Dáil Éireann - Volume 91 - 17 November, 1943
Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I gave notice of my intention to raise four questions on this Vote, which may be further reduced to three—the cost of living; the effect of the cost of living, particularly the cost of foodstuffs on low incomes; the necessity for increasing agricultural production and the Government proposals with regard to the contribution from this country to the Red Cross for the peoples of Europe at the conclusion of the emergency.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: Has the last question not been decided already?
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not think so, not, at any rate, with any degree of satisfaction. However, I do not think I shall keep the House very long in dealing with any of these four items and, with great respect to the Chair, I hope to be as relevant as some of the speakers were yesterday. The Minister for Finance, when speaking to the House last night on his own Vote, referred to the efforts made by the Government during the emergency to deal with the dire effects of it on people of small incomes or people who are dependent on allowances given either through the Government from State resources or through local authorities. He referred to the fact that great efforts have been made by the Government here to prevent what is called inflation and, unless my interpretation is altogether wrong, he made a comparison between what has happened in this country and what has happened in Great Britain. The cost-of-living figure for all items in this country in August last was 284 compared with a figure of 173 in August, 1939. That is a fairly steep rise, well over 50 per cent. The corresponding  figures across the water were 156 for August, 1939, and 199 for August, 1943. Whatever genius was shown on either side of the water, the balance of judgment, discretion and wisdom in the matter of conducting public affairs appears to be over there rather than here.
If we take another example of that sort mentioned by the Minister, wages are very much higher over there than they are here. The appetite, if we might so describe it, for inflation, would appear to be much more pronounced there. Here wages are very much what they were in 1939. There has not been anything approaching the same steep increase that has taken place on the other side. Nevertheless, prices have increased here, and the cost of living has advanced far beyond anything comparable with what has happened over there. If we go further into the matter and examine how public health has been affected, one reads continually from medical men qualified to speak on the matter, that health over there was never better. The physique of the people has improved, even the physique of children has improved. If one were to take the discussion that took place here on the Vote for the Department of Local Government and Public Health as a sample of feeling here on the matter, even the Minister, notwithstanding the fact that there had been a reduction in the death rate, was rather alarmed at other evidences which gave rise to some anxiety in connection with disorders or diseases affecting the country. When we examine the present situation in relation to its effect upon people of low incomes, or people in receipt of allowances of one kind or another from the State, we are left practically without any information as to what is a subsistence income in this country. During the last two or three decades, well-known philanthropists, social reformers and other people who have no interest in discovering what is a subsistence income across the water other than making a contribution to our common humanity, have discovered and have set out in the course of publications a standard which has been accepted in connection with the great  scheme of social reform which has been under the consideration of a commission or committee principally composed of civil servants with a nominee of the Government. There these estimates of what is necessary to maintain a family have been accepted, not because of those who made them, but because various investigations that were made in different parts of the country by different persons were closely related, and much the same result was achieved by different persons in various parts of the country.
Perhaps the most significant thing which has emerged in connection with the efforts that have been made across the water during the emergency is that practically every man there capable of making a contribution towards the war effort is engaged on war work. Even during the war there, with all the interruptions occasioned by reason of the emergency, they have bent their energies towards finding the essential income necessary to maintain in a state of frugal comfort a single man, a single woman, a married couple, and various children as well. We have no corresponding figures here. By reason of the lack of that information, we are not in a position to pronounce judgment here on how far these small incomes fall short of the needs of families. We may not have the philanthropists here, but we have sufficient politicians in the country to find it out. It should not have been impossible, even for a Government with a swelling list of officials of one kind or another throughout the State, at some period during the last ten or 11 years to discover such facts. Would it be of importance? I think it would. In these days, when so much time is absorbed and so much money is expended and wasted in endeavouring to stop the ravages occasioned by malnutrition, it would be worth our while to see how far we might improve matters, if we are to correct that particular weakness in our national economy at the moment.
In going into this matter here, the Minister will be in a position to correct whatever mistakes may occur in the figures which have been supplied  to me. I find that a man in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit in this country has got no increase in the sum which he was entitled to draw, since the emergency, unless he is married. If he is married, he has, from June, 1941, 2/6 extra for his wife and 1/6 extra for each child. Take, then, the case of a man with a wife and three children drawing unemployment insurance benefit: in September, 1939, he was entitled to draw 23/-, and from June, 1941, he was entitled to draw 30/-. My information is that that man gets nothing else—no food voucher. It is true that he is allowed something in respect of the purchase of turf at a lower price than the scheduled price. I put it to the Minister that that is an insufficient sum to maintain a man with a wife and three children, having regard to the present cost of living—apart altogether from the fact that we have not got such a social survey as that which I have mentioned across the water. Thirty shillings is all that it is possible for a man drawing unemployment insurance benefit to get. It may be that, if he is in occupation of a house belonging to a local authority, he is entitled to go to the board of assistance and to put the case for a sufficient grant from the local authority to enable him to pay whatever rent he has contracted to pay.
Let us now take unemployment assistance. The rates there are the same as they were pre-war. I am speaking of the boroughs and of Dun Laoghaire, which is regarded as a borough in this respect. A man is entitled to 10/6; a man with a wife to 15/-; a man with a wife and three children to 20/-. Vouchers have been supplied in those cases, the present value of which let us take at 2/6. They are for milk, butter, bread, and so on, the actual value of which is 2/5¾d., but we may take it as 2/6. Let us take a man with a wife and six children: he will draw 30/-, between cash from the unemployment assistance office and the value of these vouchers. In addition there is 1 cwt. of turf, value for 3/4. In the case of a man in receipt of unemployment  assistance, therefore, allowing for the value of the food voucher at 2/6 and for the turf, he is relatively better off than the other man, having regard to the very high cost of fuel in the country at the present moment.
These are matters, which, to my mind, warrant the early—if not immediate—attention of the Government How far the percentage of that type of person exists in this country nobody is in a position to assess at present. What is the situation across the water? From all the investigations that have been made—from all of them—in different parts of the country, varying from north to south, and from east to west, these social investigators have discovered that one family in nine is below what is called the subsistence level there. They go further and say that, while that is so, on the average more than half of those in gainful occupation across the water out of that full percentage, have once and a half what is required. That is, if we were to take the sum necessary to maintain the family at £3, the average income of half of them is £4 10s. In the case of something like 30 per cent. of them, the families engaged in industrial and other occupations across the water, where the family costs of maintenance would be £3, the income is £6—they have twice the amount.
Then this very significant fact emerges from all that—whereas one family in nine is below the subsistence level, three-quarters or five-sixths of those are made up of persons in receipt of either unemployment assistance, unemployment insurance benefit, or old age pensions. Only one-quarter or one-sixth are engaged there in occupations which are unable to provide a family with sufficient to maintain the standard of frugal comfort that has been laid down by these social investigators. We have no corresponding information in this country, and it is about time we should try to get it. Apart from other considerations, if ever we are to establish a national economy here in keeping with the necessities of the people, and in keeping with a plan to maintain the people in health, it will be necessary for us  to see what is required, what industry must give, and what industry is capable of giving.
One thing which more than any other emerges from all that information that has been compiled by these new investigators is that the wages paid in industry or employment there were more than sufficient, if there were a distribution, and that it would not be necessary to call upon the rates or taxes of the country to supplement the incomes in any way. They go further and say that their purpose is not to draw attention to the fact that it is unnecessary to call upon either taxation or the local authorities to supplement these incomes, but that their purpose is to point out that industry itself is capable of doing it. In these circumstances, it is better for us—I hold no brief whatever for those people—to examine our own case and see how we stand in regard to these matters before we dismiss lightly, negligently, or even with contempt, the efforts that are being made and have been made in other countries to build up a sound, efficient, stable national economy. There may be weaknesses of one kind or another in these cases but, at any rate, there seems to be a constructive effort to deal with the problem and a realisation that the responsibility for dealing with such matters is on the leaders of public opinion and that it is not for the man on the outskirts of the crowd to be asking what is being done about this, that or the other. On the examination made by this commission, it is estimated that, taking the standard cost of living at 50 per cent over what it was in 1938, an income of £2 a week for man and wife and 8/- a week for each child is necessary for the provision of frugal comfort. Assuming the cost-of-living figure to have been 156 in 1938, it would now be 195. Our cost-of-living figure in August last was 284. In my view— I presume I am a prejudiced or biased witness in the case—an adequate effort has not been made to prevent the cost of living from soaring as it has soared. It is surprising to me that, with all the problems they have in the belligerent countries, it was possible  for them during the war to keep down the cost of living, to ensure that the people were fed and, at the same time, to proceed with all the operations inseparable from a state of belligerency.
What has been our problem here? If one were to take the pronouncements from political platforms, one would imagine that we had accomplished something little short of a miracle. I cannot subscribe to that. Perhaps that is because I am politically biased. We have our cost-of-living figure at 284, and large numbers of people are in receipt of the small incomes to which I have alluded. We are merely endeavouring to patch up matters. So far as we have heard, there has been no sound, constructive proposal to deal with this problem. I am by no means suggesting that it is easy to deal with it, but I am suggesting that it is not insoluble, that it is possible to make an effort to deal with it. So far as we have been able to see, no such effort has been made. Almost indispensable in the solution of that problem is an increase in agricultural production. There, again, judging by their pronouncements, the Government appear to be very well satisfied with what happened during the past three or four years. But what has been achieved in other countries? I am not in a position to give expert information, but from the sources of information available to us, it seems that the grain areas in belligerent countries are smaller than they were in peace time. In one such country, other important foods had to be cultivated at the expense, above all, of grain, oil, fruits, vegetables and root crops. It is claimed that their harvest this year had to be achieved by the highest possible yield over smaller areas. They claim, further, that they had in 1943 an increase in the quantity of grain of one-third of that for 1942. In one of those countries, now almost surrounded, it is claimed that the bread ration has been increased, guaranteeing more bread for the people than they were receiving at the beginning of the war. Not only that, but they have had to meet increased demands by reason of the extension of their  area and for the feeding of foreign workers. They claim that the production of rye in 1943 was 7.4 million tons. I have not got the figures for 1942, but in 1918 the production was 6.1 million tons. They, likewise, claim that the production of wheat was 4.2 million tons in 1943, as against 1.8 million tons in 1918; barley, 2.6 million tons in 1943, against 1.9 million tons in 1918; oats, 5.3 million tons in 1943, against 4.3 million tons in 1918; sugar, 16 million tons in 1943, against 7.4 million tons in 1918. They go on to say that there have been complaints of shortage of labour and shortage of important agricultural machinery, and further, that their harvest last year suffered to some extent from drought. They have increased the area under vegetables from 155 hectares in 1939 to 395 hectares this year. That is regarded as an achievement having regard to the difficulty of providing seed and so forth.
