Seanad Éireann - Volume 2 - 10 October, 1923

DEBATE ON GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S ADDRESS.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: The first business upon the Orders of the Day is the discussion on and consideration of the address of His Excellency the Governor-General. The address is now open for discussion.

Col. MOORE: On a point of order, I handed in an amendment which, I am informed, is objected to because there is to be no vote of thanks. In principle I am quite in agreement with that. I do not want to object to that in any way, but I acted upon last year's arrangement when the Cathaoirleach suggested that there should be a vote of thanks.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: Really it is too bad that the Senator does not pay attention to what takes place in the Seanad. Upon the last day we sat, a week ago, I called the attention of the Seanad to this matter, and I told Senators that it was a matter entirely for them to say what their procedure would be, but I suggested that the best procedure for them until we had framed Standing Orders to deal with the position, was simply to have a discussion upon which there would be no resolution and no amendment. I stated that the matter was entirely in the hands of the Seanad and that recommendation of mine was adopted without the slightest dissent from any quarter of the Seanad. I must say that I think it is very unfortunate that any Senator should now [12] seek to go behind it, because it puts the rest of his colleagues in a very unpleasant position before the public and the country. The matter was discussed; threw it out as a suggestion of my own but stated I was entirely in the hands of the Seanad and there was no opposition from any quarter to the procedure as I then suggested it. We shall abide by that procedure to-day. The address is open for discussion and debate of the fullest kind by any Senator who wishes to speak upon it, but in accordance with the arrangement made on this day week there will be no resolution, and consequently no amendment or motion.

Col. MOORE: I carefully read over all the statements made the other day in consonance with the Clerk of the Seanad, and it was quite agreed that no such arrangement had definitely been agreed to.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: I cannot allow this discussion, as it is not in order. Neither any Senator nor any official of the Seanad has any power or right to go behind what the Seanad as a body has agreed to, and what I have stated is accurate. Consequently I cannot allow the procedure settled then to be departed from. It will be a matter for the Seanad itself to arrange by Standing Orders what its procedure will be in the future, as I stated this day week. But for the purpose of this meeting the procedure was suggested by me and agreed to, as I have said, in every part of the Seanad.

Col. MOORE: I take your ruling, but I do not agree at all.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH: I must say that that statement is out of order. I must remind the Senator that if he obeys the ruling of the Cathaoirleach it is not respectful for him to say that he does not agree with it. Whether he agrees with it or not, he has got to obey. I also would like to say that it makes the position of the Cathaoirleach very difficult, because I went out of my way to invite the fullest confidence from the Seanad on this day week on the subject, and pointed out to them that it was a matter entirely for them, and that the course I had myself been prepared to adopt on the last day was, [13] I thought, the most desirable. The Seanad made no objection of any sort or kind; in fact, several Senators stood up in their places and supported it. Does any Senator wish to speak on the subject of the address of the Governor-General?

Mr. J.T. O'FARRELL: The advisability of discussing the address of the Governor-General at any length, or, indeed, at all, in the present circumstances is one on which there will be a certain difference of opinion. However, my remarks will be brief and more or less of a general character. The speech does not differ in most respects from similar utterances in other Parliaments. In fact, documents such as these are sometimes more remarkable for what they omit than for what they actually contain. The speech of His Excellency fulfils its purpose, inasmuch as its language is very indefinite, its references are somewhat cryptic, and its promises are beautifully vague and non-committal. The aesthetic might be pardoned for inquiring how it comes that the Governor-General refers to himself as “I” and “we” alternately. It would seem as if there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Governor-General is only one man or a number of men rolled into one.

A good deal of legislation, some of it of a very important character, is foreshadowed, and it seems strange that the greater part of this was never mentioned during the general election or in the election manifesto of the President. One would imagine, seeing that the electors are expected to take an intelligent and serious interest in the business of an election, that they would at least be given some idea as to the programme and policy of the people who seek their suffrages. This has not been the case. It is now, several weeks after the election has taken place, that the programme of the Government is unfolded.

One of the first measures foreshadowed is a Military Defence Force Bill to take the place of the present temporary Act, which was hurried through without discussion during the closing days of the last Parliament. That a drastic overhauling and tightening of [14] the whole army machinery is necessary must be painfully evident to all. While fully recognising the services rendered to the nation by the army in dark and critical days, one is reluctantly forced to admit that at the present time there is a great lack of discipline. The unseemly escapades of certain army officers in certain parts of the country at the moment is doing incalculable harm and is tending to undermine the confidence of the people in the army as the shield and protection of the community. A spirit of junkerdom seems to have entered into the minds of some people in authority, with the result that they act as if they were the masters and not the servants of the people. From time to time there is a lot of indiscriminate night firing for which no explanation whatever is forthcoming. I can imagine nothing more indefensible than the performance of a sham battle to which the citizens of Dublin were entertained on the night preceding the general election. The outbreak of firing was simultaneous at different parts of the city, as if by pre-arrangement. Women and children were terrorised, and yet, as far as I am aware, no explanation has ever been forthcoming. In these circumstances the people are left to draw their own conclusions as to what the cause of the firing was, and these conclusions are anything but complimentary to the Government. If these things can happen under the very eyes of the Commander-in-Chief, what must be the state of affairs in remote parts of the country?

Reference is made to the problem of unemployment, and we are told that certain measures for the absorption of surplus labour are being considered by the Government. One can only hope that even at this late stage this question will receive more serious and sympathetic consideration than the findings of the Reconstruction Commission which were so drastically turned down and termed by the head of the Government as scandalous just prior to the dissolution. The Governor-General's speech is an indication that the Government now recants the attitude which they adopted at that time, and it will take all the statesmanship available to our Ministers to endeavour to make up for the time which they have lost as a [15] result. This problem is one of the greatest urgency, and unless it is tackled vigorously and promptly it is going to constitute a very real menace during the coming winter.

The Speech goes on to state that high prices, high profits and high wages can no longer be sustained. I would ask the Seanad to note the sequence in which the terms, “prices, profits, and wages,” are used. It is a sequence with which I agree. During the days of the great war prices and profits bounded up, but wages only followed behind, and very often far behind. It was merely a case of wages following prices. If that order was correct when there was an upward tendency I fail to see why that order and tendency should not be observed now, when the tendency is in a downward direction. Employers, however, demand a reversal of the order. They want prices to follow wages. They insist on wages coming down before prices fall. Even the worker has no guarantee that if he agrees to reduced wages there will be a corresponding reduction in prices. Big reductions in the salaries and wages of railway men have not resulted in any comparable relief in the way of reduction of railway rates and fares. Tremendous reductions in the wages of thousands of other workers in other industries have not brought any appreciable relief in the way of reduction in the prices of commodities produced and handled by these industries. We are told in the Speech that a recognition of these facts is the first necessity. I agree, but to be just it must be a recognition of the whole of the facts and not part of them. At the present time we have the extraordinary spectacle of farmers selling their produce at prices slightly above pre-war rates, while the consumers in the cities and towns are buying these same commodities at almost the same prices they paid in the very worst days of the great war.

