Dáil Éireann - Volume 77 - 28 September, 1939

Adjournment of Dáil (Motion resumed). - Position of Eire.

Debate resumed on question: “That the Dáil do now adjourn.”

Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures (Mr. Aiken): Last evening I was tempted to reply to some matters that Deputy Dillon raised in the debate. Whether this war that has broken out in Europe be long or short, this country will have to face, from the economic point of view, great stress, I think. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Supplies, when speaking, urged that the State should approach its problems as if the war were certain to be a long one. It is not much use in the State approaching it from that point of view if the individuals who go to make up the State and the community do not co-operate with the Government and approach their own particular problems of production and consumption in the same way.

Deputy Dillon, with colossal impudence, I thought, sneered at the policy of self-sufficiency. I would have thought that if there was one lesson these last few weeks should have brought home to the country it was that a policy of rational self-sufficiency the ideal one for our country, particularly in a time of crisis like this; nut Deputy Dillon said that the followers of Fianna Fáil throughout the [376] country with whom, he alleged, he had been speaking, were hanging their heads in shame over the Government's policy of self-sufficiency. I think that any sensible man in the country will say to himself that it is much better that this nation lias, in the last few years, been led by men who believed in self-sufficiency—that the country is much better off than if, during those years. Deputy Dillon's policy had been put into effect.

We have three-quarters of our annual sugar supply this year out of our own soil. We have at least a third of our wheat requirements. We would have had neither if Deputy Dillon had had his way. Not alone here in the Dáil but throughout the country he condemned wheat, beet and peat as “all a cod”. The people can face this situation, I think, with much greater calmness, having an assured supply of three-quarters of our sugar requirements from our own soil and one-third of our requirements of wheat from our own soil, than if they had to depend upon storage or upon supplies coming from overseas. If this war is to be a long one, and I think it is generally agreed that we should go on that assumption, we will have to proceed on a policy of more and more self-sufficiency, until we reach the point that out of our own soil our people have a secure supply of all the essentials of life.

Deputy Dillon yesterday, with the air of an oracle, advised the farmers to go in for more cattle production, more pig production and more egg and poultry production. He said we should start on a great campaign of publicity to get the farmers to produce those things. I pointed out to him that you cannot feed pigs on publicity, and tried to get him to address himself to the problem as to how the more pigs, more cattle and more poultry were to be fed. After some hesitancy, he went on to advise the farmers to grow more feed in their own soil. But he did not seem to realise the actual position in regard to cereal food for man and beast. If we had no stores of feeding-stuffs or cereals, we would this year be about 900,000 acres short of cereals, between [377] wheat for human consumption and cattle food, barley, oats and potatoes. We would be 900,000 acres short. I think it will take a very big effort on the part of all our farmers, both those who have been in tillage and those who have not tilled, in order to get more than half of that 900,000 acres in the coming year. Somewhere or another, out of our own soil or from foreign supplies, we will have to secure the equivalent of 900,000 acres of cereal products in order to sustain our present cattle, pig and poultry population. It is to be hoped, fervently to be hoped, that our farmers will put their hands to the plough, and do their utmost to secure that as many acres as possible will be sown with cereal or root crops, in order that that deficiency of 900,000 acres will be made up. Each farmer in the country will have to do his utmost to be self-contained on his own farm, just as the nation will have to do its utmost to see that the community will produce out of its own resources all that is required to sustain life. That 900,000 acres of feeding stuffs for man and beast will be difficult to secure, either out of our own soil or from foreign sources.

The Minister for Supplies yesterday pointed out that we had certain reserves of cereals in the country; that, although we had practically no maize here within our shores, we had certain reserves of wheat, and he proposed to meet the present emergency for cattle food by releasing some of the wheat in the form of flaked wheat for feeding stuffs for pigs and poultry. But if further supplies are not forthcoming from abroad, we will not be able to eat too far into what he called our iron ration of wheat. We must remember, as I pointed out to Deputy Dillon yesterday by way of perhaps a disorderly interruption, that it takes 6 cwts. of feeding stuffs to produce 1 cwt. of meat, and if we are put to it we may have to follow the example of other countries in refusing to allow the farmers to feed cattle or pigs or poultry with 6 cwts. of life-sustaining cereals in order to get 1 cwt. of life-sustaining meat. I do not believe that we here in Ireland will suffer very greatly from want of food. If we [378] increase our acreage of cereals and root crops, we can feed all our human population well, and we will be able to support in all circumstances a very large percentage of our present cattle, pig and poultry population. If the worst came to the worst——

Mr. Dillon: Do not say that they would slaughter the calves.

Mr. Aiken: ——we would slaughter the calves, and we would slaughter the pigs, and we would eat the cereals. We would keep human beings alive in preference to animals.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: Making them eat grass.

Mr. Aiken: Thanks be to the Lord we are not reduced to that. We will not be reduced to that, but if Deputy Dillon's policy had been brought to its logical conclusion it might be possible that we would have nothing else but grass to eat. I thank God that we have some few hundred thousand acres of good cereals, good wheat, oats, barley and potatoes to eat, and I trust that we will nave some acres added to the plough so that we will be in a position to have a better supply of cereals. Yesterday, Deputy Dillon accused the Government of not having a secure supply of maize within the country. During this last couple of years the Government have been doing something to build up reserve stocks of various commodities here, and they got very little encouragement indeed from Deputy Dillon. He growled about the additional cost of wheat storage. He growled about our general self-sufficiency policy.

Mr. Dillon: The Minister is growling about it now.

Mr. Aiken: He assured us that there was going to be no war. If we had come into the Dáil a few months ago with a proposition to spend a few million pounds on building up a reserve of maize, what would Deputy Dillon have said? He would have said just the same as he said when we came in here with the Army Estimates: “You fools; there is going to be no war.” [379] He assured us that there was going to be no war.

Mr. Dillon: Not that it matters much, but that is quite untrue.

Mr. Aiken: I distinctly remember Deputy Dillon assuring us, with all due solemnity and with his usual emphasis. that there was going to be no war, that we could take that from him.

Mr. Dillon: You are rambling.

Mr. Aiken: The Deputy can slide out of it that way if he likes. All the Deputies who were here on the occasion remember the Deputy's statement as well as I do. He urged yesterday that we should get in a supply of maize as a reserve cattle food. It may be that we shall not get the maize, and I think our farmers should face that situation. If we set our hands to the plough and produce more substitutes for maize in oats and barley, then, if maize comes in, so much the better. But each and every farmer should look at his own farm and his own stock and do his utmost to produce every pound of feeding stuff necessary for his stock within the boundaries of his own farm. Those who have an opportunity of tilling more will, if this war goes on, find it very good policy to produce more grain than is necessary to feed the stock on their own farms. The Government has for a number of years kept the price of cereals at a fair figure. It will continue to do that, and the farmers have, at all events, this security if they put their hands to the plough—that they will get a fair price for their cereals in all circumstances. If they do not put their hands to the plough, they should envisage a situation in which they will not get sufficient cereals from abroad, in certain circumstances, to feed their cattle. We hope these circumstances will not arise, but he is a wise man who prepares for the worst while hoping for the best. Therefore, I hope our farmers will take Deputy Dillon's advice with a little grain of salt and be careful in following his advice to increase stock without seeing where the food is to come from.

[380] Mr. Dillon: Is that the Government's policy?

Mr. Aiken: That is Deputy Dillon's policy. Deputy Dillon said yesterday that we ought to go out on a big publicity campaign to induce the farmers to produce still more cattle, still more pigs and still more poultry.

Mr. Dillon: Is the Government opposed to that?

Mr. Aiken: I was speaking some time before the Deputy came into the House and I am giving my personal opinion. We are at present 900,000 acres of cereals short in our annual production for the sustenance of man and beast in the country With our present population—human and animal —if supplies from abroad were to run short or if we were to assume that we would have no further supplies from abroad, we would be 900,000 acres of cereals short next year for the feeding of our human beings and our cattle.

Mr. Dillon: What does the Government want us to do? Do they want us to increase production or do they not?

Mr. Aiken: To increase production in a rational way. There is no use in producing hens or pigs if there is no food for them.

Mr. Dillon: Somebody ought to tell us what the Government wants us to do. The Minister tells us that We are not to produce more stock and some of the other fellows have told us that we must produce more of everything.

The Taoiseach: Is there any chance of keeping Deputy Dillon quiet?

Mr. Dillon: I do not blame you for your intervention but if you would keep a few of your own fellows quiet it would be better.

The Taoiseach: Is this a deliberative assembly or not?

Mr. Dillon: I am seeking information. The Prime Minister has come in here and asked us to put questions in [381] order to get information. Different Ministers have been put up and they tell us diametrically opposite things. Nobody wants to know what the personal opinion of the Minister for Defence as to policy is. What we want to know is the Government's policy. Do they want us to produce move or do they not?

An Ceann Comhairle: Ministers and other Deputies are entitled to speak without interruption. When the Minister has concluded questions within reason may be asked.

Mr. Dillon: The Prime Minister is not the Ceann Comhairle of this Assembly.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Prime Minister, or rather An Taoiseach, is entitled to rise to a point of order.

Mr. Aiken: The most urgent problem before this country is to produce more of everything that is required for the sustenance of life. That is our most urgent problem. Every ounce of human energy that can be put into the production of things which the people require for the maintenance of a fairly comfortable standard of life should be used. There is no use in producing hides or feathers or increasing the number of our cattle or hens if we have not sufficient foodstuffs to put into them to produce beef, eggs and poultry-flesh. I am pointing out to the Deputy that, on our present production-figures, we are 900,000 acres short of the amount if cereals necessary to give our people all the bread they want and our cattle all the food they require to keep them up to standard. Unless we can produce those 900,000 acres next year or import feeding stuffs of corresponding amount, we shall have to reduce the numbers of our stock in some way to meet our food production.

I am urging farmers to start in in the proper way to increase production. You cannot make boots without leather and you cannot produce beef without food. If our farmers want to maintain our present production of beef and eggs, they will have to put their hands to the plough and produce the necessary [382] food. If they are wise, they will act on the assumption that we hall not be able to get anything in. Present indications are, as the Minister for Supplies said yesterday, that we shall not be as badly oft as all that but we would be wise to prepare for the worst. Each and every farmer should consider how he is going to produce on his own fields the food necessary to raise the number of cattle and poultry he had last year and an increased number, if possible.

We can cultivate very much more of our own soil than 900,000 acres, but it is going to take some time to do it. We cannot get, overnight, the farmers who were tilling no ground at all to till up to 50 per cent. That cannot be done in one year or in two years; and neither can we get the farmer, who was tilling only 20 per cent., to 90 up to 50 per cent. or 60 per cent., but we should do our best, and the farmers of the country, knowing that the Government will stand behind them in guaranteeing a fair price for the cereals they produce, should do their utmost to produce all the cereals they can in the coming year.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: We have listened to what I can only describe as a most astonishing and most extraordinary and disquieting speech, and if the speech of the Minister who has just sat down is to be taken a an indication of the Government policy on agriculture, then, certainly, the country is in an extraordinarily bad way and has got a Government that is speaking in most divided and contradictory terms.

Mr. Dillon: Hear, hear!

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I heard a broadcast the other day: “By all means increase the amount of food.” The quickest way to increase the amount of food is to increase the number of ewes, keep as many ewes as possible. Now, however, we have a Minister who gets up and declares war against live stock, and evidently envisages that there is going to be another slaughter of calves. That is the policy which we certainly hear coming from the Government Benches. [383] I will grant that, during portions of the Minister's speech, he did announce what has been announced from these benches year after year as the proper policy to be pursued. During a portion of the Minister's speech he announced what was the Fine Gael agricultural policy, and that is to produce as much stuff as you possibly can produce, and keep your stock fed by the stuff which is grown upon your own land. That was the Hogan policy, and that has been and always will be our policy. As I say, I admit that, during portions of the Minister's speech, he did agree with that policy, but then afterwards he broke away to a terrifying statement that it will be a dangerous thing for us to produce meat because our stock may starve.

How is an ordinary farmer to take the Minister's speech? Let us suppose that a man is debating in his mind at the present moment whether or not he should slaughter a young heifer that he has, or send that heifer to the bull with a view to the production of calves next year? What does the Minister say? I understood that the policy of the Government was what Deputy Dillon put forward, and that is, by all means, to keep that animal this year and use her for breeding purposes next year. That is what Deputy Dillon suggested, but what is the Minister's policy? According to the Minister's speech, his policy is that by no means should you do so, and you are running a terrible risk if you do so. According to the Minister's speech, that animal should be slaughtered. What else can a farmer take out of the Minister's speech except that, and surely the farmers are going through a very hard time at the present moment? It is very difficult for the farmers to know what is the correct course for them to pursue, but at least they should get some help and some lead from the Government. Let them have some direct policy laid down which, in the opinion of the Government, is the right policy for them to follow.

As I say, farming is going to be very difficult in this country. There was an obvious necessity for a considerable amount of increased tillage, [384] but just at a time when tillage becomes so obviously necessary it happens to be a very difficult time for farmers to get into tillage. Let us fling our minds back to 1914, when the Great War broke out. There was a demand for increased production then, but at that time it was easily done. The farmers in those days had bad a number of good years behind them; they had reserves in cash and there were very high prices for produce. At the present moment, however, we are starting a campaign to increase tillage and to Increase production at a time when we have—and it is known to everybody in this country and ought to be known to everybody in this House— a farming community which is entirely short of capital, and, unless some arrangement is come to by which capital can be made available to farmers, it will be extremely difficult for farmers to change their methods or even to keep the full amount of live stock that they ought to keep because, as I said a moment ago, anybody who goes through this country and who looks at the fields or who attends any fair or market in this country, will know that at the present moment the land of the country is not fully stocked.

We want a definite and clear lead on agricultural matters by a Government which has thought the problem out. There has been a great number of shifts and changes in the Ministry. People have been moved from post to post; some of them have been kicked downstairs and others have been kicked upstairs, and there is almost nobody left where he was. Most unfortunately, however, there was one Minister left where he was and I think that that is the Minister, of all Ministers in the Government, in whom the country has least confidence. I refer to the Minister for Agriculture. Now is the time when we are seeing the complete failure of that Minister's policy. Now is the time when we wish we had the slaughtered calves alive and feeding on our land. If you want to have confidence in this Government? amongst the agricultural community— and I am talking to you now, not in any spirit of bitterness, but from the [385] depth of a very real and sound conviction—if you want to have any confidence in tins Government amongst the fanning community, the Minister for Agriculture must go. He is, essentially, the Minister of all Ministers in the Government in whom the country has absolutely no confidence and whose office the country wants to see filled by home other man with home bounder and consistent policy.

Farming, as I say, is going to be difficult, and last night we heard from the Minister for Supplies that it will be more difficult owing to the fact that there will be a shortage of artificial manures this year. Now, that again is a matter which is going to make production very difficult. In 1914, at the start of the last war, there was land which had been kept in good heart and in perfect condition. At the present moment, however, a great deal of the land of this country has been run down because it was meadowed year after year without any artificial manure because there was not the money to pay for artificial manures. Our consumption of artificial manures has been going down for real's and has reached a very low level, and it is from that low level that we have now got to retrieve ourselves. It is necessary therefore, for the Government to outline a policy and, as I say, I hope that the Minister who will outline that policy will be some other than the present occupant of the position of Minister for Agriculture. It is necessary, as I say, for the Government to outline a policy for the farming community to follow and, at the same time, to make available the capital necessary to enable the farmers to follow out that police.

Now, there is not merely the question of agriculture. The matters to which I wish rather to turn my attention for the moment are concerned with two other Departments, the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice. There can be no question but that at present the mind of this country is intensely disturbed. There is great disquietude all through the country and there have been the most alarming rumours all through the country. It is a, dangerous thing [386] sometimes to be too out-spoken. There can be a very mischievous speech indeed, but, at the same time, there can be a much more mischievous silence, and it seems to me that these rumours which have been spread through the country and doing such harm to the peace of the country are due to the mischievous silence of the Government.

The Head of the Government addressed the House yesterday, and his speech was not one which in any way tended to dissipate that feeling of disquietude. We expected him to tell us what were the reasons for these various changes of office and why, at a time like this, the Minister for Justice should be changed, why, at a time like this, the Minister for Defence should be changed, and why the Army and the Guards should be put into the hands of Ministers untried in the administration of these Departments. We expected some explanation of these matters.

We wonder why there has been a Ministry for the Co-ordination of Defence? What is to be co-ordinated? What Departments are there to be co-ordinated? The Department of Defence is to be co-ordinated with the Department of Defence, and there is a Minister appointed to do it. The present Minister is appointed, as far as one can gather, to a complete sinecure in order that the left hand of the Minister for Defence may know what the right hand of the Minister for Defence is doing. It seems to have no other purpose, and when we find a person who has been Minister for Defence for years removed from that post and put into what is obviously a sinecure position, the country wants to know the reason. Then again, we discover that the Minister for Justice is changed at a time when abnormal courts are being set up, and when, in the opinion of the Department, the ordinary law is not sufficient for the maintenance of peace, but we have not been told why that alteration is made Is it surprising that the whole country is seething with rumours of splits and divisions in the Government, and is it not very bad that such rumours should spread? I cannot imagine, at a time [387] like this, anything more damaging to good government in this country than that there should be rumours of splits and dissensions in the Government. If, as I am sure will be the case, any other Minister takes part in this debate, I press upon him that he should state clearly and emphatically that there is no split, that there is no division, but that there is complete unity in his Cabinet.

The Taoiseach: Would it help the Deputy if I said that now?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I should be very glad to hear it.

The Taoiseach: I will repeat what the Deputy has said word for word and in exactly the same terms.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am delighted to hear it, because the Taoiseach will agree with me that, to the cause of good government, nothing can be more damaging than that rumours of that nature should be spread, and I am very anxious that those rumours should be choked down and destroyed by clear statements from the Government Benches.

The Taoiseach: There is no foundation, good, bad or indifferent, for any such rumour.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am very glad to hear it. Now, there is another rumour to which, in the interests of good government, I should like the Taoiseach to give an equally emphatic contradiction. It is that there is going to be conscription in this country, that there is a threat of conscription. That, to my mind, is an absolutely absurd rumour, but it has spread all over my constituency. Person after person has come to me and asked: “When is conscription coming? How long will it be before there is conscription?” I tell them that in no conceivable circumstances is there the slightest possibility of any conscription in this country, and I tell them that no Government could conceivably carry anything in the nature of conscription in this House. I hope that, as emphatically as I have contradicted it. which was as emphatically [388] as I could speak, the Taoiseach will contradict it because it is a pernicious rumour which is being spread to cause disturbance.

The Taoiseach: If the Deputy will write out the statement he has made, I will be prepared to sign it.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I am very glad that upon those two lines I have succeeded——

Mr. Corry: What about the other rumour?

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: What rumour?

Mr. Corry: There has also been a rumour down the country that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney was going to be re-appointed as Minister for Justice here.

Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I can assure the Deputy that that will get an equally emphatic contradiction from me. The rumour certainly never reached my ears. One of the other matters with which I wish to deal is the speech of the Taoiseach yesterday as to the necessity of having armed forces here. I see none. I see no necessity for the assembling of the Volunteers at all. I do not see what useful purpose it can serve and it is costing a tremendous sum of money to a country that will want every penny it has. We have got no explanation except the possibility that they would be required to preserve our neutrality. What possible danger is there to our neutrality which any armed force could prevent? We are told that Switzerland has to arm. Switzerland is not an island. We are told that Holland and Belgium have to defend their frontiers. So they have, because there is war going on around them. What possible invasion can there be of our frontiers? There can be none. Which of the warlike forces, which of the combatants, would have the slightest conceivable possibility of coming here Who is going to land a force here? Is it Great Britain or France? Is it against them we are arming? It is too nonsensical for words. Is it against Germany we are arming? How is Germany to send troops over here? Is she to beat the British Navy from off the seas in order [389] to land her expeditionary force here, or are they to be dropped by aeroplanes? That is equally absurd. By whom and how docs any member of the Government visualise a hostile invasion of this country? It is ridiculous.

We are told that we may be attacked from the air. What are the Volunteers going to do to prevent an air attack? How could they? What is the use of having this large number of men which is costing the country an enormous sum? Are they wanted for home defence? I see nothing in the present condition of affairs that requires a large body of that nature to deal with home defence against any possibility of insurrection in this State. What are they being assembled for? What is the real reason? What is the danger against which we are arming and why are we wasting the country's money, which might be very usefully spent in productive work, in taking young men out of productive work and keeping them doing nothing at tremendous expense to the State? I should like to hear from the Minister for Defence what is supposed to be the danger against which we are keeping such a very large force in comparison with what it used to be.

I turn, then, to the Department of Justice and I discover that, instead of the 250 men whom we were told the Gárda force is short, there are 500 men to be enlisted. Why this increase of the force? We were told, to begin with, that it was going to be an entirely separate and new force, which, again, was a most terrifying thing for the country. We were not told whether it was to be an armed force or an unarmed force. I am glad that that scheme has been scrapped. Why the increase of 400 men? It takes at least six months before a man is the slightest use as a Guard. So, we are to have 400 men trained for six months. They are only to be temporary. How long are they to he kept? For six months, at any my rate, there will be no increase in the strength of the Guards; they will not be able to do any duty. I should like to hear the need for that and why, instead or recruiting Guards [390] in the ordinary way, this new method has been adopted of getting in temporary men who have no real interest in the force.

I do not wish lo detain the House any further, but I do think that, considering the present state of the public mind, it is necessary to put the public mind at rest. I differ entirely from the Taoiseach. I do not think that we are living in a state of self-complacency and require to be stirred out of it. I think it is the very opposite, and that at present this country is suffering unduly from fears. I believe that there is in parts of the country almost a feeling of panic coming. I do hope that before this debate is over such words will be spoken by the Government as will dissipate that feeling.

Mr. Brennan: Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach reminded the House that it was not the fate of a Party but the fate of the whole country and the whole people that was at stake. He also reminded Deputies that they ought to take their responsibility in a matter like this very seriously. It is with a full sense of responsibility that I make whatever observations I have to make on this matter. I entirely agree with the Taoiseach that it is not the fate of the Government or the fate of a Party that is at stake. This is the first time that this State was called upon to meet a crisis on its own. It will be very interesting to see how we are going to get out of it. Before this country gained its independence, there were people on the other side of the water who alleged from time to time that we were not fit for self-government. Now we are on test. The people on the Front Bench opposite are the people on whom is thrown the responsibility of showing whether the people of this country are fit for self-government or not.

Whatever criticism I have to offer will not be destructive criticism; but I think it is well that the Government should he told exactly the figure that they cut in the House yesterday and the figure that they cut to-day-it is well both for themselves and the country. There is no use in hiding our heads in the sand and thinking we [391] are all right. It any persons who were in the House yesterday—and the gallery was packed—came to find some inspiration and confidence, did they go away with it? If then was any impression left on the people in the House yesterday it was an impression of absolute ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and ineptitude on the part of the people on the far side of the House. At question time yesterday nobody appeared to know what anybody else was doing, nobody appeared to know who was responsible for anything. We had even the A.R.P. director yesterday telling us of a libel on the people of the country—that the black-out in this country was as a result of radio messages from other countries, when everybody in the country knows that it was the Guards, through the various Government Departments, who gave the instructions.

Let us have a straight talk about this. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence talked about the good luck that the State has had for the last seven or eight years in having a self-sufficiency Party in power. Let him give us the figures of prosperity, of tillage, or anything else that that self-sufficiency Party has brought to this country. Deputy Corry last night and the Taoiseach yesterday in fact made similar statements. The figures are very illuminating with regard to this self-sufficiency policy in connection with tillage and other matters. The figures I am going to quote are from statistics prepared by the Department of Industry and Commerce. We will see from these figures how far this policy has brought us to self-sufficiency and what reliance we can place on that type of policy to feed us during any crisis. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence said a while ago that it would take 900,000 acres of cereals to provide for our wants in this country. He said that we grow one-third of our requirements of wheat. Crisis and all as there is, the Minister for Supplies yesterday told us that we had at the moment at least two years' supply of wheat; so that, of that two years' supply, one-sixth is this year's crop. That is the position according to the [392] figures. In 1931, before the present Government got into power, we grew wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, turnips and mangolds, as we do now. Our wheat acreage was much less at that time, but our oats acreage and our barley acreage were much greater. On the figures for 1939, as compared with 1931, you have a plus in wheat of 238,000 acres, a minus in oats of 88,000 acres, a minus in barley of 44,000 acres, a minus in potatoes of 31,000 acres, and a minus in turnips of 41,000 acres. Now, let the Minister get up and boast of the advantages that this State has had and enjoys at present because of their self-sufficiency policy.

Bringing the matter more up to date, let us compare last year with this year, when the Minister, with all his guaranteed prices, thought he was doing a great thing for cereals in this country. I have here some information taken from the agricultural statistics of Jane, 1939, and a comparison has been made in relation to cereals. The figures indicate that there was a drop in cereal production this year as against last year of 51,200 acres in corn crops and 27,200 acres in root crops.

When this debate was inaugurated yesterday, I had hoped that some member of the Government, particularly the Taoiseach, would have inspired the House with confidence, would have told the House exactly what his programme is for this crisis, would have told us that, so far as he and those who stand with him are concerned, he was going to see that the law was maintained, and he expected everybody to stand behind him. I expected he would formulate some policy, would tell us what he had in view and what arrangements he was making for carrying on all the activities that he now says are necessary. So far we have had nothing from those people opposite but pessimistic remarks of one kind or another. There was this exception. that they boasted that their policy of self-sufficiency has put the country out of danger at the present time. If ever they had a chance to put the self-sufficiency policy to the test, now is the time.