The cultivation of oil seeds has been, apparently, a satisfactory development. There were 47 hectares of rape in 1939 and 125 hectares in 1943. The same source of information puts the harvest of oil fruits at 80,000 tons—presumably for 1939—against 545,000 tons last year. I admit that that is their own story. Assume it is an exaggeration and compare it with our own story, making relevant allowances for exaggeration. What is the result? It would appear to be altogether in favour of those who apparently bent their minds to getting an increase in agricultural production in those countries. I am prepared to dismiss the case of our neighbours across the water in a simple sentence—they increased their pre-war production by 70 per cent. One thing is certain: they have not been able to import anything like the volume of food which they imported pre-war and they have been feeding their people to a standard sufficient to secure the commendation of the medical fraternity.
I made the recommendation during the course of the debate on the Agricultural Vote that another Minister should be appointed to deal with production. I modify that now to this  extent: Appointing another man from those benches over there would be merely adding to the list of Ministers. If it is to be a success at all, it should be somebody from outside, some new mind, some mind that is divorced from politics. It is only in that way that we will get the work done. I know of two such men, and other Deputies may know of more. We need men of that type, if we are to make good when the war is over. If we are to get the exports we require, the supplies we need, some more productive work than what we have been accustomed to since the war started, it will have to be done.
The last item I wish to mention is in connection with help to Europe. In my view, it is our moral duty to do everything we can. I was satisfied with the statement made the other day with reference to the proposals relating to the Red Cross Society. I think that it is foolish even to imagine the possibility of the Red Cross Society raising £500,000 within the next 12 months. The really best means of aiding the people in Europe in the future will be to supply them with food, with something that they need. One of the best suggestions in that connection was made by Senator Counihan. He suggested that we could ask the farmers to grow an extra rood of potatoes for the people on the Continent. That would be one form of contribution. By the mercy of Providence, we have been spared the horrors of this war. We have read of the sufferings of people on the Continent and the privations which have affected so many. It is our duty in the hour of need to extend a helping hand to those people, to make a really generous gesture towards correcting the ravages of disease and famine.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: I should like to dwell on some of the wider aspects of Government policy as they affect the rural community. The Taoiseach is the driving force behind the policy of the Government. I speak, not for the purpose of attacking the Government, but rather to direct attention to certain matters which we on these benches consider worthy of serious attention.  I want to make it plain that, as farmers, we are not satisfied with the position of the agricultural industry. As a matter of fact, we are most dissatisfied. Since we came into this House we have heard Ministers and Deputies saying that the farmers are prosperous, that they are rolling in money, and often we wonder what they really mean. We wonder if those Ministers and Deputies have read the records of the various Departments that are published from time to time. We wonder if they have ever pondered on the unpleasant state of affairs disclosed by these records, or have they taken into consideration the realities of rural life.
Our impression is that for the past 20 years Ministers have been setting such a low-level standard for agricultural production that, if the value of agricultural produce were to increase in any one year by £1,000,000, it would be assumed generally that the people on the land were rolling in riches. That, of course, would be absurd, hopeless reasoning, but it explains, to a large extent, the bad position of agriculture in this country for at least 100 years, but more especially since we won our freedom some 20 years ago.
We want a wider approach to the agricultural position. We consider that such an approach should be the keynote of Government policy, the keynote of the policy of any Government in this country. Piecemeal methods are all right in their own way. We have had experience of them over the past few years, but it will be admitted we have not made any real progress. I will admit they have kept things from becoming worse. When the situation threatened to become really bad. All the same, with such methods rural Ireland will never make any progress.
Let us examine, in terms of cash, or quantity if you will, the position as it appears to us. In the June issue of the Trade Journal the figures disclosed that the total value of agricultural production in the year 1942 was £76,000,000. Of that amount, £52,350,000 was made up of the value of live stock and live-stock products. That is to say, we exported live stock  and live-stock products to the value of £52,350,000.
Mr. W.T. Cosgrave Mr. W.T. Cosgrave
Mr. W.T. Cosgrave: I think that figure is wrong.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: The figures are taken from the Trade Journal.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Did the Deputy say that the exports totalled £52,350,000?
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: No. I said that represented the total value.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I understood the Deputy to say that the £52,350,000 represented the exports.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: I said the total value of agricultural production in 1942 was £76,000,000, and of that amount £52,350,000 represented the value of live stock and live-stock products.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Exported, the Deputy said.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: I will compare that with £52,200,000 in 1929. Surely, no man will say that that represents real progress. The figures are almost identical. They are not any evidence of prosperity. There is a very serious difference. The production of those commodities, when compared with the year 1929, has fallen by 15 per cent. That is a very serious difference. The income in this important feature of our work has been nil, while production has fallen. Let no man think that I am so ridiculous as to attack anybody for that, because I feel, considering the circumstances of the present time, that a certain falling-off is inevitable in that field. Our production is suffering because of the old age methods that we are adopting. I do say, however, that it shows conclusively that, so far as the major sources of revenue for the farmer and the people on the land are concerned, things are definitely static. That cannot be denied. The farmer sells a little less and gets a little more money for what he has to sell. That is actually the position.
Of course, in respect of crops, there is a big improvement in both output and income, but I submit that these  are not things on which, as I hope to show, a successful industry can be built. Crops and turf last year were valued at £24,360,000 as compared with £10,000,000 in the year 1929. Certainly, those figures show a big improvement. They represent an increase of roughly 57 per cent. It is a big increase, but I want to point out that the farmer has played a very important part, I may say the all-important part, in achieving that increase. But, as regards the main items in that list which are wheat, beet and turf, we cannot, in my opinion, look to that income indefinitely. Turf, at £7,500,000, bulks largely in that figure. The prices of those commodities cannot be maintained in a healthy agricultural industry after the war. The farmer will then need more solid and promising sources of income.
I, therefore, regard the bulk of the producing income under this head as just a necessary stop-gap, an expensive stop-gap imposed by the emergency. After the war the farmer will, therefore, be driven back to the maximum amount of tillage which can be produced here. While I am a firm believer in tillage—I believed in it long before this House came to believe in it—I want to point out that I am a firm believer in live stock and live-stock products as well, which are the natural sequel to successful tillage, and to the successful exploitation of our soil. In this field we are woefully behind the times.
I want to tell the Taoiseach that something will have to be done, when circumstances permit, as regards making big changes in this aspect of our production. This country will have to be converted into a high-producing country, one of the highest in the world—because that can be done—instead of being at present, and for the past 100 years, one of the lowest, if not the lowest, having regard to the high quality of our soil. In this year of grace, with all the artificial stimulation, etc., that there has been, and with all the efforts there have been for the conservation of the home market for the farmer—what do we find?
 That the total output is a little over £76,000,000, or roughly £6 per acre for the 12,000,000 acres of arable land that we have. I know there was a time when it was less, when it was down to £5 an acre, but surely no member of the House considers that £6 an acre is the limit as far as we are concerned. I ask the House—how can an income of £6 an acre from our arable land be regarded as a successful income from the land of this country, and how can the farmers with such a miserable income one year after another be spoken of as being prosperous, or how can any Government or any member of this House claim: “Oh, we have made agriculture prosperous,” when such a condition of things exists? I want to make it plain that agriculture is not prosperous. It is in a state of chronic poverty and neglect which no Government in any country in the world would countenance for long, particularly when agriculture is the chief means of livelihood for the community in that country.
Is it any wonder that there has been a flight from the countryside? The surprise is that it has not been even greater. I want to tell the House that it will become worse as time passes, unless something of real value is done, and done immediately. There is too much of a tendency in certain quarters of this House, even amongst Ministers of the Government, to regard that flight from the countryside as a perfectly natural things, as a thing that cannot be avoided. Let me tell the House that is a line of thought that is killing our country. I should like the Taoiseach to give serious thought to that matter, for it is a serious matter.
The Government, I know, claim credit for having done a lot for agriculture. At Budget time we are told of the many millions that are being spent to help the farmers. I acknowledge all that as far as it goes but, when the time comes, I hope to have the pleasure of questioning some of those Budget figures. There is one thing that is needed here, and that is to give the farmer a real chance of making his living under the best conditions that organisation and science can provide for him. I know that the  Government have done a good deal, but the fundamentals appear to have been neglected. The wide approach has always been missed, and very often it appears to be the game to miss it or not to see it at all. If such things continue, it is our opinion that, for practical purposes, rural Ireland and agricultural Ireland will pass out by default. In this House, we think very little sometimes of giving a tariff, and a quota as well, to any class of industry, and do not much mind how the community may be exploited by that enterprise. It would, even in certain circumstances, be supposed to be bad citizenship to draw attention to it. We know that there is a good deal of substance in statements that were made here from time to time, that some of these industries are not making good and never will make good. Yet, we maintain them, and by doing so place a burden on the rural community and on farmers. Let me say from these benches that we do not object to industry. We wish to help industry, but we want the Government and this House to put first things first. If that is done, no doubt nothing will come before agriculture. We feel that that is a question that has been too often set aside. We want the burdens on farmers to be made as light as possible, because after this war we will have to compete with the best organised countries for our place in world markets. Remember the struggle will definitely be hard.