We know that pigs are being bought in the country at about 6d. per lb. live weight and sold to town and other workers from 1/8 to 2/- per lb., showing a gross profit of from 230 per cent. to 300 per cent. It is evident to everyone that the most cruel, shameful and flagrant profiteering is going on, some [16] times at the expense of the producer, sometimes at the expense of both producer and consumer, but always, of necessity, at the expense of the consumer. We know that even in one of the big industries of the country, in the case of Messrs. Guinness & Sons, that although the price of barley has fallen from 45/- per barrel in 1920 to less than 20/- per barrel this year, that there has been no reduction in the price of porter and stout. We know that as far as Messrs. Guinness are concerned that while there was paid out in dividends in 1913-14, £700,000, there was paid out in 1922-23, £1,800,000. Even these figures do not show the full measure of the profits taken by the fortunate shareholders of Messrs. Guinness. In 1908 the capital was doubled by capitalising the reserves. This year the operation was repeated, so that the shareholder who bought his shares 15 years ago gets a dividend this year not of 24 per cent. on the nominal value of his original shares but of actually three times this rate, of 72 per cent. While that state of affairs is obtaining the farmer is absolutely crippled, having to sell his barley at less than 20/- per barrel, and agricultural labourers are being ground down and compelled to accept a wage which is not able in the best circumstances possible to keep them in the most elementary necessaries of life. While all these things are going on the workers are told that what is necessary is to accept lower wages. Yet the Speech does not contain a single reference regarding the proposed legislation to deal with profiteering. We are merely promised, vaguely, vigilance on the part of Ministers. Unless some practical and determined steps are taken to restrict the rapacity of the commercial sharks it is useless talking to workers of the necessity of accepting lower wages.

It is quite plain that there are too many people trying to live on the handling and distribution of other people's labour. Too many people are engaged in the retail trade and its auxiliary services. The individual average turnover is small and the profits are disproportionately high. The system is expensive and antiquated, so that profiteering is almost inevitable, if the various [17] parasites engaged in this type of trade are to live well. On the other hand, those with small incomes buy in the dearest markets because they buy in small quantities, mostly from the huxters, who sell commodities after they have passed through four or five other hands, all of whom have their own share of the profits. Hence, in my opinion, if we are to weather the economic stress through which we are passing, the object, if possible, should be to eliminate the middleman and bring the producer and consumer into closer touch. A drastic anti-profiteering measure will tend to effect this purpose. As an alternative, we have the other method of establishing State encouraged or, if you will, State controlled co-operative societies which will pass, at the minimum of expense, the produce of the farmer direct to the consumer.

In this respect it is interesting to quote from a speech delivered by the late President Harding shortly before his death. He said: “We realise that the real producer under our elaborate and costly system of distribution is not permitted a fair share of his products for his own use and enjoyment. We must find a method to take up as much as possible of the slack in the long line between producer and consumer, to give the producer a better share in that which he furnishes to the community, and to enable the consumer to meet his requirements at a reasonable cost.” He states further: “There is need to have working and practical cooperative associations of producers in the country, and at the same time to have equally effective corporations among the consuming communities of the cities and towns, and finally to link these sets of co-operatives together in a co-ordination for mutual advantage to both.”

While on this subject, it may not be out of place to state that the administration of the law in regard to the adulteration of milk, food, etc., for which we pay so dearly, leaves much to be desired. In the city of Dublin more is paid for milk than in any other city or town in Great Britain or Ireland, yet we have numerous prosecutions weekly for the adulteration of milk or the abstraction of its fats. This is a vile crime against child life, [18] yet we find magistrates imposing fines of ten shillings or a pound. People brought up for the fifth or sixth time in the Courts are let off with fines of £4 or £5. While these harpies are allowed off with fines, a boy who steals apples from an orchard is sent to a reformatory or sentenced to be birched. I think it is time that our magistrates were given to understand that their methods of administration only increase this vile crime against the children of the poor. In regard to the disagreements between employers and employed, I presume that Senators will have something to say, but I do not know that any discussion here will serve any useful purpose.

For some time there has been the most elaborate Press propaganda conducted against the workers, and as the workers have no Press they cannot reply. The general public have had only one side of the case, and this is not conducive to creating an atmosphere in which settlements are probable, or, indeed, possible. Certain so-called captains of industry look upon themselves as strong men, and, possibly, as apostolic successors to a very big man who in 1913 brought the city of Dublin to the verge of ruin. They see now the possibility of smashing trades unionism at a blow. This accounts, in my opinion, for the extravagant nature of their demands and their persistent refusal to compromise in any particular. It is the existence of this lust of conquest on the one side and the antics of a roaring demagogue on the other that are responsible, in my opinion, for preventing the settlement of the Dublin dock dispute, which is paralysing the trade and commerce of the country. There has been too much secrecy regarding the whole position, and it is time that the public were told what efforts, and the extent of these efforts, have been made to bring about a settlement. It is true that some people recently got it into their heads that the political power they wield is not commensurate with the property they own, and the taxes they pay, and they set about impressing the Government and the public with their importance and economic power by precipitating labour troubles in all parts of the country and standing pat [19] on the most extreme demands. It is a vain hope they have of smashing the trades unions or impressing the country in this way. If this spirit prevails the country itself can be smashed and with it the various warring elements. These people talk of patriotism, while at the same time they sacrifice the interests of the State for their greed for power.

I am glad to notice that there has been a reference to proposed railway legislation. This is well overdue, seeing that the Minister for Industry and Commerce definitely pledged the Government in January of the present year to the introduction of railway legislation not later than the 1st July. Anybody who has any intimate knowledge of the present system of ownership and administration of Irish railways will realise that if the general managers were super-men, which they are not, they could not make the present system a success, because it is one of the most top-heavy industries in the whole country. It is so divided and split up into 28 or 30 different companies, and there is such a great lack of co-ordination between the various companies, such a lack of consistency in railway rates and charges, that it can produce nothing but confusion, and the country cannot prosper until there is a very drastic overhauling of the present system.

A good deal of misinformed criticism passes in regard to the wages of railway men, and every shortcoming of the railway services is attributed to this cause. As a matter of fact, the wages of railway men are, with the exception of those of the agricultural labourers, the lowest in the country, and if the railway men gave their services free the present system under the present order would be a dismal failure. Two Commissions set up by the Government have in recent times recommended State ownership and control as the only practical solution of the problem. Newspaper editors, however, whose knowledge of railway matters is confined to the inside of a railway carriage, allege that they know more about the subject, and they howled at the Government to turn down these recommendations, and the [20] Government agreed to do so. We can only wait with interest for the alternative proposals which the Government will as soon as possible bring forward.

It is true, as stated in the speech, that crimes of violence and disorder are numerous. These are rather the aftermath of four or five years of strife and are due to the spirit of licentiousness in the minds of many who acknowledge no law, human or divine, except the law of force. There will be no return to normality until that spirit is killed. I hope all classes of the people will rally to the support of the Government in bringing to justice these marauding bandits, who live on the industry of the people rather than work themselves. We may disagree as to the form of punishment to be meted out to these malefactors, but we are all agreed that the people must be protected and that punishment of a deterrent kind must be given. I believe that it is only gradually the people will begin to realise their responsibilities. The history of past generations in this country has been one of revolt against authority because it was foreign. Respect for law has never been a strong point in our character for obvious reasons, and even now, when the laws are Irish made and the instruments of authority are Irish, a good deal of the ancient spirit of revolt still exists, otherwise there would not be much support for these crazy-brained politicians and addle-headed theorists who close their eyes to facts and who promise their followers heaven on earth if they cut the nation's throat. Both of the great political parties in the past have at one time or another appealed and pandered to this spirit of drama, and the country is now reaping the wretched harvest. When the thoughts of the people's leaders come down from the stars and busy themselves with the mundane, prosaic, but indispensable affairs of mother earth, then we shall have a return to normality, and then we may hope to lay the foundations of a strong, virile, and prosperous State.