[393] In addition to the fall in tillage that I have indicated, the same publication from the Department of Industry and Commerce also shows a fall this year the sheep population to the extent of 162,400 and in the cattle population of 4,000. There was a fall in the number of pigs to the extent of 14,300. When the war is just a month old, we are told by the Minister for Supplies that he does not yet know whether it is a day-to-day policy he ought to pursue or a long-term policy. Apparently the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government are convinced that mouthing about a tillage policy and about increased production is quite sufficient, and beyond that they did not take any definite action. See what has happened across the way, across the Border. From the word “go” they had their policy in hand. We have not done a thing. Nobody on the Government Benches appears to know what we should do. There is only one thing that can carry this country through, and that is confidence in the Government. Have we any right to have confidence in them? My remarks are directed principally to try to get them to do something, to take off their coats, as it were, and adopt a policy and follow it out.

The Minister wants 900,000 acres of tillage this year, and yet he has not a bag of artificial manure to put into the land. What is he going to do with it? For two years I have been endeavouring to impress on the Government the absolute necessity that exists for an adequate supply of artificial manure for the land, and there has not been a word uttered about it from the Government Benches. Now we are thrown on our own resources. The Minister tells us we must provide against all shipping and transport dislocations; we must provide cereals for ourselves and our stock. The position is that we will not have any artificial manure with which to grow food.

I read in yesterday's paper that a new quota order has been fixed for the importation of artificial manure. Just imagine that on the day on which the Minister for Supplies, the man responsible to this country in the present [394] crisis for supplies, comes hero and feels obliged to say that the supply of artificial manures will be very seriously curtailed—on that same day he publishes a notice in the papers which says that so far as he can and so far as the law is concerned there will still be a restriction on imported artificial manure. His case was that the quota be fixed was increased by 300 per cent. and there was no chance of getting in even that amount. Why then have we a quota? Is it not quite obvious why we have a quota?

This is a good illustration of how far they have allowed themselves to be handled by rings. They are afraid of the manure ring to take off the quota, even though they cannot get in a bag of it. We want more tillage, we want 900,000 acres more of tillage. The Minister, if he knows anything about the land, knows that the rich lands of this country are not responsive to tillage and the poor lands responsive to tillage will not grow crops without manure. The same Minister who told us that found fault with timber merchants who had not laid in a supply of timber before the war started. The Minister is the man who had restrictive quotas against the importation of artificial manure and he has left us now without a bag of manure to grow cereals or anything else with. It is not easy to have confidence in the Government.

The Taoiseach told us yesterday that he was amazed that during the Great War there was no increase in the volume of agricultural output, notwithstanding the big prices. It is well-known that the Taoiseach is a city man, but to any man who walks the fields and breeds live stock, it is as simple as A.B.C. No matter what the Taoiseach thinks, cows will not have two calves and ewes will not have three or four lambs because there is a war on. It docs not affect them. Live stock cannot be increased overnight or in a year. All that may be done is to lay the foundation. When the last war was sprung on the world no one could estimate its length, or what the repercussions on this country would be. We went through four years of war and we had the aftermath, and if we are not wiser to-day that is our own fault. [395] Now we are entering on another world war. What have the people benefited from the knowledge they obtained from the last war? Nothing. I do not know any country in the world, that is in any way affected by war, that is so unprepared as our people are for the present situation.

When coming here, I had hoped to have some evidence from the Government that they were really in earnest about making some attempt to tide this country over the present crisis. We are in the midst of a crisis. It does not matter what the Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures or Deputy Corry says, there is no fear of hunger and no fear of a shortage of food. As the late Minister for Agriculture told the country many years ago, when he was only a little boy, and as he repeatedly told the present Taoiseach when he was on this side of the House, our difficulty in a time of war will be to get food out of the country. That is true. Deputy Corry gave it as his opinion last night that there was no shortage of meat here. It is amazing that Deputy Corry should have such an opinion of a country that exports four-fifths of its cattle and three-fourths of its pigs. Deputy Corry thinks there will be no shortage. Of course there will be no shortage. People will never be hungry here unless they want to be, or unless they are too lazy to work.

But I tell the Mouse that what there will be a shortage of is cash. That is what this country is going to be short of. That is the difficulty here. We want money to carry on. The Government does not help us to get the money. The Taoiseach told the House yesterday—I am giving his words because they will be of more interest to Deputies, and would not get the same credit if they were my words— that one of the belligerent States, Great Britain, takes over 90 per cent. of our exports and gives us over 50 per cent. of our imports. In that country they have already started on an agricultural war programme with a view to the future, and although we are so tied up economically with Britain, that provides 50 per cent. of [396] our imports and takes over 90 per cent. of our exports, we have not yet decided whether we are to adopt the same programme or one for a longer period. When are we going to set our minds down to the task?

The Taoiseach asked for the consent of the House to add another member to the Government. I have no objection to that. I have no objection to the Taoiseach doing anything he thinks necessary in reason to carry this country through the crisis, but if we are to judge the Executive Council by the ineptitude shown yesterday and to-day, I say that the tenth man was added so that the numbers in the Executive Council coincided with the ten foolish virgins that had not their lamps filled. Certainly they have not their lamps filled and have no policy for the present crisis. We were told that they want to create a feeling of confidence. Let me tell the Taoiseach that it does not create confidence to shuffle the Ministers around in a crisis. It is said to be a bad thing to change horses when crossing the stream.

The country feels that there was a reason for all this, and it will not be convinced by the Taoiseach saying that because he had to create one new Ministry it was necessary to have all this shuffling. As my colleague Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney pointed out, all I am sorry for is that he did not, at least, shuffle the Minister for Agriculture out of the position he is in. That would have been a God-send to this country. I wonder is it because the Taoiseach regards the manner in which that Minister carried out his policy as being so satisfactory that he left him there, or is it that he was afraid to transfer him to another Ministry lest the position would become equally chaotic? We could do without him in any case.

I was interested in some of the questions that were dealt with yesterday. I was very intrigued by reports, by some letters in the newspapers, and by a statement that came from the Information Bureau concerning the arrangement or whatever it was that the British were making for the reception of fat cattle from this country. In a crisis like the present one, it is usual for the Government in other countries [397] to ask for consultation with members of other Parties. I have been asked by various people if it was possible that the Government had made an arrangement of the kind I refer to without asking for the advice or the assistance of the Opposition. I said that they had not done so, and that we had nothing to do with the matter. It does not matter whether Fianna Fáil believes it or not, the country knows that we were always in favour of a live stock policy, as the one industry which provided the wherewithal by which our people could live and have purchasing power with which to support factories or anything else. There is no other source for making money here but live stock. Deputies on the Government Benches endeavoured, until they became wiser, to minimise the importance of the live stock trade. They said it was not one of importance. It should be remembered that the magnitude of the live stock trade with Great Britain, which takes four-fifths of our produce, is such that it provides us with any money we have to spend. Yet people on this side of the House who showed their wisdom in the policy they adopted, have not been asked a word about this arrangement. Perhaps if they had been asked the result would have been the same. I am not saying that it would. I cannot say what the result would have been. We were not told what the arrangement was nor consulted as to whether it was going to operate or not. Perhaps if we were consulted the position would be the same, but for the sake of the Government, and for the sake of establishing confidence, they should have sought co-operation in a matter like that.

The Minister for Supplies, when speaking yesterday, said the great danger here was unemployment, and indicated that the one and only hope of any extension of employment was on the land and in agriculture. Land and agriculture, he told us, are the only things that can absorb in any considerable way the unemployed. But to what extent they could do so he does not know. For the last seven years there was very little thought for agriculture. When the Minister wanted a tariff to any extent no matter how it [398] pressed upon the agricultural community that tariff was imposed no matter how much opposition there was to it.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair was given to understand that this debate was designed to elicit information regarding plans to meet present emergencies. A critical review of Government policy over the past eight years will not, I submit, help to elicit the information which Deputies desire.

Mr. Brennan: Sir, let me say this, that this State to-day finds itself in a certain position. Certain members of the Government have tried to impress upon this House and upon the people of this State that we are in a very advantageous position because of the policy that has been pursued by them during the past seven years. Now, apparently, because of that sort of opinion in the Government, the Government have sat down and done nothing. I want to get them away from that. I want to disabuse their minds completely, if I possibly can do so, and to show them that what they have done for the last seven years has only retarded production. What they have done is a thing that will not in any way help the country in this crisis. That is my reason for bringing in these matters. I am trying to convince the Government that they must alter their course; that they must not alone put their hands to the plough but that they must take off their coats and they must try to establish in the people of this country—and not alone in the Fianna Fáil supporters of the Government— that confidence which is an absolute necessity if the Government is to be maintained and if this State is going to survive the present crisis. This State does not, as the Taoiseach said. belong to any Party. It belongs to the people of this country and when a crisis arises like the crisis that has arisen at the present time, it is our duty to step in if we possibly can, and do what is best for the country. We feel a responsibility to tell the Government what it is they ought to do. It is our responsibility to tell them that [399] they should not rely upon what are only broken reeds.

It is disappointing to the people of this country to feel that the Government are under the impression that they are doing something when, in fact, they are doing nothing. They have been doing nothing for years. For the last four or five years we have had pretty hard times amongst the agricultural community. Because of the penury to which the farmers were reduced during the economic war, we have had them demanding relief from over-taxation, relief from rates and relief from the heavy debts that are pressing down on them. We have heard the farmers asking for loans to enable them to stock their lands and to work them. Now, at the end of all that we are told by the Minister that. we are going to have compulsory tillage. How is compulsory tillage going to be carried through? How are you going to get a man with, say, a 100-acre farm without any stock or horses on it, and with no capital, to till 25 per cent., or even 5 per cent. of that land? What is the Government going to do about it?

In England they have an army of tractors ready to go out and plough the land. In Northern Ireland they have an army of tractors for the same purpose. What have we here? A and we are going to sit down upon that. and get no further. Now I tell the Government that will not get us anywhere. This war was not sprung on the people of this country, and it was not sprung on the world. It does not matter what Deputy Dillon or anybody else says. The Ministers were responsible for the government of this country. Their responsibility was to meet any situation that might arise. What have they done to carry out that responsibility? If the Government wanted to devise a policy for this country that would pat the people on their feet, and that would not alone get the country through the crisis, but possibly leave it a much wealthier country when the war is over, they would, in the last two years, have made arrangements to put out tons and tons of artificial manures on the land, [400] and they could have been working for the last four or five years to increase production. It cannot be done now. It is too late to-day to do these things. The desire to do them is there, but the money or capital credit is not available. The farmers are being loaded down by increased rates. They are loaded with old loans and debts. These liabilities, these old debts are pressing hard on their shoulders. What is the Government going to do about that? Is there any attempt made at an organisation of the unemployed, or at turning them to working on the land? Are we still going to have, all through the country, schemes for mending boreens and things like that, at the same time that the land is calling for tillage and calling for manures? It is only a Government can deal with these things.

This is the position in which we find ourselves after one month of the war in which, as the Taoiseach said yesterday, our trade and commerce are going to be completely dislocated. I do not want to exaggerate the ills suffered by the farmers. Speaking on their behalf, I do not want to make any claims upon the Government that cannot in reason be made. I do not at all claim that the farmers are to be spoon-fed, but I do think that they ought to get a fair chance of making a living. They have not got that chance, and apparently they are not going to get it.

Finally, let me say this, that I am disappointed and I am sorry. I am sorry that the Government or some member of the Government has not been able to create in this country, either yesterday or to-day, that confidence which is necessary to carry us through at the present time. I would be quite happy if the Taoiseach, when making his speech here yesterday, told the House and the country what his programme was and how he was going to carry through that programme. I would be happy if he had told the House that he would have no interference, that he would have no man outside the law in this country, that he would have regulations and that he-would carry them out. I would have been glad if he had said that as far as faun production and crops were concerned the Government would provide [401] the wherewithal for the farmers to produce and then that they would see that they did it. I would have been a proud man leaving the House if the Taoiseach had said that. But no.

The Minister for Co-ordination told me how lucky it was that we had a Fianna Fáil Government in office for the last seven years. The figures I have quoted prove the luck. Our sheep population is down; our cattle population is down, and our pigs are down. Our tillage is down. The population is gone from the land into the towns. That is what has happened during the self-sufficiency policy which it, was our good fortune to have for the last seven years. Let us forget about that. Let the Government forget all about that self-sufficiency policy. Let them bend their backs and their brains to devising some policy that will get this country through the present trial. There is a dislocation of shipping. There is a dislocation of transport. It will not be so easy for Britain to get meat from the Argentine or New Zealand as it was.

A golden opportunity was here for this country to make money and to establish markets that they would never lose again, if they were wise, but the Government threw it all away. The last war had no lessons for them. Nothing has a lesson for them. It is only the Fianna Fáil policy of self-sufficiency that counts. I hope somebody—I hope the Government backbenchers—will compel the Executive Council to do something at the present time. This country is looking for a lead. Let us look across the water. Let us look anywhere. In other countries the Government, comes out and says what it is going to do. It has its plan ready from the word “go”. We have nothing.

As I said in the beginning, and I am going to finish on the same note, this country is now on test as to whether it is fit for self-government at all or not. Now is the crisis. Now is the test It is for the Government to show that we are. It is for the Government to show that this country can face a crisis and can come out of it winners. Let us see that that is done.

[402] Mr. Esmonde: I think there is a certain amount of unreality about the debate and I feel some diffidence in intervening owing to the attitude which I took up, on the last occasion when this House met, towards giving the Government the emergency powers winch they asked for. But this House gave those powers to the Government and, although I expressed my disapproval at the time, I found it right and proper to say that being in such a small minority, if I were giving these powers as an individual, as I did give them, then I gave them willingly. So far as I, as a citizen of this State, am concerned, we gave the Government full and plenary powers, enormous powers, greater powers than were given, possibly, to any Government under similar circumstances. As a citizen of this State, so far as the Government of the country is concerned, having given them those powers, they are going to have from me full co-operation and every possible assistance because, if this. Assembly, with full malice aforethought, came to the conclusion that these powers were necessary, I think that, having stripped ourselves tor the, time being of all our constitutional liberties, and having done it willingly, we ought at least to give the Government some time on trial before we make the situation in this country appear worse than it really is. We should appreciate the fact that there is a double difficulty here, that we are dealing with a situation in which, although not a State actually at war, we are undergoing all the difficulties that a State at war must undergo. We are not a belligerent State. It might be easier perhaps for any Government in charge of a State such as ours to conduct their business if we were a belligerent State. But we are not a belligerent State. We are travelling on a very narrow path, and I understood that the atmosphere of the House which we last met was that there was going to be co-operation from this side and acceptance of that co-operation from the other.

I did hear these rumours in the country about dissension in the Government, dissension amongst the ranks of [403] the Government, and I am very glad that the Taoiseach stated here that there is no such dissension, and I am very glad that he denied here, a few moments ago, other rumours that are heard in the country. If anyone in the country said to me that there was dissension in the Government and that it was necessary to change this Minister or to change that Minister, my reply was that the duly elected representatives of the people of this country gave full power to the Government, and if the Government thought it was right to change a Minister, I, as one of those who were there when they were given those powers, say that, having given them, let us banish the rumour that those changes were made for some ill purpose. Let us assume that it was done for the common good. Otherwise, there was no sense, no rhyme or reason in this House passing the Emergency Powers Bill as it did.

With those few opening remarks I would like to state that I have some suggestions to make to the Government, in that atmosphere and on that-basis, and I do not care a row of pins whether they are received, acted upon, accepted, or not. If, in their wisdom, they consider that no attention should be paid to them, well and good, I am satisfied. In connection with the plans to meet the present emergency, it is absolutely necessary that this country should demonstrate to the world exactly what its position is. There has arisen at the present time a very serious situation which affects the question of our supplies, the question of our production, and the question of this whole emergency. I am of the opinion that a very deliberate attempt is being made on the part of one of the belligerent powers to bring us into this war as a belligerent. The war is being fought out, to a large extent, upon the radio. I was sitting beside my radio the other day and I heard a broadcast by the British Ministry of Information. The voices of the various broadcasters are well known to anyone who listens in. I thought, when this broadcast commenced, that there was something different about the man's voice, although it was the same man. I had [404] a book in front of me, and I took down in pencil the station, the time, and the date of that broadcast, and I can supply that to the Government if they so desire. He broadcast the following statement: “The British Ministry of Information gives out the following statement:— `The s.s. “Inverliffey” was sunk on such-and-such a date by a German U-boat. Before the s.s. “Inverliffey” was sunk the captain of the s.s. “Inverliffey” pointed out to the Commander of the German U-boat that the s.s. “Inverliffey” was flying the Free State flag and was a neutral ship, and the captain of the “Inverliffey” protested to the captain of the U-boat. In spite of that fact the s.s. “Inverliffey” was sunk.' ” That is a categorical statement by the British Ministry of Information, broadcast to the world, that a ship flying a neutral flag—our flag—was torpedoed on the high seas without warrant, in defiance of international law. If that statement is untrue, it is the most deliberate and flagrant attempt by propaganda on the part of a belligerent to bring this country into the war on their side.

There was a sequel to that in this House yesterday, in the answer to a question that was put to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. As a matter of fact, it was the Minister, in answering the question, who actually mentioned the name of the ship. He stated the ship's name and gave the House figures to show that, at the time it was sunk, it was not an Irish ship, that it had no right to fly the Irish flag, that the information given by the British Ministry of Information was false and misleading, and that it was false and misleading to the knowledge of the British Ministry of Information.

Now, with a desire to co-operate with the Government, with a desire to prevent our neutrality being infringed, I ask the Government, here and now, were they aware of that broadcast and, if they were aware of it, did they take any action in the matter, having regard to the figures the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave us; secondly, if they were not aware of that broadcast, are they prepared to take my word that that broadcast took place, without it being necessary for me to put it in an affidavit—I made a record of the [405] facts at the time—and, if they will accept my word, will they make some representation to the British Government, calling upon them to deny what was stated, and, on failure by the British Government to do so, will they give to the world the same publicity that the opposite statement got from that broadcast? That is point No. 1.

Now, point No. 2: I would like to know something more about this representative who is being sent to this country. Has the Government looked up his career? Have they examined his antecedents?

An Ceann Comhairle: When a representative appointed by the British Government has been accredited in any capacity to this State, it is not proper for this House to question his character, credentials or previous career.

Mr. Costello: Surely, Sir, he has been accepted by the Government as a responsible person.

Mr. Esmonde: I have no intention of questioning his credentials or of questioning his integrity or his devotion to the people who sent him here. but I do want to know if he is coming to serve the best interests of this country. He comes straight from the British colonial service, he has been in various colonial positions, and I hope he is not coming here with the idea that it is as a British resident to tell us to be good boys during this war. I only mention these two facts, since I believe that it is the intention, the hope and the belief that eventually this country will be in on their side.

I have the very greatest sympathy with the Government in the awfully difficult position in which they are. The question of unemployment is only in its infancy at the moment. As a result of the present war situation, we have not only the ordinary unemployed with us but also people who never in the ordinary circumstances would be unemployed. One only need instance the hands in various country garages who are being paid off from day to day, as well as people in shops and so forth; and these are not people who can be absorbed in what is going to be the big [406] source of employment in the country during the next few years, namely, agriculture, because they are not suited to do that type of work. It is a desperately serious situation which the Government has to face. There is a number of unemployed who were never unemployed before, over and above the ordinary unemployed. In a country which is going through a war situation and which is actually a belligerent, the unemployed are, to a certain extent, absorbed into the Army or into munitions factories and so forth. No such situation exists in this country, and, consequently, we ought to face up to the fact that the unemployment question is a very serious one indeed, and one to which I would ask the Government particularly to direct their attention, not on the basis on which it has been dealt with before, but in view of the fact that there are new unemployed here who were never unemployed before. They are becoming unemployed from day to day, and there will be more of them as the situation develops.

We now come to the question of the farming industry. Sometimes, when I am speaking in this House and I say anything that people on the other side do not like, it is always put down as “what the lawyer says”. The lawyer is always wrong in this House, and it is very popular to decry him. May I, be permitted to speak as a farmer now, and perhaps you would forget for the moment that I am a lawyer. I have spoken to farmers in various parts of my constituency as to what way they feel the farming industry in the present crisis is going to fare and as to what they want done. They all said the same thing. We farmers do not want what happened during the period of the last war; we do not want to make enormous profits at the expense of a decline afterwards. All we want is to work and manoeuvre the situation that exists at present so as to obtain an ordinary, decent and honest return for the money, labour, experience and trouble employed. That is the position in the present crisis. So far as the farmers are concerned, this crisis is going to operate in their favour—there is no doubt about that—and it only requires [407] what is termed in racing parlance as a “follow-on” from the Government to put the farming industry on its feet again But I want to see it kept there.

One thing is absolutely essential, essential in the public interest and essential in the interest of the farmers. There should be immediately—not in six months' time nor in two months' time, but immediately, here and now; and the Government can do it by decree or otherwise—credit for the benefit of the farming community. I am not suggesting that the Government or members of the public should put their hands in their pockets and give a present to the farmers. No such thing. Short-term, loans must be made available until the next harvest crop is brought in. The farmers must be put in a position to get the machinery going; they need a loan. Take a general mortgage on their crops, if you like, but give them the wherewithal to carry on their industry. I have letter after letter from genuine people—there is no question about it—in my constituency. There are people there willing and anxious to develop their land who, for reasons about which I have nothing to say at present, are in the position that they cannot do so. It would give a good return and it would be in the national interest if the money can be made available—to-morrow, if possible, —for the purpose of financing farm operations for the next year. This can be done by means of a short-term loan guaranteed by the coming harvest, for which there is bound to be a market, having regard to the present situation. Credit is absolutely necessary at the present time, if the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures wants to get his 900,000 acres. He will not get it unless there is credit. There is not the slightest chance whatsoever of getting anything like that crop, and it is, therefore, up to the Government to give the farmers the credit.

The last matter with which I wish to deal is the question of the censorship of news. News comes to the people in two ways: by the newspapers and by the wireless. There is one thing that [408] people do want and that is news, and the more news you give the people the less rumours there will be and the less harm will be done. But is it not shocking to think that a man in the country, living ten miles from a railway station, paying 10/- for his wireless licence— and he is not in competition with the evening newspaper, because the evening newspaper cannot reach him—tunes in for the news, to find that he gets a repetition of the news given earlier by the B.B.C. The British news is given at 9 o'clock and the Irish station gives the same news at 10.30, with the exception that it does not give quite as much and as far as our country is concerned it just as well may not exist. It does, of course, give a certain amount of sports news and a number of announcements, but it does not give the general news that the people are interested in. You never hear a report broadcast of anything that is happening in this country.

A second matter on which it is absolutely essential that the people should have some information, whether it be supplied through the wireless or through the newspapers, is this. According to our law, everyone is presumed to know the law and it is no excuse, if you commit an offence to plead that you did not know that you were committing an offence, or that you did not know the law. I have here a little document called the Statutory Rules and Orders, 1939, No. 224. Now, we gave the Government a blank cheque to legislate by Order. There is an expression in American parlance: “You have certainly said a mouthful” and when the Government printed this Order they certainly printed a mouthful because it deals with every available subject, ranging from rabbits in their burrows to aeroplanes in the air. It deals with many offences, some of which involve imprisonment and forfeiture of property. I have neither the time nor the ability to digest it but I certainly think that the unfortunate people in the country should get some explanation of the legislation that is being enacted by Order either through the radio or some other way. The man in the street should be told what the law is and whether he is committing an [409] offence by engaging in certain activities or neglecting to do certain things.

Mr. Everett: He would make sure to break it then.

Mr. Esmonde: I suggest that he should be put in touch with legislation so that he would know whether he is a good boy or a bad boy in the circumstances. It is absolutely essential that people should know what law they are living under. The law changes from day to day and from hour to hour. It may be difficult for the Government to keep up with the mass of legislation which they are turning up, but it is their duty to inform the citizens of the provisions of these various enactments many of which the people would welcome and be only too glad to observe if they were informed of them. That is in regard to the dissemination of news and the censorship. As far as I am concerned, I stated at the outset that I am speaking here, not as a Deputy but as a citizen and that I shall do everything I can to help the State in this emergency without yielding any of my rights as a member of this Party to criticise the Government when necessary. I hope the Government will receive any remarks I have made in the spirit in which they are offered, namely, to help the country in the present emergency.

Mr. Hickey: With the exception of the last Deputy who spoke, I am inclined to think that all through the debate there has been a desire to score political points rather than to deal with the serious problems that confront us. I think we are all agreed that one of our serious problems that is going to be aggravated, and that is being aggravated, by the present crisis is the unemployment problem. I should like to impress upon the Government that they should show some anxiety about the interests of the distressed elements in the country. I think that the most serious problem they will have to tackle is the problem of the unemployed. I should like to urge upon them that they should give some attention to the purchasing power of the [410] allowance given in the unemployed, particularly those in receipt of unemployment assistance, and also to the allowances given to those who are in receipt of National Health benefits and old age pensions. We all know that for the past three weeks or a fortnight the price of almost every commodity has gone up. Long before the war started prices had gone up. We all know the present value of 10/- to an old age pensioner, or of 23/- to a man who has to keep a wife and perhaps six or seven children. I would impress upon the Government that the amount of benefits paid to the unemployed has no relation to family needs. I should like them to pay more attention than they have so far given to that aspect of the question.

I am aware that in Cork, and this applies to other ports also, a very serious problem of unemployment will arise in the near future, owing to the diversion of shipping. I should like the Government to give us some indication that they are giving some consideration to matters such as the withdrawal of ships from services such as that between Cork and Fishguard. There is every indication that if there is a British registered ship trading, say, between Cork and Liverpool, it is only with the consent of the British Admiralty that it can sail from Liverpool to Cork. I want the Government to concern themselves with matters of that kind.

I do not want to go over the same ground that was traversed by so many Deputies, but I should like to refer briefly to the question of censorship. I was interested to hear the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence saying yesterday that nothing that was not contrary to the public interest was going to be cut out of the Press. He referred to the censorship as it affected a certain paper. I am prepared to mention the name of that paper. It is The Standard. I think anybody who reads The Standard will admit that there is no fear that The Standard will do anything to jeopardise the interests of this country, or anything that would interfere with the legitimate activities of the Government. The Minister stated that The [411] Standard was prevented from quoting a statement of the Taoiseach, but he did not state yesterday the other paragraph that was cut out. It was this: “Disquieting rumours have reached us concerning considerable pressure being brought to bear at the present time on this country.” I want to say to the Minister that not alone do we want some publicity in these matters—it is not entirely a question of publicity— but we want also some means of expression for public opinion. If there is one thing that we require to bear in mind, it is that we should have confidence in the people of the country. I think we should have taken the people a little more into our confidence.