We will have to work out a long-term policy. To make it effective we should remember that that will take years to accomplish. A beginning should be made as soon as possible. We will have to bring science to the aid of small farmers upon which the whole economy of our agriculture rests. Science will have to be brought to their aid, because small farmers cannot afford to undertake to do so themselves. We will have to make the average farm an efficient centre of production. That is not an insuperable task. Our people possess high intelligence. It annoys them when other nations less well equipped are able to pass on while we remain in the back water. I want to tell this  House that the people on the land are not content to remain in that back water, and it is because they have been left there for the past 20 years that a Party consisting of sons of the soil has been sent to this House.
We also want modern machinery, which small farmers cannot afford to procure. I suggest that a beginning should be made in that direction as soon as circumstances permit. That machinery could be procured through some committee set up by the Government, if they wish to do so, and should be let out on hire to people on the land on a non-profit making basis. Following the methods of 50 years ago, or even the methods of 20 years ago, how could people on the land be expected to compete with other progressive nations? We will certainly get too little for our work from such methods. I ask the Taoiseach to consider these points. Remember that the change will pay us better than anything we could do. We also wish to have introduced a far-flung scheme of agricultural education. We have only been tinkering with that problem for the past 20 years. We shall have to extend and develop that type of education. We will have to find men to teach and train our people. We will have to get rid of that timidity which we consider appears to exist in every Department of the Government in regard to agriculture. We shall have to make big decisions—invest large sums of money. We have the land which is the real raw material, but we are not working it on progressive lines. Let us get away from the paltry income of £5 or £6 an acre. We can double that income, and farmers who work can be made prosperous if we give them the opportunity.
One would imagine from hearing the talks that take place throughout the country, and sometimes in this House, that the people on the land are looking for charity. I want to make it plain to this House, and to every section of the community outside, that farmers are not looking for charity. They are only looking for what is their overwhelming right, and when that right is won it will be of real benefit to the  nation. We are the only exporting section in this community. When the real test is applied our only hope is in live stock and live-stock exports. We have got to produce sufficient supplies for our own requirements and then we have to produce a maximum quantity for export. Our income from that source of production is the same now as it was in 1929. From that point of view the position is somewhat alarming. Surely, when it is a little alarming as far as we are concerned, it is also alarming for the nation. We may be told that we are going to have sufficient income from turf, beet and wheat to fill any gap that may be created. We were told that the gap is being filled now. We know that that will not do after the war. We shall then have to earn real income from real work, or, possibly, we may sink lower than we have for some years past.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: Is it in order for a Deputy to read his speech?
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: I am not reading my speech.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not obvious to the Chair that the Deputy is reading his speech.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: The tom-tit has appeared again.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: The allusion is irrelevant.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: Subsidies and relief schemes are all right in their own way, but the Taoiseach must realise that when this war is over we will have to get back to exports. I wish I could be certain that the matters I have referred to are having the attention of the Government. I am afraid not, because I am informed that in the course of the past few weeks a certain Government Order has been made, which prevents us from getting from Great Britain the price that country was willing to give for our eggs. I should like to know from the Taoiseach if that is so. If it is, it is certainly an astounding sidelight on Government policy. I wonder is it the idea of the Government that we are not to produce  more eggs than are required in our own homes. If that is the policy, I need not point out to the Taoiseach that the next position in which we shall be is that we shall be short of those commodities at home, as we are of bacon at present.
There has been set up an agricultural consultative or advisory committee, and I know that there are some very good men on that committee, but it is my opinion that there are some on that committee who are less good. We here would like to be assured that that committee will not be dictated to by Government policy and that they will be free to give whatever instructions and whatever report they consider best for agriculture. If we should be wrong in any of these views, there is no body of people who would more regret having made statements which were not correct than this Party. Still, these are our opinions and we give them for what they are worth.
Of course, we shall be told that income into this country is much greater now than it was, but I want to tell the Taoiseach that if that is so the reason for it is the emigrant remittances into this country. That is the class of export which appears to be more than prosperous at the moment, and when we consider that last year the income from that source was £6,800,000, and this year will, in my opinion, amount to nearly £9,000,000, is it any wonder that we encourage our sons and daughters to leave this country and pick up whatever surplus war income they can in a foreign country and send it home here? That is where the actual prosperity comes in at the moment. We hear terrible statements—we heard them here in the House within the past few days—about how we shall be affected on account of our position in relation to the war when the war is over.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: That debate may not be reopened.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: I am not resuming that debate, Sir; I am making a point with regard to it. I want to tell the House that there is no need to worry. If we are able to produce for the  world the food which the world wants, when this war is over, we shall never need to crawl like the snail as Deputy Dillon suggests.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: That debate is closed.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: This is the only bit that is his own, and it is a pity that he should not be allowed to say it.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: It was not from you I got it. You would not have the intelligence to give it.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: It could tell you from whom it came. He is not a million miles away from us, either.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: What we must do is to prepare so that we shall have the food to export to the world which the world wants. It is in those circumstances that there will be the real invasion because the ships of the European countries, the hunger-stricken countries, will be around our shores if we have that food to give them. I conclude by appealing to the House, to the Minister and to the Government to get down to that fact with regard to exports of live stock and live-stock products. Increase those, double production in those alone, and we shall have the Ireland which we all hope will be ours.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: I was asked a question by Deputy Dillon which I did not answer categorically, namely, whether a Deputy may read his speech. A Deputy may not do so, which fact new members might note. A Minister in making an annual report or an important statement to the Dáil is, by custom, allowed so to do. Deputies are not so allowed.
Mr. Halliden Mr. Halliden
Mr. Halliden: May a Deputy use his notes?
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: Oh, yes; he may use his notes—headings—not a manuscript of his speech.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: Provided they do not becomes so copious that nothing is left out but commas and semi-colons.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
 An Ceann Comhairle: Headings, salient points.
Mr. Donnellan Mr. Donnellan
Mr. Donnellan: The bluff.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: Addressing a recent meeting of the Solicitors' Apprentices Society in the Four Courts, the Taoiseach is reported in the Irish Press, the Government Party paper, of 2nd November, as having spoken in these terms:—
“Mr. de Valera went on to stress the need for the co-operation of the people with the Government. It was important that the people should understand the aims of those framing policy, and he often thought that they themselves were very remiss in not giving more information to the people, but one of the difficulties was that the time for debating measures was limited.”
That is only one of a number of important statements made by the Taoiseach on that occasion. I am amazed, however, to learn from the Taoiseach that any body but the Government, and the Taoiseach in particular, has any responsibility for the limitation of the time devoted to the discussion of matters of national policy in this House. Even as recently as yesterday, we were assured that it is the duty of the Government to fix the business of the House.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: By Standing Orders.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: I certainly do not know of any body in the House who has power to limit the time for discussion, particularly on the Second Reading of Bills and on Estimates of this kind, of matters of national policy and to that extent it was unfair and, at any rate, incorrect, for the Taoiseach to suggest that one of the difficulties was that the time for debating measures was limited. I hope that argument will not be put forward by the Taoiseach on this occasion as the reason for not indicating to the House and to the people what is in the mind of the Government, particularly in regard to post-war planning. In reply to a question addressed to him last  week, the Taoiseach was good enough to inform us that a sub-committee of the Cabinet, which included himself, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Supplies, had been engaged for some time past in examining the position with regard to policy in the post-war period.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: I might state that that matter was suggested as a subject for debate later. The Deputy is the second Deputy to raise the matter to-day. If post-war policy is now discussed, it may not be again discussed on the Appropriation Bill. It cannot be debated twice.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: I assure you, Sir, that I shall not repeat anything I have to say.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: I am not preventing the Deputy, but the matter may not be debated on two occasions in the same week.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: The reason I raise this matter on the Estimate, as I think I told you, Sir, is that there is no obligation on the Taoiseach to come in to answer any points which may be raised during the discussion on the Appropriation Bill.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: I should like to make it clear that the Deputy did not give me his reason for desiring to raise it now. There was no mention of the Taoiseach.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: He will attend if he can get the last word, but not otherwise.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: It is not necessary for me to say to you that there is an obligation on the Taoiseach, which I am sure he will not shirk, to answer points put forward in the discussion on his own Estimate, but, from my experience, there is not the same obligation upon the Taoiseach to come into the House to answer every point put up during the discussion on the Appropriation Bill.
The Taoiseach Eamon de Valera
The Taoiseach: I am always at the disposal of the House. If the House  wants me for any business, I shall be here, and, as a matter of fact, I am never absent. I am always attending to Government business here, and always at hand.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: I would not suggest anything else. I am assuring the Ceann Comhairle that I will not attempt to raise again during the discussion on the Appropriation Bill any question which I may be allowed by him to deal with during this debate.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is precluding other Deputies from raising it on another Vote. That is what I desire to impress on him.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: I cannot speak for anybody except myself. In any case, in answer to a question which was addressed to him, the Taoiseach stated that he and the Minister for Finance, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Supplies were engaged on the consideration of proposals, I presume to deal with the problems that are bound to arise when the emergency comes to an end. I suggest to the Taoiseach, and I hope he will not think it an unreasonable suggestion for me to make, that now is the opportunity for him to give a little bit of information to the House, and particularly to the people of the country, in regard to the line of policy proposed to be pursued for the remainder of the emergency period and particularly for the post-war period. Will he say, for instance, what is the policy to be pursued at the end of the emergency period in regard to housing? I notice that communications were addressed, some time ago I presume, to the county managers, through the Minister for Local Government, to the Tourist Board by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and to the Electricity Supply Board by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and, presumably, to other big corporate bodies in this country, suggesting to them or requesting them to put forward proposals which, within their powers, they could carry out during the post-war period and which would help to develop the country and to provide employment for the large number  of persons who are likely to be listed for work at the labour exchanges at the end of that period. Will the Taoiseach be good enough to tell me, whether, for instance, in connection with the communication sent to the county managers requesting them to prepare schemes to be carried out under the supervision of local authorities, local authorities in the post-war period will be expected to plan their housing schemes on the basis of the present cost of money for carrying out schemes of that kind?