Mr. BENNETT: With much that has been said I agree, and I do not think there is any need to traverse the ground covered by Senator O'Farrell, [21] but I would labour the point that the recognition of facts is of the first necessity. What are the facts? The facts are that in a community teeming with food the average man is unable to live. The reduction of wages to my mind in agricultural districts is a practical impossibility, because a man can scarcely live on a small wage. If conditions are made what they ought to be he could live on a much smaller wage. I am intimately connected with the farming industry, and I can say that the prices now are as low as they were before the war. You should buy good beef at 8d. a lb. It could be sold at that and give ample profit, and so all round, all our produce is exploited for the good of the middleman to the ruin of the country. These are matters that ought to be recognised, and I am glad the Government is considering them. I hope it will see that those men who are profiteering at the expense of the life blood of the nation should not be allowed to do so any longer.

We have allusions to the reorganisation of the railway systems. Senator O'Farrell has alluded to it largely. The cost of transport on railways must come down. The goods of the producer, carried either to him or from him, work out at 10 per cent. of the cost. That is too high a sum to saddle the producer with at the initial stages of the arrangement of his sale. Another matter is of great importance. That is the question of afforestation. That is a subject which had very scant consideration up to now. There was a Forestry Commission. Schemes were adumbrated, but came to nothing. Afforestation will afford large employment. I think there are vast tracts of land in this country eminently suited for afforestation which it is foolish to allocate to any other purpose. I am glad to see the Ministry propose to introduce a Bill dealing with afforestation. I think it would be well if the Ministry of Agriculture did not allow little groups of trees on farms which are sold to be cut down. They should insist that these should be left standing for the good of the community.

There is another matter I am intensely rejoiced to see legislation promised upon, that is the matter of a national brand for butter. We lag behind [22] the progressive nations because up to now our butter was not of a uniform standard. It should command a price equal to Danish or other butter. The best Irish butter is equal to the best butter in the world. On the other hand, there are butters put on the market which are not edible butters at all, and a suggestion to establish a national brand to give the Irish butter the character which it is capable of acquiring would be of immense advantage to the farming community and will bring to our country sums of money which through want of legislation have not come in the past. I do not think there is anything further to which I should allude. I welcome the proposed legislation. I fear, however, that possibly the programme may be overloaded. There is, therefore, a danger that at the end of our Session we may be asked to consider a number of Bills hurriedly, as unfortunately we had to do last Session, and they might not receive the attention to which they are entitled. I would suggest to the Government that they would consider it advisable, if their programme is found to be too heavy in the Dáil, to allow us to proceed with some of this legislation and thus expedite what seems to me to be most excellent legislation for the good of the country. If this legislation is passed, I am satisfied a poor man will be able to live in the country. I think under present conditions it is impossible for any striving workman to exist.

Senator O'Farrell said there are too many middlemen, and I say the same. Taking a hundred as a base, some seventy middlemen proportionately did all the retail trade for this country when the population was eight to eight and a half million. To cater for the necessities for four and a half million there are now one hundred and twenty. There are far too many people at unproductive employment. I hope those little people who are a block on the efficiency of the country will be shown some means of earning a livelihood other than by vamping on poor people who are unable to bear it. With that fervent hope that the Government will endeavour to have all this legislation carried out and to consider the propriety of initiating some of it here to ensure its carriage, I welcome the [23] proposed legislation of the Governor-General.

Mr. KENNY: The last speaker said that there were too many people unproductive in this country. I can instance a strike in a town where forty per cent. were living on the labour of sixty per cent. A strike occurred largely owing to a question of labour and high prices, and the peculiar result arose that the most generous contributors to the strike fund were the forty traders. They saw that if wages came down they would no longer continue to profiteer, and as a result they were working into one another's hands. Senator O'Farrell referred to the sequence of high prices, high profits and high wages. It is immaterial how you place those three causes of the present industrial unrest in this country. If you dealt with any one they are so dependent one on the other that the other two must naturally fall to the ground. You cannot sustain any one of the other two if you drag down one.

With regard to the difficulty of dealing with the profiteer, other countries are tackling the thing. I notice in this morning's paper that the Minister of the Interior in Spain has issued instructions that the gross profit of all retailers dealing in the essentials of life should be 14 per cent.—5 per cent. profit on capital, 6 per cent. for administration, and 3 per cent. for emergency. The question seems to be affecting other countries than our own, and I think if there is any good result to accrue from an abstract discussion of the Governor-General's speech, which ranges over a very wide field, it should be in the direction of giving some helpful hints or an indication from this Seanad as to the direction which proposed legislation should take.

There is really little use in criticising and in saying that these matters have been lightly touched upon and barely referred to in the Speech. We must, as I say, try to help the Government in framing legislation, and in doing so we will expedite both the business of the Dáil and the business of this House, because the Government has no opportunity of knowing the views of this House on any subject of legislation [24] until such time as any Bill comes before us, having gone through all the various stages in the Dáil. Then we proceed to discuss the Bill and amend it, and much of that work could be saved, and legislation expedited very considerably, if the Government have an indication as to the essentials of fundamental Clauses that this House thinks should be introduced into the proposed legislation. There is that suggestion taken from the way in which the Spanish Minister of the Interior is dealing with a very burning question. We have also reported in this morning's or yesterday's paper a suggestion from the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. S.M. Bruce, dealing with practically the same difficulty, the relatively very slight profit to the producer and the very high price to the consumer. Dealing with it in an Imperial sense he made a suggestion that certain essential foodstuffs, such as meat and wheat, two essential foodstuffs in which Australia, of course, is primarily interested, should be stabilised. Narrowing that down to the Free State there is no reason why we should not extend the list of essentials and incidentally help agriculture and help the working man. There is no reason why wheat, meat, milk, butter, and eggs should not be stabilised by the Government, and why a measure similar to that of the Spanish idea of limiting the gross profit to the middleman could not be carried out. Their books would at all times be open to State inspection and this would, I think, largely help to regularise and to solve this particular problem.

Afforestation has been referred to. We know that trees have been and are being ruthlessly cut down in this country without any effort at replanting. In the old land legislation no saving clause was introduced, with the result that when the land passed very valuable belts of trees, winter shelters, and others, were ruthlessly cut down. The man to whom the land was transferred realised as much as he possibly could by denuding it of its trees. Seeing that the production of timber is such a valuable asset to every country, and knowing the many industries that spring from a direct supply of timber, [25] and while we are now importing timber at a ruinous rate, and seeing that this country is now practically denuded of its timber, certainly some measure ought to be taken, if possible under the new Land Act, to conserve such timber as there is and to set further planting on foot. Japan is a very well timbered country. I have been there. The land belongs to the State. It is nationalised, but any man who wants to cut a tree down on his farm goes to the State Forester and makes an application. The Inspector in due time comes around and says, “Yes, cut down the tree,” because when the tree is matured it is ripe for cutting down and it is only cumbering the ground. It is cut down and two others are planted. The Inspector points out the place where these are to be planted, and he selects from the State nursery such trees as are suitable for the locality and the soil, and the transaction goes through. The result is that in Japan there is always an excess of timber over the industrial requirements of the country. I do not think it would be any hardship on those to whom land is transferred under the Land Act if some such clause were introduced to conserve such trees as are left. A clause of that sort would not have any material effect on increasing the production of timber, but I do think that, coupled with the reference to the future constitution of the army and to afforestation, some scheme might be set on foot whereby a branch of the army should be converted into a Territorial Force, men who are not married, who are amenable to discipline, trained, as they are, and to whom camp life would be rather a recreation than otherwise. These might give some return for the great amount of money now being spent upon the Army by converting some of them for the time being into a Territorial Force, switching them on to some scheme of afforestation and camping them out. In that way they would be kept physically in very good form and available, as they would be, for military duty any time an emergency arose. I think it would tend to reconcile the people generally to the very great cost entailed on the upkeep of an army now, and which for some time [26] must necessarily be kept at a number entirely out of proportion to what the Army should be in this country in normal times.