I also want to refer to another form of activity which I think is not wise. I am not going to attack the Government for doing anything which they think necessary in the public interest, but last week-end a ceilidhe which was being held by an organisation in Cork City was suppressed. I am satisfied that the suppression and cancelling of ceilidhthe of that kind is only counting opposition. I am quite satisfied that if that ceilidhe were permitted to be held, the people of Cork City and the country as a whole have sufficient common sense not to tolerate any disturbances. Instead of that it was suppressed, Such action is likely to bring more recruits to the opposition than if the ceilidhe were allowed to be held. I would suggest to the Minister that activities like that are very bad for the country. I also desire to take exception to a remark made by Deputy Corry that the Dáil should be closed down while the war lasts. I am quite satisfied that this meeting of the Dáil has served a useful purpose, if it were only for the fact that it has enabled the Government to discount the rumours that have been circulated in the last few weeks. I am sure it has afforded great relief to the people to know that there is unity in the Executive Council and amongst the members of the Government generally. I, for one, protest against that statement of Deputy Corry or against similar statements made by other persons who hold that viewpoint.

[412] I feel somewhat disappointed that we had not a more frank statement from the Government about what they I are going to do in the matter of supplies. I listened with interest to the statement of the Minister for Supplies concerning timber and supplies for building. I have some knowledge of the position in the building trade in Cork. I remember that last September, when the last crisis arose, one of the building factors or timber factors in Cork ordered a big supply, and all his worry when the crisis passed was what he was going to get for the supplies he had in stock. That would convey to me that from that time onwards he made no preparation whatever for a future emergency, the emergency in which we find ourselves now. While there are stooks in the country, I am quite satisfied that we could carry on house building, and I would suggest to the Minister for Supplies that he should take control of the existing stocks and ration them out to the people who want them. If not, you will find those people taking advantage of the situation. In conclusion, I would appeal to the Government to consider the position of those who have been unemployed for a long time, as well as those in receipt of social benefits which are not at all sufficient for their family needs.

Mr. Allen: When the Government gave facilities some days ago for the House to meet in order that information might be given on many matters that Deputies were anxious to hear about, they expected that statements made by responsible members of the House, especially those sitting on the Front Opposition Bench, would bear some semblance to the truth. I listened to Deputy Brennan, a member of the Front Opposition Bench, make statements here this evening about the condition of agriculture, the number of live stock in the country, the acreage under tillage, and so on. The Deputy must have known quite well that the statements he was making had no relation to the truth. He told us, for instance, that there was a big decrease in the number of live stock.

[413] An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may not charge another member with telling an untruth.

Mr. Allen: I withdraw it if I said it. The Deputy might have had some consideration.

Dr. O'Higgins: Deputy Allen said that Deputy Brennan knew that the statements were not true.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy alleged that Deputy Brennan made statements which he knew were not true. That charge must be withdrawn.

Mr. Allen: I withdraw. Deputy Brennan said that there was a reduction in the number of live stock in the country in the last seven years since this Government came into office. The Deputy has spent a lot of his time criticising the Government, and especially the policy of the Minister for Agriculture, in the last seven years. In answer to his statement, I want to say that during that period there has been an increase of 47,000 in the live stock population of the country. I quote that figure from the published statistics of the Department of Industry and Commerce for the period 1932 to 1939. There has also been an increase in those years of 74,000 acres under tillage. I defy any member of the Opposition to contradict my statement by quotation from official statistics. No matter how we may differ on political matters, we should not try to lead the country astray, and fool the people, in a critical period such as this. We should do our part to give an opportunity to the farmers and to the general body of the people to serve the country. Several times in the last few years the farmers have shown the Opposition that they do not believe in them. On the other hand, they have shown, the biff majority of them, that they have confidence in this Party. I am certain that this Party still holds their confidence. The farmers have confidence in the Minister for Agriculture and in the Executive Government to pull this country through this crisis as they have pulled it through other crises in the past. Statements of the kind made by the Deputies opposite [414] will not help the country. They should not be made, especially by those sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. I hope that future statements made from those benches will be made with due consideration and that the true facts will be quoted—the true facts, which are available in the official returns.

Mr. D. Morrissey: Deputy Allen, like the Taoiseach yesterday in opening this debate, seems to think that we should show a proper sense of our responsibility to the House and to the country by closing our eyes to the defects and the inefficiency of the Government. I think that a proper sense of responsibility calls for a facing up to the facts. The Taoiseach, in opening the debate yesterday, was annoyed. He contrasted the atmosphere of the House yesterday with what it was on the day when the Emergency Powers Bill was before it. He spoke about Deputies' duties and responsibilities, and he talked about the public damage that might be done as a result of the questions and the supplementary questions that were put to the members of the Government yesterday. He said that it appeared to him that there was a departure from the sense of responsibility that should be shown, and that had been shown on previous occasions. Now, if there is any lack of a sense of responsibility in this country it has been shown to be in the Government itself. The Taoiseach had, perhaps, reason to be annoyed at some of the disclosures which had to be made by Ministers yesterday. We were told, for instance, that, although the farmers are to be asked for increased production, there are no feeding stuffs in the country. There is no maize available, and none is likely to be available for a number of weeks, and even then we are told only a very reduced quantity will be available. When the Minister for Supplies was asked what he was going to substitute for maize for feeding pigs, he said flaked wheat, and, when asked where he was going to get the wheat, he said that we were going to take it from our reserves. Therefore, we are going to start this war—and nobody can tell whether it is going to last 12 months or six years—by feeding pigs with flour.

[415] That was one statement made by the Minister The second statement we had from him—we had the hint at least —was that there was going to be a drive for increased and, perhaps, compulsory tillage, compulsory wheat growing and compulsory beet growing. Side by side with that we had the statement that there would be a smaller quantity of fertilisers available this year, smaller even than last year. Everybody knows that one of the tragedies of the last eight or nine years has been that the soil of this country has been starved for fertilisers. Every farmer in the country knows that farmers were unable to purchase the fertilisers. As I have said, the land has been starved for the Want of fertilisers during the last seven or eight years. Farmers know a lot better than I do that it is difficult to grow any crop without fertilisers, and that it is almost impossible to grow either beet or wheat without them.

Are we lacking in a sense of responsibility if we say that these are some of the matters which the Government should have attended to long ago? The Minister for Supplies in effect said yesterday evening: “Of course, if we had known that war was going to break out on the 1st September, then we could have taken precautions.” A man might as well say: “Of course, if I knew that my house was going to be burned, I would have insured it.” I doubt if there are many people in this country, or in any other for that matter who were not satisfied in their own minds that unless a miracle happened, war would start this year.

I do not want to score any petty political points. It is not the time for that. I think the Party on this side of the House has shown, since this crisis developed, that neither inside nor outside the House did they want to make any difficulties for the Government, but we have not only a sense of responsibility, but a definite duty to the people who sent us here; and I think that, sticking to the literal truth which Deputy Allen wanted, we have to say that so far as this country is concerned there is a state almost of chaos. There [416] has not been a single definite or clear direction given to the people along any particular line since this war started. We were told, for instance, that the main reason for this rigid censorship was that there would not be uneasiness created in the public mind. The only direction from which anything has come to create uneasiness in the public mind since this war started is from the Government itself. They gave reasons for uneasiness. They have been doing things which agitated the public mind. We have had, I think, at least four changes in the Ministry in the last four weeks, and the people began to ask themselves what was wrong. This chopping and changing of Ministers one week after another gave colour to the absurd rumours that were going through the country.

I want to come to what I consider the gravest of the many grave problems which are going to confront this Government and this country. Undoubtedly, they will be faced with many very grave and very vital problems; but the gravest and perhaps the most menacing problem will be that of unemployment. It has been touched upon already by other Deputies. We know that at the moment, notwithstanding the fact that there are certain Period Orders in operation, we have 76,000 registered unemployed. We know that, as a result of this war situation, there will be thousands more thrown out of employment, thousands who have been in good and steady employment for a fairly long period. We know, further, that what has been referred to as the safety valve of emigration to Great Britain for the last four or five years is now stopped, and that not only has the stream ceased to flow in that direction but it is coming back the other way; we have thousands of people returning to this country.

In my opinion that is the gravest and the most dangerous problem facing this country. I am sorry to say that it is my belief that our numbers of unemployed in this country will arrow to a height never reached before, or never even contemplated by anybody in this country. I am sorry that in this debate up to the present we have not had a statement from the two Ministers from [417] whom, in my opinion, we should have heard at the very beginning—the two Ministers who are faced with the gravest responsibility, and who are more intimately concerned and will be more intimately concerned with conditions than perhaps anybody else. I refer to the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Government will immediately have to make up their minds that the ordinary method of dealing with unemployment is not going to solve the problem, nor is it in any way going to help to solve the problem. You are not going to deal with this very big volume of unemployment which you are going to have by carrying on even the present relief schemes. We have been trying to get to grips with this problem for the last seven or eight years at least. I do not want to go back on what has been said before, but the fact remains that, notwithstanding all the emigration, notwithstanding all the tariffs and the other things, there are at least— I will put it no higher than that—as many unemployed to-day as there were seven or eight years ago.

I know that it is not easy—not only is it not easy; I know it is going to be very difficult—for a Government, with the best intentions in the world, to solve this problem, but it is not going to be solved along the lines which the Government have been travelling for the last seven or eight years. There will have to be a certain amount of imagination used. You will have to realise that by putting ten men on that bog road or five men on the other bog road you are not going to make any impression on 100,000 or 150,000. You have got to realise also that, as this war goes on, rates will be piling up and taxation will be piling up in this country. As we know, when you pile up taxation and pile up rates, and the cost of living is steadily rising, you are not going to create employment. By the very fact of those things increasing you are going to create still more unemployment. Nobody wants to be an alarmist in any sense of the word Nobody wants to paint the picture any blacker than it is, but I do not think it would be wise that we should bury our [418] heads in the sand and say: “Everything is all right and everything is going to be all right.” I am satisfied from even the passing references made yesterday by the Taoiseach, and later by the Minister for Supplies, that they are already concerned with this very problem of unemployment. Apart from the terrible hardship and privation which will have to be endured by the unemployed themselves and by their dependents, it is a menace to the safety of the State itself that there should be anything from 100,000 to 200,000 persons unemployed in this country.

Like other Deputies, I feel that this meeting of the Dáil has served a very useful purpose. There were many rumours in circulation in the country. Many of them were very absurd rumours, but it gives one some idea of the state of mind of the people that even the most absurd of them had found acceptance amongst many sections of the people. Those of us who are in public life spent most of the last three weeks trying to tell the people to have some common sense and not believe every silly yarn they were told, but the Government, as I said a moment ago, are themselves more to blame than anybody else for that state of affairs. Deputy Allen and the Taoiseach and everybody else may be quite satisfied— I am sure they are, no matter what they say—that they can expect, in any line which they follow for the good of this country and the people of this country in this emergency or without this emergency, the fullest possible co-operation from the people on this side of the House. At the same time, if they are making mistakes, if they are taking a line which, in our opinion, is not going to be helpful but is rather going to be injurious to the country, then certainly we are going to criticise them tor it. If we did not, then we should be lacking in a sense of responsibility and lacking in our duty to the people. The Government, instead of being annoyed at the way in which they are being treated by this House, should be very thankful. Every Party and every member of the House was prepared from the beginning of this crisis to give the Government, whatever powers they [419] deemed necessary to carry out their duties. This House gave the Government the Emergency Powers Bill. The powers contained in that Bill are such as are not possessed by any Government which is not at war. If this country were at war, the House could not give the Government any greater powers. They should realise that and appreciate that the criticism offered from this side of the House is intended to be helpful and is not aimed at the scoring of political points. Members of the Government should realise that they are not infallible—that they can learn many things even from those in opposition. If they had listened to those in opposition a few years ago, this country might now be in a better imposition to meet the crisis than it is.

Mr. Bennett: As stated by the other Deputies, this meeting of the Dáil has, at least, served one useful purpose. It has demonstrated to the people that many of the rumours spread wholesale throughout the country have no sound foundation. It would have been a good thing if the country had been able to see the ten Ministers seated on the one bench without any hostility and, apparently, as the Taoiseach said, a happy family. If they could be represented in a pictorial manner, it might help to dispel one rumour Which has freely spread—that the Government was split. I am glad it is not; it would be an unfortunate thing for the country if it were.

I am disposed to be sympathetic with the Government rather than critical. They have a desperate task. I should not like to be in the shoes of any Minister at present. The country ought to be fully informed whether we are in a crisis or not and how great the crisis is. Listening to some of the Ministers yesterday, I myself was confounded. One Minister persuaded me that there was no crisis, that everything in the pardon was beautiful, that there was enough sugar and enough flour for years to come. I went home rather happy, and the Minister who spoke first here this evening tumbled down my house of bricks. Everything was in a critical state, according to him. If we, [420] farmers, did not rush in and till 600,000 acres of land within the next 12 months. God knows what would happen the country. It would be a the first Minister was right or the last Minister was right, or whether there is a happy mean between them. In farming parlance, we ought, I think, to “split the difference”. If there is a crisis, it devolves on the people engaged in agriculture, as well as on every other member of the community, to assist. I believe this is going to foe a long war. The Government must keep that in mind and envisage the possibility of a food shortage and make provision for it. But they ought not to rush headlong into any scheme without consideration. We ought not to have some of the statements recently broadcast by Ministers which have confused farmers, and which are doing no good. We ought not to be advised to do a certain thing in the interests of the State when the fulfilment of the task is impossible.

We had a broadcast the other night in which farmers were told that there would be a shortage of cattle food owing to a shortage of hay, and that they ought to make immediate provision to grow catch crops and put in vetches and rye immediately the crops were taken out. I had intended to put in vetches and rye before the Minister spoke on the wireless. When I went to various seed merchants in different towns in the South, there was not an ounce, of vetches or rye to be got. A responsible Minister broadcasts to farmers to grow a particular catch crop, knowing that there was not a particle of seed to grow that crop, and that there did not seem to be any prospect of seed. I, for one, have abandoned the project. That is one of the things which ought to be avoided. I want to be helpful to the Government in any solid scheme they propose. I am not prepared to criticise the Government save to the extent I deem necessary. I merely want to draw attention to some things that ought not to be done.

A compulsory tillage order has been mooted here. I am altogether against compulsory tillage. Compulsion in [421] agriculture is not a useful remedy. We had a lesson in that regard in the last war. If you are strong enough, you can get people to do certain things, but they will not do them well. What is done under compulsion is not as well done as what is done freely. Again, we are peculiarly situated in this country. Every county differs in its method of agriculture from other counties. A cut-and-dry order to farmers generally to till a certain proportion of their land will have very dangerous consequences. There are certain lands which it would not be wise to til], Other lands you could till, but they might be used to better advantage in some other way. That has all to be reasoned out.

No general-percentage order in regard to tillage will achieve the results the Minister expects. You have one county in which there is a large proportion of first class grass lands. When we want to produce all the foods we can, first class grass land is a very valuable possession to the farmer and would be of the greatest help to the Government. We have been told by the Minister that it takes so many cwts. of food to produce a cwt. of beef. There are lands of which an acre will produce several cwts. of beef, if the land is not broken up. Perhaps we have gone far enough in the breaking up of first class grass lands and that we ought not to make further incursions into what is left. That may not be the generally-accepted view, but it is my view, and I know as much about what I am speaking of as the average Deputy. There are lands in certain counties which I could name which are more valuable as grass lands and would produce more food per acre as grass lands within the next year or two than in any other way.

Again, if we are going to have any cut-and-dry endeavour to increase food production we must, first of all, put the people in a position to produce. The farmers in this country probably know their business better than any Deputies in this House, or at least better than almost all the Deputies in this House. Of course. I know that some of us are farmers ourselves, but I think it will be admitted [422] that the farmers of this country, as a whole, know their own job and know it better than any of us can teach them. We cannot tell them their business, because they know it already, but they do want some direction as to what line of production they are to go into, if it is suitable for their own particular lands. The farmers will go into whatever type of production pays them best. That is a certainty. If I have land that is suitable either for tillage or some other purpose, such as the raising of milch cows or of beef, I will engage in whichever of these will pay me best and give me the best return.

In regard to this matter of getting a greater, percentage of tillage, the Ministry know what has been their experience over a number of years now, and that is that in order to grow a certain article they had to offer a price beyond the prevailing price. If you do that, you will get your increase. You may get too much of it, as a matter of fact, or you may not. It may not be the best method of going about this thing, but it is one of the ways of doing it. If you want the farmer to depart from his usual methods of husbandry you must offer him an inducement to do so. It might not be wise to offer him such an inducement, and it might be better to leave it to himself, but it is one of the ways of endeavouring to achieve your object. As a matter of fact, it is my belief that, in times like these, prices for agricultural produce are bound to reach a fair level according to what the farmers themselves can produce, but I do not think the type of compulsory tillage I have referred to would be good for the country as a whole. For instance, in a county such as my own, you have butter, milk, and a certain amount of beef produced, and we can produce these things in our county much better than we can produce anything else. I suggest that it would be idle for the Minister to issue orders to farmers in our county to engage in certain other form of agriculture. Just as it would be equally futile to enter a tillage county, which had been tilling the land and raising root crops and cereals for years past, and issue orders for the [423] farmers in such a county to put that land immediately into grass for milch cows and so on. You must bear in mind the conditions in the different counties, what beat can be done in these particular counties and how the land can be used to the best advantage in these counties. No general compulsory tillage order is going to be beneficial to the country generally, and I hope that the Minister will not pursue what, to my mind, would be a very foolish and very inadvisable policy for any Government to take up in this country, and that is to apply the principle of compulsory tillage generally. It was tried during the last war by another Government and there were many disastrous failures as a result. I saw—and I am sure other members of this House saw—acres and acres of corn grown on lands that were not suitable for that purpose—corn that was never harvested and that rotted in the fields. Now, we do not want to see that kind of thing repeated or to see food wasted in that way.

There are certain lands, undoubtedly, which could be tilled successfully, for the production of cereals, and so on, after a certain number of years, but there are other lands, which will not be able to produce such a crop. The grain will grow on them, certainly, but it will grow to such an extent that it will lodge. Everybody knows that. It will grow, but it will not be harvested, because it will never ripen and it must go down. In most of the very rich lands, you will not get good cereals grown next year, and these lands are better fitted for some other purpose.

I do hope, at any rate, that, at least, when the Ministers come to consider more carefully their policy with regard to agriculture, generally, they will not pursue the dangerous policy of compulsory tillage. When I say that, I also do hope—and I believe— that the farmer who can till more than he has been tilling up to the present, will do so, or that the farmer who has not been tilling at all will now go in for tillage. It is his duty to do so, if he can till an extra acre or so, and it is the Government's duty to help him [424] to go in for extra tillage. Now, there are two methods of helping him to do so, and one is the provision of capital. If you want to get men to engage in new methods of agriculture and to till a little more than they tilled before, they must be helped in that direction, since money will be needed for that purpose. As Deputies have said, there are some men at the moment who have not even a cow or a horse. Well, I must say that I do not believe there are many farmers who have not a cow or a horse, but there are some who are in that position. I hope, and I believe, that there are not many in such a caw, but I do know that there are some men who have not the necessary requirements to enable them to engage an intensive tillage, and if the Minister wants these people to go in for tillage they must be helped. There are others who, because of the lack of capital, cannot extend themselves in any form of agriculture in the manner in which they should and in which they would like. We all know that there are very many farmers, whether they are engaged in dairying or in the production of beef or young stock, who would produce much more if they were in a position to do so and if they had the capital to enable them to do so, but there is hardly one of us who is in that position.

I do not suppose I am luckier than most, but I certainly could and would produce more if I had more capital, and would make better use of my land. I, just like other farmers, need more capital, and will do the best I can, just as other farmers will; but I say that the Government must have forbearance with us. I quite see the difficulties in connection with this, but it is my belief that the Government must provide us in some way with capital in order to help us to engage in extra production in the country. During the last war we were in different circumstances from those existing now. We all had a little capital at that time, but above all. at that particular period, we could borrow. As a matter of fact, it was too easy to borrow at that time—at least, it was too easy for some of us; but at any rate a good many of us borrowed to advantage during that period. We could get [425] money from the banks then, and the banks were only too willing to give it to us, but this time it is the other way about. We cannot get money. I hope that that will change, but up to the present that has been the position. We start this time under completely different conditions from those which existed at the beginning of the last war, and the Government will have to take that into consideration when they come to consider what the farmer is able to do.

There are only one or two other matters to which I should like to refer. The question of unemployment has been spoken of, generally, by many Deputies. That, we all recognise, is unfortunately the greatest problem with which the Government will be engaged, and any help that any of us can give to the Government in that direction will be given freely. The duty of dealing with that problem will devolve upon the Government, and the blame for failure will fall on the Government, and I think that the House ought to sympathise with their efforts in that direction, rather than criticise them too severely. Their tasks will be stupendous, but the solution of that problem, in my opinion, will lie chiefly in the development of agriculture during the next few years. I think that any help that will be given to agriculture will be some mitigation of the evils of unemployment. If all of us who are farmers can only employ an extra man or two during the next year, we will be making some inroad on the problem of unemployment. We cannot all do it, of course, but, if we are given some help, most of us could give extra employment, and the only way that I can see for reducing unemployment in this country is by giving a little extra employment in agriculture.

I hope the Government, in their efforts to increase production, will not proceed on wrong lines, that they will not proceed on the lines of compelling people to do what they are not ready to do and not fit to do, hut that they will rather let the farmers plough their own furrow; in other words, that they will allow them to pursue the line [426] which they have been brought up to pursue, and they will find that the individual farmer will make the best of the situation, if he is provided with facilities. Firstly, the Minister should help him with credit facilities. That may not be possible, but I think the Minister could do a little in that respect, by direction or in some other way. Secondly, provision should be made in the tillage counties for supplies of seed. The Government might confine their efforts more to that than to issuing futile orders to farmers in other directions. For instance, the Government might have been making efforts during the last eight or ten days to get supplies of vetch seeds and other seeds for catch crops. They are asking the people to grow more. Produce the seed and ask them to grow it. You will get many people to grow catch crops—some are very anxious at the moment—but let them not tell them that they must grow them immediately, and then find that there are no seeds. Provide the means and the farmer will do the rest. That, to my mind, will be one of the greatest aids we can have in making some inroad on the number of unemployed there are at present, and the number there will be during the next year or two.

There is one other matter which pertains to the condition of the people, and particularly the poor; that is, the matter of supplies. We had it from the Minister for Supplies that there was no shortage of sugar and that there was no fear of such a shortage. Somebody has said that our wireless service did not give us news. It could he used in that way—to give the people news that would make pleasant hearing. I should like to hear the wireless humming with it for the next week—that there was no shortage of sugar and no shortage, at least at present, of flour, and that every man and woman, worker and otherwise, who wanted a normal supply of sugar and of flour could get it. That would be offering some information to the people which they do not know. I know poor people who have asked shopkeeper after shopkeeper in the last two or three weeks [427] for a pound of sugar and who could not get it.

Mr. Belton: Because they were hoarding.

Mr. Bennett: Of course, there is a reason, and we all know it, but it was useless for the Minister to tell those people that there is a lot of sugar available. It is just as useless as telling me that there is a lot of money in the bank. I know it is there, but I cannot get it. It is useless to tell it to the unfortunate housewife in the country, who walks four or five miles to a village with her bag on her arm for the Saturday's groceries, when she is told that there is no sugar. We all know from statistics that the normal supply of sugar is there, and should be there. It is the Government's duty to see that that normal supply is properly distributed, and I hope they will do so. Everybody is anxious to help and everybody will help in this situation. The Deputies of all Parties, I think, will help, and the farmers will do their bit. All they ask is that they foe left to do their job in their own way, and that, with regard to any ideas the Government have on agriculture, they will first consult the farmers and that we will not have, for example, statements such as those given to us in the last few days, in which we are asked to do something which we later find is impossible.

Mr. Keyes: I endorse the remarks of Deputy Morrissey when he says that this meeting of the Dáil and this discussion on the adjournment will be beneficial in its effects throughout the country. I share that view very heartily in so far as it will enable the people to see that the Government to whom the Dáil has given emergency powers are not inclined to be unmindful of their responsibilities to the people who gave them these powers, and that they have taken an early opportunity of calling us together for the purpose of having a general exchange of views, and also to indicate to the people that the vital matters arising out of the crisis upon which we are entering are having the attention of the various Departments and of the Deputies of the different Parties.

[428] The discussion has naturally centred around the main problem of unemployment, and the incidental dangers that will probably arise from it. There is the question of profiteering which has been dealt with, and the question of withholding and hoarding supplies, and we had all the delicacy as to whether it should be called profiteering or high prices. From the discussion and the replies from Ministers, it was made abundantly clear that they are alive to these dangers, and, if they have not at the moment got complete plans for grappling with them, they at least indicated that they are determined to use their powers to the fullest extent for the protection of the citizens. That, in itself, is very useful and wise at this early juncture, and this meeting of the Dáil, if nothing else, will have had the effect of flattening out completely the crop of wild rumours which seems to have been disseminated for a purpose from some unknown lie factory in the country. It is well, therefore, that we have come together, and I believe that the discussion will also have been useful to the Government.

I am not prepared to be too critical of the Government at this juncture, and I can be as critical of the Government as anybody else, but I think it a little too early, considering that we are assembled for the second time in the first month of a great war, the duration of which is very problematical. I should be rather alarmed if we found a complete set of plans put forward as being capable of dealing with everything that was going to arise. I think that at this time, when the Government have had to make certain alterations and to create new Departments for grappling with problems with which they never had to deal before, they should be rather slow than speedy in arriving at their decisions. It would be a very costly proceeding for the country if we had Ministers coming into the House and telling us boastfully: “I have a complete watertight set of plans to grapple with every possible emergency”, and if we discovered, later on, that these Ministers were much more optimistic than wise.