It is recorded in the latest report published by the Central Bank that £161,000,000 of the savings of the citizens of this State is invested, and has been invested, since the emergency period in securities controlled by Governments outside this State at rates of interest not exceeding 2 per cent. Is it to be understood that local authorities and the county managers, who are now engaged in the preparation of these housing schemes, are supposed to base their plans for the building of houses in the post-war period on the basis of the present excessive interest charged by the banks to these local authorities? If that is so, with the present cost of money, and with the increased cost of materials, it will me impossible for the people who will be expected to occupy houses built by local authorities in rural areas to pay anything like a reasonable rent for these houses.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: Would not that be a matter for the Ministers who sent out these inquiries?
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: I am raising this as a matter of national policy, because I am suggesting to the Taoiseach that you can prepare your proposals to be put into operation in the post-war period, but you cannot carry them out if the cost of money is to be anything like what it is to-day. I suggest that that is one of the principal things that the Taoiseach should endeavour to deal with in this discussion. Is it right that the savings of the citizens of this State should be allowed by the Government to be invested outside the country at rates of interest not exceeding 2 per  cent., while in this country the local authorities, the Government, the Electricity Supply Board, and every other organised body which will be expected to help to carry on in the post-war period, will have to pay an excessive rate of interest—in or about 5 per cent. and, in some cases, exceeding that figure? Some of the county managers who have been dealing with this question apparently have indicated to the Minister for Local Government that their position will be impossible, that the cost of building houses in rural areas as well as in urban areas will be outside the power of the ratepayers and, certainly, that the prospective tenants will not be able to pay anything like an economic rent.
Will the Taoiseach give us any indication as to the extent to which he and his colleagues, who have been considering this question, expect the unemployment problem will exist at the end of the emergency period? Is it to be understood, for instance, that the plans for the solution of these post-war problems are being based upon the existing unemployment figure during the winter period of in or about 100,000 persons? Is it to be understood—and nobody understands it better than the Taoiseach and his colleagues—that a certain number of members of the national Defence Forces will be demobilised at the end of the emergency and thrown on the unemployment market? Is it to be expected—from the statements of British Ministers it looks as if it will happen—or, at any rate, do the Taoiseach and his colleagues expect that a high percentage of the citizens of this State who were forced to go to Great Britain for work will be thrown on the labour market of this country? If so, it looks as if the unemployment figure will be between 400,000 and 500,000. If we are faced with an unemployment problem of that magnitude, what are the kind of schemes which the Government propose to put in hands in order to provide useful work for large numbers of citizens of that kind?
I read perhaps as much as the average Deputy, so far as I can get reliable information, about the conditions  prevailing in other countries. Recently it was stated in papers in this country and outside this country that an international conference was held some months ago in Virginia at which 40 nations were represented. The object of the conference, apparently, was to compare notes as to what the post-war problems were likely to be and what were the suggestions and proposals of the different Governments for the purpose of finding a solution of these problems in their respective countries. The British Prime Minister, speaking at a recent banquet in the Mansion House, London, stated that they had schemes in hand to make sure that, after the war, there would be food, work and houses for all. That is something like the lovely language which I heard the Taoiseach read to the House yesterday evening as having been used by the late President Wilson during the last European war. We know that these things have to be said in order to keep the people quiet. In any case, if there are to be food, work and houses for all in this country, the policy, as we understand it, of the present Fianna Fáil Government will have to be radically altered.
I am sorry I did not hear the whole of Deputy Donnellan's speech, but he seemed to think that it was the duty of a Government in this country to produce all they possibly could for export. If I read Article 45 of our Constitution properly, the first duty of a Government pretending to work in harmony with Article 45 of the Constitution would be to provide food, clothing and shelter for our own citizens, and to export any surplus that we might have to enable us to pay for the raw materials that we will have to get from outside the country in order to carry on our industrial activities. The latest figure in regard to the value of agricultural output that I can put my finger upon shows that in the last pre-war year, that is in the year 1938, the value of our agricultural output was something in or about £53,000,000, and of that we exported £20,000,000 worth. Nobody in the House will suggest that during the year 1938 every citizen of this State  was in a position to get his rights under Article 45 of the Constitution within the limits of the agricultural output of that particular year. I feel— and I do not think my statement will be challenged—that those who were in receipt of low wages were certainly not in a position to get the quantity of food which an average citizen is entitled to receive in a normal country in normal times. Persons in receipt of widows' pensions and who have no other means of any kind, persons in receipt of old age pensions, national health insurance benefit, unemployment assistance, unemployment insurance, or small incomes of that particular class, numbering in or about 400,000, were not, and are not now, in a position to get what would normally be required to keep a citizen in an ordinary, healthy condition.
The Medical Council of Great Britain, in a report issued prior to the outbreak of the present war, indicated that a person would need 10/6 per week to enable him to purchase the food that would keep a normal person in a healthy condition. I do not think anybody can suggest that the old-age pensioners, persons in receipt of widows' pensions, unemployment assistance, unemployment insurance benefit or national health insurance benefit have sufficient money to enable them to purchase the food which would keep them in a healthy or happy condition. Therefore, may I take it that it is the policy of the Government in the first instance to make it possible for every citizen of this State in the post-war period to find work at wages sufficient to enable him to keep himself and his dependents in decency and comfort?
I heard a Deputy yesterday comparing the figures in regard to the cost of living here and in Great Britain. The cost of living here is about 40 per cent. higher than it is in Great Britain and the Six Counties, but everybody knows that there is a considerable difference between the amount paid here and the amount paid in the Six Counties and in Great Britain to those who have to rely on widows' and orphans' pensions, old-age pensions, national health insurance, and so on. The agricultural  labourers are paid a much higher rate in the Six Counties than they are paid in this part of the country. The rate here, as everybody knows, is 36/- per week, whereas in most rural areas in the Six Counties the minimum rate of wages paid to agricultural labourers is about £2 5/- and in some parts of the Six Counties it goes up to as high a figure as £3 per week.
Is it the intention of the Government and of those who are preparing plans for the post-war period to bring the social services in this part of the country up to the same level as obtains in the Six Counties and is it their intention to bring the wages of agricultural labourers up to the same standard as is now paid, or will be paid in the future, to the agricultural labourers in the Six Counties?
During the discussion on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture, Deputies from all sides of the House supported the proposal, or made the suggestion that the time had arrived when the rates of wages paid to agricultural labourers should be considerably increased. I take it that it will be the duty of the Taoiseach and the Government to give effect to the expressed, almost unanimous, wish of Deputies representing all Parties in this House in regard to the necessity and the urgency for increasing the rates of wages of agricultural labourers.
Some time ago—I think it was on the Army Estimate—I raised the question as to the cost of keeping a single soldier in barracks under present circumstances and only a few days ago I received from the Minister for Defence detailed particulars in this connection. The direct cost of keeping a soldier, that is, excluding pay but including rations, clothing, etcetera, in barracks, is £1 3s. 11d. per week. The cost of chaplaincy and medical service is given at 1/1 per week and the regimental pay of a single soldier under present circumstances is 17/6 per week. So that the total cost to the State of keeping a single soldier—under the best possible conditions, I presume—in barracks, is  £2 2s. 6d. per week. May I ask the Minister for Local Government to say, if he is taking part in this debate, whether he considers that the services given to the nation in existing circumstances by an agricultural labourer are not at least as good as the services given by a soldier? I am making the case, in other words, that if the Government are prepared to pay £2 2s. 6d. per week to keep a single soldier in barracks under present circumstances, they should admit that the agricultural labourer is entitled to at least the same amount, if not more.
If the rates of wages of the agricultural labourers are not considerably increased in the post-war period, and if the cost of living remains at the same high figure at which it is to-day, I do not see how an agricultural labourer living in a rural area, in receipt of 36/- per week, could possibly pay the economic rent—if it is charged as an economic rent—of the new houses to be built in the post-war period, considering the present cost of money. Dealing with the cost of housing for such people, the Galway County Manager has, I understand, submitted a scheme to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health making provision for the erection of 360 labourers' cottages at a total cost of £133,200. At that estimate, the cost would work out at £370 per cottage. If you add to that the cost of collection and maintenance, and all the other charges which must be included before the rent is fixed, it would work out at in or about 10/- per week. Even if subsidies are provided for the local authorities on the present-day basis, I do not see how the people for whom they are intended, in the post-war period, or in existing circumstances, could possibly pay the rent which would have to be paid for those houses if the wages of agricultural labourers, road workers, and so on, remain at their present figure.
Deputy Donnellan has covered a good many of the points with which I intended to deal with regard to the position of the agricultural community Generally speaking, as far as we are concerned, the members of this Party  take the view, and have always taken the view, that unless the Government makes such provision for those engaged on the land as will enable working farmers and other people engaged in agriculture to get a profitable living and a reasonable return for their labour and the use of their land, there is no purpose in talking about finding a solution for any of the problems affecting any other section of the community. The farmers must be put in a position to have a cash market for whatever they produce, and they must be afforded a price that will enable them to get a profit for their labours. The Minister for Agriculture, speaking here on his Estimate, apparently talked with some pride about the Government being in a position to give loans to farmers, through the agency of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, at the rate of 4½ per cent. I consider that an interest rate of 4½ per cent. for loans, under the conditions imposed by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, is highly excessive, and I believe that provision could be and should be made for the granting of loans to the agricultural community of this country at interest rates not exceeding 2 per cent. Surely, if we can loan money to outside Governments, or to people outside the State, at a rate not exceeding 2 per cent., we should at least be able to provide loans for our local authorities, or our farmers, at a rate under that figure, or, at least, not exceeding 2 per cent. I think that if loans were given to our farmers at a reasonable rate of interest, the farmers would be in a position to give a better return in the working of their land than they are giving at the present time.