With regard to agriculture, I might mention that there is a necessity for a quarantine station to be established somewhere on an island in connection with the Free State. Northern Ireland, the Six Counties, has already secured an island, and has converted it into a quarantine station with the result that breeders of high-class stock are enabled to import for breeding purposes very valuable animals, whereas in the Free State breeders, in the absence of any facilities of this sort, are naturally thrown back on their own stock and have to in-breed, and have been doing so for some time. That has a very deteriorating effect on high-class cattle, and it is not confined to the breeders' stock alone, because they sell this stock throughout the country, and it has a deteriorating effect generally. I understand there are several islands on the South coast, any one of which could be made suitable and available for such a purpose.

Regarding the position generally, I think that if organisers of labour were selected with greater caution it would do much to prevent strikes and general unrest in industrial circles. I know a case in the County Waterford which is in the throes of agricultural strife. Fortunately, it affects only one part of the county.

In the other part, the particular organiser sent down was not so active, and it is not embroiled in the strife, but in the particular area in the county in which another organiser moved the strike was brought to a head, and I think it would have been settled long since but for some injudicious utterance of his, in which he questioned the right of the farmers at all to the title of their land. He was called upon to withdraw this statement, but he failed to do so, and I understand the matter was taken up at headquarters in Dublin, and the farmers were asked if that statement were withdrawn would they be prepared to arbitrate on the other matters in dispute. They said that within certain limits they would, meaning thereby they could not rigidly confine themselves to a fixed six, seven [27] or eight hours' day, or conditions of that sort, which would be impracticable in agricultural work, but they agreed that they would consider the advisability of arbitrating on all other matters if the statement were withdrawn affecting the title of the farmers to their land. The deputation from the farmers came back to County Waterford and awaited the result, but there has been no result since. I understand —I speak subject to correction—that there was a suggestion made that the organiser spoke outside of his brief, and that there was no warrant for him in making such a statement. If that was so you would naturally think the authorities at the headquarters of labour, or those in a position to speak with authority, would at once have brought him to book and repudiated on behalf of the labour organisation generally any such suggestion. It has not come to that, with the result that it has stereotyped the strike in County Waterford, and the farmers have refused to consent to any overtures whatever to compose the other differences between them and the men until such time as this insinuation was withdrawn. I think possibly the labour organisation here in Dublin, seeing that their organiser had gone outside his brief in this injudicious utterance, possibly did not wish to turn him down, but if it is a fundamental item in the policy of labour, particularly in the agricultural labour movement, that the ultimate idea is either to confiscate the farmers' land, or in some way to dispossess him of it, then you can understand that it is not making for the settlement of the strike. I think there is a good deal to be said on one side or the other. There is always a middle line if it can be discovered, and there is always a dividing line between the claims of one party and another, that is, if it is only some ordinary dispute that cropped up about wages, or some other difference of opinion in the industrial concern; but when an insinuation of that sort is thrown out it absolutely destroys the spirit that would make for composing the strike in regard to any minor details.

Generally speaking, we must face the [28] facts in this country, and I do not think any of us can hide it from ourselves that there is not a very bright economic outlook. You have a very small basis for taxation in this country. In 1914 the annual valuation of the whole country was only sixteen million pounds. If you take away the valuation of the Six Counties, which is a matter of five millions, you have only a basis of taxation in the Free State of eleven millions. Now, that practically constitutes the basis for the levying of all the local rates and for the levying of most of your taxation, and you can understand from that that the taxable resources of our country are very limited, and, as stated in the Governor-General's Speech, the needs of the general community are very great. I feel convinced that if we are not to decline as a nation, commercially and economically, or if we are to make any degree of progress whatever in view of the very keen competition with which we are faced in all directions by other nations, that the administrative capacity of our legislators, of whom we compose a branch, will be taxed to the very uttermost. No matter what we do or what legislation we put on paper of a remedial or constructive character, all will be in vain unless there is a disposition engendered in the country, a disposition born of the realisation of the critical position in which the country now stands, on the part of every citizen to co-operate most whole-heartedly, even to the subordination of his or her own private interest for the moment in the interests of the common weal. Unless these two things work hand in hand, that is, administrative measures of a very useful and remunerative character and the whole-hearted and generous co-operation of the community in support of these measures, the outlook of the country is a very gloomy one, indeed.

Mr. CLAYTON LOVE: We have had a very long debate on the Speech, and I think all will agree that the Speech made by Senator O'Farrell was clear and exhaustive. He said one or two things with which I do not exactly agree, and it is on those that I would [29] like to reply. I myself made a survey of the city shops last Friday in anticipation of this debate here to-day. My experience was, and I went through the principal streets of the city: Henry Street, Moore Street, Capel Street, and George's Street, and other streets, that the prices of foodstuffs generally are about 70 or 80 per cent. above what they were in 1914. He alluded to the price of bacon. I found bacon was of two kinds in this city, imported bacon and Irish bacon. The imported bacon varied from 9d. to 1s. 6d. per lb., and the price of Irish bacon varied from 10d. to 1s. 8d.

The price of fruit in the market is 6d. per lb. wholesale, and better qualities 10d. per lb. That bears very favourable comparison with the price in 1914. I agree that what we ought to do is to face facts, and the real facts I do not think can be disputed. A living wage was required in 1914, whereas, in 1923, both a living wage and a drinking wage are required. I think these are the real facts. In 1914, if you take a workman's wages at £1 per week, about 5/- of that more than met his requirements in stout or beer and tobacco. That represented a fourth of his earnings. It would take considerably more than one-third of his wages to buy the same quantity of beer and tobacco to-day, and we really cannot blame the working man if he does not think in terms of money, but in terms of beer and tobacco. These are his natural luxuries. I really think that the great difficulty arises from that fact.

It might appear from what I say that I was making some attack upon the licensed trade, but everybody knows that the duty upon beer and stout and whiskey, in order to meet the national requirements, has so greatly advanced that it represents a large proportion of the price of these commodities. An extraordinary thing is that in the city of Dublin, where Guinness's stout is manufactured, the price of a pint is 1/-, whilst in the South it is sold for 10d. and, in some places, 9d. The price of a pint of beer in 1914 was about 2½d.; to-day it is 1/-. I think when all these facts are faced we possibly may be able to come to some conclusion as to how best the Government might [30] make some arrangements to bring the contending parties together. The working man says to the capitalist: “You are a profiteer,” and the capitalist says to the workingman: “You are profiteering in your wages.” Perhaps both statements are more or less true. The question is how to find a solution of the problem. Both will have to give away something, and the sooner they come together, instead of being angry with each other, the better for all.

I have an idea that one of the best ways would be to find out what the living wage of a working man is in, say, six of the big towns in England; what the wages of that particular class of working man are in those particular towns, and see what relation the wages bear to the cost of living in those towns. Then take six Irish towns and do the same thing, and try, if possible, if some solution could be found in order to get over the difficulty which is hurrying the country down the road to ruin and disaster. One Senator dwelt upon the omissions from the speech of the Governor-General, but said that such omissions occurred in similar speeches elsewhere. There was one very great omission which was discussed in the new Dáil, and that was the question of Irish fisheries. Some time ago a member of the Seanad stated that he had got some information which led him to believe that the inland fisheries of Ireland were really more valuable than the sea fisheries. I think he is mistaken in that; but they are very valuable, and the time has come when the antediluvian method of legislating for inland fisheries should receive attention from the Government. Most of the laws connected with inland fisheries are very old-fashioned, and were passed at a time when a certain privileged class had the framing of the legislation. These laws are not calculated to get the most out of inland fisheries, and there is not the slightest question that if the inland fisheries were properly looked into, not by well-meaning amateurs, but by men representative of all the branches of trade and sport, a much larger revenue than is now obtained from them might be obtained.