They have to centre their attention, in the main, on the question of unemployment. [429] All the other things seem to hang on that. The Minister for Supplies made a very praiseworthy appeal to the citizens to co-operate, each in his own way, in trying to minimise and mitigate the evils of unemployment. I ask the Government to Lake that advice themselves and to set a good example to the citizens. For instance, it is strongly rumoured, and I think with some basis of truth, that the operations of the Land Commission are about to be seriously curtailed from now on and that we cannot expect land division to carry on now as in the past. There may be very good reasons for that, but I consider that the Land Commission ought to be used for very definite purposes. It has been agreed by everybody who has spoken that we want increased agricultural production. There may be two points of view as to whether that should take the form of more tillage or more live stock, but I agree with the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures that the first consideration ought to be for essential foodstuffs.

If our stocks of wheat, which we have garnered from overseas and which ought to be treated as reserves, have to be encroached upon temporarily now, I believe that it is essential that, whatever the means employed, wheat sufficient for our needs, or as near to them as possible, ought to be secured, in the first instance. I believe we will have cattle, whether we like it or not. That does not call for very much effort, but I believe that we are rather prone to be slow in getting into tillage, and that we have been relying very much on the production of beet. There will probably be an attractive market for beet, but we should not lose sight of the main issue, that the production of wheat and other cereals is fundamental in the crisis with which we are confronted. What really counts is the essential foodstuffs for the maintenance of the life of the State. I, therefore, suggest that a headline should be given, and I am quite mindful of the point that there are lands suitable for certain purposes, and others for other purposes. I believe that there is a considerable amount of land in the process of being acquired by the Land [430] Commission. The Land Commission may perhaps divide some of the land which they have taken possession of. Some other land, which is in process of being dealt with, may be allowed to lie fallow between now and the time when the normal functions of the Land Commission will be resumed. Would it be too much to expect that the Land Commission inspectors, about whom we have heard complaints in the past, would be requisitioned to come to the aid of the State? Now is the time when their skill and knowledge ought to be put at the service of the State by taking over these lands and tilling them on a co-operative basis on behalf of the State, and have the produce stored in granaries.

The seeds and manures necessary for the work will naturally have to be supplied. I take it that, in approaching this question of increased tillage and agricultural produce generally, the work will have to be done on a highly organised and skilled basis, like the mobilisation of an army, and that every detail will have to be attended to. If we are to utilise these lands in the various counties to the best possible advantage, I think what I suggest would be a definite advantage and a headline showing that the State is getting into action. Instructions could then be issued to individual farmers, so that they may follow the lead to the best of their limited capacity.

I am inclined to agree with Deputy Bennett that the less compulsion that is employed the better. A strong lead by the Government is really what is required. The essential principle of self-preservation will appeal to the Irish people generally. I believe that they will be inclined to co-operate, and that they only want a good headline. There would be reason to complain on the part of small farmers, who are doing a little tillage and who are expected to do more, if the large estates, many of which have been giving very small service to the community for many years past for one reason or another, lands which are in the process of acquisition or have actually been acquired, were allowed to lie there without any effort being [431] made to harness them in the service of the State for whatever purpose the Department of Agriculture and the Executive Council think best to have them applied. I ask the Minister to take serious note of that point. I do not want to make a long speech because, while I consider that this meeting of the Dáil has served a very useful purpose, we might repeat things ad nauseam when there are really just a few main matters to be considered. I therefore content myself with the appeal that in connection with the orders for increased tillage the Government themselves would set a headline by utilising these lands I have referred to through the medium of the Land Commission and their inspectors and try to produce the maximum amount of food from these lands which have not been properly utilised up to the present.

There is just another point to which I want to refer, and that is, to reiterate the appeal made by Deputy Davin last night in connection with the publication of the report of the Railway Tribunal. The railways have been having a lean time for a considerable period, which necessitated the setting up of a tribunal, as legislation was considered necessary if they were not to be allowed to go to ruin. That tribunal sat in the opening months of this year, and I understand that the report was placed in the hands of the Minister for Industry and Commerce six or eight weeks ago. An orientation of transport is likely to take place under the changed circumstances we are now faced with and the railways will have to perform a very useful service I hope that service will he a big one. But you can hardly expect the railways, which have been down on their luck for a considerable time, to respond automatically to a sudden and big demand if they are not given some information beforehand as to what their future is to be and the lines upon which the tribunal has reported. I suggest to the Minister that it is a matter of urgency, if there is not any overwhelming reason of policy to preclude the publication of the report, [432] that Deputies and the public generally should he made aware of the recommendations of the tribunal and what the Government intend to do in the way of developing the railways and bringing them back to being a useful asset to the State as they have been in the past.

Mr. Hughes: After listening to the statement of the Taoiseach yesterday, the most that can be said about it is that it was far from inspiring. There was no attempt made to ease the public mind on many matters or to create confidence. After listening to the various contradictory statements from Ministers one felt that there was no co-operation between them and a complete lack of confidence in themselves to tackle the very serious problems now confronting the country. Within the last couple of weeks the reshuffling of the Ministries and the various changes made have had a very disquieting effect on the people. Yesterday the Taoiseach, in attempting to explain the necessity for the changes and the creation of a new Ministry, said that obviously the former Minister for Industry and Commerce was the Minister best suited to fill the new position of Minister for Supplies, and that the former Minister for Defence was obviously the Minister that should become Minister for the Co-ordination, of Defence. He stopped at that and made no attempt to tell the House what the necessity was for reshuffling all the other Ministers.

What struck me as very peculiar was that at a time of crisis for this country the man in charge of the most important Ministry, that of Finance, with seven or eight years' experience, had been changed and a Minister put into that office who had no experience of handling finance. We all realise that the financial position here is going to be very difficult. It is going to be extremely difficult for the Government to balance their Budget. Naturally there is going to be a heavy fall in revenue, particularly revenue collected from import duties. It would, therefore, he a very definite advantage to have a Minister with seven or eight [433] years' experience of the office. Yet, this is the very time that the Government chose to have a reshuffle of the whole of the Ministries and to change the man in charge of a very important Department and put in charge a man with no experience whatever of it. It appears now that the Government are going to rely absolutely on the advice of civil servants to direct Departments. The people at all events feel that this is not the time to change Ministers. There is an old saying that you should not swop horses when crossing the stream.

It has been stated by many Deputies that we all want to be helpful. We all realise that this country, for the first time, on its own responsibility, is facing a serious national crisis and that this is not the time to make things difficult for the Government. It is not our intention to do that. It is certainly our responsibility to point out what should be done in the national interest. Because of the time, some Deputies who spoke from the other side, notably Deputy Allen, seemed to expect responsible members of this Opposition to gloss over the mistakes, the inability and the ineptitude of the Government. If there are mistakes being made, it is our responsibility to point them out and to indicate where we believe the Government should concentrate and devote more attention in the national interest.

To my mind the Government, since war was declared, have appeared to concentrate on three matters, A.R.P. the Army and the censorship. As regards the censorship, very wild and far-fetched rumours have been current throughout the country and, of course, any sensible man would not pay attention to them. Nevertheless, public representatives were worried every-where they went for information as to the real position and, because of the rigid censorship, none of our papers could touch that matter, with the result that there was created a fertile ground for the spreading of these wild rumours. It cannot be that these rumours did not come to the ears of the members of the Government or the [434] back-benchers of the Government Party, and I think some attempt should have been made to ease the public mind.

Again, when an announcement was made by the British Government as to their policy with regard to fat cattle from this country, an alarming position was created among the farming community as to how our exports of fat cattle were going to be treated in the British market. There was no announcement made by our Minister for Agriculture and there was no indication that no such arrangement as was suggested had been entered into. I submit that it was the duty of the Department of the Minister for Agriculture to clarify the position and make it known that negotiations were taking place as to what method would be adopted to handle fat cattle from this country during the war period.

The Government appear to me to have concentrated more on the Army, A.R.P., black outs and that sort of thing than on the really important problems that confront this country. This is a neutral country and I cannot see the necessity for all this worry about blacking out and about A.R.P. If there is a necessity—possibly there is—at least the matter should be tackled in a businesslike way and contradictory orders should not be given to local authorities. Then we had the responsible Parliamentary Secretary contradicting that here, and suggesting that such orders were not sent out and that the people were being misled by broadcasts from other countries.

The most extraordinary thing of all is that this country, which is not involved in the war in any shape or form, called up its Army during the harvest season. The British Government, one of the belligerents, could leave all the men in the rural districts at home to save the harvest and it struck me as an extraordinary situation that in this country, during the most important period of agricultural operations, the harvest period, the men were called up from the land for pure cod to the Curragh—it was nothing else. Coming up through county Kildare there was such Army activity on [435] the main road that a person driving a motor car was left doubtful as to the moment he would be crashed into by some young Army fellow on a motor bicycle popping in from a side road on to the main road. What is the necessity for all that activity? It appears to me to be an enormous waste of public money on an institution that it is not necessary to have at its present strength.

The best sort of army we could have to defend this country during the war period is an army that is in production, not an Army playing at soldiering on the Curragh. If it was the intention of any enemy country to make an attack here, I am satisfied that the small, insignificant Army we have and the equipment we have at the present time would not stand the racket very long. The best way to defend this country is to equip the people to go into production immediately. Obviously the Government have been worrying about the Army, about A.R.P. and about the censorship. The people were even denied the ordinary home news. I can understand the necessity for censorship within reasonable bounds and the necessity of maintaining our neutrality, but there is no reason why our people should be denied ordinary home news, and that was the position during the last three or four weeks.

One matter I want to refer to more than anything else is the necessity of putting our people into production. I should like to know from the responsible Minister what steps does he propose to take to do that? We have had the experience of the Great War. What was our position in 1914? Just compare that with our position to-day and let us visualise our position if this war continues for a period of three or four years. For three or four years prior to the Great War the prices of agricultural produce were appreciating in this country.

The agricultural community generally were in a rather happy and comfortable position. No one can deny that fact. The people were well off, and their position from year to year [436] was improving, so that when war broke out in 1914, their financial position especially, was infinitely better than it is to-day, and they were so equipped that they were in a position to go into immediate production. Any man who had not credit facilities at the opening of the Great War was in a position to secure ample funds through the banking institutions. We know that farmers made profits during that time and that prices soared. I am not inclined to think that prices are going to soar to anything like the same heights now. I do not think it would be wise that they should if it was possible to control them. Afterwards, as a result of the depression that set in, we know that most of the profits were lost. Are we in the same position to go into production now? Are we in as good a position as we were in 1914? If farmers are to go into production now, one thing is necessary, and that is the provision of credit. That will be an essential part of the programme if the Minister wants to increase production. The need of credit for many farmers, as a result of the policy that has obtained during the last few years, has brought about the present unfortunate position of agriculture.

As farmers' finances have been dissipated and their stock reduced they are not in a position to avail of the present opportunity. That applies more especially to the bigger farms, over 50 acres in extent. As an agriculturist I say that it is to these farms, comprising over 50 per cent. of the land, we must look, because that type of farm is more flexible and more adaptable for increased production than smaller farms. Deputies can visualise the position of a small farmer with a few fields. There is not the same possibility of extension there as on bigger farms, where new lea land could be broken, or where there is a possibility of more rapid expansion because it lends itself to the opportunity. That type of farm is more adaptable to expansion, especially in cereal production. The owners, however, are unable to go into production for want of credit. They are not able to pay labour. Many of these farms [437] are in a semi-derelict position, and certainly are not worked to proper capacity. The problem is a big one, but it must be faced right away if they are to be equipped for production.

As to compulsory tillage, I come from a county in which we carry on mixed farming extensively, and compulsory tillage should not worry us. I do not think it is wise to adopt a system of compulsory tillage. As Deputy Bennett pointed out, on a great deal of rich grass land, if put under the plough any cereal crop will fail and rot. That was the experience of compulsory tillage during the last war. On the other hand, land that is ideally suited for tillage, more or less poor land, when cultivated requires any amount of fertilisers. What is the position regarding fertilisers? It should be realised that it is absolutely essential to have fertilisers, especially on land suitable for tillage purposes. Deputies on this side of the House pointed out some months ago, and also last year, the necessity of subsidising the purchase of fertilisers. Fertilisers coming from outside countries are cheaper. Owing to the high price of fertilisers here farmers have not been using them extensively. A comparison of the quantities used shows that the amount used here is negligible. To-day, even if we were in a position to buy fertilisers, especially phosphates, which we have not been buying in recent years, it is unlikely that we could get them.

There is a serious shortage of fertilisers. Possibly we could carry on with phosphates and nitrates. I do not think there is much hope of getting potash, because potash, particularly kainit, comes from countries that are involved in the war. As there is a serious shortage of fertilisers the Government should be on the alert and at all cost procure any that are available. An order was published yesterday increasing the quota. There should be no quota whatever for fertilisers. No limitation should be placed on the possibility of securing supplies. Fertilisers are an absolutely essential raw material, especially for land that is under continuous cultivation. We cannot produce decent crops [438] without them. It would not pay to do so. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures talked about the position here and the advantages that had been gained from the present policy of self-sufficiency. In my opinion the whole policy of restrictions and quotas has tended to bring about such a position that our reserves are low. I am satisfied that they are very low and, as an example, we can take maize. Naturally when monopolies were created, and where our industrial policy tended to give a monopoly to an individual or to a factory scarcely able to supply our ordinary requirements, that did not make for the possibility of building up reserves. We have not the reserves that we should have. However, I do not want to dwell unduly on that matter. I wish simply to point out that this has not made for anything like the position of security that we should have. The Minister for Co-ordination of Defence certainly could not contend that our requirements have been met in any way.

I am convinced that our stocks of maize would undoubtedly have been much more than they are but for the unfortunate admixture scheme. We asked the Government last year to drop that scheme and they promised to do so this September. That is the scheme that is responsible for the shortage of stocks of maize in this country. I am aware that the stocks of maize now in the country are abnormally low. We are told that the Government is going to make available as a substitute for maize, wheat flakes in order to tide over a difficult period pending new supplies. Deputies here have pointed out the advantages to the country of the supply of home-grown wheat that we will have after this harvest. Deputy Corry boasted about the policy of wheat growing. The Minister for Supplies told us that there was no necessity to worry about wheat supplies, that we have plenty of wheat supplies available and that we would be able to procure all the wheat we needed. I take it the Minister for Supplies is satisfied that ample supplies of wheat are available or he would not adopt the policy he is about to adopt of feeding pigs with flour because that [439] is what it amounts to when he is going to make wheat flakes for the purpose of feeding them to pigs and cattle. The materials of which we are really short are maize, oats, barley, concentrates for live stock feeding. That is a very serious situation. Deputy Keyes said that we would probably produce too much beef and then that we may have a shortage of human food. At all events he said that the Minister for Supplies, or perhaps it was the Minister for Co-ordination, was right when he said that we should provide at all costs the necessary supplies of human food. I agree with that, but I am inclined to think that there is no reason whatever to anticipate a shortage of human food.

There is, however, this definite situation—that prices are going to appreciate, and no matter what attempt is being made by the British Government to control prices, prices will soar. Our people ought to be in a position to avail to the full of that situation and to avail of it immediately. Now we cannot avail of that situation without credit. The policy of the Government and particularly the agricultural policy of the Government ought to be so shaped as to anticipate that the aftermath of this war like the last will be a period of depression. We are all aware that very serious depression followed the late war. The policy of the Government ought to be so dovetailed into the after war period that it will make that period as easy as possible for our people. In other words, we ought to avail to the maximum of the war period and to put our people in a position to tide themselves over the depressed period that is to follow. The people who are our chief customers—the people who are our only customers during the war period —for our agricultural products will certainly have to bear an enormous burden of taxation in the after-war period in order to pay for the war. They will not be in a position to pay high prices and the result will be that at the end of the war prices will very much depreciate. We ought to learn from our experience of the late war and so guard against a recurrence of [440] the position that then developed. That is why I say that our policy or the policy of the Government should be so properly planned as to enable our people in the after-war period to equip themselves so as to get the best results. They should go into production immediately in order to supply what is going to be a keen demand from British sources for our produce.

Some questions were asked as to the policy of the British Government in the matter of our fat cattle exports. I think it is the responsibility of the Government to make representations to the British Government and to show them that the present policy suggested by the British Government is not one that is going to offer sufficient encouragement to our people to produce more food during this war period. Our farmers are to be asked to sell their fat cattle in the British market on a deadweight basis. If that policy is insisted on they will certainly feel very discouraged and disappointed. Every effort should be made by the Minister for Agriculture to see that arrangements will be entered into whereby our cattle will be bought at this side at live-weight prices. No other arrangement will satisfy our people.

There is no doubt about it that the by-products of live stock, especially butter, eggs and bacon are the sort of food that it will be more difficult for the British Government to secure than beef. That is because the British Government look for their supplies of butter, eggs and bacon to countries like Denmark that we know are much more in the war zone than such countries as the Argentine and Chile where supplies of chilled meat are produced. That Government, too, will possibly be in a better position to protect their ships trading with the Argentine than they are to protect shipping between such countries as Denmark and England. Our agricultural community ought, therefore, to concentrate on those articles that are more difficult to be obtained by Britain —and which will command a better price.

The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures spoke of the [441] supplies of sugar in this country plus the production this year in our four factories. He said that our factories would produce 75 per cent. of our requirements. I question that. I have taken very keen interest in beet growing. This year there are only 40,000 acres under beet. These 40,000 acres will produce approximately 360,000 tons of beet. It takes seven tons of beet to make one ton of sugar. I calculate that our total production of sugar this year from our four factories will be in the neighbourhood of 51,000 tons of sugar. Our requirements in the matter of sugar are slightly over 100,000 tons. It is clear, therefore, that at the outside our production of sugar from our four factories will only come to about 50 per cent. of our requirements, not 75 per cent. as stated by the Minister. That is not anything like the capacity of the four factories. The reason for that is that there was a fall in the amount under beet last year of 8,000 acres and a fall the previous year of 6,000 or 7,000 acres, so that in two years the acreage under beet has fallen by about 14,000 acres. That is simply because the farmers were not satisfied with the price they were getting and there was no encouragement to grow beet. Owing to the cost of labour and production generally the farmer found nothing attractive in beet growing. It is difficult to grow beet in this country. It is difficult to lift the beet crop in this country. We are lifting beet under the very worst conditions, during the winter period. The price will have to be attractive if there is to be an increase in the acreage under beet.

To my mind, instead of a compulsory tillage order, a better policy for the Government would be to have an attractive programme that will encourage our people to go into production. It is bad policy to control prices down to a level that will not be attractive to the farmer. No compulsory order will get over that situation. If prices are not attractive, compulsion will not get the farmers to go into production. If prices are attractive and fairly reasonable, under the present circumstances, then I think you will have production, provided, as I said before, you supply the necessary [442] credit to our people, especially to the people on the bigger farms because, as I said before, those farms are more flexible and more adaptable to increased production.

Deputy Allen attempted to contradict Deputy Brennan. I know that Deputy Brennan quoted from official figures published by the Department of Industry and Commerce. As Deputy Brennan pointed out, there was a very serious fall, since 1931. Since 1938, there was a fall this year in the amount of land under oats, barley, potatoes, turnips and mangolds; there was an increase under wheat. There is a fall, since 1931, under oats of 88,000 acres, under barley of 44,000 acres, under potatoes of 31,000 acres, and under turnips of 41,000 acres—a fall of 204,000 acres under those crops, and an increase of 230,000 acres under wheat. Deputy Allen also pointed out—and again he thought he was contradicting Deputy Brennan—that the amount of cattle that we had here—and he quoted from the official figures—was slightly higher than in 1932. I do not want to contradict Deputy Allen on that. Our cattle figures are approximately the same as in 1932, with this difference— and it is a very serious difference—that we have a young immature stock at the present time. If one were to analyse the number of cattle we had from one to two, two to three, and over three years and compare the figures with those of our live stock in 1932 one would find that the present number of live stock over three years old is very, very small, while in 1932 a very big percentage of our live stock was mature cattle ready for sale and hence worth a lot more money. To-day our live stock are mainly young, immature stock. The economic war has brought about that situation and, to some extent, possibly, the policy of the British Government in paying a bounty to the English farmer has encouraged our people to sell cattle in the store state rather than in the fat state.

Again, I would like to mention that in the tillage districts, particularly Wexford, Carlow, South Kildare, Cork and County Dublin and Louth, counties where you have extensive tillage operations, especially on the big farms, there [443] is mechanical farming and extensive use of the tractor. The Minister ought not to lose sight of the necessity of supplying all the requirements in fuel for those tractors, for farming operations generally and for lorries taking produce to and from the farms. Farmers are worrying about what the position is going to be. I am sure the Minister and the Government will realise that if anyone has to go short it should be the private user and, if there is a real scarcity of fuel, its use for pleasure should be curtailed and it should be used for production both in agriculture and in industry.

We feel that we must look to agriculture to tide us over this difficulty and that every encouragement must be given to our people to go into production. There is no use in talking about compulsory tillage or any other compulsion. There is no necessity for having recourse to such methods here. Our people are quite willing to produce, given the necessary facilities and the necessary encouragement. For that reason, I suggest that the sooner a definite programme is announced by the Minister for Agriculture the better. Let that programme be attractive and far-reaching. It will be the responsibility of the Minister and the Government to plan far into the future. They should realise that if we have appreciation in prices and if our agricultural people, given the necessary credit, etc., can secure better prices during a war period, we will have to so shape our policy to tide us over the depressed period that is bound to follow.

Mr. Cogan: Out of the welter of questions and answers and cross-questions and back-answers and out of the statements made by our Ministers, one fact emerges and that is that the calamity which occurred in Europe, the explosion, I might say, which occurred on the Continent, had the same effect upon our Ministers as a sudden thunderstorm would have on a bunch of mountain goats, that is to say a complete stampede, a leap from place to place. Some of them leaped completely in the air and are there still. It may be that there was a certain [444] amount of wisdom or purpose in the action of the Ministers in changing places. They may have considered that it was an opportune time to get away from the huge pile of dirty delph which had accumulated in their offices. They may have been adopting the same policy as the guests at the Mad Hatter's tea-party who changed from place to place in order to avoid having to clean up the delph. I am afraid that each Minister must have experienced keen disappointment when he took over his new office, finding there a greater mess, perhaps, than he had left behind him. In this connection, the Minister for Agriculture was extremely unfortunate inasmuch as he, apparently, could find no other Minister to exchange with him. The other Ministers probably thought that the task which the Minister for Agriculture was in charge of was too difficult to undertake or it may be, perhaps, that the Minister for Agriculture considered, from a sense of duty, that the patients, that is to say, the farmers of Ireland, were in such a serious condition, were so dangerously sick, that it would be wrong to leave the patients' bedside. At any rate, the Minister for Agriculture has remained in office, much to the disgust and disappointment of the farmers.

Mr. Corry: Are you speaking for the farmers?

Mr. Cogan: Certainly. The Minister for Supplies is the only Minister who has been fortunate. He has taken over a new office and has started with a clean sheet. He has asked for the co-operation of every member of this House and, as far as I am concerned, I think that the Minister for Supplies will have that co-operation, in his endeavour to secure the essential supplies necessary for this country to continue in existence. The Minister for Supplies has started in a rather optimistic manner. He has said that there is one consolation at any rate: it is that we know that a war started on the 1st September. Prior to that we, apparently, did not know when the war would start or whether it would start at all. We know now, according to the Minister for Supplies, that it did start [445] on the 1st September, but the unfortunate thing is that we do not know—and the Minister for Supplies does not know —when it will end, or where, or how.

Mr. Corry: He should know that.

Mr. Cogan: It is possible that it may end before this debate has concluded and, on the other hand, it may continue for the next five years. First of all, I wish to say that the people without exception support the policy of neutrality. They support the policy of the Government minding this country's own business and keeping out of the affairs of other countries. I would like to say, also, that the people of this country, as a Christian people, are not adopting a policy of neutrality in a callous or indifferent manner. They are not callous or indifferent to the sufferings of people in other lands.

I think it is the wish of the people that, if there is anything that their Government can do to alleviate the sufferings of citizens of other countries in any possible way—and we realise that there is very little we can do— there will be no delay on the part of the Government in taking action. We hope also that, if there is anything that the Government can do towards appealing to other neutral nations or Governments to promote the cause of peace, they will take whatever steps are possible. While that is our policy —the policy of the Irish people—I may also say that, as a Christian people, we are not callous or indifferent to the fact that a Catholic nation has been completely wiped out of existence, and that that has been done by two nations opposed to Christianity.

While these are our feelings, prudence, commonsense and the best interests of the nation dictate that this country cannot take any part in this international conflict. All that we can do—and all that the Government can do—is to induce the Irish people to concentrate upon the task that they have got to perform, the task of maintaining the population through these strenuous times and of securing that when the conflict is over this nation will be in a stronger position—morally, financially, and economically—than it [446] was when the conflict began, and that, being in a stronger position, it may be able to contribute to the general improvement of conditions in Europe.

I have said that the people are willing to co-operate with the Government. They have not so far received any great encouragement, or any inspiring appeal from the Government for such co-operation. For the past month there has been nothing but confusion. In even the most remote parts of the country we have experienced complete black outs. We have had a condition of affairs in which some country people have been afraid to light their pipes returning home late at night. We are now told that all that was due to a mistake on the part of the people, that they misunderstood the directions. I think that that state of affairs should not have been allowed to prevail. If there had not been so much changing of office and if the Ministers had been fully alive to their responsibilities, adequate instructions would have been issued to the people as to how they were to act in the emergency.

The first instruction that should have been issued should have been to get down to the work. The national slogan should have been: “On with the work.” At the present time there are altogether too many people in involuntary unemployment and there are too many people who have not sufficient work and who are as a result devoting too much attention and too much time to idle controversy in regard to European affairs. We have at every street corner people debating the military strategy and the mistakes of General Smigly-Rydz and of some of those other generals with unpronounceable names. Those people would be far better employed doing some kind of productive work at the present time.