Now, this Party, since the present Government came into office—as, I think, the Minister who is now sitting on the Front Bench will admit—has given general support, and particularly during the pre-emergency period, to the Fianna Fáil Government's policy of self-sufficiency. Our Party gave its support to the Government with a view to putting that policy into operation, but I think that  we are entitled to examine, in view of the support we have given to that policy, the result of the Government's activities in that particular respect, and I suggest that the Government has not been extremely successful in regard to that particular aspect of its policy. If you take the figures that are given to Deputies of this House in regard to the acreage of land under either root crops or corn crops, there is nothing in the figures to convince anybody except a bigoted supporter of the Government Party that they have achieved the object that they set out to achieve in this respect. The peak period in regard to the acreage of land under root and corn crops in this country, apparently, was the year 1936. Undoubtedly, there has been a considerable increase in the acreage of land under wheat since this Government came into office. When this Government came into office, the acreage under wheat was only 20,848 acres, whereas, in 1939, the amount of land under wheat had increased to 255,280 acres. Notwithstanding that increase in the acreage under wheat, if you take the total acreage of land under all corn crops—wheat, oats, barley and rye—as between 1931 and 1939, you will find that the increase has been very small. The total acreage of land, under all kinds of corn crops, including wheat, oats, barley and rye, as between 1931 and 1939, has been very small, because it will be seen by the figures that the total amount of land under all these corn crops in 1931 was 763,284 acres, whereas in 1939 it amounted to 867,943 acres. Now, there is nothing to shout about, or to get very enthusiastic about, in regard to these figures. I notice that in 1936 the total area of land under all corn crops in this country was 946,111 acres and that between that year and 1939 the area of land under corn crops of all sorts had dropped to 867,943 acres.
The same would seem to apply to the acreage of land under root crops. In 1931 the area of land under all root crops was 653,729 acres, whereas, in 1939, it had dropped to 611,766 acres. The year 1936 was the peak period, and in that year the area of land under root crops amounted to 662,008 acres. I should like to hear from the Minister,  or from the Taoiseach, if he is dealing with these matters, what is the explanation for the slight increase as between the years 1931 and 1939 in the acreage of land under corn crops, and also what is the explanation—a much more important matter—of the decrease in the acreage of land under root crops as between 1931 and 1939.
Now, in that connection, I should like to point out that between the years 1935 and 1939 the rates of wages of agricultural labourers would appear to have gone up by only about 4.8 per cent.—a very low rate of increase under the circumstances. Looking at the position of the country as it is now and, possibly, as it will be in the post-war period, one cannot overlook the position in regard to the national income or the figures in regard to it. I, myself, thought, until I read the figures circulated through the usual Government publications, that the national income here should have increased, to some extent at any rate, seeing that the national income of other countries—even of some of the big countries that are at war—seems to have gone up by about 200 per cent. According to the figures that were published in 1938—the latest figures that are available—it would appear that the national income in Great Britain has gone up by about 200 per cent., whereas here, if my figures are correct, our national income has gone down by 8 per cent. The national income here, therefore, would work out at in or about £50 per head of the population, whereas in Great Britain it stands at about the figure of £160 per head—that is, according to the figures that we have.
There is one other matter with which I should like the Minister responsible to deal when he is replying to this discussion, if he will, and that is the policy of the present Government in regard to transport. Quite recently, it was made known to the shareholders of the principal railway in this country, to the public at large, and also to the taxpayers, who, naturally, would be seriously concerned, that the Government had under consideration a scheme for the national control of transport, but although the Government have  asked the shareholders of the railway company to give their assent to certain financial proposals for the re-organisation, as they say, of the transport industry in this country, no indication of any kind has been given either to the shareholders of the railway company or to the taxpayers as a whole as to the nature and extent of the policy for which it is proposed to use this money. It appears that the taxpayers will be asked to guarantee the interest on £16,000,000 at a rate of 3 per cent. I think it is due to the members of the Dáil and to the people of the country as a whole that he should inform the public without further delay as to the policy which it is proposed to pursue if the financial proposals referred to receive the approval of the Government.
Are the railways to continue, for instance, as they have operated in the past or is it to be expected that a large mileage of the branch lines will be put out of existence under the scheme now proposed by the Government? Will the policy of running the road transport system in competition with the railways be continued as it has been for the past ten years, practically since the Act of 1933 was passed by the House? What is to be the future of the privately-owned lorries serving factories and farms under the new policy, referred to in a very vague way by the present chairman of the Great Southern Railways Company? I should like to know also if it is the intention of the Government to continue the mercantile marine service which has served the country so well during the emergency period. Will Irish Shipping, Limited, now controlling and running that service, be continued or extended in the post-war period? In other words, will it be under the effective control of the Oireachtas and the representatives of the taxpayers who have to provide money for the carrying on of that very valuable service? What is to be the position of the air service, for instance, of Aer Lingus Teoranta, under the new transport scheme?
I think it is not unfair on an occasion of this kind, seeing that we got no reliable information up to the present in regard to the purposes for  which this very large sum of money is to be used, to ask that the responsible Minister should indicate more clearly to the people the nature and the extent of this new transport policy, to indicate whether it is proposed, for instance, under the terms of the new scheme, to acquire canal services, the Dublin United Transport Company and the commercial lorries of the country and to run these services under a unified system of public ownership in the post-war period or whenever legislation is introduced for that purpose. I am told that the scheme which the Government has in mind is regarded by some people as a revolutionary scheme. I am not in a position to confirm or contradict that because I know nothing more about it than what has been published in the papers, and that is very little. If the taxpayers are expected to pay the interest on this very large sum of money, they are entitled to much more detailed information than they have up to the present received as to the nature and extent of these proposals. These are some of the points with which I hope the Taoiseach or the Minister for Local Government and Public Health will deal when replying on this Estimate.
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: The most common complaint that one hears in the country at the present time—and it is a bitter complaint—has reference to the abnormally high cost of living. Deputy Cosgrave has dealt very exhaustively with the problem, and has given convincing figures to show that the problem is a real one, and that it has not been tackled by the Government in a really effective manner. It is a problem that should deeply concern not only the Government, but every Deputy. We appreciate that we are a relatively poor country, and that the average income of our people is low. The low-wage earners are faced with a very serious problem if they are to maintain themselves and their families in frugal comfort. It is impossible to do that on the incomes they enjoy at the present time when these are related to the cost of living.  The cost of living has gone up here since 1939 by over 100 per cent., while the corresponding increase in Great Britain is less than 50 per cent. The excuse put forward by the Government in that respect is to prevent the spiral of inflation, and that the only way to tackle inflationary tendencies and to prevent the spiral is to peg wages, and so keep down the cost of living. There may be something to be said for that, but it is not a problem that is easy of solution by any means. At the same time, I am not suggesting that it is possible to have food produced in this country at a lower price than that at which it is being produced at present, but when we compare the cost of living here with the cost of living in Great Britain, it must be recognised that the subsidies that are being paid to keep down the cost of living in Great Britain and here, bear no relation to each other.
So far as control is concerned, there is definitely a very effective control in operation in Britain as compared with the unsatisfactory system in operation here. When one comes to examine the method adopted by the Department of Supplies with regard to the enforcement of certain fixed prices for essential commodities, one can only say that the system has been brought into ridicule because there are hundreds of prosecutions instituted by the Department of Supplies for purely technical offences such as small mistakes in accountancy and matters of that sort. It is a well-known fact that the State is prosecuting respectable traders at the present time for an overcharge of 2d. and 3d. on certain commodities. I have one particular case in mind in which a reputable trader had two prosecutions brought against him in respect of two items in which there was an overcharge of 2d. and 3d. out of a total number of something like 1,500 items in his books. They were book-keeping mistakes, pure and simple. Of course, this practice of bringing decent, honest men into court, is bringing the whole system into ridicule and contempt, when it is borne in mind that there are numerous racketeers in this country getting away with it. They have not been  got at at all. I do not think it is either fair or wise to pursue that sort of policy.
In keeping down the cost of living in Great Britain the Government has provided subsidies aggregating to well over £200,000,000. Of course, that bears no relation to the subsidies provided here. The House was asked to vote £1,580,000 in respect of foodstuffs, and £380,000 in respect of turf. Then there is a subsidy provided in respect of dairy produce. I would suggest that not alone the producer but the consumer benefits by that subsidy, and that we could possibly charge portion of that £600,000 subsidy to the consumer. In all, the subsidies that are provided by the House in an endeavour to keep down the cost of living, even taking local authorities into account, would not be more than £2,500,000. I do not think that is sufficient, and I think that savings could be effected in other directions. One of the ways in which this House and the Government could help to solve the problem of inflation would be the provision of higher subsidies to help the low wage earners. The House has been advocating better social services and better conditions for our people. Deputy Cosgrave has pointed out that, in the social survey made by a special committee set up by the British Government, a determination was made of the amount necessary to maintain a family in frugal comfort. As he said, it has been determined statistically that there is only one in every nine families in Great Britain where the income is lower than the amount determined as necessary for such living. He has pointed out that there is no information of that sort here, and that no attempt has been made to compile such statistics, which are essential if this House is to tackle the whole problem of securing an efficient and stable national economy here. That sort of statistical information should be available, and I join with Deputy Cosgrave in asking that provision be made as soon as possible to set up the machinery necessary to secure it. It is obvious that we cannot plan such an economy without it.