With regard to sea fisheries, very severe attacks were made on the Minister [31] for Fisheries, and, I think, most unfairly, because those who know anything about sea fisheries know that in no country in Europe at the present time is sea fishing a paying proposition. Many reasons account for this. There is the great increase in the cost of hemp and of all the net-work necessary for fishing, and also in the price of coal where vessels are worked by coal. It is an absolute fact that in England, where there are millions of money invested in the industry, the industry is not paying. The Dutchmen are laying up their boats, as well as the fishermen in other countries. Contrasts are often made on false lines, to show how unappreciative we are of fish as a food in this country, between London, and even Canada, and this country. I think that the contrast would be better made between this country and such a country as Denmark. Denmark, like our country, is a dairying country where butter and eggs and bacon, and other products of the highest grade are procurable at the lowest price. In Ireland that, too, is the case. The contrast between a great distributing centre like London, Grimsby, or any of the English ports that cater for a population of 50,000,000, and our country with three millions of people who can get all these foodstuffs at the cheapest possible rate for first quality goods, is not a proper one. As a matter of fact the Danes, like ourselves, do not use a great deal of fish, but they export a great deal of fish. Their Government sees that they get the cheapest form of transit and that they get preferential rates. In this country the railway rates are absolutely prohibitive and are positively killing the fishing industry. It would cost about 7/- to send 120 mackerel from any of the south coast ports to London, or even to send a bag of periwinkles. It would cost about £7 per ton, and that is perfectly absurd and represents an advance upon the price before the war of 300 to 400 per cent. The complaint I have to make is that an industry that is capable of so much development and that has always employed such a deserving class of men, who are now absolutely on the verge of starvation, should not have been ignored in the [32] Governor-General's speech, to which we looked forward with some hope.

Col. Sir HUTCHESON POE: Although in his opening remarks to the Oireachtas last week the Governor-General referred to our admission to the League of Nations as one of the most notable and pregnant events in Irish history, I very much doubt if one Irishman in a hundred properly appreciates the true significance of this step. After the terrible campaign of cruelty and destruction which has been waged during the last 18 months by one section of our fellow-countrymen against the duly-elected and lawfully constituted authority of the Free State, we could scarcely have been surprised had President Cosgrave and his colleagues been received with open hostility, or, at best with thinly-veiled disfavour by the representatives of the League, but so far from anything of this kind having taken place, they were acclaimed with every mark of friendliness and goodwill, and not alone at Geneva, but more recently at the Assembly of the Imperial Conference in London, they have been accorded a reception and a welcome, that in all the circumstances of the case, is truly remarkable.

We are, I venture to think, entitled to assume that such a gratifying recognition of our new-born State by both the League of Nations and the Imperial Conference, was meant as an endorsement of the honest and straightforward policy of President Cosgrave and his Executive Council in upholding the Treaty with England, and as a mark of their satisfaction at the successful termination of the deadly struggle which had been forced upon his Government by the Republican Party.

If I am right in this contention, may we not hope that those who still clamour for independence, and who up to this have strenuously maintained that our Constitution was a fraud and a sham, bereft of all liberty of action, and leaving us still at the mercy of England, will now recognise facts, and will accept the verdict of the world's representatives as to the reality and absolute completeness of the independent status, and equality of partnership [33] in their great assemblies which Ireland has, at long last, attained?

In expressing their acknowledgments to the League of Nations and to the members of the Imperial Conference for the cordiality of their reception, our delegates, in simple and unaffected language, have made it clear that they are prepared to accept their new responsibilities, and to further, by every means in their power, the peace and prosperity of the world. Surely in such a task have they not a right to expect the loyal and wholehearted support of every section of their fellow-countrymen, including that of the men from whom they are, unhappily, at present divided?

Surely a reconciliation between contending Irishmen should not be difficult now that the myth of the republican ideal has been set at rest once and for ever. Once the opposing parties have been brought together, a united and whole-hearted effort on the part of all to repair the ravages of the last two years, and to restore our shattered country to something like its former condition should not be impossible.

Only by such united action can we show ourselves worthy of the trust and confidence placed in us, not alone by the League but also by that great confraternity of Oversea Dominions which constitutes the British Empire, and to whose Councils we have just been called.

In this morning's Press we already see the first indications of what can be effected by a policy of mutual goodwill and co-operation, and by subordination of individual interests for the good of the whole, in the generous concessions which have been made by England in the matter of preferential tariffs to the Colonies.

Much more still remains to be done in this direction if the bonds of Empire are to be consolidated and the prosperity of every portion of it assured.

If only that spirit is continued I feel confident, not only will the bonds of the Empire be greatly strengthened in the near future, but markets will be provided, not perhaps for Irish produce, as unfortunately it is principally agriculture, but at any rate for English manufactures which at present are [34] shut out by the great world upheaval from the European markets. Anything that will promote their interests and their trade will indirectly affect Ireland, as it naturally follows that if they are in receipt of a good price for manufactured goods, they will be better able to give us a good price for agricultural products. If that spirit continues to guide their deliberations I foresee that at no distant date a great confraternity of nations and dependencies to which we have been invited will exercise no small influence for good on the peace of the whole world.

With regard to the other measures which are foreshadowed in this Speech. one that has not been mentioned to-day is the revolutionising, as it undoubtedly is, of the whole system of legal administration. I do not pretend to know much about the administration of law, but I think most people have been agreed for many years that there is great room for decentralisation, and for the delegation of considerable power to local authorities, with a view not only of bringing the law nearer to the poor man's door but to expedite and to make it more efficient. In this Bill, judging by the letters in the Press during the last week, from very distinguished lawyers and others, the Government. apparently, may have gone too far. With regard to that, I can only say that the measure, as I understand it, is based on a very carefully considered report, drawn up by men of great experience, and presided over by, I believe, the Cathaoirleach. Under these circumstances I feel sure that these points have been fully considered. I should think, however, that we would all agree when the Bill comes before us, it will be necessary to subject it to very close criticism on many points which may injuriously affect litigants on one side or the other. A great deal has been said about unemployment. and I propose to show, as far as figures mean anything—I have been told that you can always get figures to prove anything—that there is undoubtedly great profiteering. A friend of mine who has gone into the pig industry in recent years, told me that at present he can only get 46/- per cwt., live weight. That works out for a 2 cwt. pig at £4 12s. The cost of the pig to [35] him was, roughly, £4, so that it leaves him a profit of 5/- or 6/-. Nothing is allowed for death, or for other losses, so that if one pig died the profit on twelve or thirteen would be totally absorbed. Against this the same pig is sold by the buyer for something like £8 12s., and after paying the expenses of transport that leaves a profit between the buyer and the carrier of something like £6 or £7, as against 6/- or 7/- to the producer. On the face of it, that seems absolutely absurd.

During the debate on the formation of a Ministry in the Dáil the President more than once referred to the absolute necessity of taking steps to provide for this unemployment difficulty. What proportion of the cost of living, and what proportion of wages should go towards the price which the producer, whether farmer or manufacturer, obtains for his products I do not pretend to say. One could rig figures of that kind, but the broad fact remains that if the producer can only get a certain price for a product, whatever it may be, it stands to reason that if the cost to him exceeds that price, he has either got to be a philanthropist, and that out of nothing, or put up the shutters and go out of business. There is no doubt, from the statements made by the last Senator, that some means of adjusting the cost of living by a fair proportion must be found. That can only be done by a greater disposition on the part of the employer and the employee to show a reasonable spirit, not each to fight his own corner for all it is worth, but to make some sacrifice in the cause of general agreement.