Everybody, I think, realises that the first job that has got to be tackled is that of getting increased production from the land and of getting it immediately. We must have a policy which will secure that, even within the space of 12 months, there will be a very large increase in the agricultural output. How is that object to be achieved, when we consider that the [447] overwhelming majority of the farming community is completely bankrupt? They have not the means to provide themselves with seeds or with manures if such were available. They have not the means to employ labour. There can be no increased tillage, no increased production, without increased employment on the land; and the farmer cannot employ workers if he has not the capital to pay them. The farmer cannot expect the agricultural labourer to give him 12 months' credit, which is what the average farmer would require if he were to go into production and increased employment at present without capital.

The first duty of the Government is to provide capital for the farmer. It should be possible for the Government to raise at least £10,000,000 for the development of agriculture, and to raise that amount of money immediately. The security of the land should be ample for such a loan. The British Government 50 years ago had sufficient confidence in the farmers of Ireland and in the security of the agricultural industry to raise a loan of hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy out the land. Surely it is possible for the Government at the present time, with the serious position of agriculture and with the wide need for increased food production, to raise a loan of at least £10,000,000 to develop agriculture.

Furthermore, it should be possible for the Government to bring some pressure to bear on the banks to make credit more easily available for agriculture. Having done so, it should be possible for the Government to map out clearly the particular branches of agriculture that most urgently require to be developed. We are all agreed that it is necessary to increase the acreage under wheat. It is equally important that the acreage under oats and under beet should also be increased and very substantially increased. It cannot be expected that a farmer will increase the acreage under beet or wheat unless the guaranteed price is substantially increased to meet the increased cost of production resulting from the national emergency. Farmers' costs have already increased. [448] Almost every article the farmer has to buy has increased in price during the past month. It is necessary, therefore, that the guaranteed price, not only for wheat, but for beet, should be very substantially increased. It is even necessary and desirable that there should be some addition to the fixed contract price for beet for the present year so that the farmer would get some little encouragement to go in for increased production next year. There is no doubt whatever that there has been a very substantial reduction in the acreage under beet. It is also true that there has been a very unsatisfactory yield in the beet crop this year. In this connection, I think that the Government is very often misled by the rosy reports presented to them by the Department of Agriculture. I should like to suggest that they should ask the officials who prepare these reports to give a little more attention to the general condition of all crops before advising the Government in regard to them because I have always found that these reports are altogether too optimistic.

I have spoken of beet and wheat, but there are also two other crops which were grown very extensively in this country 50, 60 or 70 years ago. They are still grown in this country and are still crops that are probably the most suited to the climate of this country. I refer to oats and potatoes. We have at the present time an urgent need for foodstuffs for live stock. We have a very serious shortage in foodstuffs for live stock, and that shortage, in my opinion, can only be got over by an increased production of oats and potatoes. It may be, and I think it is, true that it would not be possible, as a general policy, for the Government to guarantee prices for oats and potatoes because such crops are required by farmers as foodstuffs on their own farms. There are, however, certain areas in which beet and wheat cannot be grown, certain districts where the land is inferior and where oats is the main cash crop. It should be possible to devise some system, during this period of emergency, by which a fixed remunerative price for oats would be guaranteed in such areas.

[449] Very little has been said in regard to potatoes. I think that in the attempt to provide an ample supply of foodstuffs in this country, an effort to secure an increased acreage under potatoes is very important national work. We know that the acreage under potatoes has been steadily decreasing. What has been the result of that? The result has been that the numbers of pigs and poultry raised in this country and the general production of bacon and eggs in this country have declined. Potatoes are the one crop to the production of which the Government should devote the utmost attention. They should see that the acreage under potatoes during the coming year is at least doubled. If they intend to do that, they must take steps immediately to see that facilities are provided for the farmers to enable them to increase the acreage, that they will have the advantage of a credit scheme, and also that a substantial subsidy per acre is paid to encourage increased production. You cannot guarantee a price for potatoes because they are a foodstuff which the farmer himself requires but you can at least see that a subsidy of £2 or £3 per acre is paid. By so doing, you can increase food production enormously, to a much greater extent than if you were to concentrate entirely on the production of grain. At the same time you would provide the farmer with a very valuable foodstuff for his live stock. In addition, you will promote increased employment on the land because there is no crop provides greater employment than the potato crop.

I have heard a good deal of criticism in connection with the arrangements which are being made in regard to the export of cattle. As far as I could gather from the Minister's reply yesterday, arrangements are definitely being made by the British Government to fix a deadweight price for cattle at the other side. I also gathered from the Minister that our Government did not agree to that arrangement but, at the same time, it is possible that the arrangements will be carried into effect without the consent of our Government. It is, [450] therefore, the duty of the Government to advise the British Government that, if they make that arrangement, or if they fix a price for live stock which is inadequate and which does not cover the cost of production, the Irish Government will see that there are no exports of live stock until the price is substantially raised. I can assure the Government that the farmers are sufficiently organised and sufficiently intelligent to ensure if the Government does not take that step and if a price is fixed that is inadequate, that cattle are retained in this country until an adequate price is secured. I think if that fact were brought home to the British Government they would give serious consideration to the just claims of the agricultural producers in this country for a fair price.

Again, in regard to cattle there is a very pressing duty upon the Government during this period of emergency to take steps to improve the quality of our cattle and to ensure that the types of cows which are the basic stock of this country are substantially improved. A period of war, when there is likely to be a big demand in Great Britain for meat of all kinds, provides an ideal opportunity to get rid of all inferior types of cattle and to ensure that we shall be able to build up in this country one of the best herds of cows in Europe. That can be done if the Government only take the necessary steps, first of all, to assist the farmer to get into a better stock of cows. It can be done by providing credit and by providing suitable heifers at a cheaper rate. We know that during the depressed period suitable heifers were provided under a credit arrangement. We know that an attempt was made to achieve this during a period of depression. We know that the attempt was a dismal failure because, after the farmers had purchased the heifers under the credit system, prices depreciated so much that the heifers became absolutely uneconomic. During a war period, when there is a demand for every class of live stock, farmers should be assisted to get into the best type and to get rid of the inferior type of heifer. It [451] is at a time when there is demand for all kinds of meat that farmers should be helped to get rid of cows that are suffering from disease. If that is attended to when the war is on, then when it is over the country will have a stock of the best type of cattle in Europe.

This, too, is the ideal time for getting rid of the rabbit pest. What is the use of trying to promote increased tillage of corn and root crops if this pest is not dealt with drastically? The Minister for Agriculture stated some time ago that the number of rabbits in the country had decreased during the past year. I am afraid that his officials who took the census must have let him down badly because, as every farmer knows, the rabbit pest was never more serious than it is at the present time. During the early months of last summer, as a result of this pest, enormous destruction was done. Thousands of pounds worth of corn was destroyed. I suggest that now is the time to have a concentrated attack made on the rabbit pest, and have it completely wiped out within 12 months. I think myself if the attempt is made that could be done, because the price of rabbits will probably increase. If necessary the Government, in order to help to get rid of the pest, should pay a bounty on rabbits. If that is not done, then this policy of increased agricultural production will fail completely.

On this matter of promoting increased production, something should be done, in this time of national emergency, to have a nation wide campaign launched for the development of horticulture, particularly the growing of more vegetables. Every available citizen should be encouraged to devote a portion of the time that he now devotes to the military affairs of Europe to the more harmless but more beneficial task of productive work. I refer particularly to the growing of vegetables. Instead of shouldering imaginary rifles, people should be encouraged to shoulder real spades, shovels and forks during the coming year. Influential people should be asked to support this campaign for the [452] increased production of vegetables. Nothing could be more beneficial for the country than to get the people interested in horticulture, in the growing of wholesome vegetables and fruits. An appeal on the lines I have indicated would, I imagine, meet with whole-hearted and united support from all our citizens.

These are some of the points that, I think, should be engaging the attention of our Ministers now that they have settled into their new offices. First of all, agricultural credit must be provided directly by the State. In addition, the banks should be induced to give increased credit facilities at a time such as this. We farmers know that credit is of very little use unless there is an assurance that agricultural conditions are going to improve. There is some hope that conditions will improve. The fact has been stressed that increased production is needed. The Government realise it. Therefore, they must be prepared to provide the farmer with a price for his produce that will cover the cost of production. Security should be forthcoming for the farmer who invests more money in his industry. If he finds that he needs more capital to increase production, there is no reason why the State, or some other institution, should not provide the necessary capital. There may be a difference of opinion as to what constitutes an adequate price for agricultural produce. Those who know anything about agriculture are aware that the wages paid to-day in that industry are three times what they were in 1914. Therefore, I submit that a just standard of price for agricultural produce would be three times the 1914 prices. Let that be a guide to our Ministers in fixing the price of agricultural produce. If they adopt it, I think our farmers will be satisfied.

Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Corish rose.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy O'Higgins.

Dr. O'Higgins: If I have your permission, Sir, I would allow Deputy Corish, who has an appointment, to precede me.

[453] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Corish.

Mr. Corish: On the second of the present month certain powers were given by the Dáil to the Government, powers which, one may say, were unheard of so far as this country is concerned. It was, therefore, with a great deal of surprise that one noticed yesterday the resentment of the Government to answer certain questions which were asked by the representatives of the people. As a matter of fact, I think it will be remembered that some Ministers were rather flippant in the replies which they gave to members of the House. The members of the House took upon themselves a big responsibility when they handed over those powers to the Government on the second of this month. I am prepared to admit that, at the moment, the Government are in a rather unenviable position, and that the load they are asked to carry is a huge one, but at the same time I do not think there ought to be any resentment shown by them when the members of this House, who represent the people and who gave the Government the powers for which they asked, make a request for certain information which to my mind it is necessary that the representatives of the people should have.

Certain references were made to rumours that have been prevalent in this country for a number of weeks. As Deputy Cosgrave pointed out yesterday, I think that was due to the fact that there were so many changes in the Ministry during the past two or three weeks. One wonders why there have been so many changes. We had certain Ministers in certain posts for the last six or seven years, and one would have thought that in this period of emergency those were the best people to have in charge of those particular Ministries. I have heard it said that the reason why a certain Minister has been changed from Finance and another one put in his place is the fact that the particular Minister we now have there favours a change in the currency. Whether there is any truth in that remains to be seen, but that is one of the rumours that have [454] been indulged in during the past two or three weeks.

One of the matters referred to in the course of this debate was the menace of unemployment. Since this Government came into office there have been many debates upon the unemployment situation. Up to the time that this crisis arrived, nothing had been done in so far as a real solution of the unemployment menace was concerned. We are now faced with an infinitely worse situation with regard to unemployment. The Taoiseach and two or three Ministers have spoken, but, notwithstanding the fact that various members of the House have shown by their speeches that they are deeply concerned with the unemployment situation in this country, nothing has been said either by the Taoiseach or any of those Ministers to give any assurance to the people's representatives that anything is being done to deal with that situation. As various Deputies have pointed out, not only have we to deal now with the numbers who have been employed for a long time, and who can be looked upon as casual workers, but the war situation has already been responsible for the displacement of many workers. It is to be hoped that the Government are seriously considering this situation, which to my mind is the greatest menace with which they are confronted.

Certain grants have been given in recent years to tide over the people who have been unemployed. At least a month prior to this date each year for the past four or five years an intimation has been sent to local authorities that certain grants were available for what is known as the winter period. I know that certain local authorities were asked as far back as June last to submit schemes for rotational work to be done during what is known as the winter period, which starts on 1st October. Those schemes were submitted to the Minister in July, I think, and up to now it has been impossible to get any reply to representations made by the local authorities as to whether or not those moneys are to be available this year. Because of treatment of that kind meted out to the local authorities, and to the unemployed, [455] for whom according to Government policy the local authorities have some responsibility, a certain amount of anxiety, prevails in the minds of the unemployed, and a good deal of anxiety prevails in the minds of those who are members of local authorities as to what is to be the position in the coming winter. The greatest amount of anxiety prevails in the minds of those who are members of county health boards, because they see looming ahead of them very high expenditure if the unemployed have to be put on the local. rates. This is a very serious matter, and I suggest that the Ministry have not shown any indication through the, medium of the speeches made here during the last two days that they are giving any attention, good, bad, or indifferent, to that very menacing situation.

Reference has been made to the question of housing. We, have tried to elicit, from, the Department of Local Government what, the position, is going, to be in so far as housing is concerned. It has been, said in a veiled way that housing may have to be discontinued. A question was asked by Deputy Norton, I think, and also by Deputy Mulcahy, as to whether grants would. still be available from the Local Loans Fund for the purpose of erecting houses and nobody from the Government side of the House has yet given any kind of answer which would give any indication as to what is the Government's housing policy. It has been suggested by the Minister for Supplies that, even if money were available, he is of opinion that material would not be available. He especially stressed the fact—I do not know whether it is a fact or not, but he laid special stress on it—that there would not be sufficient timber, available in the country. I suggest to the Minister that, in the building of houses, there can be a good many substitutes for timber. I put it to him now that people who would be in a position to offer suggestions for economies in timber by the substitution of some other material should, at this stage, be called into conference by the Government, in an effort to secure that the building of houses and other building under Government aegis will be continued. I think that very good [456] suggestions might be made by people in the building trade as to what might be done in order to ease the situation in so far as the supposed scarcity of timber is concerned.

Some local authorities in this country that. It know of were about to embark on certain waterworks schemes. I know one particular local: authority which submitted a waterworks scheme to the Department of Local Government as far back as two years ago. I am prepared to admit that it is a rather expensive scheme, but it is a very necessary, one. The Government have been playing with that scheme for the past two years and, now that a provisional order, is about to be issued, I understand, the particular local authority, find themselves in the position that they are unable to secure certain requirements. Anybody who is in touch with a local authority at the present moment knows the difficulty there is in securing cast-iron, pipes. I speeded up that scheme and, now that they are, about to issue a provisional order to, permit of the scheme being pushed forward, they ought to make some effort to secure for that local authority the necessary cast-iron pipes, because the particular scheme, to which I refer would give employment to at least 100 men for practically nine months, as well as providing an essential service in the area in question.

I submit that an effort could be made to have cast-iron pipes turned out in this country. It is not so easy to get metal as it is to get steel and I suggest to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, or the Ministry of Supplies— whichever is responsible—that something, might be done in that connection. Deputy Hickey and Deputy Davin referred to the fact that certain curtailments had been effected in regard to shipping. They suggested that three ports were to be used—Belfast, Dublin or Dun Laoghaire, and Rosslare. Since the debate yesterday, I notice that shipping at Rosslare Harbour has been further curtailed. Up to a couple of weeks ago, there were six sailings back and forward between Rosslare and Fishguard. About ten days ago, they [457] were cut down to three and in to-day's paper it is suggested that there may be only one sailing per week. That is a very serious matter for the trade in that part of the country. It is in my constituency and I have certain amount of responsibility for the people there. I cannot understand how it is that the Ministry appears to be standing idly by while these things are being done under their very noses. Rosslare Harbour has been a very busy shipping and railway centre for some years. A good deal of what would be known as “perishable cargo” has been passing from Rosslare to Fishguard—eggs and butter from as far away as Cork and other southern centres. One wonders what is to become of that produce. What I Want really to ascertain is what the Minister concerned proposes to do with the people Who will be disemployed in consequence of the withdrawal of these ships. A large number of railway men are employed there. The sailors will, I presume, be taken away with the ships. Men in railway employment are in a very peculiar position. As we know, a number of them do not take advantage of the Unemployment Insurance Act. I do not think that they are obliged to do so. If these men are disemployed, they will probably not be able to draw unemployment insurance and one wonders what is to become of them. I should like the Minister concerned to pay some attention to that very important matter.

In the course of be debate, it was suggested from the Government Benches—we might infer the same thing from the newspapers and the radio—that it is intended to introduce compulsory tillage. I am one of those who do not like compulsion of any kind. I do not think you will get good results from compulsion and I suggest that the Government ought to get some kind of committee or commission to ascertain if they can pay the farmer better prices for his produce. If better prices can be guaranteed to the farmer, you will obtain far better results than you would obtain by compulsion. In that connection, I wonder what the position of the farmer is in regard to machinery. I come from the town of [458] Wexford, where agricultural machinery is manufactured. There are certain rumours abroad there that the materials required for the manufacture of machinery are scarce. If the Government expects to have a much larger extent of tillage than they have at present, some attention should be paid to the provision of materials necessary for the manufacture of agricultural machinery.

Only yesterday, a question was put down by Deputy Norton dealing with the dependents of Volunteers. The Minister for Defence expressed himself as surprised that these people had to make application to the county health boards for home help, so that they might exist. I am a member of a county board of health and I know that that is a fact—that women whose husbands are in the Volunteers had to make application to the health board on behalf of themselves and their children for allowances. I know it is not easy for the Government to get all these things going in a short time, but it creates a very bad impression in the country when the dependents of a man who is called up to serve his country have to approach the county board of health for outdoor relief for home help. I ask the Minister to use all his energy in speeding up payment to the dependents of these Volunteers. The Minister did not state the scale that Was being paid to these dependents. but I heard that it is to be what I consider to be a very small amount. I suggest that the allowances to be paid to these people should be reconsidered. A man who comes forward to serve his country and takes his life in his hands deserves better treatment than that which, I understand, is to be accorded him by the Government.

In conclusion, I want to refer again to the question of unemployment and ask the Ministry to give special attention to it because some anxiety exists in the minds of local authorities and in the minds of those who have been idle for a considerable period. They have had an anxious time up to the present because they have had very casual employment. The position looks far more menacing now, so far as they are concerned. [459] In my opinion, the Government would he well advised to pay very strict attention to the unemployment situation, and secure that employment will be provided for these people.

Dr. O'Higgins: This has been rather a lengthy debate and a great number of subjects have already been dealt with. So far as possible, I intend to avoid dealing with any subject that has already been dealt with—more competently than I could deal with it. I should like to point out, however, that this meeting of the Dáil was called by the Government explicitly for the purpose of getting the maximum amount of information, from members of the Opposition Parties of what people are thinking and what people are saying. It was called without any agenda and without any real business to be done. prior to the calling of this Dáil, every Opposition Party was communicated with and was invited to put down as many questions as possible on every subject that was disturbing its mind or disturbing the minds of the people. In perfectly good faith and in response to the request made, each and every Opposition Party did so. We had the results yesterday—so far as possible, a blank refusal from one Minister after another to answer any question. So far as we were not met with, a blank refusal, we were met with a despicable attempt to side-step the question.

We are asked to come here to inform the Government of what the people are thinking and it is our first responsibility to inform the Government what we are thinking ourselves. What I am thinking, after yesterday's exhibition, is that, if there is to be co-operation, it can be based only on a clear understanding of the situation and there can he no clear understanding without an adequate flow of information and equal candour on both sides. Because we complied with the request and because we put down in question form what people were asking us, we were treated to a lecture by the Taoiseach on Parliamentary ethics for an Opposition. If I were to choose a lecturer on that particular subject, I venture to say, without offence, that I [460] could choose a better one and, if I were to select an example on that particular subject, I venture to say I could choose a better example. I would ask even Government Deputies sitting over there to picture this Dáil if we should happen to be the Government and if they happened to be the Opposition. I suggest that it would be a very different Dáil from the word “go.” At this moment there would be intense political activity up and down the country if you had not the particular types of Opposition Parties that you have. However, having complied with their request, we are entitled to resent the lecture.

We are asked to come here to let, the Government know, frankly, as far as we can measure it, what the people are thinking, what the people are saying, and what people are asking us, and the general picture in this country, as far as I can see it, is that there was panic from the first 24 hours, and a gradually increasing panic. The thing that brought panic to the peak point were the broadcast statements and announcements of Ministers, both over the waves and here in the Dáil. Every Minister—one after the other—is posturing before the people as a Minister in a country in an acute and dangerous state of war. One Minister after the other, with broken voice and lachrymose face, is painting the most terrible pictures. Now, what is, necessary at a time like this is to reassure the people, to steady them, and to rub down the person who is inclined to suffer from nerves rather than to wind up the nerves of everyone to breaking-point. Yet however, from the 3rd September onwards, there have been gloomy, solemn, and funereal pronouncements by one Minister after another; and, mind you, certainly with regard to Europe, and perhaps with regard to the position of any country in the world, we have more to he thankful for than most other countries. We are not a country at war. We are a small country, practically outside the fringes of war—practically outside even the maximum range of the most modern bombing aeroplanes. We are a country with a small population and with an immense food [461] production. We are, perhaps, the only country in the world than can say to ourselves that, no matter what happens, there is one thing that we will always have, and that is an abundance of food.

Compare that—compare our situation with that of the countries, either great or small, that are over-populated in proportion to the production of their land and who are depending from day to day, for their means of livelihood, on food carried overseas and subject to all the risks of sea-borne trade. We are in an extraordinarily favourable position also in that we happen to be thrown alongside the greatest naval and the greatest sea power in the world, and to have had already an assurance from that mighty sea power that our supplies will be supplied to us practically on the same basis as if we were 3,000,000 British people.

Moreover, we have the consolation of knowing that we had no land frontier which, either victorious armies or defeated armies might cross and threaten the existence of our people. We are an island country with a water-front here and with no visible enemy that has a, ship at sea or that is likely to invade our country. Now, if Government Ministers were conscious of the uneasiness and unhappiness existing in certain homes, it is the kind of thing that would reassure the people, give them confidence and give them comfort, that would be blazoned over the wireless, rather than the gloomy, dismal wails that we have heard before even a butterfly invaded our neutrality. One would imagine, from the speeches we have heard here from Government Benches and from speeches outside, that we were in a similar position to that of a neutral European country, with enemies on every flank, and that we were likely to have troops pouring over our borders during the time of the cooking of the eggs for our breakfasts. I gay that the measures we have taken are measures best calculated to alarm our people, and the effect of the questions put by Deputies to Government Ministers is: What is it all about? Why do we mobilise the last man in this country and put a rifle or a [462] machine gun into his hands? Where is the enemy, and who is that man going to shoot at?

I have enough respect for, and enough knowledge of, the Irish Army to know that, if it is a question of any form of internal trouble, the Irish Army, as it stood a couple of months ago, and without a single reserve, would more than deal with the matter, and deal with it in a masterly, expeditious and successful manner. Is it merely to be in the fashion that the Government indulges in all these highly expensive and theatrical activities? Is it that we feel that we must do anything that, let us say, even a neutral European country has done? Most of the neutral European countries have mobilised their armies and, goodness knows, there, is every reason why they did that, with their land frontiers, with people prancing around Europe, with militarism gone mad in Europe, and militarism of a type that respects no frontiers. Is there not every reason why a neutral European country should mobilise to the last man and to the last boy, but are we doing it merely because others did it? If we are not doing it because of internal trouble, or because of the possibility of internal trouble, we are certainly not doing it because of the dangers of abuses of our frontier by either a victorious or a defeated army crushing over our country. Then, why are we doing it?

As far as I could follow and analyse the statements made by the Taoiseach, there appear to be, or would appear to be, far more dangers and far more terrors associated with neutrality than with participation. At least if we were a participant, we would know who was going to hit us, and why. As it is, we seem to be everybody's prey and everybody is our bogey man. We must arm, not against one, not against two and not just from the east or the west, but we must arm against everybody and from all directions. I regard that. in the absence of an explanation, as so much spectacular nonsense. I would not mind spectacular nonsense if we were able to pay for the spectacle, but we mobilised x thousands of men—we dare not say the number. afraid that some of these unnamed and [463] unknown enemies would snatch our liberties overnight, but we have mobilised to our full establishment, or as near to it as responded to the call— and every man brought up, no matter if we have brought him up only to polish an officer's motor-car, is going to cost two pounds a week, and 20,000 men will cost £40,000 a week—any mathematician can work out the increased cost per annum—before we knew exactly who was going to war, what combinations there would be and how far it affected ourselves.

It is fairly generally accepted that when, in a, war situation, you mobilise, you cannot very well demobilise as long as that situation exists, so that we commit ourselves to an expenditure of from £40,000 to £60,000 a week for the duration of the war, be it long or short. When we ask here or elsewhere for any explanation, any reason, for all that, we have failed to get either an explanation or a reason, but we are told, in a vague, dreamy kind of way, that that is neutrality, that because of our neutrality the hand of everybody is to be raised against us. I was never a firm believer in the feasibility or benefits of neutrality. I was more inclined to agree with the Taoiseach, when, 12 months ago, he told us that it was both impracticable and folly and that in such estate of affairs, situated as we were, it could not be maintained for any length of time. I was prepared to adopt it and to support it, however, as the policy that appealed to the vast majority and that at events it was worth trying, but if the first result of it is to pile up costs, to panic the people, to interfere with the lives of the people in every second home and to mobilise an unlimited man power against unknown and invisible dangers, then I think that we require to know a lot more about neutrality, its implications and its responsibilities, than we have been told so far in this Assembly.

We get that mobilisation not only carried out so far as the man in the street goes as a panic measure but so far as the observer goes, as a measure for which no adequate and timely provision had been made. We had it [464] carried out in the style of putting first things last and last things first because, so far as I have ever heard or read, the last factor in a mobilisation scheme is the man. The first is his comfort, his welfare and his pay; the next is his transport, and the last is the man. We evidently began by getting the men and, when we had the men together, we began to think of their comfort and up to the present moment we have not even elaborated the machinery for dealing with their dependents. But before we have that even efficiently in hands, we are apparently going to look for more. Thousands of these men were taken out of lucrative, reproductive employment, employment in many cases of a valuable national nature, and we are going to keep them running around barracks and walking around bridges until Mr. Hitler and his enemies fight it out on the Continent 400 or 500 miles away.

