gur ab é seo an céad am a táim chun labhairt annso, tá súil agam ná thuitfhid ar chluasa bodhra. Tá cupla focal lé rádh agam ar an dtalámh agus ar na boithre iarainn agus ní comeádfhad i bhfad sibh.

Such Deputies as have just preceded me have truly said that this debate has dragged its weary length along. I am not going to carry on that debate unduly. The many instructive speeches on the Governor-General's Address convey to me, at least, that all sections of the community must be willing to bear their fair share of the inevitable sacrifice if the large task of the desideratum of the economic equilibrium is to be restored and established. A Deputy from the Farmers' benches a few moments ago castigated unworthily and [1153] unnecessarily those who represent Cumann na nGaedheal and particularly farmer Deputies who sit in the Government benches. There are in Cumann na nGaedheal many farmers, and I happen to be one of these. While I subscribe to the National question as being of more importance than any class interest, I yield to no one in the interests of the community to which I belong.

I had intended referring at length and going into detail on many matters arising out of the Governor-General's Address, but it is unnecessary for me now, particularly after the summary of the Minister for Agriculture, and the speeches of the farmer Deputies. However, I wish briefly to refer to a few matters. His Excellency foreshadows in his speech to the Dáil legislative proposals dealing with agriculture, and with the re-organisation of our railway systems. I couple agriculture and railways because they are, or should be, closely linked. His Excellency invites our attention to the establishment of a national brand for butter of high standard, to the question of grading of eggs, and the improvement of breeds of cattle. These are all matters of interest. But, comparatively, they are, at the moment, trifles. I ask all parties in the Dáil to consider the present position of the farmer — I mean the working farmer — he who represents the stability, security, thrift, industry, and progress in the community. He is carrying on through the existing depression by drawing on little savings of the past, and notwithstanding the statement of the Minister for Agriculture I say the small farmer is in a more pitiful plight than the large one. He has nothing in the way of capital to draw on. His reserves are eaten up and are nonexistent, and he is falling into the hands of the gombeen man. For him the rainy day, so to speak, has come, and as far as one can see it is likely to be, like the proverbial Scotch mist, of prolonged duration. Whatever may be said of farming, good, bad and indifferent, agriculture is our chief industry. For the past two years it has not been a paying proposition; and with the development of Canadian and other resources, it may not become a [1154] paying proposition for many a day. How are we to assist? Associated with this question of agriculture is the question of emigration. Well, there are hundreds of thousands of young persons in the country awaiting the opportunity of emigrating. Agriculture, with its present gloomy outlook, has no attraction for them. Gentlemen, is it not possible to make it more attractive, and at once? To this end, could not the Government begin at once by cheapening transport? We have one of the costliest systems of transport in the world. Our railways are controlled privately; they are out of the track of trade, and our principal port would appear to be controlled by reactionaries. This question of transit affects farming interests vitally.

A gentleman giving evidence before the Railway Commission in 1907 stated:

“Irish farmers, traders, and manufacturers are not only afflicted with rates that are exceptionally high, but they are also made to suffer from an iniquitous system of preferential rates, and the spectacle is daily presented of meat from America, dairy produce from Denmark, fruit and vegetables from France, and manufactured goods from Belgium and Germany, being dumped down in Irish markets at half, and sometimes less than a third of the freight charges our own manufacturers have to pay. It was, I believe, stated before the Railway Commission that goods are frequently shipped from the Eastern Seaboard to English and Scottish ports, and thence back to Ireland, for transit to inland towns, in order to get the benefit of through English rates.”

Does that condition of things continue to exist? Even if it continues in a modified form, how are Irish farmers to be compensated for this unfair trading disability? While indulging in no spirit of fault-finding with the Governor-General's Speech, I suggest that this question of transit, with its preferential through rates adverse to Irish farming interests, should be investigated thoroughly and at once, by men of broad vision, whose minds have not been narrowed by the practices associated with red-tape or official routine. [1155] Such vision would approach vested interests in the proper spirit and suggest measures for raising agricultural interests from the slough of despond in which they at present unfortunately lie.