The President also alluded to the wish of the Government to embark on a large housing scheme, but he pointed out that unless the building contractors and the workers abate their prices it would be out of the question. The same class of house that in this country would cost £700 or £800 is being built in England for half, or for less than half that price. That is bad enough, but the lowly produced cottage in England lets for a very much higher rent than the cottage produced at a high cost in Ireland. In other words, we are hit in both directions. We have to pay much more for our houses and we [36] get a very small rent for them. In this connection Deputy Mahony, speaking in the Dáil, stated that in any attempt to regulate these differences steps must be found whereby the working man will give a fair day's work. There is no question about it that the output of labour in England is very much higher than the output in this country. So long as that is the case, I do not see what you can do.

I forget what proportion of bricks is laid by a bricklayer, but I think it is something like eight hundred, as compared with half that number laid by an Irish bricklayer, who is not allowed by his Union to lay more than a certain quantity of bricks. These are points that must be considered. Within the last week certain suggestions have been made by Mr. Anderson, of the Wholesale Organisation Society, and by Captain Harrison, a well-known member of the old Nationalist Party, in which they suggest that sooner than entrust the control of the distributing centres to the Government, which would be a very dangerous precedent to establish, the organised representatives of Labour, that is, of the Transport Union, and the organised representatives of the Employers' Federation should put their heads together and devise a scheme of co-operative distributing centres, where the necessities of life would be sold at bed-rock prices and allow a profit to be made to cover expenses. If that could be done it might help this very serious situation, but unless something like this is done soon, there will be no wages and no work.

Sir JOHN KEANE: The questions of prices, profiteering, and unemployment have figured largely in this debate, and the Government, speaking through the mouth of the Governor-General, are rather accused of vagueness in their pronouncements. I do not know that the Seanad can claim to be very specific in regard to any remedies to deal with this very serious problem. So far as I can gather from anything specific that has fallen from Senators it is that the State should come in and deal with the problem. Senator O'Farrell stated that a drastic measure of anti-profiteering is necessary. Another [37] Senator said that the number of these distributing shops should be reduced, while another Senator suggested that in some form prices should be controlled. Surely we have had a very considerable experience of the effect of State control of prices during the great war. I think we all agree that it did not result in a reduction in the cost of living.

We all remember the instance which appeared in “Punch” regarding the control of rabbits. The rabbits remained in the field, but they did not find their way to the poulterer's shop or to the dinner table. That is what will happen if the Government come in and tamper with the ordinary laws of supply and demand. You make the last stage worse than the first. The thing will come right slowly if people are allowed freedom and free play; but it cannot be settled by State regulation. The trouble has been—if I may suggest this diagnosis—that owing to the disturbance and industrial unrest fresh capital and fresh enterprise have hesitated to come into the country, leaving those already established somewhat in the position of monopolists, able to charge, to a certain extent, what they like, although I do not admit that the general accusations of profiteering can be sustained by figures.

We have heard about Guinness and other successful concerns, but we heard very little or nothing about the other concerns which are really only earning a living wage on capital. We must regard this matter in the light of the experience of other countries, and there is no case, so far as I know, where attempts by the State to control prices and regulate trade led to anything but an increase of prices and profiteering, very often even on the part of the State itself. One instance of an attempt to control prices in the bakery trade might be given. The Government, in order to fix the prices, had to go into the costs of production, and they were met by the fact that in the efficient bakery the costs of production were lower than in the less efficient bakery. If they fixed the price that was based on the more efficient bakery they would drive the whole of the other bakeries out of existence and [38] leave the field in the hands of big trusts, who, as we all know, when they get rid of competition, are able to do what they like with prices.

In America they did all they could to control prices by means of the Sherman Act, but it did not succeed. I listened carefully to the extract quoted by Senator O'Farrell, but it was merely an expression from the late President. That co-operation was a means of dealing with high profits we all agree. Why then do not consumers come together and start their own co-operation shops? They have them in England and in Belfast operating in the interests of the workers. I know there is a society in Dublin, but I believe it has always led a precarious existence from the want, partly, of good management, but also from the lack of support of the people that it is out to benefit.

This also bears on the question of unemployment, because until capital is attracted to the country and enterprise seeks avenues for development you cannot deal with employment except by specific remedies such as State relief. We admit that the State must support every one of its citizens, but this is only a palliative to be replaced by the ordinary private enterprise as soon as the forces of production can come into operation. I am afraid the forces of production will not come into operation until there is confidence in the country that capital will be free from those various forms of unrest with which we are all familiar. I cannot accept Senator O'Farrell's statement with regard to the effect of prices on wages. He said: “In time of inflation labour lags behind a rise in prices.” Undoubtedly it does, and during such times there is a very considerable element of profiteering on a rising market. Wages do not rise as rapidly as prices. When the deflation comes the opposite process sets in, and has set in. The index number shows that the cost of living has been 180 or 190, but in many cases, notably in the case of the dockers, wages remain at the peak point, about 300 per cent. The same thing holds in agriculture. We all know prices have come down, and the strike in Waterford is over the peak wage. Thirty-five shillings a week is not a big wage, but it [39] is considerably more than the industry can stand, and is more than the pre-war standard.

I shall deal very briefly with the question of finance. I should like to deal with one specific aspect which is creating anxiety amongst citizens, that is the question of Income Tax. I am referring to the administration of the Income Tax Act due to the separation of the British and the Free State Exchequers. At present anybody who understands the regulations has not got very much cause of complaint, although it is very complicated, and in some cases double deductions seem to be taking place. Anyone who fills up certain forms practically escapes more than one deduction at the source. There is an exception in the case of income from Trustee Stock arising from colonial or foreign investments. The certificate of trustees will not be taken and total deduction comes into force. Very great trouble is going to come when the financial year ends, and the question of repayment arises. I have got a case here based on an imaginary income of £600 per year, £400 of which is derived from the Free State, and £200 from Great Britain. The whole of the respective rates of Income Tax in the two countries has been deducted at the source. Four shillings and sixpence is being paid in England and 5/- in the Free State. Of course that person is not liable to Income Tax on the whole £600. He is exempted on the first £225, and is allowed a reduced rate on the next £225. The method by which those repayments are recovered is highly technical and complicated. Experts work them out. Everybody who wants to get repayment will have to go to an expert and pay for it. Even in the simple case I have here there is a considerable amount of mathematical work necessary because the repayment is based on the amount of income arising in the different countries. We will have to go to Great Britain for one portion and to the Free State for another. If it is complicated in a case like this, it is doubly complicated when you are engaged in trade and have losses in business or on farms. I think the Government would be well advised to appoint an expert Committee [40] to go into this in good time. Otherwise there will be endless delay, deterring the inflow of capital. Capital, of course, means any enterprise into the country. It is a small thing, you may say, to have capital frightened by rather complicated sums and calculations, but capital is a very shy bird, and it wants a great deal of coaxing to find a nest in unsuitable, uncongenial surroundings. On the question of general finance I regret that the statement of the Governor-General lacks precision because it seems to be the most important matter in the whole of our national life. We have seen the fate of countries that have followed the wrong and easy path. It is like an intoxicant. You get off the rail. You begin borrowing and inflating and create a condition of artificial prosperity. We all hear that there is no unemployment in Germany and other countries with inflated currencies. That may be so. It goes on for a time and then you get a collapse. I have got a paper in my pocket which was worth £5,000 a few years ago. I bought it for twopence to-day, and I believe there was a profit of 300 per cent. made by the person who sold it to me. The starting point of the whole trouble comes from failure to balance the budget. That failure leads to borrowing. Borrowing leads to inflation. Inflation leads to high prices. This leads to labour unrest, and the regular cycle is well known to all economists. Balancing the budget is the point I think the Government has not sufficiently stressed.