Take the panicky mobilisation in association with a number of other possibly necessary measures—if not necessary, certainly desirable—and take the type of statement and speech we have been hearing from Ministers, the sudden rush to ration without having learned how to ration, the giving of an order one day and the cancellation of an order the next day, the hinting to people to hoard to-day and the telling them next week that it is illegal to hoard, with everybody trying to save his own face and to cover the tracks of what was done before, and behind that kind of administration, the asking for confidence and the resenting of questions put down to give the Government an opportunity of clearing the air. Does the Minister, or any of his colleagues, think that any useful purpose is served by calling responsible Deputies together, requesting them to ask questions and telling them when they ask questions: “That was a question you had no right to ask and, even if you had a right to ask it. you are not going to get an answer.”

My contention is that if there is fear, if there is nervousness, then, that is a situation to be met and remedied. It will not be remedied by the type of leadership we have witnessed in the I last three weeks and it will not be [465] remedied by piling confusion on confusion. The political Opposition Parties have stated, and stated sincerely, that whatever their dangers are, grave or less grave, immediate or remote, they are anxious to help and anxious to co-operate, but that that co-operation can only be based on candour and confidence and that it can only be based by giving, either in public or elsewhere, some idea to Deputies as to what all this stampede is about. We can see a kind of militaristic regime, as if we had an enemy sitting on every frontier, and when we go to the frontier to look over, there is nothing apparent. Not only that, but we have evidences of respect for our neutrality from directions from which we were not entitled to expect, or, at least, did not expect, such assurances six weeks or two months ago. Yet the more we go in for neutrality, the more reassurances we get with regard to respect for our neutrality, the more we engage in panicky warlike measures.

I suppose it is out of order to put in a timid inquiry as to who is going to pay for the whole bag of tricks and how? We suddenly increase expenditure by a few millions a year. It is a grand thing to issue an order to mobilise 20,000 men, very impressive, very spectacular, very dramatic, and for the next Department to create a new police force. It is not so very exhilarating when we convert it all into cash and when we try to puzzle out, even in an amateur way, who is going to pay and how. It can be met, I suppose, in time by crushing taxation on the few and by heavy and inhuman taxation on the many. But millions are not things that grow on blackthorn bushes in this country. It would appear, at all events, that the only reaction in this country to a war situation is to start to spend money like so many fanatics. I believe, at all events, that in this war situation that exists, situated as we are in this country, our main enemy, our principal enemy, is bankruptcy, and that we are fighting as hard as we can on the side of the enemy from the very start.

I would strongly advise Ministers to lean back far and have a look at themselves. [466] I would strongly advise Ministers to consider the capacity of the people to pay before slashing about money on non-productive services. I would advise Ministers to study how best to meet the first reactions of war situation, with certain trades being thrown completely out of business, with others working at half rock, with disorganisation in industries elsewhere. with people nocking back from one cause or another, with the danger of supplies of raw materials for other industries being either sunk at sea, entirely cut off, or restricted, and all the possible consequential unemployment and poverty. If we have millions to spare, and if there are invisible millions as well as invisible armies, there is a far more sensible field of expenditure than the fields we have frolicked in for the last four weeks.

I have referred to the causes of the panic, I have referred to the factors which increased the panic, I have referred to the type of speeches we have listened to, speeches that would give anybody any kind of feeling but one of comfort, confidence and consolation. Perhaps a factor that has contributed also to the uneasiness of the people, a thing that was referred to by practically every speaker in this debate, is the masses of rumours circulating throughout the country—and the Taoiseach dismisses those as too fantastic to consider. Too fantastic, yes, to be considered by a person at the head of the Executive Council, with all the sources of State information available every hour of the day; but not too fantastic to be considered by an humble person living in a hamlet miles away from any sources of information. I am not worried as to what extent these rumours irritate, annoy, and embarrass Ministers, but the gravity of these rumours, running unchecked and uncontrolled, is the amount of nerve-racking strain that it imposes on nervous people living in remote places.

Those rumours would not be believed so easily, so generally, and so freely, but for the mishandling of the censorship department. The idea, I take it, of a censorship is to prevent, generally, [467] information leaking out of things that are at the time unknown It is merely foolish censorship if you utilise a censor's office to suppress tilings that are known to every person in the country. Yet, so far as can be seen, the main activity of the censor was to withhold from the people things that came within their knowledge and within their hearing through other sources. We had mention here time and again in the debate of news that came over the B.B.O. wireless and was freely discussed from house to house and generally circulated from home to home. That had to be suppressed here in Ireland. Was it because the information might leak out?

We had at Croke Park last Sunday a certain demonstration. I suppose there were 500 people from each county in Ireland there and what the demonstration was about was known to everybody in every county the next morning, but no Irish paper could refer to it. When these simple people find things which they knew of cut out of the papers, what is the first result? That they believe every kind of asinine rumour and they say: “Did not such-and-such a thing happen and the, papers were not allowed to print it. The papers are allowed to print nothing now.” That is why the word goes from mouth to mouth.

The ex-Minister for Defence—that is the simplest title to give him in all this medley of rapid moves—speaking yesterday seemed to resent any criticism of the activity of the censor's office. I am sufficiently democratic to believe that, in difficult times, even more important than the pomp and ceremonial of armies, even more important than the Government, even more important than supplies, is an easy mind in each of the people and the confidence of the people in the Administration. I believe that one of the big factors in keeping the people in a confident mood is the Press, and that frivolous interference with the Press, without very full, grave and adequate reasons, is one of the surest was of undermining public confidence. We [468] have the whole lot together—the war moves, the gloomy statements, the issuing and the cancelling of orders, the non-impressive handling of the censorship and, on top of all, we have Ministers being changed like pups in a kennel as if they were of no importance, as if none of them understood his job, as if seven or eight years' experience did not or should not count for something.

We had the last remnant of public confidence in the Administration blasted sky-high by these apparently emotional or hysterical changes, without any reason given. Now, some of us may think very, very lightly of the present Ministry or the present Ministers. Others may think even less of them than we do, but anyone will say that even an experienced dud is better than an inexperienced dud. And even the people who regard them as duds would not have taken experienced men out of Departments and shoved in inexperienced men. The Minister taken from one Department in critical and difficult times and pitch-forked into another Department is only an amateur; he is only a learner for a year or two. Even the ablest man who takes over a Government Department is only a learner and probably a bungler until he gets his Departmental feet under him, and the most brilliant man does not just develop feet overnight; he has got to crawl before he is even able to stagger along, and the net result is that we have a whole Ministry of crawlers at a time when we are best entitled to have sound administrators, experts in their Departments and, above all, confident leadership.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor): I should like to make an effort to allay the fears that appear to fill the mind of Deputy O'Higgins. I am afraid that he is one of those who have been badly affected by the crop of rumours that have been circulating throughout the country for the last three weeks or so. In fact, if he speaks outside in the manner in which he has spoken in the House, not only to-day but also yesterday, it would not surprise me if many of the rumours did not emanate [469] from that particular source. Deputy O'Higgins is a man who has an abundance of commonsense—I will grant him that—and I am certain that the speech which he has just delivered is not intended as a serious effort but is merely intended for the purpose of publicity or propaganda. Therefore, beyond answering, as far as I think it is necessary, some of the statements he has made, I do not intend to take his speech too seriously. Yesterday he asked me a question and I think I gave him the full answer in respect to the first portion of it. I do not know whether he was satisfied with that portion or not. In respect to the second portion of the question, I deemed it advisable not to give him certain information and I still feel that in withholding that information I was doing a public service. The Deputy could, I believe, tell me to within a thousand what the figures are that he asked for in the question. I am fairly satisfied about that. Giving the figures in this House moans that they are published in the Official Debates and I take it that the Official Debates can be published by the newspapers outside.

Mr. McGilligan: We got a promise to that effect.

Mr. Traynor: I felt that, for that particular reason, it was not in the public interest to give the figures. If Deputy O'Higgins asked me for those figures in my office I would probably give them to him without a moment's hesitation, because I would give them to him in confidence and I feel he would honour the confidence. Deputy O'Higgins and, I am sure, other members of the Opposition, will clearly understand that these figures might mean a tremendous amount to belligerents. I am not going to go any further than that. I merely say that they might mean a lot to belligerents.

Mr. McGilligan: That is so startling a statement, it ought to be explained.

Mr. Traynor: It is not so very start ling.

[470] Mr. McGilligan: The Minister says that to indicate the number of people serving under arms here would be of gnat importance to the belligerents.

Mr. Traynor: It might possibly be. In respect to another question that was asked, Deputy O'Higgins started another rumour. He referred to the matter of blankets, Now, there are hundreds of young men, patriotic young men, who gave their services to the Volunteers with the intention of serving this country should an emergency arise. The parents of these young men must have been seriously concerned with the statement Deputy O'Higgins made in respect to the lack of bed clothes in camps for these hoys. I am pretty certain that many of the mothers and fathers of these boys were-deeply concerned as a result of that statement. I tried to allay any tears by telling the Deputy that he was not speaking correctly. I gave the number of blankets, and I want to make it clear now that I made a mistake. I mentioned four, when I should have mentioned three. I understand that three is the figure for the summer, and four for winter. It is due to Deputy O'Higgins that I should make the correction. The statement that these boys had to pull down blankets from the windows and to tear them asunder had a fragment of truth.

Dr. O'Higgins: I hope the Minister will excuse me interrupting him, but I want him merely to quote me correctly. I know that the Minister's mistake was a genuine one. I did not at any stage say that the boys had to pull down the blankets from the windows and to pull them asunder. I said that condemned blankets which had been utilised for blacking out the windows, had to be taken down and issued us blankets.

Mr. Traynor: I accept the correction. but there is very little in the difference. That was, the beginning of the rumour. I went to the trouble of examining the question which I got back to my office this morning. The actual story is that these young men in the barracks in question, were having something in the [471] nature of a ceilidhe or sing-song, and because they thought they were conforming to the black out regulations, some of them hung blankets on the windows in order that the lights should not be seen outside. When the singsong or ceilidhe was finished they look the blankets down and used them in the ordinary way. That is the foundation of the story; there is nothing in it.

Dr. O'Higgins: I take it as a definite fact that that is the Minister's information.

Mr. Traynor: That is my information. I do not know the source of the Deputy's information, but mine, at least, is from an official source. This nation has been faced with a situation such as has not arisen in the lifetime of Governments here, and the mobilisation to which Deputy, O'Higgins referred was carried out very successfully. It was not carried out in the fashion that the Deputy suggested. To my own knowledge the mobilisation scheme was known at least three years ago. I think I would not be wrong if I said that it was planned before 1936. I saw the scheme for the first time then. All arrangements were made and perfected during the years between 1936 and the operation of the order. I do not think there has been any serious complaint as to the manner in which mobilisation was carried out. Naturally, I suppose certain difficulties would arise. Young fellows coming up would. no doubt, feel a certain amount of discomfort when five or six of them were laying a bell-tent for the first time in their career. I have no doubt that they did feel the cold for the first few nights, and that their surroundings were strange. These particular discomforts would have been passed over by members of the reserve or the regulars as something that was very ordinary. Beyond that sort of thing I have not heard any complaints of a serious kind regarding the mobilisation I do not know if Deputy O'Higgins referred to the rations, but some Labour Depute did so. I am not saying that Deputy O'Higgins referred to them, but I understand that he had something to do with drawing up the [472] ration scheme. He knows that the scale was regarded as a suitable One for serving soldiers. Whoever referred to the ration allowance as being insufficient, I want to assure the House that oven since that particular scale operated, it has been added to, so that I think it is a satisfactory one. Some of the officers told-me that the scale is regarded as the moat generous in Europe. I am not prepared to say whether that is a act or not. That is the information I have been given in respect to the present Army.

Mr. Everett: Will the Minister tell us what it is?

Mr. Traynor: If the Deputy desires to have the actual scale can have it procured.

Mr. McGilligan: Let him serve for a day and find out.

Mr. Costello: That would solve it.

Mr. Traynor: Deputy Norton referred to the allowances. In respect of that I should like to say that a wife's allowance is 14/-. She receives an allowance equal to l4/-, which is made up in this way, the man receives 14/-, from which 7/- is deducted and passed on to the wife, and the Government adds another 7/-, bringing her allowance, up to 14/-. Where there is one child the amount of the allowances would be 21/-. Where there are two children the amount is 24/6; where there are three children 26/3; where there are four children'28/-., and 3d. per child after that. I think that scale is as satisfactory as it is possible to have. I do not think there is very much to grumble at in that respect.

Mr. Norton: If a man had to pay a lent of 15/- weekly for a corporation house out of 28/-, how much would he have to feed his wife and four children?

Mr. Traynor: These are the figures that have operated for many years, and the Deputy will, probably, be one of those who will come along at a later stage and criticise the cost of the present Army. If he wants to have [473] these figures raised he should say so. The daily ration consists of bread, 16 ozs; butter two ozs; tea, half ozs; sugar, three ozs; potatoes, 14 ozs; meat, half lb; milk, half pint; cabbage, seven ozs. A man can have a rasher and egg a rasher and sausage, a rasher and two ozs. of pudding, or a rasher and two ozs. of liver and so on. He can have other alternatives. There is also jam and rice to follow and various other things. Recently these have been added to. Some Deputy raised a question about the last meal being served as early in the evening as 4.30. A small supper has since been added, consisting of a sandwich and a cup of tea. There is also a canteen at which tea, buns and bread are sold, at a rate which, I am informed, is below the wholesale rate.

I hope I have allayed the fears any people may have with respect to the young men in training at the present time. I would also like to say in reply to Deputy O'Higgins that none of the Ministers has run amok; none of the Ministers as far as I know is suffering from nerves. Deputy O'Higgins has given an exhibition this evening which shows that his nerves are on edge and I do not think that exhibition has been helpful or even that it will help himself at all events. As far as we are concerned, we are working as hard as it is humanly possible to work and in doing the things we should do, we are keeping cool heads on our shoulders.

In respect to the strength of the Army the Government has not exclusively decided at what strength the Army should be maintained. That question has been decided in consultation with the General Headquarters Staff. The General Headquarters Staff has stated what is the minimum number of men they require in order to preserve the security of this nation, and that strength is fixed at, the number of men which is operating at the present moment here. I might say that it involves the lowest possible expenditure consistent with maintaining our security. The manner in which we are recruiting the force is being done under the most stringent economic [474] conditions possible. I want to assure Deputies that so far as I am concerned in respect to any information that the House may desire, and that I can give without risk, that information will be always given. I have no objection to criticism. The purpose of this House is to criticise. But there is one thing to which I do object, and I think the House will agree with me, and that is the raising of scares of the type that Deputy O'Higgins raised, here yesterday in respect to the welfare, of the young men in camp at present.

Mr. Dockrell: There has been a good deal of discussion as to what ought to be said at the present time. While it is possibly very unprofitable to go back over the past, at the same time we are passing through a stage at which many new decisions have to he made. The ordinary individual I think is, if anything, ahead of Government opinion. But the ordinary citizen in this country, say, the business man who is trying to get from the Government some light on certain matters, does not want to find out at a later stage that the Government have double-crossed him or that the situation has passed by when any action could be taken. Fortunately, I am not an agriculturalist but I happen to interpret the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures in what he said as to what the farmer ought, to do. It seems to me that the Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures could, split his speech into two parts and the two parts were co-ordinated by one section of the speech contradicting the other. That is what anybody would find who was looking for some light from that speech. The Minister started by siting to the farmer that he ought to raise as much stock as he could, but that really he did not know whether there would he food enough to feed that stock. He said that the farmer must really look to his farm being a self-sufficient unit a unit that could support everything raised on it. In conclusion, I think the Minister told us that we were short 900,000 acres of the tillage produce that we needed and that man and beast would have to compete for what there was—if there was [475] not a certain amount of luck in bringing in supplies. In fact, I should say the ordinary individual is left guessing as to whether the Minister is thinking of slaughtering animals or human beings.

We have a Department of Supplies set up and that, presumably, has got to ensure supplies for this country. But it seems that really in some ways that was not a major problem because the world is full of people who are only bursting to send supplies to this country if these supplies can only be got in here. We used to have regular connections with some foreign countries or cities which are now neutral. These were Gottenburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. It seems to be that if regular connections could be established with those places that goods would tend to flow in. In my opinion it is much more important to take away the difficulties that prevent supplies coming into this country than to appoint Ministers to buy supplies, a work about which probably they know little or nothing. While we are on that there is another point to consider. America is apparently considering what are war zones. Is this a war zone? America is a neutral country. This is a neutral country. Could America be induced to send ships over here or is she going to avoid this, country like a plague? These are points which, in my opinion, might be taken up immediately by the Government and properly investigated before any Minister for Supplies is appointed. If these points were considered and properly dealt with they would help to bring in essential supplies. What is preventing supplies from coming into this country? On this point I have next to refer to the hoary subject, “war risk.” The position of anybody bringing supplies into this country . it present, though it is a neutral country, is that these goods have to be insured against war risk and some time ago it was brought to the notice of the Government that we were paying many time over the war risk I rate that importers in England were paying.

At the present time, England, which is at war by reason of Government [476] action, has a cheaper rate for war risk than we who are neutral. I commend that to the attention of the Government if they want to cheapen goods coming into this country. The ordinary trader who brings goods into this country does not want to be ruined in a night and, whether this country is neutral or is not regarded as neutral, and there is an air raid on goods in this country, there is no protection that can be obtained. Is that a fair risk to ask an ordinary trader to undertake to come in here and leave goods on the quay that may be destroyed in a moment? I suppose the Minister will reply to me that there is very little risk of that. If there is very little risk of that cannot the Government, either in association with the insurance companies or without, get busy on the subject and afford protection for a person who brings in very valuable goods? Remember the fact that the danger of those goods being destroyed in a moment is remote but it is a factor that operates against supplies coming into this country.

As a sample of Government action— and Government action gone mad—the Minister referred to timber supplies being short in this country. No doubt, with the very laudable object of conserving the supplies of timber in this country, the Government made an order prohibiting the export of timber from this country. There are not many ships in, which that timber could, go out, and it would not have required. very stringent inspection to prevent timber leaving this country, but I will tell you what it did prevent. There is a number of special, returnable empties which are used by manufacturers on the other side to send over goods. Those containers are emptied over here and then sent back to the manufacturers, who refill them or repack them and so on. Those timber supplies belong to the manufacturers on the other side but under the prohibition of the export of timber, those empties in which goods, for which this country was gasping could come back were held up. The price of those goods was rising every day, or if not rising every day they were, at any rate, at the price ruling on the day of despatch. Those [477] containers were held up for a considerable period before the Government tumbled to the fact that that way not the class of timber that they wanted to prevent being exported from this country.

The Minister for Supplies made a moving appeal to all employers to maintain their employees and to give the maximum amount of employment, and I think that is very right and proper, but he also referred to the shortage of timber in this country. I would like to go back to last year and trace why there is a shortage of timber in this country. Last year the building trade almost came to a standstill. People on this side pleaded with the Government to go on with their full programme and so on, but the Government, in their wisdom or their folly, let the thing die down. Stocks in this country fell in sympathy with the demand. The next thing was that the Government wakened up to the fact that there was very little timber in the country and they appealed to the timber merchants to bring in additional supplies. The difficulties of war risks were then very acute and there was the question of what would happen if stocks were bought at an inflated price. The consequence was that the Government were not prepared to give a lead to the merchants and the merchants took a middle course: they ordered some timber but they found that they were in competition with autocrats who had said that they wanted the timber and were prepared to pay the price. The result is that even the supplies that were ordered did not come into this country and that is the reason why there is a shortage of timber at the moment in this country. While I have spoken of timber there were other commodities which were somewhat in the same category.

I want to refer to another category of goods in regard to which merchants are at present in some doubt as to whether they ought to increase their supplies or not. They are goods on which there is a duty to pay. Goods have increased in price and are they to bring those goods in at the increased price and also pay a duty? The Government have spoken about their [478] wish to have no unemployment and I think that probably they are genuinely anxious that building should go on but are they prepared to face the consequences of that? Do they realise that building is going to be dearer, that rents will be higher? Are they going to go on for a time and then discover that they could cheapen the goods by taking off the duties that are at present obtaining on those goods? The ordinary trading community would like some sort of lead from the Government—and I contend that they are entitled to a lead from the Government—as to whether, in regard to goods which at present bear a duty, if the duty is taken off at a subsequent date—I do not ask them to guarantee that for all time, but at any rate for some six or 12 months—they will refund the duty.

Those are some of the things that are preventing supplies coming into this country. Some time ago I appealed to the Minister to take the shackles off industry. The House heard to-day about the quota on artificial manures. The quota is being taken off when there is no artificial manures to be got. That is not the position with some other essential supplies. At the present time there are certain difficulties about bringing in certain commodities. If there were a free market here, very large stocks would have been accumulated. I can quite understand that there are difficulties about manufacturers who are in some competing lines and that position also will have to be considered by the Government. The public are entitled to a broad statement of the Government's policy at the present time.

Another matter that I mentioned the other day is this. What is to be the ration of petrol for a commercial traveller? There is a sort of popular belief that the commercial traveller merely goes around and takes orders from a customer and brings them in and that really he might be done without; that, if the man had a twopenny stamp available? and was able to read and write he could address that order to the firm and send it on. Many of these men, however, form a very essential [479] part of the life of the nation. They are experts in their own particular lines of business. They are able to point out to the customer, that goods he has ordered, are not exactly what he wants, or, perhaps, that the stock of goods that is held at the parent house-would be just as suitable to the customer, and that these can be obtained from stock. There are all sorts of things like that that commercial travellers make for, in the life of the nation, and I consider, that, at the earliest possible moment the Government should make up its mind as to what ration of petrol they are going to give to these people.

There is another point. Many people have entered into contracts on this side. They have supplied the Corporation, the Local Government Board and various boards throughout the country; they have entered into contracts in all good faith and they have obtained similar contracts with people in other countries. These contracts have now been swept aside by legislation in other countries. During the last war a measure was brought in that if a contract had been altered, due to war conditions, it was entitled to be cancelled or varied. That is another matter that is holding up a whole lot of, business and a whole lot of, people, who do not know where, they stand and they, are entitled, to be told the position.

I am not posing as an agricultural expert, but I have heard to-day a great deal of talk about compulsory tillage. If there is going to be compulsory tillage, the people cannot hear that too soon. I understand—we have heard it to-day—that there are probably lands that could not be compulsorily tilled and that it would be absurd to suggest that certain people could be compelled to till certain ground. I understand that in the last war they had a system of contracting out of that liability and I commend that to the Government, if they are thinking of a scheme of compulsory tillage. They could leave a loophole for people contracting out. People will have to make long-term [480] engagements so as to meet, their liabilites in connection with that and. there again there is a need for a pronouncement at the earliest possible moment.

Another matter that was taken into account in the last war was that a lot of workers were given allotments. To my mind, that is an easy and a cheap way of enabling people to raise some of their own food. People who are probably unemployed and who get a small allotment and who have some knowledge could probably be assisted with seed and with a spade and then they could very easily augment considerably their supply of food.

Mr. Hickey: It would be much cheaper to give them the food for nothing.

Mr. Dockrell: I do not think that that was the experience in the last war: it is, at any rate, a controversial subject. I would, suggest that a very large use of allotments could be made. There is, of course, no good in giving unemployed people an allotment to work at Dundalk or somewhere like that; allotments should be made available near their homes, and I think that then it would be found that a great deal of food would be produced and a great deal, of useful world would be done.

There is another matter that calls for a decision. Is summer time going to her extended this year as it has been across the water; or are we going to get out of step: with the people on the other side? Certainly, with the black outs, the longer daylight we have the better.

There has been a good deal of discussion about sugar. Some people have experienced great difficulty in getting supplies and a lot of people have been accused of hoarding sugar. I would like to put it to the Government that there may be a quite different explanation of that, namely, that a lot of people have realised that they are coming on to a time when supplies will be very difficult to obtain. Fruit is cheap at the present time and many people have made considerable stocks of jam. The fruit will not last for ever, and I [481] would like to suggest to the Government that a lot of this demand for sugar has really been caused, not by people who are hoarding it, but by people who are trying to turn the fruit into jam. I do not know whether they could give people increased supplies for jam making, or anything like that, but would like to put it to the Government that they should consider this matter.

Somebody said that this is not a time for thinking. I am really afraid that he must have been referring to the present Government, as we are waiting for leads in a whole lot of questions, some of which I have indicated in my few remarks this evening, I only hope that the Government will try to make an early pronouncement in questions where people cannot do anything until the Government has made the first move.

Mr. McGilligan: At the tail-end of this rather long debate there are really only about four matters of importance which I wish to raise. One of these is the very important matter of censorship. In that connection I feel myself in somewhat of a difficulty. I hesitate to suggest that the Minister whom I see opposite to me and who has had such enormous experience of Government business in the last three weeks —having passed, as I understand, from the Department of Education and suffered for a short period in Industry and Commerce before coming to his final reward in the Department of Lands—is entitled to discuss with me the censorship regulations, and more particularly the secret regulations issued to the Press. If he is not, I would like to have in this House somebody who can.

I do not like to have it ever recorded against me that I was responsible at any moment for bringing in here the man who used to preside over the Army and who is now engaged in defending this country by blacking out paragraphs in newspapers, but he spoke on this last night and he is apparently the person who has most authority in the matter, and if the Minister now present on the Front [482] Bench is not in a position to discuss the secret regulations I should like to have the other Minister here. I have a, copy of the secret instructions. I have been supplied with them from two sources, from one source under a bond of secrecy and from another source without any secrecy. I find myself in a somewhat difficult position and I should like to have some leading from the particular Minister who has passed these secret instructions as to how far they may be discussed with his assent in the Dáil. If I do not get his assent to a particular type of discussion, I have to make up my mind whether I shall discuss them without that assent. I do not say that I shall be compelled to, do that because it is quite possible if he were here, by giving some specific details as to what these, instructions are, there would be sufficient material for discussion. Until I find out whether he is coming here, I shall leave the matter for the moment.