Another matter arising by implication out of the Governor-General's Address is that of profiteering — a matter of supreme importance to the producer, the consumer and the community at large. The subject of profiteering is not so simple as it appears at first sight. To attack it is to win applause, but to attack it ignorantly is to prolong its existence. It touches economics and morality. It makes alike for wealth and poverty. There are profiteers and profiteers. There is the man who simply battens on the public; and the man who sells at what his own conscience tells him is a reasonable profit. It is clear, then, that this subject of profiteering demands very straight thinking. In my opinion the first essential step is to define it definitely. It would take ten hours, not ten minutes, to deal adequately with so comprehensive a subject as profiteering. I must confine my remarks to a few broad aspects. There is a well-known motor car on the market. It is called the Dodge. People journeying up and down the country have noticed artful greengrocers flashing by in these luxurious conveyances. The green producer has, however, to be content with the ass and cart. Slightly altered, the old rhyme would go near to mirroring the position:—

“There was an old prophecy found in a Lodge,

That Ireland would be ruled by an Ass and a Dodge,

Now, that old prophecy has come to pass,

The Profiteer is the Dodge, the Producer the Ass.”

I shall omit all reference to inflation and deflation of currency as they affect prices. I will not deal with the intricacies of credit. I shall content myself by stating that a few weeks ago I saw butter sold by farmers at 8d. and 10d. a lb. which was subsequently sold in Dublin shops at 2/- a lb. Eggs sold locally at 8d. a dozen were retailed at [1156] 2/1. Cabbages sold by the producer at 1d. per head were sold to slum dwellers at 5d. and 6d. a head. In one case that I know of personally a man sold cabbage to a shopkeeper, leaving him to fix the price, which he did after consultation with a neighbouring greengrocer, at 1/4d. a head, and it came to pass that the man who produced that had to purchase a head, and he bought back one of his own for 3d. I am aware of the existence of a multiplication of profits, commodities changing hands four or five times. I know something of the relatively high cost or rail transport. Incidentally, I might remark that the Postmaster-General might do something in the matter of cheapening food through a development of the Parcels Post system. But transport has nothing to do with an example of profiteering which I shall cite for you. A friend of mine smokes a brand of tobacco called “Warlock.” The name may be a little suggestive, but the brand is good — suitable to the climate and to his palate. He has purchased this tobacco in different shops in the City of Dublin. It is 1/1 an ounce in Dame Street, 1/2 in Grafton Street, 10½d. in Drumcondra and 1/4 in Clontarf. Perhaps the sensitive nostrils of Clontarf may have decided to expel pungency from their respectable atmosphere; or maybe the historians of that classic locality—perhaps Deputy Figgis could give us some information about this—might have discovered that “Warlock” was used as poison-gas by the soldiers of Brian Boru; but whatever the reason, the Profiteering is ever the reason, the profiteering is from “Warlock” to Bar-stock. We have heard a good deal about Guinness's stout. A number of instructive figures were given in connection with beer and stout, as well as other matters, by Deputy Davin last evening, in his very interesting contribution to this debate. Deputy Davin, in his references to this specific matter, took in the barley-grower. I can congratulate him, and I say that his ideas, as well as his experience, with regard to his constituents and mine, coincide. A bottle of Guinness's stout can be purchased in any town in the South of Ireland for 6d. In Dublin it costs 8d. Why? Grocers' assistants are paid at a uniform [1157] trade union rate of wages. I have it on good authority that a trader in the City of Dublin paid £10,000 for a licensed house, and he cleared it in two years. He pays £45 in Income Tax, and I suppose he has a grievance that he should have to pay so much. I have not really touched the fringe of the subject. My intention was to throw out a few suggestive remarks. I think it would be a good thing to demonstrate to the public what are reasonable prices. And in this connection, I would suggest the formation of a Central Costings Committee — independent of Government — a Committee which would publish weekly in the public Press reasonable prices for the necessary commodities. As the work of such Committee developed, gross profiteering would, in my opinion, inevitably decline. This is a matter which might be taken up rather seriously. It was a great success in England, I believe. Perhaps Deputy Johnson would see the import of that suggestion.

The economic fabric threatens to topple over. The country may find itself amongst the ruins. The apparent apathy of the people may be short-lived; and we must not forget that we are really the servants of the people, not of the few who happen to be socially or financially or politically important at the moment, but of the whole people. I have no patience with men who rely on formulæ, or who seek to take advantage of the prevailing apathy. There are burning questions awaiting solution, and if we are to paint the optimistic picture of the Governor-General's imagination we must tackle them honestly, efficiently and above all, justly and immediately.

Mrs. COLLINS O'DRISCOLL: I am quite sure that none of the Deputies wish this debate to develop into something like Tennyson's brook, which is going on for ever. Therefore my contribution to the debate is to move that the Motion before the Dáil be now put.

Professor MAGENNIS: On a point of order, was not the Motion moved by a Minister, and can a private Deputy move that the question be now put?

[1158] Mr. C.M. BYRNE: It was not moved by a Minister.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: No, it was not moved by a Minister.