The longer it is put off the harder it will be to do, and really it does not seem impossible if the Minister for Finance and the Government are determined. The pre-Great War expenditure on Local Services in the Free State was somewhere about the region of £8,000,000, that is, allowing the appropriate set-off for the Six Counties. If you are to adopt the pre-war standard the country admittedly cannot afford very much more of a higher basis than before the war, and we are certainly not better off. It would take £16,000,000 to live at about the same standard as in 1914, but of course the revenue is considerably higher. The revenue is somewhere [41] about the region of £20,000,000 or £22,000,000. It does seem that we should be able for that, with no National Debt, to live within our means. Of course, we all know the difficulties. Things got out of hand during the war and the period of false prosperity. A number of new offices were created, salaries went up, and the trouble is to bring all this back. But if it were brought back, not even to pre-war, we would be living within our income and probably have enough money for an army costing, say, £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 I sympathise with the Government. The Government have to cut down all round in salaries and numbers, and these numbers will have to be absorbed into trade or provided for as part of the unemployed. But unless something is done definitely to balance the Budget, I am afraid things will only get worse and worse, because a failure to balance the Budget will re-act on our borrowing power. The difficulty which will arise from the fact that our Budget is not balanced will be that financiers will say, “We cannot lend any money to any country unless it has a healthy financial barometer,” and the balancing of the Budget is the test. As soon as a determined effort is made to balance the National Budget then borrowing will become very much easier, and, of course, for certain purposes borrowing is necessary and has to be faced. I, therefore, hope that the Government —and I am sure the Seanad will support them—will really put in the forefront of their programme this question of finance, of living within their means, because the penalty of failure to live within your means as a Govern ment is every bit as great in the long run as failure to live within your means as a private individual.

Mr. T. FARREN: I had no desire to enter into the discussion on the Address, but for some remarkable statements that have been made. Senator O'Farrell has put forward the Labour view generally on the whole question, but I would like to say a few words on statements that have been made by a previous speaker. In dealing with the question of housing, Senator Sir Hutcheson Poë made a remarkable statement, which, if allowed [42] to go uncontradicted, would cause the public to believe a lie that has been deliberately circulated for a considerable time to the detriment of a section of the community who do not deserve it. The suggestion made was that houses could be built in England for half what they cost in Ireland, and that bricklayers in England set about 100 per cent. more bricks in the working day than bricklayers in this country. From my knowledge of building operations—and I have some knowledge, because I have been engaged in building operations for the best part of my life—I say that neither of these statements is correct. It is all very well to suggest that a house is built in England for £300, and that a house is built in Ireland for £600, but in order to compare the cost you have to examine the plans of the houses, see what material is used, and so on. I suggest that houses are being built in Dublin to-day at about the same price as pre-war taking increased costs into consideration. I say without fear of contradiction that the brick work done in Dublin is far superior to any done in Great Britain or Ireland generally.

People who know something about building construction admire the beautiful brick work done in Dublin. For generations it has come down from father to son, and the Dublin bricklayer is a craftsman. The same thing applies to other trades. The Dublin furniture maker is a craftsman and the craftsman's art is there. We can make shoddy material, too, but we do not believe it is the right thing to do. Therefore you have got to understand these things before wild statements are made which are largely a condemnation of a section of the community and are wholly undeserved. Another statement was made by Senator Sir Hutcheson Poë, that the trade unions had a restriction on output. I say, without fear of contradiction, that that statement is not true. I have heard it made before. I know the building trades in Dublin, and I say that there is not a single trade union operating in the city of Dublin in the building trade with such a thing as a restriction on output. So much for that. I am glad to see in the Governor-General's Address that the [43] Government intends to deal with this question of housing. I have been for a good number of years engaged in this city to see what could be done for the housing of the people, and the industrial unrest. The other evils from which we suffer at the moment can all be traced to bad housing conditions in the cities and towns. How can you expect to have a decent, law-abiding community, a community with respect for law and order, if unfortunate men and their wives and families are condemned to live in miserable hovels not fit for swine to be housed in? Every day and every hour there is a stream of people knocking at my home and coming to my office begging and beseeching to get a house under any conditions and at any price. There are cases where more than one family are living in a single room in a tenement, and the wonder is that the young men and women in Dublin are half as good as they are, considering the conditions under which they are condemned to live. This question of industrial unrest has got to be dealt with, and it will not be dealt with by exaggerated statements and propaganda on either side. It has got to be settled on a basis where there is confidence one in the other, and there will not be confidence when exaggerated propaganda is going on on either side. Senator Kenny dealt in detail with the unfortunate dispute in County Waterford, and, with all respect, I would suggest that Senator Kenny does not understand the details of that dispute, because he made one statement about the men demanding a six or seven hours day. No such thing was ever contemplated. I will not dwell on this unfortunate subject further than to say that we all sincerely hope that it will be soon settled satisfactorily to those concerned.

Sir John Keane told us we had the solution in our own hands in dealing with this question of prices. I want to bring before the Seanad the difficulties which confront people who attempt something for themselves on co-operative lines. It is very simple to say that there is not much capital required, but there are great difficulties. There are such things as rings of manufacturers [44] who will not give fair play to the consumers.

One of the Trades Unions in Dublin endeavoured to do something in that respect, and they opened a small tobacco store. They found that on a turn-over of between £70 and £80 a week, after paying all expenses, there was a net profit of from £10 to £12, and consequently they decided that the consumer should get the benefit. They decided to lower the price of certain tobaccos, and immediately they did the manufacturers sent a demand to them that they should charge the same price as everybody else or they would not supply the tobaccos. The manufacturers only acted on the demand that was made by the competitors of this business, on the suggestion that these people were underselling, but there was no underselling because, as I explained, there was a fair return made and decent wages were paid. Now, it is not very easy to carry on a co-operative business if you are up against such a system as that. That statement is absolutely true, and has been made public so that the difficulty of dealing with profiteering is not so simple as some people imagine. The question of high prices, high wages and high profits has to be dealt with. It has been pointed out that wages only followed high prices. That is true. In the industry I was engaged in from 1896 to 1914, there had been an admitted increase in the cost of living in that period of over 30 per cent., and yet there never was 1/- given to the working class people engaged in this industry in the city to meet that increased cost of living. It was near 1917 before anything like a decent increase was given. The working class people say that they are not responsible for the high prices, they only have to follow them, and consequently they should not be the first to suffer reduction in wages for the purpose of bringing prices down. It had better be understood what exactly is in the minds of the working class people. I believe their representatives in a responsible position have the duty of endeavouring to put before the country at large what is in the minds of the workers. There is no use in talking about index figures, and there is no [45] use comparing pre-war prices and the present prices, and the increase in the cost of living; the sooner it is understood by everyone concerned that the working classes are not going back to the 1914 standard the better, because it was not a standard of living at all. We did not live, we merely existed. It had better be understood that the working class people have definitely made up their minds, come what may, that they are not going to be driven back to the 1914 standard of living without putting up all the resistance they can to it. So when you talk of index figures you have to make due allowances for the increased standard of living. I must say I have met employers who have admitted it, and who are prepared to deal with it on that basis, and if there is general agreement on that basis accommodation can be found to settle this problem. With reference to these industrial troubles we do not enter into strikes willingly, because we suffer by them, and our wives and children suffer by them. It means hardship and hunger and suffering for the workers and their families, and, therefore, we do not enter into these strikes light-heartedly for the sake of having a strike. Those who have experience of being on strike know that the employers can have their three or four meals a day while we often have to go on half a one. I would like to impress upon the members of this Seanad and especially the men I see around me who have large interests in many commercial undertakings, what is in the minds of the workers to see if it is possible to produce a better frame of mind to prevent this eternal industrial unrest. When Senator O'Farrell was speaking on the the question of prices and profits he referred to the firm of Messrs. Guinness.