I want to discuss the censorship immediately. Deputy O'Higgins referred here to-night to the fact that An Taoiseach thought fit yesterday to lecture this House on Parliamentary ethics, and that he remarked that there appeared to have been a change in the approach by Deputies to the problems that are facing the country and the Government. I may at once admit that there has been a great change since the 2nd September and I believe there is a reason for that change. As one individual who sat here and allowed the Government to get the Emergency Powers Act, with much less discussion and in speedier time than might possibly have been the case in other circumstances, I feel that, to a certain extent, that measure was passed by false pretences. There were certain claims made here when that measure was going through, that some of the more outrageous permissions and licences that were given to the Government would not be operated. I can quote and put my finger on particular statements made by particular Ministers, but I confine myself to this general remark at the moment, that I for one left the House with the feeling that what had been guaranteed was [483] that life was going to run, as far as the discussion of problems and the ventilation of criticism were concerned, very much as it had been before the introduction of the measure.

We were told that the Government must be aimed with certain powers and the House agreed that that was the situation. Our fears were allayed by the oft-recurring statement that there would be an effort, on the part of the Government, to interfere as little as possible with the ordinary activities of the citizens. In particular we asked as to Parliamentary meetings and a most reassuring statement was made by the Taoiseach on that. He told us that no doubt Opposition Deputies would welcome frequent meetings of the Dáil and that that would give them an opportunity of raising certain points. He went on to say:

“A meeting of the Dáil naturally gives an opportunity to the Opposition to raise the particular doubts or anxieties that may be in the minds of the public but it also gives us an opportunity of explaining here to the public, through our speeches, what are the reasons for any actions that we may take here and we are just as glad to have these opportunities of explaining our position as the Opposition are. We would be only too glad of caving the opportunity of explaining to the public the reason for, any action we might take.”

That was eminently sound. It was the most reassuring statement that came from the Government Benches the night. The Government welcome frequent meetings of the Dáil here and the opportunity it gave them for explaining to the public the reasons for anything they thought fit to do.

As Deputy O'Higgins has stated, we on this side were invited to set down questions in the request made on 2nd September, in order, as we thought, to give the Government a platform from which they might make statements and to tell them the things about which the public were disquieted so that they might deal with these matters. Yesterday questions wore asked about the Army, about expenditure, [484] about neutrality, about the Department of Supplies, the provisioning of the country, about unemployment and production. If anybody flunks that the Taoiseach has lived up to his promise of the 2nd September, and that he availed himself of the opportunity given here yesterday to explain to the public the reasons for many things that have happened since the 2nd of September, or if he himself feels that he has lived up to the promise then given, I do not know what the meaning of the English he used on that night was.

We asked in particular about the censorship because the clause in the Emergency Powers Bill was very, very wide and we were assured that the censorship was to be of a very restricted character at the beginning, but that circumstances might develop in which it would be necessary to extend it. We are in the third week since that statement was made, and I presume we are still in the stage in which a censorship of a very restricted character should apply. We shall discuss the instructions given at a later point, but the promise given to us was that the censorship was to be of a very restricted character, with the possibility that developments might render more rigid control necessary later.

The Minister in charge of the measure was asked what the censorship was going to deal with, and he said:

“Some control over the publication of news in the newspapers, information which might be of a military character and be of assistance to belligerents or detrimental to some other party engaged in hostilities, is necessary in our own interests.”

Later questions were put, a specific one being whether it was intended that the censorship would prevent any newspaper here, as a matter of newspaper or editorial policy, expressing particular sympathy or particular support for one or other of the protagonists in the war We were told that that was not intended. Finally, the question was asked: Would there be [485] any suppression of the ordinary criticism which it is incumbent on Parliamentary Parties, under the Party system, to make? We were given the most categorical assurance that there would be no censorship, no suppression, of the views of Deputies. It went further than that, and although it was not so precisely stated, the deduction horn what was said here in the Dáil on September 2, was that it would be meet and proper for the newspapers to publish whatever was an ordinary matter of controversy amongst Deputies here and that there would be no attempt to censor it. One last phrase was used and that was that, in a general way, the censorship that was going to be imposed would be imposed on news and not on opinions. I complain that the measure that was passed, after guarantees had been given to us that there was going to be no censorship, except of news and particularly of news that was likely to be of aid to belligerents, was undoubtedly passed under false pretences.

Let us see how an Taoiseach yesterday took advantage of the opportunity given to him to explain to the public, through the sounding board of the Dáil, the reasons for various things the Government had done. One group of the questions down yesterday dealt from varying angles with the question of neutrality. It is quite well known here—I quote no secret instructions—and it can certainly be deduced from comment made in the newspapers, that the one thing which has been ruthlessly suppressed in the newspapers, is any discussion as to neutrality, any discussion as to whether this country should be neutral or not, any discussion which in the mind of the censor or in the mind of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, would tend to impinge on my aspect of that matter of neutrality. Yesterday a question was asked with regard to a broadcast from Hamburg. The answer that was given was evasive in the highest degree. That question was down in in name. I drew attention to the broadcast from the Hamburg radio station, and only one [486] of the comments, and there were three which had repercussions in this country, was quoted. The answer I got was from the Minister for External Affairs—the Taoiseach:

“I have heard talk of such a broadcast, but I am not sure whether, in fact, such a reference to Ireland was made, or whether this is not another sample of the ridiculous rumours which have been passed from mouth to mouth recently.”

I do not like to refer to my personal knowledge of individuals, but the individual who put up that answer for the Taoiseach is, to my knowledge, so much given to listening to the wireless that he can be described as the greatest wireless addict in, this country. It is ludicrous for this man to say to the Taoiseach, and worse lor the Taoiseach to repeat here, that he had heard talk of such a broadcast, but that he is not sure whether, in fact. such a reference to Ireland was made. I think I would be able to produce at least half a dozen people to the Taoiseach who heard it. In fact, I might be able to get half a dozen in this House who heard it. It may be nothing much to pay attention to, but in any event that particular commentator from Hamburg very definitely went out of his way to cast, suspicion on the preservation of neutrality in this country. The Taoiseach, when asked about that and asked to explain it to the public as well as whether he thought it was necessary to take any steps about it, fobbed off the question with the reply that he is not sure whether, in fact, any such statement was made.

The second question was about another matter which was also broadcast. This is the matter in regard to the sinking of an oil tanker called the Inverliffey. When notice of the sinking of that vessel first appeared in our newspapers it was given in these terms: that the s.s. Inverliffey was registered in Dublin and was sunk at a particular time. Radio Eireann that night, in terms that were very carefully chosen, declared something to this effect: that it is inaccurately stated that the Inverliffey sunk at such [487] and such a time was registered in the Port Dublin. Everybody, who knew anything about the oil refinery projected here, knew that the Inverliffey bad at one time been registered here, so that on the clearest possible deduction there was evasion and quibble— something approaching a lie being broadcast to the people of the country. To the question put down here yesterday this answer was given by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce:—

“So far as the Minister is aware no Irish ships as defined in Emergency Powers (No. 2) Order, 1939, have been sunk since he 1st September, 1939. An oil tanker, the s.s. Inverliffey, was sunk on the 11th instant. The registration of the vessel here was closed on the 8th instant and all formalities in connection with the registration of the vessel at a port in the United Kingdom had been complied with, so far as they could be completed in respect of a vessel at sea, prior to the loss of the vessel. A reply to the other matters raised in the question does not, therefore, arise.”

If that is the idea of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce as to how he should explain to the public certain matters of concern to them, then it is certainly not the idea that We were given here on the 2nd September. What is the situation as far as we are given it? That the Inverliffey left a particular port: that her captain believed that the boat was still registered here and, in that belief, the, captain of that boat flew the Tricolour. A Belfast newspaper which did circuit late with that piece of information came into Dublin and passed from hand to hand. It gave in effect this version of the conversation which took place between the captain of the tanker and the commander of the submarine:

“I see your flag but I will sink you first and take the consequences after.”

It is surely of concern to know whether the commander of the submarine did behave in that way and, if so, if there is any way of dealing with the matter. [488] Is there no way, even by protest, of calling attention to thin, or is it simply that the Government here are so minded that if boats carrying cargoes, not being contraband, consigned in neutral vessels coming in here or if boats flying the Irish flag are sunk, the only response to that is going to be evasion and quibble when the matter is raised here in tire Parliamentary Assembly. So bad indeed did the evasion become yesterday that the Taoiseach, who had previously evaded the question about Hamburg, had here publicly to reprimand, by implication. his own Minister, and to ay that enquiries were on foot with regard to this matter.

The third question—this again was revealing no secret because it was one of the points referred to in the Hamburg broadcast—dealt with the black out here. Citizens here have been be-wildered as to what the situation is with regard to the black out. Why is a black out required here? What is the purpose of it? Who decided that it should be done? A question was asked about it here yesterday, and that particular question produced, I suppose, the greatest exhibition of confused incompetency that has ever been exhibited in this House. We were told, first of all—and I think it was a surprise to most people—that, in fact, if there was any black out it was not official. Questions were then raised by means of supplementaries. It was asked, did not the Guards enforce the black out in certain towns? The Minister replied that if the Guards did that they were not under his control. He was asked if the Electricity Supply Board had cut off the lighting to any extent. He did not answer that, but by implication made it clear that the Electricity Supply Board were under his control. He was asked finally had the local authorities got instructions with regard to institutions under their control with regard to lighting. The casual answer given was that that was a matter for the Minister for Local Government, and not his business.

If we have a Minister in charge of A.R.P. and if there is so much confusion that two Government Departments [489] give instructions with regard to institutions under their care, or with regard to the country generally, surely there is some lack of co-ordination in the background. If the Minister in charge of A.R.P. did not make it clear to his own colleagues that, if there was any black out, it was not an official order, it certainly reveals a disquieting situation. There was one gem which the Minister uttered which ought to be recorded for fear it might be forgotten. When asked about people having been killed because motorists dimmed their headlights, and when referred to the statement that morn than one person had been killed, the Minister's casual reply was: that he had seen in a newspaper a heading to a paragraph saying that a man had been killed, but that when he went on to read the paragraph he found that “the man had been driving with his full lights on and turned them off after the accident”—that is the man who had been killed in the accident. At what point he turned off his headlights, and at what stage approaching death he was, we are not told. But people have been killed; it was not alone one single individual. Quite a number of casualties—fatal consequences—have resulted from this black out, and the Minister told us it was not official; that if the Guards authorised or enforced such an order they were not enforcing an order passed by the Government and, if the Minister for Local Government did it, he did it on his own responsibility.

There were three points. They were really put down to find out what was the situation here with regard to keeping a neutral position. I do not think anybody who had doubts in his mind about the continuance of neutrality here would have had his doubts allayed by the answers that were given here. Was it not clearly revealed here yesterday that Ministers did not like questions, no matter how distantly removed, which dealt with the question of neutrality, because they might have to reveal that they were definitely running away from that matter, and that rather than test the point once and for all on some issue of importance they preferred to have ships sunk, men lost, [490] cargoes destroyed, and our position as a nation prejudiced? I have been advised that certain shippers from the South of Ireland have wearied themselves importuning the Department of External Affairs to take cognisance of certain ships leaving Scandinavian countries with non-contraband cargoes consigned to this country, and to try to got, in so far as Departmental activity could do it, such information spread as would get those boats safe passage. They could not get an answer from any Department of Government, either from the Department of External Affairs or the Department of Supplies, that that matter would be attended to or that any such activity had already been set on foot.

If we are a neutral country, people are asking themselves, why all the amazing hold-up of certain supplies? After one spectacular piece of muddling, we are due to undergo a rationing in regard to petrol. Where did our petrol supplies come from? By looking up the statistics we can find certain figures which give part of the answer. In the main, they came from non-belligerent countries. We are neutral. Can we not get petrol in? What is the difficulty? It is obviously not scarcity. If it were scarcity, that matter would be reflected in the price. It is not scarcity. For some reason, rationing is being imposed in this country. By far the greater proportion of the 40,000,000 gallons of motor spirit that we get in comes from two countries which have nothing to do with the war, two countries which, I understand, have their own tankers. Therefore, the boats are neutral, and the cargoes are coming to a distinctly neutral country. Why is there a hold-up? Why has it been necessary to ration us in this particular supply? I am told it is not because of the demand for supplies for military purposes hero, because we have not got in any appreciable extra quantities. There has not been any great storage done for military purposes. Why then are ordinary citizens going to be rationed? People might be rationed according to a price scheme if the matter were one of scarcity. But it apparently is not a matter of scarcity. [491] Whatever is coming in is being sold at the same old price. If we are a neutral country, it ought to be possible to make arrangements for supplies. I am not saving that those arrangements will always be carried out, but certainly in the first three weeks of a war I fail to see any reason why our ordinary supplies of that particular commodity could not have been brought in. Questions having some relation to that matter were asked here yesterday, and I think the public are still confused as to why it has been found necessary to have this rationing system.

That question of petrol leads on to the general question of supplies. Quite a series of questions asked here yesterday dealt with the matter of supplies. I was amazed to find that the only answer we could get were three pieces of declamation about our policy of self-sufficiency. I should have thought that one of the things that were blown sky-high with the first little explosion of the war was this whole matter of self-sufficiency. One gathers from the gospel of the superman, as it is written in a particular book, that vital space or expansion room is a necessity for certain select people. Though a certain select people, occupying territory of far greater extent than this country has, and being blessed with natural resources far greater than anything we have any hopes of ever discovering, finds that it needs what it calls expansion room over half a continent in an endeavour to make itself self-sufficient, this country still believes, or Ministers speaking from the Government Benches in this country profess to believe, that self-sufficiency is still a policy, and that, in fact, self-sufficiency as a policy has proved a success.

In brief, let us see how it has worked out. Here we were spending money extravagantly in order to bolster up this move towards self-sufficiency. We got twelve months' notice of a conflict, a major European conflict, as the answer put it yesterday. In any event, whether there was notice of it or not—sometimes find Ministers holding that they had no notice of it— [492] a Department of Supplies with a view to a major European conflict was set up in September, 1938, and they made preparations. When we got to the details of those preparations the answer and the tones of the Minister reading it got a little bit hollow and insufficient. They advised and encouraged traders to get in supplies. There was one obvious thing that should have been answered. If any of those traders asked tor money, asked for credit facilities, asked for an approach to the banks in order that the banks would give credit facilities, we should have been told that those things were done, so that we could see what aid to the advice and encouragement was given to the private traders on whom we were relying for our supplies. I understand that the banks were approached about a week before war broke out, and that certain traders in this country had the ironic satisfaction of receiving, two days after war broke out, a letter stating that arrangements had been made with the banks to advance them credit for the purchase of materials. Of course when that letter was taken to the banks they knew how to treat it.

The Department of Supplies was set up. We got the scheme of the Department yesterday. It was the ex-Minister for Industry and Commerce, now Minister for Supplies, who was in control of it and was responsible for it. Surely it is possible for him to tell us what supplies or what commodities beyond normal requirements were got in? I do not know how he proposes in the future to establish a price fixing régime if he does not know what stocks were in the country. I understand that the prices fixed are going to have some relation to the time at which those stocks were bought, and when they were brought in. How does the Minister propose to fix prices if he does not know what stocks were brought in, and at what time? The Minister who spoke here yesterday on this matter is so well known for his boastfulness that I think it is easy to make the deduction that if he had done his job, and if he had in supplies of any essential commodities, we would have heard of them in the greatest detail. [493] He is not the one to neglect such an opportunity as that. What did we hear from him yesterday? A lung statement about sugar and a certain less-convincing statement about flour. Then a general grandiose lecture about the virtues of self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, a colleague—his colleague who has gone to the Department of Industry and Commerce—had answered a question on supplies in relation to unemployment and that reveals just what self-sufficiency in this country means.

The Minister for Supplies was very eloquent about the situation in regard to sugar. That is a matter which ought to be clarified by the publication of certain figures which can well be done. After the statement yesterday, I still find in the public mind a remnant of confusion. The Minister, in the most specific way, told us that we had supplies of sugar sufficient up to, I think, the year 1940. When I heard that I said: “That is one rumour settled once and for all.” Despite the statement made yesterday, rumours still persist amongst people who have been endeavouring to get sugar. I am not talking about the family man going around looking for a small quantity of sugar. I am speaking of people in the trade. They cannot ascertain what the situation in regard to sugar is. The Minister's statement, when analysed, comes to this—that we have certain beet-sugar factories and that when they produce 100 per cent. of our requirements, the position will be all right. He was able to ride off on that statement as if he were saying that they were now producing 100 per cent. of our requirements and that everything was all right.

I find that the beet-sugar factories since their institution at no time produced all our requirements. They got within about a fifth of our requirements in one year. They have gone down very rapidly since. On the 31st March of this year, it was found necessary to import slightly more than the annual production of sugar in this country. That meant that the sugar factories were producing only 50 per cent. of the country's requirements. We know from statements in the House that the [494] acreage under tillage, so far as sugar beet is concerned, has gone down by about a fifth since last year. So far as I can judge from the figures given in column 150 of the Official Debates of the 24th May, the annual consumption of sugar here amounts to 110,000 tons. Of that amount of 110,000 tons, the sugar factories last year did not produce 50,000 tons and this year they will produce less than 50,000 tons. The Minister can set at rest the whole country's disquiet by simply stating what amount of sugar has been imported and is now, held as against the country's requirements this year. When I ask that question, I want its terms attended to. I do not want to be answered in terms of sugar ordered and now on sea or in terms of sugar ordered and about to be consigned. I want to know the amount of sugar actually held in the country.

So far as I can make out from the figures we imported last year 1,110,000 cwts. In the year we are in, we have to import something more than that if we are to meet normal requirements. I want to know has that amount already been imported because, if it has not, it was a fabrication for the Minister to say yesterday that this country has all the sugar it. requires and will be self-sufficient in sugar up to 1940. That is a matter of detail and can be attended to by figures, but the Minister's statement yesterday depended upon a hypothesis—that is, that when the sugar factories produce 100 per cent. of our requirements, we shall be all right. It is unnecessary to insult the intelligence of this House by saying a thing like that. What we did want to hear was what was the estimate of the sugar about to be produced in the country, what importation was necessary to make up our requirements and what importation had been achieved. That was one matter in respect to which an approach to self-sufficiency might, I thought, be made. One of these days it will be possible to sit down and make calculations over the years during which we have been running the sugar beet industry as to the cost of building and equipping the factories, setting against, that the cost of buying and storing all the sugar we [495] will need, the cost of bringing it in and paying the increased rate. Then, I think, we shall be able to realise whether the experiment of four sugar-beet factories was a success economically or not.

Leave that aside. What were we told yesterday about industry generally? Dealing with the question of unemployment, the present Minister for Industry and Commerce told us that some unemployment had been considered likely here as a result of a major European conflict and that the special committee set up fay the Minister in September, 1938, came to this conclusion—that if there was unemployment it would be due mainly to interruption in the overseas supply of raw materials, partly finished materials, fuel, machinery, mechanical replacements and stores. After seven years aiming at self-sufficiency in industry, that is the point we have got to—that if there is a European war we are all right—this self-sufficient country will be a happy land—if only we can secure raw materials, partly finished materials, fuel, machinery, replacements and stores. When you knock that out of self-sufficiency, there is not a great deal of self-sufficiency left. That is what we have got at the end of seven years.

If we are in that position and must depend on outside suppliers for raw materials, partly finished materials, fuel, machinery, replacements and stores, surely the question of our neutrality and whether non-contraband can be carried into this? country on neutral boats is of tremendous importance. Surely, it is of sufficient importance to make the Taoiseach realise that an important point of principle was in dispute when the Inverliffey flying_maybe mistakenly_ the Irish flag was sunk by a submarine. That is not the only boat we have lost. It is the only boat—if it was an Irish boat—which we have lost by enemy action. But, by Government action, we have lost a fair amount. I put down a, question to find out what was the strength, tonnage and numbers of the mercantile marine we had on two dates. The two dates I chose were the [496] 1st September of last year and the present date. I find that there used to be registered at Irish ports motor shipping of a gross tonnage of 88,000 and that, since the 1st September, 66,000 of that tonnage has been removed from our register. We have lost 65,000 tons out of 88,000. We have lost only seven vessels; we used to have 365; we still have 358, but the tonnage is about 66,000 gross. We have lost the seven most important ships registered here. We have also lost eleven steam vessels with a gross tonnage of nearly 19,000 out of a total of 68,000. That has been done by Government action. It required Government acceptance and the Government consent was given. Why was that done? Was not that a point on which the Taoiseach should have thought this a proper platform from which to enlighten the public? We know that an order was made under the first emergency order issued that boats registered here must fly the Tricolour.

We know that, as a consequence of that, it was discovered that certain shipping insurance conditions did not apply to our ships, and it was known further that once boats registered here sailed under the Tricolour they would not get the advantages of the legislation that applied in England to the dependents of those lost at sea; and, by incautiously, and at the wrong moment, insisting on the Tricolour being flown, we have suddenly removed from our register the only seven boats of real value that we had. Without entering into the particular tonnage or capacity of those seven boats, I think it would be admitted that they may be very valuable boats before this war is over. As the war progresses, and even as things are at the moment, it may be very important that these boats should be able to sail under the flag of a neutral country, but for some reason—although whatever the reason may be, it is not given to us—we lost so much tonnage. It seems that the Inverliffey was sunk by a German submarine, and that was not a very substantial loss of tonnage, but our own Government, by their actions, have lost us about five-sixths of the shipping that [497] used to be registered here. Why way it necessary to achieve that? Was any thought given to this matter before that particular order was applied? Did anybody foresee these consequences? Even if these consequences were not foreseen, what was the advantage of insisting on the application of that order at the time it was insisted upon?

The other matter that was raised here, and which I do not want to go into in any detail, is the all-important matter of agricultural prices. As far as one can make out, from the answers that were given here, there is almost definite acceptance of the viewpoint that the British Government have decided to control, much more rigidly than they did in the case of the last war, the prices of the stuff they have to buy. That, of course, may be a very wise viewpoint from the British point of view, and it is quite possible that, if one looks ahead, or if one looks long enough ahead, it is a point of view that might not be without value for the people of this country; but the position is that our farmers here have no future to look forward to such as they had to look forward to in the last war. It has been pointed out here, and I have no doubt that Deputy Dillon is right when he says that, as time goes on, and while this war lasts and supplies that, possibly, at present are in competition with our supplies, are prevented from going into England, the prices of our produce undoubtedly will rise somewhat. Apparently, however, it is accepted here—and negotiations were going on —negotiations which, apparently, were almost perfected until the angered farmers broke into the discussions and got these negotiations postponed— apparently, the view is accepted here that it is right and proper for Britain so to control these prices. That they may have the power to do so and that we have to yield to that power is one matter, but the acceptance of that point of view is a different matter. Are we going to suffer from the fact that the prices of our produce are to be prevented from rising and that the prices we have to pay for our raw materials for this policy of self-sufficiency are to be permitted to rise [498] —not to speak of the cost of A.R.P., war risks, and everything else? Are the fanning community going to be put in the position that what they will buy in the way of industrial goods will be raised in price because of the increase in the price of raw materials coming in, while the prices of their own produce are to be prevented from rising?

Surely, all these matters are proper for discussion here, and matters on which the public have a right to be informed. So far, however, it can be said that the only efficient Department of Government in regard to any matter that has been handed over to them under the Emergency Powers Act is the Department assigned to the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence. The Minister for Co-ordination of Defence has issued Orders both drastic and severe, but is he cognisant of these Orders? He is not in the House at the moment. Is the Minister now prepared to enlighten me as to any point in the discussion which I may make? Does the Minister understand that I am addressing him?

Minister for Lands (Mr. Derrig): I take it. Sin, that the Deputy is addresing the House.

Mr. McGilligan: I have a copy of these Orders, issued from a Government Department, and I have another copy which I got elsewhere,, with no question of secrecy involved. The Minister who controls these matters, when he was questioned yesterday, gave out some of the terms but I want to know how far the censorship is going to go. Does be even know where is the desirable point at which discussion should stop, or is he aware of the instructions? He will realise the difficulty of an individual here in this House. I am not the only one, but one of a group of at least 20 who know what these instructions are. The Minister for Co-ordination of Defence took it on himself yesterday to reveal a certain part of these instructions. How far is the whole of these instructions open for discussion? Surely, the Minister knows?

Mr. Derrig : I think the Deputy was [499] not present, here yesterday. I am not responsible to the House for this question of censorship, and I am not prepared to deal with it. I know that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence informed the House yesterday that he was prepared to set up a consultative committee representing the three Parties in the House, and as I understood his remarks—I was listening to him—he was prepared to discuss the question of censorship generally with that committee and that, if it was found that the members of the committee disagreed very strongly with the instructions, the Minister was prepared to consider with the committee what further steps should be taken to discuss the matter. That was my understanding. I am not in a position to add anything further at the moment to what was said yesterday, and I suggest that the matter might be left to the consultative committee. As I am on my feet, Sir, I might perhaps help the Deputy by informing him that, if it is proposed to close the debate to-night, the head of the Government would be prepared to reply, provided he got three-quarters of an hour.

Mr. McGilligan: If he were to come in here now, five minutes would be enough to deal with the question, of censorship.

Mr. Derrig: I am trying to facilitate the Deputy. If there could be an understanding now that the debate would conclude to-night, the Taoiseach would deal with,these matters, if he considers it necessary to deal with them, provided sufficient time is given. I think that, when Deputy McGilligan has finished, it should be possible to get an understanding as to whether it is proposed to finish the debate to-night or not.

Mr. McGilligan: Well, Sir, on this matter of censorship I am afraid I must persist. Although I was not personally present, I did hear about all that the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence said yesterday, and it seemed that there was quite clearly a disinclination [500] on the part of the House to accept his view with regard to the consultative committee. Then, last night, when I was here in the House, the Minister read three, or possibly four, out of six or seven headings that are in these instructions.

Now, it is the three which he left out that I want to-discuss. Why is it in his power to decide that this House ought to be permitted to discuss in general terms only three of the six. categories of prohibitions which he has imposed on the Press, and that he will not allow the other three to be discussed? It shows us the situation into which we have drifted. We were told on the 2nd September, that there was to be no suppression of news. There was going to be a restriction of news and it was going to be a restriction of such news as was likely to be of advantage to belligerents. Under that, an open order, Emergency Powers (No. 5) Order, has been issued. Two clauses in that would give rise to disquiet immediately. Clause 5 says that

“An authorised person may from time to time do either or both of the following things: Give directions to the proprietor of a newspaper prohibiting such proprietor from publishing, either permanently or during a specified period, in such newspaper, or in any poster or placard in connection with such newspaper, any specified matter or any particular class or classes of matter.”