There is a Bill in circulation at the  moment to make provision for family allowances. It will get the general support of the House. In the recent debates on the Departmental Estimates, Deputies were asking for better social services, more hospitals—more State spending, in other words. We know that certain provisions are about to be made for the reorganisation of a national transport system. Probably the House will be asked to vote a very large sum of money for that purpose —about £8,000,000. In the Department of Agriculture we have at present a post-war planning committee. The whole problem of better conditions depends on a higher and better national income and the solution of the problem of lower standards depends on how we can organise a higher national income. To my mind, that depends on higher and better production from agriculture and the securing of a market for our surplus production. That will provide the essentials for our own people and, through a substantial export, exchange for essential commodities we must import.
I would like An Taoiseach to say on what basis this expert planning committee—I will call it the Brains Trust —in the Department of Agriculture, is proceeding. Some short time ago, the Minister for Supplies, addressing his Comhairle Ceanntair in the South City, summed up the situation by saying:—
“The main task now is to stay alive in a world where we have few friends.”
It is a rather sad commentary on the work of government here in recent years when a responsible Minister of State publicly says that this little island, which has sent people all over the world and has helped to populate the United States, now finds itself in a world of turmoil with few friends. I do not think it is necessary for any Minister to suggest that we have few friends in the world, nor do I think it right that a statement of that sort should come from any Minister.
On the Vote for External Affairs, the Taoiseach assured the House that he was keeping a watchful eye on any  organisation that might be set up in which we could take part and do our share to secure permanent world peace. That is a very laudable work and the country generally will approve of any effort on the part of responsible Government here to participate in such essential work. I would like to ask the Taoiseach what efforts have been made by the Government to watch the situation, in order to ensure that every available opportunity is being used to promote the best interests of this country in the matter of securing more trade in future and in the matter of securing a proper understanding in affairs of common interest to this country and its neighbours.
I do not wish to refer to neutrality. By a unanimous vote, this House decided that it was in the interests of this country to remain neutral. I subscribe to that, and believe the decision a very wise one. We are the envy of many countries in Europe in our present position, but I hold that very much more could have been done in the matter of securing and maintaining our export trade, by availing of the opportunities that were offered and were neglected at a time when it should have been an excellent opportunity to a food-producing country like ours. We must remember that the most vital and most important munition of war is food, yet we find a decline in production.
I suggest to Deputy Davin— although he has indicated that there has been a very substantial expansion in grain production, notably in wheat —that, when we take production in food units as a whole, we should be ashamed of our efforts during a period that ought to be most favourable to a country such as ours. I do not think that the agricultural community should be blamed for that, but that the Government definitely can. I charge the Government with responsibility in that respect. No attempt has been made to organise the community in a constructive way, as has been done in other countries, to secure essential equipment, provide the necessary credits and attend to the necessary details.
 I have referred to the various plans for the post-war period. A huge amount of money will be necessary to reorganise our transport system. I am not going to comment now on whether it is good or bad in its present form: we will have an opportunity to do that on another occasion. The provision of family allowances will get the unanimous support of the House. More social services and better hospitalisation will be advocated. Then, there is planning being done by the Brains Trust at present: surely that committee must know on what basis the planning is to be done, what future trade we can look forward to, what we are hoping to secure in the way of post-war markets. It is not enough to produce goods and pile them on the quays in Dublin, in the hope that some customer will come along. That would mean bankrupt and uneconomic prices and our production will disappear.
Deputy Davin referred to the fact that Deputy Donnellan talked about producing for export and suggested that our first concern was to produce food for our own people. Of course, it is our first concern to feed our own people but that is not enough. If we want decent standards, we must import the materials for industry—iron, steel, electrical equipment, petrol, kerosene, industrial machinery, transport machinery and other things which we cannot get here. We can only obtain those things by means of our surplus agricultural production. We know the position of agriculture to-day—that our exports have shrunk to an alarming level. I think that the Taoiseach will agree that at the moment we are merely marking time. In fact, we are not even marking time: we are drifting down hill. We are waiting until the war is over to do some of the things we should do now. The moment peace arrives and the materials are available for the replacement of worn-out machinery and for the re-stocking of the larder of industry, huge capital expenditure will be required. In expanding our agricultural production here, we have to make sure that we shall have a market for that expanded production. We have a committee of technicians considering this matter but the Government could not find room  for even one practical farmer on that committee. If the planning of that committee is to be constructive and profitable, a pre-requisite is the securing of a market for our increased production.
What efforts have been made to avail of our opportunities during the war period? Has any Minister thought it worth his while to secure trade agreements between the two countries? I am not aware of any. I suppose it is beneath the dignity of any Fianna Fáil Minister to have anything to do with Britain. I suggested before that there were opportunities in the matter of live stock. I am not at all despondent, but I feel that this matter is urgent. We should recall, in this connection, the report of the commission to which Deputy Cosgrave referred—the Beveridge Report. That report aims at providing social security and a minimum income for wage earners in Great Britain. From our point of view, what does that mean? It means securing better conditions for the teeming population of Britain. That means a greater demand for milk, butter, meat and eggs by the people over there. The consumption of milk in Great Britain pre-war was, according to medical experts, only about half a pint per individual per day—well below the safety level for health purposes. If this plan is implemented, that supply of milk will be doubled or trebled. That means a very substantial increase in the British dairying industry and an increased dairying industry there means a demand for dairy stock here. The biggest problem Britain had on the food front was the provision of milk. This was the only country in the world where they could get basic stock for dairy purposes. In that respect, this country enjoys, and will enjoy, a monopoly of trade with Britain. They never got dairy stock from any other country. What has the Government done to effect a trade deal on this matter? Could they not get definite information as to the numbers required, and say to Britain: “If we are to provide you with basic dairy stock, we want a quid pro quo”? What has happened as a matter of  fact? British buyers have been permitted to raid the country for dairy stock, and pick the best of our herds. I do not say that that is wrong, but I say that we should have arranged a profitable trade deal in respect of it.
I say that we can provide for an expansion in the numbers necessary for dairying in Britain and, at the same time, cater for our own requirements. There is no reason why we should still subsidise to a considerable extent the breeding of Aberdeen Angus and Hereford stock. In doing that, we are subsidising something in which there will be keen competition. That is, so far as fat stock is concerned. There is, undoubtedly, a future for store cattle. The present system in Britain aims at securing more and more stores to produce beef and to convert their huge straw crops into farmyard manure. British overseas investments have been largely liquidated to pay for the war so that they can no longer pay for food imports by interest on those investments. It is unlikely that Britain will buy cheap foods in South America and other food-producing countries to the extent she did before the war. Their export market for manufactured goods was diminishing even before the war and will shrink still further in my opinion, as backward countries learn, as they have been learning rapidly during the war, how to manufacture their own goods. Even in countries which were not manufacturing countries before the war, munition factories have been established and these can be adapted, when the war is over, to the manufacture of commercial goods. That development in manufacture, which was evident even before the war, is bound to set a limitation to the market for British manufactured goods. Britain will be thrown back more and more on her own resources for the feeding of her people. Bear in mind our geographical position and how our livestock economy has been interlocked with that of Britain. There is no need to be despondent about the future, but there is a definite necessity to have a proper understanding with regard to exports of that sort. I charge the Government with dereliction of duty in that respect. They have failed to  face up to that problem It seems futile to set up any planning committee until we know what the basis of the plan is to be. To face up to their responsibilities in that respect may require courage on the part of Fianna Fáil Ministers, but it is in the interest of the country that it should be done.
Neutrality is not an issue in this matter. I appeal to Fianna Fáil Deputies to face up to this situation in a sensible way and not be behaving in a ridiculous manner. The moment any man mentions the British market or anything British in this House, his attitude is misconstrued and he is assumed to be anti-Irish. Until that mentality dies, we never can hope to make progress. Take bacon, eggs, butter, mutton or poultry, that we exported in very substantial quantities in the past, and that we must export in the future if we are to have the foreign exchange with which to buy essential imports. What is the position with regard to those commodities? Even at the moment a very valuable source of foreign exchange— stout—has disappeared. What are the Taoiseach's views on that matter? Is he quite complacent about it? Has he worried even a little about the fact that such a great item of export has disappeared? Is he quite pleased to see this country gradually drifting to the position where he will have his desire fulfilled, when he can build a wall around the country and make it self-sufficient? We are definitely drifting towards that situation, and if this House is satisfied with that condition of things, then the responsibility rests upon the House.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: The published figures do not prove your argument.
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: Does the Deputy contend that the figures do not prove that our exports have gone—our bacon, butter and mutton exports? We exported at one time over 500,000 cwts of bacon, and also 500,000 live pigs. The Deputy knows that some years ago we exported £3,000,000 worth of eggs, £3,500,000 worth of butter, and mutton to the value of £750,000. All those exports have gone. What representations  have been made to the British Government with regard to an exchange such as we secured before? Could we not exchange stout for wheat? We are in a position to produce the stimulants that they require. Men cannot be expected to face the perils of the sea without some sort of stimulants. Experience has proved that stimulants must be provided. They have a problem with regard to the provision of stimulants for the fighting forces, and we are in a position to produce those stimulants. I suggest there should be an exchange of stout for wheat. What is being done about it now? It would be a gesture of goodwill, and would indicate our anxiety to preserve a very valuable trade. Have we any intention of cutting our home consumption, so as to indicate to people who always bought a very substantial quantity of stout from us that we desire to maintain that export, even in present difficulties, or are we simply to mark it down as another export item that has disappeared?
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: What about our bread?
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: If you can get an exchange of wheat for stout, it can eventually be manufactured into bread.
Mr. Davin Mr. Davin
Mr. Davin: It is a big “if”.
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: We did it before, and the Deputy ought to know about that.
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: And left our own people without.