I have been dealing with large numbers of workers in the last four or five years in different wage negotiations up and down the country, and the ordinary working man or woman wants to know what happens when they suffer a wage reduction. Take the firm of Guinness, for instance. The agricultural labourers in many counties in Ireland have already suffered reductions in wages, and they were engaged in the production of barley, which is used in [46] the manufacture of stout and porter. In the Athy district, the largest growing barley district in Ireland, the farm labourers are beaten down to 22/6 per week from 35/- a week. These farm labourers were engaged in the production of barley, and the price of the barley has been so reduced that it is uneconomic now to grow barley. Its price has come down from about 50/- to less than 20/- per barrel. The men engaged in the various small towns have already suffered a reduction on the average of 10/- a week. The men who cart the malt from the malt houses to Guinness's brewery have also suffered a reduction in wages, and the net result has been that Guinness made so much profit that they redistributed it back to the shareholders again, and the price of the commodity in the production of which these people were engaged has not been reduced by one cent. The working class people may be fools, but they are not so terribly foolish that they are going to suffer reductions in their wages repeatedly to enrich other people. If the consumer were going to get the benefit of the reduction, then there may be a disposition to meet fairly the whole question, but if the reduction is to enrich other people who do not produce anything themselves, then it is a different story, and they are not prepared to accept it. That is the position. There is no use in discussing this question unless all the cards are put on the table, and dealt with fairly and squarely. I believe that if the working class people are dealt with fairly and squarely they are prepared to do their share in making this country what we all earnestly hope it will be, one of the happiest and most contented in Europe.

Mr. JAMESON: One or two statements have been made with reference to a large firm, which if allowed to pass without any remarks would mean that the profits of Messrs. Guinness were entirely derived from the low prices they paid the Irish farmers for their barley. I have nothing to do with Messrs. Guinness; I have none of their shares and have nothing to say to the firm, but it would hardly be fair to a firm like that to let such a statement [47] go uncontradicted. It is perfectly evident that the business is so large that the amount of the barley they buy in Ireland would not at all keep their business going. The real source of Messrs. Guinness profits is, of course, that it is a magnificently managed business, which in the last 10 or 15 years has quadrupled, and its products, against the keenest competition in Great Britain, command an enormous trade on the other side of the Channel. The profits are not made entirely out of the Irish trade. It is a mistake to base the whole labour problem, from the agricultural labourer to the maltster, upon the profits of Messrs. Guinness, and I think the Senator must see that. It is not a fair statement of the case and cannot be justified by the facts.

There was another statement which Senator O'Farrell made that I would like to refer to. I must say in passing that the Senator made a most statesman-like speech, and with a great deal of it I thoroughly agree. He justified absolutely the necessity for having a debate on the Governor-General's speech. In one remark he said that the employers were trying to smash trades unionism. I do not know what employers he refers to, but I do know that a vast number of the employers firmly believe that we could not get on with our labour problems and difficulties if labour had not got its organisations and if trades unions did not exist. We are thoroughly aware of it. I do not know any employers of labour who are out to smash trades unionism. The sensible, quiet intelligent men at the head of labour are men we all want to see and get into touch with, and I am certain from what we have heard from Senators to-day that they have that thorough intelligence, if only they could get sections of the labouring community to listen to them. I would like to direct attention to a report that appeared in the Press the other day of how those engaged in the great cotton industry in England put their heads together to deal with a very difficult situation; where the men employed offered to work at low pay for only 20 hours a week if they could enable the employers to carry on. It is well known [48] that a large number of the mills have been losing money hand over fist. In the last few years they have lost over one hundred millions of capital out of the business. A meeting was held at which employed and employers met together, and many of them differed in their opinions. The employers differed amongst themselves, and the wage-earners differed amongst themselves, but every man was putting forward the best of his judgment and of his efforts to try and save the industry. If that sort of spirit prevailed over here and we were not standing out for little things here and other things there, we would very soon get on to a better basis and meet the situation.

Referring to a remark made by Senator Sir John Keane, I want to endorse thoroughly every word he said about balancing the Budget and about the indefiniteness of the way in which the matter was referred to in the Governor-General's speech. “Estimates of the sums required for the service of Saorstát Eireann, for the year ending 31st March, 1925, will be laid before Dáil Eireann in due course and in accordance with the provisions of your Constitution will require your most earnest consideration.” The Budget is not usually brought forward until the spring, and we are now only in October. None of us has ever seen a statement showing that the Budget will balance. Senator Sir J. Keane's complaint, as far as I know, is absolutely right. In the present condition of the Free State we have a great army to keep up at a great cost. Before our last Session ended I tried to get some statement as to the accounting of the army and we were told that that matter was under serious consideration, and that a better process of accounting was going to be adopted. I had hoped that in this Address we would have been told what that process of accounting was, and that we would have had a promise that within a short time the financial results of that and of the reorganisation of the army administration would have been given to us. There is nothing about it in the Governor-General's speech. The millions that are being spent may be and probably are necessary owing to the size of the army. [49] Only the Government can judge whether it is necessary to keep that army, but surely we are not asking too much if we insist that the fullest information as to the financial administration of the army should be given to us and that we ought to be thoroughly satisfied that waste is not going on and that the Free State is getting full value for its money. We also know that the Free State has taken on great liabilities for compensation; we know that we have passed a great Land Act and that money is required for both these purposes. Bonds have to be issued. In a great number of ways the credit of the Free State is before the country and must be used if the resources are to be tapped which will give us a way of paying our way, even for the next six months. I believe it would have been a wise and judicious thing for the Government to have promised some statement, and a very definite statement, as to the finances of the Free State as soon as the new Finance Minister had been able to get his feet under him—a statement as regards the financing of the army, the payment of reparations, the financing of the Land Act, and which would show, leaving out these extra expenses which undoubtedly would require some borrowing, that in the ordinary management and payment for the services of the State, as Senator Sir J. Keane said, we are able to balance our accounts.

I think that the Government ought to listen to the expression of these views, which I believe the members of the Seanad here endorse, and that we cannot sit down quietly for six months before we get a statement that will enable us to hold up our heads in the commercial community with Great Britain, and say we are able to pay our way. I have just returned from London, where I had some very interesting discussions on the subject of finance. Considerable astonishment was expressed when I was not able to give much more detailed and fuller information as to our position, and which anybody can give as regards the finances of Great Britain. I look on the matter as being such a serious one and of such importance to us that I hope it will not be allowed after a [50] short discussion here to lapse, say, for six months. I believe it would be the duty of the Seanad, unless some information is available, and unless we know where we are going, to move for some special committee or something of the kind to enquire into these things. It is not part of our duty in the Seanad to deal much with financial matters, but I believe it is part of our duty, when we think that the measures that are being brought forward do not give sufficient weight to the real financial conditions of the country, to put all the pressure we can, along the lines of getting things put into better shape, so that our position as a country paying its debts will be made clear to the rest of the world.