A wider power could not conceivably be thought of. It is later laid down that where directions are given to the proprietor of a newspaper the proprietor is not to publish a statement that such directions have been given, or a copy, or an extract from the direction, or give in any newspaper any indication that such direction has been given. I understand that that last clause has been so interpreted that a, newspaper may not leave a blank space to show that an item has been cut out. Is that so, and, if it is so, is there any justification for it?

What are the matters that have been censored? Here is the Order: “...any specified matter or any particular class [501] or classes of matter”—at the entire discretion of the authorised person who may be somebody delegated by the censor, who is himself a person delegated by the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence. It is said that, at the end of the last war, a particular statesman who appeared from one of the Dominions at the Versailles Treaty conference had an advantage over every other person present there. He was stone deaf. He had a particular arrangement which enabled people to speak to him, but he himself controlled the key to it, and nobody knew when it was on or off. He was completely impenetrable to argument because the minute he had said his say, he clicked off the machine and nobody could talk to him. That is the situation the censor is in here, not indeed, I may say, that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence requires such an aid as deafness in regard to impenetrability. He has been gifted in other ways in that respect, but, in any event, he is in this superior position that he simply says to the editor of a newspaper: “Do not publish that” and the editor cannot complain and the editor cannot even say: “I have been told not to publish that” and the editor cannot even leave a blank space to show that a particular item has been cut out. Why must that be done?

If I had leave here to go through the list of these secret instructions that have been issued, I believe I could raise queries as to the suitability of every one of them. The Minister is like the gentleman whose earphones are turned off—he is not in a position to answer me. Let us discuss a couple of the things which have, to the knowledge of people, happened here. Deputy O'Higgins referred rather casually to one item. Last Sunday, in the presence of about 40,000 people at a minimum, a banner, possibly regarded as seditious under the Offences against the State Act, was paraded around Croke Park. There were a few bands about to draw attention to it. There were people gathered together to see an exhibition of football, but they saw this other exhibition, first of all, and all that the Minister can do is to prohibit newspapers [502] referring to that. Deputy O'Higgins asked a pertinent question on that: “How many of, let us say, 40,000 people who were there that day who looked in their newspapers the next day to see what comment was made on it and found that the news item was absent, hereafter will have the slightest regard for what is in the newspapers? How many of them will be prone to believe the rumours that are being spread? Generally, the answer ordinarily given in peace time to any rumour dealing with any important matter is: `If that were so, somebody would have written it up.' ”

Like Deputy Norton who referred to it, I discovered that apparently a meeting was proposed to be held in O'Connell Street during the week-end. and it was prohibited, but the way I got to know that was when next day, in the police court, certain people were brought up for attempting to hold a suppressed meeting. Really, does it do the Government any harm to have a notice appearing in the paper that “the meeting proposed to be held at such and such a place is hereby suppressed”? Is it not better to have that notice appearing than to have somebody drag out in the District Court next day, when it can no longer be hidden, that two or three people have mounted some of the architectural beauties of Dublin to address a crowd under the guise of this prohibited, meeting? I have in my possession, at this moment an article which was presented to one of the newspapers for publication. It is headed: “The Tragedy of Poland”, and I understand that that title debars, it from publication, that we have got so delicate about our neutrality that any article— I have read through the article and there is not one line in it that could be of any help to a belligerent—which refers to what hah happened in Poland as “a tragedy” has immediately to be cut out. The other comment, I understand, to which exception was taken in this article—I do not say that this was taken exception to by the individual censor—is the comment: “The news of Poland's tragedy has come as a stunning shock in particular to the Catholic world.” The newspaper said that [503] on the precedents they had already accumulated about censorship, it would undoubtedly be regarded as taking sides in this conflict to talk about Poland's ravishing as being a shock to Catholic nations. Is there any reason why any such strict standard of censorship should be set up here?

From the Labour Benches, we have the other remarkable example. A newspaper quoted a phrase from the speech of the Taoiseach on 2nd September about the pressure that is put upon small States, and I understand that there was one sentence commenting upon that or, rather, drawing a moral from that. That sentence from the speech of the Taoiseach reported in the Official Debates and the comment on it containing one sentence was crushed out, and the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence last night tells us that he will not allow the devil to quote Scripture. It was an amusing paraphrase which be-used on that occasion. The Scripture on this occasion was represented by the words of the Taoiseach on the 2nd September and the devil who purported to quote is the paper which pretends to have most ecclesiastical affiliations in this country, a paper which is circulated to clergymen and brought out for clergymen, but that devil will not be allowed to, quote this particular Scripture. I think the unloveliest spectacle that has been presented in this Parliament was staged here last night. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence told us in regard to that, with a venom that was apparent in his appearance and in the tones in which he uttered the statement, that there were papers here which were always trying to do tricky things and that he would not let them get away with it. That is the mentality of the censorship so far as the Ministry are concerned and not so far as the officials are concerned. There is the suspicious mind. People are trying to do down the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence and, because that is so, he will sharpen the knives we gave him for other use and he will see that they will not get away with it.

I ask that another view be taken of [504] this. I ask that the Ministry get back to the situation of the 2nd September, the situation announced on the 2nd September as being the likely one to prevail in regard to censorship. They then stated distinctly, and everybody would agree that it was proper, that news circulating in newspapers here, or newspapers that come into the country, should be rigidly censored if likely to be of any value to a belligerent, and that we refrain from censoring opinions. The Minister used a phrase last night in that connection that he was out to preserve democratic institutions. It was another peculiar word for him to have chosen. In the Museum behind us you will see things preserved, mummified. We do not want democratic institutions presented in that way. We want them preserved in for use. Surely the whole tendency of democratic institutions is to develop still further that idea that Governments depend upon reason, upon their capacity to argue; that they can put up a case that other people cannot refute, that opinion is the ruling force. How are you going to have opinion the ruling force when you have a Press gagged by an individual who displayed here yesterday his mental attitude towards the Press—that, in general, they were a lot of people trying to get away with things, playing tricks, and that he would see that that did not happen.

I think the instructions I have here and which I am precluded from reading, insult the proprietors of newspapers and their staffs. They are ordered here not to do things. Part of these instructions are such that, unless a newspaper was run by an individual who had not a stake in the country, he would not think of offending in the particular way in which the prohibition occurs. The Minister for Supplies made a statement here about money being likely to depreciate in value as the war went on. Will the Minister now on the Front Bench agree with me when I say that that statement made by an editor, written up by an editor, of one of the local newspapers, must immediately have brought down the censor upon him? It certainly would fall under one of the headings here. That means that an intelligent [505] people are not going to have served up to them opinions, conflicting arguments, viewpoints and theories. They are not to have anything on which to whet their intellectual appetites or to satisfy themselves, excepting only what the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence likes to let through, and the sieve he has put on has a very narrow mesh. Indeed, if anything is to get through at all, it is going to be so meagre and unsubstantial that nobody will take it as representative of the facts.

Is it not an insult to the people of the country that these regulations should ever have been issued? If there had been an outbreak in the first two or three days of the war of scare news that would disedify the public, statements which would cause disquiet and anxiety in any of the thousand ways one would think of anxiety being broadcast—if any of these things happened, one might imagine the Minister saying, “That must stop; we will have to discipline all you people.” Can anybody point to any error committed by the Press in the first two or three days after the war broke out and before those censorship regulations were saddled so heavily on them? Can anybody say that the past history of the people running newspapers is such that they are not fit to be trusted as Irishmen to deal with the matters that are of interest in the country at the moment in such a way and with such caution that whatever they say will not have any bad repercussion on the lives and fortunes of the people? Is there any example, that can be given of a misuse of liberty in the Press on which to found this amazing set of instructions? I suggest that the Press of the country should not be treated in this way. I suggest that, through the Press, the people deserve treatment bettor than is being meted out by the Government. I suggest that if the Government proceed on this course of stopping the clash of opinion they are going to have a sadly disorganised country in a very short period.

In this House we have divided ourselves over many things, but we represent, in the main, a group of people [506] who have always upheld against people who had an opposing view that this country was fit for self-government. The present Government's idea as to what ought to he published to this community capable of self-government absolutely decries their previous professions as to the capacity of the people for self-government. They are treating the people of the country as if they were newly-liberated slaves, people without education, people of no standing and, worse than all, as if they were a people who did not know where their economic betterment lay, people who are going to savage themselves for the sake of publishing some scare story in a paper.

There is no reason whatever why these regulations should have been issued, and if those regulations could be discussed in this House, I do not believe that there are five Deputies outside the Ministry who could be got to support them as they stand. We are in the position that in this House, owing to the way in which the regulations came to the Opposition, we cannot discuss them openly, and the Press are in the position that they cannot even say what are the regulations that are imposed on them. They cannot even give an indication from time to time as to the number of matters that were excised by the Censor.

The last matter about, which the people are disquieted is this change of Ministry. The Taoiseach told us yesterday that it was found necessary to change the then Minister for industry and Commerce. The comment was made that it was a peculiar matter that that single change which was regarded as desirable should have brought about eight other changes. So far as I am concerned, there is one change which, from what I gathered from the people I have talked to, as well as my own viewpoint, has caused the greatest possible disquiet, and that is the change which has put the Vice-President into the Ministry of Finance. The Vice-President is not capable of handling finance, never was, and after 25 years disuse—because that is the only way one can describe his last quarter of a century—I do not believe that he is capable of going into any [507] Department of government where there are live matters to be attended to. I do not know why he was disinterred from the Department in which he had been sleeping so peacefully, and I certainly think it is a discredit that in a very tricky financial situation he should be the person chosen to deal with the almost ruinous finances of the country. No matter what you think of, whether unemployment, industry, or anything else, eventually the matter will always come back to the Department of Finance. There is going to be a repercussion by way of expenditure, decreased revenue, increased demands on the revenue—there is going to be a demand on the Department of Finance.

Deputy Seán T.O Ceallaigh, Vice-President, and late Minister for Local Government and Public Health—and the word late is appropriate there—is put in charge of the Department of Finance. Look at the situation he enters into. At the height of the last war, I think in the third year, the British thought fit to saddle this country along with themselves with an income tax of 6/-. This time, before the war started in which we are neutral, the late Minister for Finance had raised the income tax to 5/6, and, during the period of rule of the late Minister for Finance, our foreign investments had, to a certain extent, been cashed in.

On the statements made in this House in the last 24 hours, we are faced with a substantial increase in the number of unemployed, and that will demand Some State aid. We are faced with our industries, self-sufficient as we pretend they are, to a certain extent collapsing. We have switched over painfully in the last six or seven years from an agricultural position to this extent, that there are 41,000 people less employed in agriculture than there used to be and we have switched those over to what? To building, which is now going to collapse, according to the stories told us here, and to industry which depends on sea-borne raw materials partly finished, fuel, machinery, stores, and replacements.

We find, according to a statement in [508] the paper issued to-night, that the Government are themselves dismissing people, although they are exhorting employers to keep all their employees on their books. We find that the late Minister for Industry and Commerce, now the Minister for Supplies, yesterday told us that money was going to become progressively depreciated. In all these circumstances, the Vice-President is chosen as the person to rule the fortunes of this country financially. Let us hope that, being dug up himself, he is not going to throw this country into the grave from which he has so dishonourably emerged.

The Tánaiste: May I interrupt in order to ask if there is any likelihood that the debate will conclude to-night?

Mr. Belton: At what hour should it concluded?

The Tánaiste: That will be for the House to say.

Mr. Belton: If it is intended that it should conclude at 10.30, I do not think that is possible.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: In the ordinary course the House would adjourn at 11 o'clock, but if there is, agreement, the House can continue, until a specific motion is disposed of or until such hour as would be fixed by agreement.

Mr. Belton: Could we not adjourn in the ordinary way to-night and meet. again to-morrow?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Does the Deputy mean that the House should adjourn at 10.30 to-night, and meet as usual in the morning?

Mr. Belton: I suggest that.

General Mulcahy: If the House is to sit to-morrow, we would adjourn as usual at 10.30. If the Deputies who desire to speak could finish by 10.30, we could offer the Taoiseach a half an hour in which to conclude.

Mr. Belton: I know at least half-a-dozen Deputies who want to speak. [509] If all the things are going to happen that were threatened from the Government Front Bench, then the position is so serious that it warrants more careful discussion than has been given to it.

The Tánaiste: I was given to understand that there was some disposition expressed on the other side—there was certainly some desire on this side— that if possible the debate would conclude to-night.

Mr. Belton: Let us adjourn until to-morrow morning.

General Mulcahy: There was a desire to convenience the Government and conclude the debate this evening, but from what transpires now, I think that is not possible.

An Ceann Comhairle: The House might sit after 10.30 by unanimous agreement, and some hour would have to be fixed at which to conclude. If, however, Deputies do not think that the debate could be concluded at a reasonable hour to-night, it would not serve any useful purpose to continue.

General Mulcahy: Apparently it would not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Then the House will rise at 10.30 p.m.

Mr. Brasier: Of the four headings selected as the subject-matter for this debate there are two that stand out prominently in the minds of members of this House, and these two are unemployment and production. Unemployment has been rightly regarded as a matter of very considerable concern to Deputies, in view of the great crisis that has overtaken us. At the time when the European War first started, it was not a matter of such great concern, because there was a method of absorbing anybody in this country who was not in a position to get employment. But to-day that condition of affairs does not exist. We have [510] men in certain ways of life, in certain trades, men who are fit only for those trades, and if they are unemployed there is nothing but unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance for them, so long as the State continues such services.

There is no doubt about, it that if there is going to be an overwhelming dislocation of the services of this country we will be faced with a crisis unprecedented since this State came into being, a crisis that I think the Government might find some difficulty in coping with. We have boards of health concerned with migrants returning from England. They are faced with the problem of providing these people with assistance if they are unable to get unemployment assistance, and I do not think that is possible. Those boards have certainly shown that they regard it as a matter of extreme urgency and in dealing with the problem they have asked the Government for guidance. They have not got very much assistance in that respect and that is one matter we will have to consider very seriously.

There is some likelihood of dislocation of services through the lack of petrol. There are many men who earn their livelihood by hiring out motor cars. These men are faced with unemployment and I appeal to the Minister for Supplies to remedy that situation, even if he has to curtail certain individuals who may be in a position of luxury. Various forms of transport will be affected by the rationing of petrol and that is the, difficulty which the Minister will have, to face quickly if we are not to have these men thrown out of employment.

Public assistance is becoming a vital problem with our various public authorities. Many local boards have undertaken housing schemes. In Cork county there are at least 36 housing schemes in contemplation. In one case sanction has been delayed because of some technicality. As regards the rest of the schemes, for which tenders have been accepted, only in one case has a man consented to sign his bonds and that state of affairs is due to the difficulty [511] in getting supplies of building materials. In fact, merchants have gone to the board of health asking for a guarantee in relation to supplies, and they ask the Government to indicate to these men, the contractors, that if they sign their bonds they will be able to obtain supplies of timber and other necessary materials.

Although the Minister has declared in this House that such supplies would be readily available, that assurance has not been given to the boards of health, and various schemes of housing have been held up. That will mean unemployment. Water and sewerage schemes are held up until a definite assurance is given by the Minister that supplies will be available. Beyond question, the work of the new Department that the late Minister for Industry and Commerce now represents, is one that will require the utmost activity on the part of the Government. Supplies are urgently necessary if the country is not to be faced with a very serious problem arising out of the unemployment of workers. We cannot tell them to go and work on the land. They are utterly unsuited for such work, because those on the land are people who have been brought up on it from their youth. It would be like taking fish out of water to put townsmen working on the land. I am old enough to remember the difficulties that beset farmers over 20 years ago. The Taoiseach in his speech referred to the limited production that had come from the land during that period, although prices were very much enhanced. The reply might be to ask him to bear in mind that that was due to the poverty of the farmers, who overcropped their land. The lack of fertility resulted in production not being good, despite the fact that tillage had considerably increased and prices enhanced over and above those of previous years, and rightly so, because the cost of production had increased.

At that time the British Government exercised a great deal of control Farmers were not allowed to use any cereal for the feeding of animals The use of barley was prohibited for [512] feeding stuffs, although a considerable amount of it was used by brewers when the price of alcoholic drink was very low. That encouraged farmers, prior to the Great War, to crop and recrop their land. It was an understood thing then to have a second crop of barley on the same ground. There was not very much wheat grown then, and if the land was not fertile enough to grow barley, a crop of oats was put in. The land was thus impoverished, and did n6t give a heavy yield of any cereal crop. That might be one of the reasons why there was not greater production despite the higher prices prevailing. The Government might take a lesson from that, and arrange to facilitate farmers to obtain credit with which to buy cattle, so that farm-yard manure would be available, and so that they could procure agricultural implements which have advanced to unheard of prices. Costings have advanced, and also feeding stuffs, some of which cannot be procured. Even farmers could hardly dare to use barley produced on their land: At the period when the use of barley was controlled I remember that a neighbour of mine. who went to the local mill to have a couple of barrels of barley turned into feeding stuffs for pigs, had to hold a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary in conversation while he was endeavouring to get away with the feeding stuffs. At that time there was vigorous and harsh control and if it was repeated at the present time it would have very serious effects. It is absolutely necessary that the Government should encourage production on the land.

We had not such bodies as the Agricultural Credit Corporation in existence during the Great War, and many farmers had to undertake production with empty pockets and without the means of carrying on. That is a lesson that should be remembered by the Government in the present situation. Farmers are in the position that they must carry on cereal production, cattle production, and dairy fanning. One Deputy stated last night that there was plenty of beef here and that we would only require to produce wheat and beet I remember the time when a heifer made the same price as its mother and [513] grandmother, and we may arrive at that position again, because as Ions as they can farmers will carry on their export trade with their great market. Our interests are absolutely bound up with those of a neighbouring country, so that we may have the means of carrying on fanning and other industrial pursuits in which our people are engaged. If we do not do that there will certainly be a very serious contraction on our activities and a resulting scarcity.

As to compulsory tillage, it must be remembered that the British Government did not insist upon the tilling of every class of land. Fattening land was exempt. A certain proportion of every holding had to be tilled, whether farmers liked it Or not. When they were told to carry on with tillage fertilisers were available to them. In addition, there were then no tariffs on fertilisers, no tariffs on implements, and no tariffs on feeding stuffs. The factory in Wexford that was referred to during the debate was in production and sold in competition with other concerns. High prices for implements were blocked owing to competition. It was the same with fertilisers and feeding stuffs. At that time we had war bread in which there was a mixture of barley, wheat and potatoes. If we have to revert to that situation again, it is to be hoped the Government will take steps to provide adequate supplies of feeding stuffs. We have entered upon a year in which some feeding stuffs are cheaper than they have been since the establishment of this State.

The question we want the Minister to answer is, will these feeding stuffs be allowed in here in the interests of farmers? We represent people who have to face cost of living problems, people whose pockets are not too well lined with cash, and they want to know what the attitude of the Government is with regard to the future financial policy of the country. Are they going to force up prices simply because they have embarked on a policy of self-sufficiency? If they are, they will make farmers' difficulties greater than ever.

The great thing for the Government at the present moment in my opinion is to make every effort so that all possible [514] supplies will be available for the carrying on of building and other schemes throughout the country. Every possible effort that we can make to carry on the various public schemes that are matured will have to be made. If that is not done we will be faced with an unemployment problem which is so very closely bound up with our problems of production. The Government should remember in this matter of dealing with unemployment that one cannot force a round peg into a square hole. A man who is not a skilled agricultural labourer is not able to work the land. Every unemployed man cannot be employed as an agricultural labourer. There is really only one opening for unemployed young men who are not skilled land workers. If this were a belligerent nation, and not as it is a neutral nation, all these young men would be taken into the Army. As it is, if the various Government schemes are not continued, these men will be forced on unemployment assistance.

I have a pretty shrewd idea as to what the future activities of such young men are likely to be. I have seen a great building at Glasnevin being taken over by the Army Finance Department. I was quite astonished when I saw that building taken over. It shows that the activities in connection with the Army are expected to be on a huge scale. It is obvious that the Government must contemplate a considerable enlargement of Army activities when they have changed from the smaller building at Parkgate to a place like Marlborough Hall. There can be no question at all in the mind of anybody who views the new habitation of the Army Finance Department that it is expected that Department is going to be of very large proportions. It is there very clearly indicated to anybody who wishes to think about it that very large Army activities are contemplated there. I do not propose to deal with the question of the censorship. That has been already dealt with very fully by previous speakers. I wish, however, to say this that the more the Government take the people into their confidence, the better it will be. The suppression of anything that may be to the danger of the State, the suppression of such matters by the censorship [515] will cause distrust to arise in the minds of the people which may cause more injury than the publication of such information. I urge upon toe Government to have the fullest possible confidence in the people who sent them, forward to represent the nation here and to govern the country.

Mr. J. Flynn: There are just a few points I wish to bring before the notice of the Minister. Deputy Cogan and some other Deputies spoke at length in regard to the British Board of Food Control in the matter of exports. They asserted time and again that the Minister for Agriculture was to be tied up by that Board. Some statements were made that the Minister for Agriculture had certain contacts with that Board. On that matter I would refer Deputies to the statement made here yesterday by the Minister himself. That was that no such arrangement had been made and that no contact had been established with that Board in so far as the control of prices of exports was concerned. There have been quite a number of misrepresentations on that matter. I notice, too, that there was a similar statement made by the County Dublin Farmers' Association. They also made the statement that the Minister for Agriculture was in the hands of the British Food Controller. Now what the Minister himself said yesterday clearly proves that these are all misrepresentations. That is not the spirit in which the Dáil should approach these matters. That is not the way in which public representatives can give helpful assistance to the Government. We have come here to make suggestions and to listen to constructive proposals with regard to what should be done—to point out the best course to follow in this crisis. Ninety per cent. of the rumours that have been floating about the country in the last few weeks have arisen in the same way as these misrepresentations about the control of our exports have had their origin. Now, I would like to refer to this Board of Control, and I do so on behalf of the people whom I represent I would like to say that every effort has been made to get the best possible bargain for the farmers. We have [516] heard the statement made that the British have appointed a Commissioner here. I am quite satisfied that the Government will take every opportunity of availing of the presence of that Commissioner to make the best possible arrangements for the farmers. I want to emphasise that every effort will be made here by the people who represent the farmers to make the best possible bargain in this matter of our live stock and food exports. There should be a fair margin allowed to the producer in the sale of his output and consideration should be given to the matter of the tariffs imposed on the farmer for his purchase of all the requirements connected with the farm. I am sure that with the installation here of the Commissioner an opportunity has arisen to deal thoroughly with this whole matter, and that, as the Taoiseach said yesterday, there will be a certain amount of give and take between the two countries, in the matter of the adjustment of prices on one side and on the other. It is in that spirit and in that environment that all Parties should co-operate in the present crisis. In this House there should be no question of anything like Party politics. In my opinion there should be full co-operation, and everything helpful should be done so as to ensure that the best possible bargain can be made for our producers.

I have been asked to refer to this question of profiteering. In our county, so far as the wholesalers are concerned, there have been some very strong complaints, and I am afraid profiteering has arisen. I am satisfied that the retailers, so far as we are aware, have been distributing the goods very fairly, but the wholesalers have been holding them up. I would like to know what action is to be taken in this connection. I submit at the start that the referring of a matter like that to the Prices Commission is useless and unworkable. That commission is too unwieldy, and it is not in a position to deal with a problem of this kind. I would suggest that if complaints are made to the Gárda Síochána, the Gárda should investigate these complaints and take direct action against the offending people—against [517] people who are holding up goods to the detriment of the retailers and indeed of the public generally.

Another matter that is very seriously affecting us in the rural areas is this question of unemployment. The people in the poorer areas who have come back from working in Britain will have to be provided for. In that way we are confronted with a position that did not exist heretofore. In some parts of the country these people have come back in their thousands. That gives rise to a very urgent problem, and for its solution I recommend large-scale Government works if at all possible. Some type of labour camps might be set up, or some system of employment might be started whereby large numbers of men can be absorbed into productive work on useful public schemes. The usual methods of dealing with unemployment will not suffice when dealing with this new situation which has now arisen. I ask the Government to look very carefully into that.

I am aware that the fixing of minimum prices for our products will be a very difficult problem. It was all right to inform farmers that certain prices were controlled, and all that sort of thing, and that they were expected to conform with the regulations that had been made. But this question of getting the maximum prices for their products is a difficult one. There again I hope that full advantage will be taken of the new system in order to make equitable arrangements between the commissioner who is sent over here and our Ministers. I believe that from that there may evolve close contact, and that better arrangements will ensue in regard to the goods to be exported, and the prices to be charged for the goods that will be imported. I hope there will be a fair margin of profit allowed to the producers to encourage them [518] and to facilitate this proposed increased production.

As to this matter of compulsory tillage, I believe it will be found that if proper arrangements can be made and a fair price fixed for the farmers' products there need be no question at all of compulsory tillage. What the farmers want is a fair return for their work. Given this, they will produce more than is required for the needs of the people. As an example of what might be done in this interchange of views in regard to trade, perhaps I might mention this question of egg prices. So far as our county is concerned, the Eggs Act is not working satisfactorily. Much dislocation of trade has followed, and I appeal to the Minister and through him to the Minister for Supplies to see that there should be some relaxation in the matter of the working of the Eggs Act. That should be the case especially during the war period. I suggest that, if at all possible, as in the case of the Bacon Marketing Board, the Minister should relax altogether the working of the Eggs Act. Down in my constituency people find this Eggs Act very difficult both in regard to the structures in the matter of the premises and also in the grading and marking of the eggs, and it is found impossible to conform to the regulations of the Department in connection with this Act. There should be some relaxation of the regulations. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 10.30 am on Friday, 29th September.