Mr. P. McKENNA: I will not delay the Dáil very long, but there are a few points I wish to draw attention to, one of which is the delay in the payment of claims for compensation for malicious injuries. This is causing great inconvenience. Pre-Truce cases with decrees for the destruction of property, or perhaps for the loss of a bread-winner, are still unsettled, and I have had a letter to-day from a constituent of mine who is a member of the Dáil and whose father's place was burned down. A number of cases around him have been settled, and I would not like that any victimisation would take place in cases like that. I would like the Minister for Home Affairs to see into such cases. I am one of those who, as far as the future of the country is concerned, am a pessimist until we have political and industrial peace restored, and I was surprised and disappointed at the firm attitude taken by the Minister for Home Affairs.

I have never been a believer in the rule of the gun, and consequently I can appeal to both sides in this dispute more confidently. I would appeal to the old Republican Party to look at the stricken and paralysed condition of the country, and I appeal to the responsible leaders to give an assurance to the people that so far as they are concerned the rifle and the revolver are for ever banished from Irish life. I would further appeal to the Government to release all the men who will not be tried for crime. Most undoubtedly the 44 men elected to the Dáil should be allowed to meet and discuss the new situation that has arisen as a result of the elections. I think that is only fair, but I do not like to see members of the Government adopting a very aggressive and stern attitude as they are in this particular case. We have had experience of the history of our country. We are a peculiar people; we are led but will not be driven. We saw that in the past. It was tried by Cromwell and Greenwood, and are we going to adopt [1159] these tactics here again? It is all very fine talking about burnings and that sort of thing, but we must have some commonsense, and recognise the fact that young boys were sworn by their leaders, both political and religious, as Republicans. We are told that these people now up in arms against the. State are post-Truce men. Well, who set the example? After all the seed was sown, and now we are reaping the whirlwind. For that reason we must recognise the fact that a good deal of allowance must be made for young men who got into this movement in the belief that they were about to achieve a Republic, without partition. I honestly believe that these men are as good Irishmen as any in this assembly, or in any part of the country, but they have been blindly led.

If we could arrive at some settlement and stop this internecine strife, we might have peace and progress. It is a sad state of affairs that in a country like this you have no big man to step out, Churchman or layman, to make these warring sections shake hands and work for the future development of the country. In the past, as the Minister for Defence said some time ago in the Dáil, we had some big men to look up to, but evidently now we have nobody, and it is a war to the death. It is very hard often times to speak in measured tones when you see men in the country who should live in peace and friendship instead filled with bitterness, and with sarcasm spoken by people who were brothers a few days ago, and who would now tear each other like wild beasts if they got at each other in battle. That must be put down, and we must try, if we want to advance our material interests, to act like other countries. We are the laughing stock of the world, and nobody will deny that. There is no use speaking in a sotto voce kind of voice, but we must speak out boldly. The majority of the people are disgusted with this business I have a fair knowledge of the country, and a good bureau of information in the people I am interested in who go through the country, and they are fed up with both sides. For that reason some steps should be taken to end this trouble. Seven months ago these people [1160] said they were not going to fight any more, and if they resume this war, no one will sympathise with them. I believe in stable Government and security for property, and anything that a good Government believes in, but I do not believe in iron rule and the iron fist in dealing with men with peculiar characteristics as a race, separate and distinct from all other nations. The British got out and were glad to do so, but we are going on with their old tactics. I have been approached by different parties. I have been approached by the other side and I have told them I believe in constitutional policy, and if they are prepared to act constitutionally, they are as well entitled to preach Republicanism from the hilltops as I am to preach Free Stateism or farmerism.

With reference to the talk about using the axe, there is an item in the Estimates for the Stationery Office which appears to be very high, a sum of £205,000. There is a charge of 10/- for that Estimate in the Publishers Office. The people of the country are all shareholders in the Nation's fortunes, and this book of a couple of hundred pages, about the same size as an ordinary Railway Guide, which you can buy for a few pence, is charged 10/- for to the ordinary citizen. Is it to prevent them seeing the affairs that are the concern of the country that this big price is put on this book? I think whoever is responsible in that Department should have put it within easy reach of the people at a low figure. Yesterday the President took to task some Deputy who had the temerity to protest against the heavy cost of the army, and who gave a comparison of the cost of the army here and in other countries.