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: Do not talk nonsense. I listened to Deputy Donnellan talking about production. I did not hear one constructive suggestion from the Deputy. He speaks as the Leader of the Farmers' Party. One would expect to get constructive suggestions from the Leader of the Farmers' Party. There was no indication of constructive thinking on this matter of production. If a Party desires to be useful, one would expect something more than a mere statement of fact. You can get any fellow in the street to give you a mere statement of fact. I would expect the Clann na Talmhan Party to be constructive, to make constructive suggestions, but we have waited in vain for that.
 On the matter of food production, I have suggested that the fundamental reason why the Government have failed to expand production is because the organisation was not there. When the Department of Agriculture was first established in the days of the British, it was linked up with the county committees. These committees have not been made use of. Anyone can see the potentialities of those committees in the way of propaganda alone. You could have those county committees meeting every fortnight, considering suggestions for the production of food in the various parts of their counties. Attached to the county committees you would have expert staffs with statutory powers to provide credit and to make the necessary decisions to expand production. Those meetings undoubtedly gave a tremendous fillip to the production of food. The discussions would appear in the local papers and they would tend to stimulate production. The county committee could ensure that the tractors would not remain idle very long. After a tractor was in operation on the lands of the owner of that tractor, it would then be directed to other farms and would continue to move daily, carrying out ploughing and other tillage operations. No attempt has been made to organise production in such a way that one could look forward to definite results.
While the House was debating the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture, the Minister was in the House each day and there was an inspectorial staff in the offices of the Department in Merrion Street, considering plans for food production Mere technical knowledge will not get satisfactory results. You had no practical men amongst them. Not one farmer was considered worthy of an invitation; not one was asked to offer advice on this important matter of food production. All the decisions are left to the inspectors and the technicians, to the men who have not done anything in practical agriculture. That is the type of men the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture are relying on to make a success of food production. Is it any wonder that we have ignominiously failed?
 Yesterday I addressed the following question to the Minister for Agriculture:—
“Whether there is any statistical information available in his Department relating to the quality, classification and state of fertility of the soils of this country, their suitability for cropping purposes, their general and particular condition; and whether his Department is in a position to give detailed information to farmers relating to soil deficiencies peculiar to their particular holdings which cause depressed yields and crop diseases.”
The following reply was read to me by the Minister for Lands in the absence of the Minister for Agriculture, who was in Tullamore addressing a food production meeting.
“As regards the first part of the question, if the Deputy refers to the classification which soil chemists in neighbouring countries have for the time being agreed to adopt and which is based entirely on empirical laboratory methods, the answer is in the negative. As regards the latter part of the question, farmers themselves have a sound practical knowledge of the state of fertility of their soils and of the suitability of these soils for cropping purposes. The main causes of depressed yields are well known and are more or less common to the country as a whole rather than peculiar to particular holdings. The information in regard to these causes, which can be obtained from the agricultural instructors and which will be based on numerous field experiments conducted under varying conditions throughout the country, will be found far more reliable and practical than advice which may be based on the empirical laboratory methods already referred to and which may, in fact, be quite misleading.”
Acting-Chairman: Is it not obvious that these matters are related to the Department of Agriculture? I have refrained so far from interfering with the Deputy, but in the latter portion of his speech, lasting about a quarter of an hour, he has dealt mainly with matters  which are peculiarly the business of the Minister for Agriculture and not of the Taoiseach.
Mr. Hughes Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes: I submit that this is a matter of Government policy in a big way. I am going to deal with the question of a soil survey of the country, and that surely would claim the attention of the Taoiseach. I have no doubt that he has discussed this matter with the soil experts that we have. If their advice is being ignored, would he mind telling us why we are spending money on soil experts at all? Why are we paying them salaries if we are not going to make use of the valuable information that they could give to individual farmers about their soil? Soil science is a thing that has made tremendous strides in recent years. I do not want to go into the question in detail, but I will give the Taoiseach one example. We provide a lime subsidy. One of the biggest problems that we have is that relating to acid soils. We have been providing this subsidy in a haphazard way. In my view, that subsidy is not related in any sense to the problem that is there. In fact, we may be providing too much of a subsidy so far as some counties are concerned, because there may be little or no acidity problem in the land, while in other counties, where the acid condition is very high, the subsidy is not nearly enough. A soil survey will give a classification of the soils so far as deficiencies are concerned. Scientists are now generally agreed that the deficiency problem is even more important than the manurial problem, and that even small deficiencies may have very serious reactions on crop yields.
I have no doubt that the Taoiseach himself has given some attention to this problem, and has had conversations with scientists on the matter. We have two eminent scientists—soil experts—in the country. They have done a considerable amount of research. Their opportunities for carrying out field experiments have been very limited. I want the Taoiseach to tell the House, when replying, what examination has been given to this problem, and why nothing has been done about it, particularly when  we bear in mind what other countries have done in this respect. Why is it that we are so backward? This is a most important matter if we are to expand production and be in a position to meet the post-war competition that is inevitably bound to be there. If war causes tremendous material destruction, it also helps to speed up the power of production. It has had that effect in Great Britain. Deputy Cosgrave told the House that Great Britain had expanded her production by 70 per cent. She has done that despite the fact that a considerable area of the land there suitable for production has been taken up under military camps, aerodromes and the ten-mile defence belt on the south and east coast. In spite of that she has expanded her production by 70 per cent. That is a considerable achievement. It means that greater efficiency has been secured amongst her agricultural community. We must bring science more and more to the aid of our farmers. So far they have not got the scientific advantages available to farmers in other countries. We should approach this whole problem in a scientific way. The most important raw material we have for the production of food is the soil, and if there is a soil problem here it ought to be examined and properly mapped. In my opinion there should be a big map in the Department of Agriculture showing exactly what the soil problem in this country is. Let us then see how we can correct the deficiencies that are there in the cheapest possible way. Until our soil is put right, we cannot expect to get the results that other countries are getting. I ask the Taoiseach to give us full and frank information on this whole matter when he is replying. I believe that his attention has been called to this matter by scientists and experts who are keenly interested in it, and I ask him to tell the House what he proposes to do about it.
Mr. Larkin (Junior) Mr. Larkin (Junior)
Mr. Larkin (Junior): The debate on this Vote offers a very wide field for discussion. Many of the subjects dealt with undoubtedly merit the importance that has been given to them. It seems to me that there is one subject that requires  not only immediate attention but that is basic to our whole position at the present moment. I want to confine myself to what seems to me is the most vital problem facing not just this House but our people as a community. That is the problem of how the general mass of our people are going to find the ways and means of obtaining for the immediate period ahead the ordinary means of life and the ordinary means of existence. Before actually dealing with that problem, I should like, briefly, to go back over our experiences during the past four years of war. It will be recalled that at the outbreak of war the country, for a period, realised that two problems were going to face us. One was the problem of price control and the other the cost of living for the general mass of the community. At that time calls were made to the Government, advice was given them, and suggestions were put before them to give attention to these problems. They were urged, at the very outbreak of war, to take to themselves all the powers that they might consider necessary—powers that this House and the people generally would not have been reluctant to give them—to guarantee to our people— —that is the masses of the people— such security in their ordinary living as would ease the burden of this war upon them: that during the period of the war, whatever might be the sacrifices the country had to make, at least those sacrifices would be proportionate to the possibility of large sections of the community bearing them, and that there would be equality of sacrifice proportionate to the resources of individuals and sections of our people.
No one who had the interests of our people at heart would for one moment demur at such a basic duty being placed on the Government. To try to carry out that purpose, it was suggested that it was necessary that powers to deal with any variations in prices should be taken by the Government, and that there should be an attempt made to keep a certain proportion between existing wage levels and price levels. It was suggested that, within the limit of our resources, the gap between these two vital factors in our life should not become too wide.
 We recall that during a period of four years there is no field of Government endeavour in which there has been more complete and absolute failure than in that of price control. It was not because of any lack of knowledge of how to do it, and not because the Government was refused any power they might require to deal with that problem, but the old and apparently incomprehensible problem of the Government taking advice and following particular lines suggested to them until, in their own good time, they decided to take other action. Unfortunately, they were given power to deal with the control of prices. It was not a question of producing figures or facts, because the ordinary everyday experience is that prices have not been controlled to any effective extent. Where control has operated, it has been peak price control.
The result is that from the cost-of-living figure being 173 in 1939, we have now arrived at the figure of 284. It is undeniable that many other factors entered into the cost of living, caused by facts outside the control of this country, such as an increase in the cost of freight, in insurance, and in the cost of commodities produced and supplied from abroad. But alongside these increase there has been a steady increase in the prices of home-produced products. Everybody from personal experience has knowledge that the ramp has gone on in the ordinary retail trade, and has driven up prices to a point at which they have become stabilised at a high figure. During that period we were told that one of the basic problems the Government had to pay particular attention to was to protect the mass of wage-earners, the less well-to-do sections of the community, against the operation of what has become a famous phrase of the Minister for Finance, “the vicious spiral”, the spiral of wages and prices. and prices and wages. Now we find after four years that we have arrived at this position, that the average wage and salary-earner is receiving approximately 60 per cent. of what he received for his work in pre-war days. I do not know whether that is any indication of the ability of the Government to  deal with the question. I am not concerned with Party politics, but am confining myself to the ordinary human problem of food, clothes, and the wherewithal to maintain life for the poorer sections of our people.