I am one of the Deputies who have been so greatly daring as to express in words what is in the minds of thousands of people. Our army is costing, according to the Estimates, £10,600,000, or £3 for every man, woman and child in the Free State. That is a huge sum, and it may be academic to compare it with the cost of armies in other countries, but here is a concrete case. It is costing more than double the rental and annuities for the whole Free State. So far as I am concerned, I do not see [1161] what we want with a huge army. I would like to see the Government aim at producing such a state of affairs that we could do with a small army. What do we want with artillery and aeroplanes, or anything like that, in a small country such as ours? If we need an Army, our military leaders must not go around in Rolls-Royce luxury as they have been. As regards railway freights, that is a very important matter for the live-stock trade and those of the farming community. I am surprised that some action was not taken sooner by the Government in this matter. They have delayed too long, and a good deal of traffic has been diverted through the North of Ireland from the port of Dublin and other ports. The North of Ireland reduced their rates, and got through bookings, and were the first to do so viâ the port of Belfast.

I approached Ministers here about having through bookings resumed. As a matter of fact, they were about doing it in England when the Treaty was signed. We would have had through bookings long ago if we had to deal with the people on the other side, because I got a question asked by Captain Redmond in the House of Commons regarding through bookings and reduction of freights, and the reply was that a conference was at that time about to sit representative of railway and shipping interests with a view to having these through bookings resumed. But nothing has been done to reduce the high freights in this country. It is very hard for us to compete with Continental countries so long as we have to pay these excessive rates. I wonder are the Government aware that in England, since 1920, the reduction in railway rates and dock dues amounts to £46,000,000. In that country freights and other charges are down to about 50 per cent. over pre-war. I do not see [1162] how we are to compete with Continental countries unless this question is taken in hands immediately.

I do not wish to say anything further than that I hope some assistance will be given to the bringing about of peace. It is the desire of everyone in this country to see it brought about. I am sure it is the wish of the Deputies on these benches, even though they are opposed to these men.

I would like to see both parties shaking hands. It is all very well for some Deputies to laugh and sneer, but there are a lot of people crying. It was a sad day for this nation to see the poor sights that we have now to witness day after day. Remember my words; unless peace comes about you will see more of the life blood of the country poured out. That will be worse. We have had enough of that and want no more. We want peace, prosperity and happiness which should reign in any country that has the grace of God about it.

Mr. MILROY: I believe I spoke on an amendment already. I would not have intervened now only that I believe it was the intention that the speech we have listened to should be the last one this evening. I do not think it should be the last one.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: The Deputy has spoken already.

Mr. MILROY: On the amendment but not on the general question.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: On the general question.

Mr. O'HIGGINS: I move “That the question be now put.”


Main Question put:—

The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 10.

[1163]Earnán de Blaghd.

Séamus Breathnach.

Seoirse de Bhulbh.

Próinseas Bulfin.

Séamus de Burca.

John J. Cole.

John Conlan.

Bryan R. Cooper.

Henry Coyle.

Louis J. D'Alton.

Máighréad NíChoileáin Bean Uí


Patrick J. Egan.

Henry J. Finlay.

Desmond Fitzgerald.

John Good.

John Hennigan.

William Hewat.

Conor Hogan.

Tomás Mac Artúir.

Seosamh Mac 'a Bhrighde.

Alasdair Mac Cába.

Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.

Pádraig Mac Fadáin.

Seán Mac Garaidh.

Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.

Seán P. Mac Giobúin.

Seán Mac Giolla 'n Ríogh.

Seoirse Mac Niocaill.

Liam Mac Sioghaird.

[1164]Liam Mag Aonghusa.

Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.

Martin M. Nally.

John T. Nolan.

Peadar O hAodha.

Mícheál O hAonghusa.

Criostóir O Broin.

Seán O Bruadair.

Próinsias O Cathail.

Aodh O Cinnéide.

Conchubhair O Conghaile.

Eoghan O Dochartaigh.

Séamus N. O Dóláin.

Tadhg S. O Donnabháin.

Mícheál O Dubhghaill.

Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.

Donchadh S. O Guaire.

Mícheál R. O hIfearnáin.

Aindriú O Láimhín.

Fionán O Loingsigh.

Domhnall O Mocháin.

Séamus O Murchadha.

Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).

Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).

Seán M. O Suilleabháin.

Caoimhghín O hUigín.

Seán Priomhdhail.

Patrick W. Shaw.

Liam Thrift.

Nicholas Wall.


David Hall.

Tomás Mac Eoin.

Risteárd Mac Fheorais.

Risteárd Mac Liam.

Patrick McKenna.

Tomás de Nógla.

Aodh O Culacháin.

Eamon O Dubhghaill.

Domhnall O Muirgheasa.

Tadhg O Murchadha.

Motion declared carried.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE at this stage resumed the chair.