Some days ago in this House I quoted a figure that Deputy Cosgrave has referred to on many occasions. The Deputy asked why we have never been able to arrive at an agreed figure as to what amount is actually required for the maintenance of a family in ordinary decent comfort, so that we could apply ourselves to the task of telling that family what is a living wage. I used a figure that was worked out by a member of a committee set up here by the Government some years ago. The figure was not based on his own conclusions, but was compiled on official scales of diet, cost of clothing in an institution like the Dublin Union, the National Army, and Grangegorman Mental Hospital. That was related to figures arrived at by medical experts in this and other countries, as to the basic figure required to keep a man, his wife and three children in ordinary human comfort. The figure arrived at in 1938 for that group of human beings was 71/- per week. Yet in that same year the average amount paid wage earners and salary earners was £2 9s. 3d., so that before the war started our working people, depending on wage and salaries, were already below that basic wage. That is the ordinary outcome of the system under which we are living. Whether the Government Party are going to remedy the defects of that system is another day's work. With that deep gap existing, it has meant for the mass of our people that they could not maintain their families at what is regarded as a decent human level. They have now to contend with what has been added by war.
During the period, when Government policy for controlling prices and control of wages operated, the difference as to what is required to maintain that group of five people in normal standards of comfort, and what they are actually receiving to-day on an average amounts to nearly 66/- per week. Can  anybody on the Government Benches explain how it is possible for a family with an average income of less than £3 per week to meet demands for food, clothing and shelter? When related to the present cost of living they would now require a sum of £6 a week. I am prepared to listen and to try to understand in what way they would provide a solution. In the actual life of our people outside this House, it is working out in the form of less food for the man, woman and children, poorer quality clothing, greater difficulty in meeting the weekly demand for rent, and a growing burden that cannot be met. What are the reasons why the policy adopted has been carried through with such determination by the Government and for their repeated statement that an increase in wages was followed by an increase in prices, and that one cancelled the other? I wonder do they apply their thesis on economic matters to ordinary economic life.
During the past two years I have gone before wages tribunals many times to argue for different sections of workers and I can say without fear of contradiction that in the course of 100 or 150 applications I have not yet heard one employer say that the granting of a bonus would automatically mean increased prices. Yet prices were increasing before we had wages tribunals. It is the same on trade boards operating under Government authority. Under the present machinery these bodies are bound to bring in the defence that increased wages means increased prices. Employers are required to produce figures. They have never done so but were satisfied to waive their claims and agreed that if there was to be any increase it would be so small that it could be ignored. Never during this war have wages claims gone ahead of prices. They will never catch up on prices now, yet we are told that the Government's concern is to protect the public against the vicious spiral. The spiral starts with prices and ends with prices, and it is the wage earners and the salary earners who always receive out of this spiral the whole effect of the war. If we go through the whole of Government policy, we come to the  second defence that is put forward, that if they permit wages to increase it will lead to a policy of inflation. We had that defence made last night by the Minister for Finance. I do not pretend to be a master of economics like the Minister for Finance, but it seems to me that the ordinary definition of inflation is that there is more money available than goods to be sold and, because of that, price increase follows in many fields.
I still fail to understand how it is that in a country like this, where the Government has complete control of prices, if they want to exercise their powers, complete control of wages, complete control of the export of money and complete powers to enforce any system of rationing they require, there can be inflation, no matter what sum of money is placed on the market. I have yet to hear an explanation from any member of the Government of that peculiarity. If inflation is such a danger, how can it operate if prices are controlled, if, in addition to the ordinary Government machinery for controlling prices, we brought in, which has never yet been done, the ordinary good will of the citizens and their faith in the value of Government machinery for controlling prices, and if we had a proper system of rationing, not only in relation to a number of articles in short supply, but on a social basis of assuring to every family their equal share of whatever is available? Our system of rationing does not work on that basis. It is not a system of assuring to all the people in the nation an equality of whatever is available. It is merely a stop-gap, which has been operated time after time as a last resort and when the supply of goods is, as the Minister for Supplies yesterday said with regard to candles, so small that a system of rationing would not be effective.
Last year, when we were facing difficulties with regard to bread and when the suggestion was made that bread should be rationed, we got the reply, in the Government organ and also from spokesmen of the Government, that we could not have a system of rationing of bread because it would be an admission on our part of failure to produce  a basic food for our people. Why should we be afraid to admit failure, especially when that failure led to a position in the capital city of our country in which queues of people, 100 and 150 yards long, made up of the poorest sections of our people, stood for hours in cold and wet weather in order to obtain bread and in many cases had to go away empty-handed? Surely a system of rationing is not merely a means of regulating the retail distribution of bread. It is a social measure—a piece of social machinery designed to provide for the weaker sections of our people some share of whatever is available. Yet, right from the beginning of the war, that machinery, which has operated, so far as I am aware, on a very good basis and with good results on the other side of the water, has been denied to us by the Government. In the early stages of the war, no steps were taken to introduce a scheme of general registration, so that at any time any commodity in short supply could be brought under a rationing scheme. Instead, we have a piece-meal system, and, when goods are about to be rationed, as has happened time after time, the news has leaked out, there has been a rush on supplies, prices have been driven up and when the ration comes to be decided, it has to be a smaller ration because some of the stocks have already disappeared.
I suggest that it is not only in the field of prices that the Government has failed. That does not require any argument, because the cost-of-living index figure is now 284 as against 173, and anybody who has ever studied that figure will agree that it is not a true reflex of what it costs a working class or any small family in a town, to live. There have been Government inquiries and reports, but we know that the index figure to-day is completely out of relationship with modern needs and the modern cost of living; but taking the official figure there is still a gap, in that prices have increased not by 50 per cent., as Deputy Cosgrave said, but by nearly 60 per cent. and that, on the statement of the Minister for Supplies recently, as a result of the machinery set up by the Government  to control wages, the average increase in wages since the standstill Order came into operation has been in or about 10 per cent., or on the basis of the latest increase in the ceiling, which allows bonuses up to 10/- to be granted, there is still a gap of well over 45 per cent. as between the increase in prices and the increase in wages.
If that is the position our wage-earners and salary-earners are in, what is the position of those who have neither wages nor salaries? Surely if the average working-class family, the family of the average clerical worker or of those in administrative posts, is in a position in which every £ it receives in wages will buy only some 12/- worth of goods, how much worse must be the position of those who have neither wages nor salaries, but who are completely dependent on social service payments from different national and local agencies or on the goodwill of charitable bodies? There is one peculiarity about the wage policy. When the wage policy was introduced, the average worker had already lost to the extent of 52 points of the cost of living. The cost-of-living index figure at the outbreak of the war was 173. A standstill Order in respect of wages came into force in 1940. It was subsequently amended, but, by the time the amended Order came into force, and the granting of bonuses became possible, the cost-of-living index figure had increased by 52 points. No regard was had to that increase.
Following on that, a scale was laid down which allowed an increase of 1/- for every five points. Now it has been fixed at 1/- for every ten points, but on the pre-war figures, on the basis of the average wage as shown by Government returns and the cost-of-living figure at that date, 1/- was equal to 3½ points of the increased figure, so that with every increase of five points in the index figure, the worker lost, even if he got the bonus, and he is losing even more now when he receives only 1/- for every 10 points, so that even with the machinery provided for the protection of the worker, designed to bring his wages into some relationship  with prices, there has been a gradual falling off and a losing fight on the part of the wage-earner and salary-earner to keep pace with the increase in prices.
During that period, we had a similar standstill Order in respect of fees to directors. That standstill Order, in the Government's wisdom, has been relaxed and a director can now apply for an increase in his fees, but, peculiarly enough, in the case of wages, a definite fixed scale, from which there is no departure, is laid down. The ceilings were fixed at 5/-, 8/-, and 10/-, and were definitely related to the cost of living, but when directors apply for increases in fees and those applications go before the advisory tribunal, no restrictions at all are laid down. The tribunal is free to recommend any increase it considers advisable, and that recommendation goes to the Minister for his sanction and the issue of the necessary Order.
Why again the discrimination between the director and the ordinary worker? If it is correct that wages should be closely related to the cost of living and increases in the cost of living, why, then, do we allow the fees of a director to be determined purely from the angle of goodwill, on the basis of the view which may be taken by the advisory tribunal? There have been applications before advisory tribunals in respect of wages which would be admitted by any thinking man to be far below the amount which should be paid. Yet there could be no adjustment. A fixed bonus of only 5/-, 8/- or 10/- could be allowed. Yet when we come to deal with directors, many of whom give no service for their fees and many of whom are already too well paid, they can be dealt with in a kindly manner by the tribunal.
My whole point in rising was not merely to touch upon the position of wage earners and salary earners, although I do realise the urgent need for a change in the attitude of the Government towards that problem, but to say that I have the feeling that, when we come to deal with the control of wages, we are entering on  the field of politics where it will be very difficult to get any accommodation from the Government, and it is because there is an even more urgent problem that I want to speak, not to the Government as a whole, but to the Taoiseach, as one who, I think, shows a better approach to these problems than many of those with whom he is associated. If, as is plain from the figures, wage earners and salary earners in our community are in a parlous condition so far as economic conditions are concerned, what must be the position of those who have neither wages nor salaries coming in week by week and who are completely dependent on our social services?
Deputy Cosgrave referred to the various sums of money paid to these individuals. I have in mind those who are depending on unemployment benefit, unemployment assistance, old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions, blind pensions, and sick benefit from the National Health Society. There we have a mass of people, numbering I suppose at least 300,000, who have got no adequate source of income measured according to the needs of present-day life in this country. During a period of four years, with the exception of those drawing unemployment benefit, there has been no increase in the actual monetary payments made to them. There have been food vouchers given and there has been a system of supplying free fuel to certain of these categories. On many occasions, not only in this House but outside, I have listened to Ministers taking particular credit for the issue of these food vouchers as something which would give to these men, women and children at least a minimum of basic foods which would guarantee that they would not suffer from the actual results of hunger.
When we come to measure up what is given by the food vouchers we realise that there is a tremendous gap still to be filled. On a food voucher at present they receive 3½ pints of milk, 4 ounces butter, and 2 lbs. of bread per head per week, while in the Dublin Union, a place which has been a by-word in the city for generations, a child under 14 years of age is given 13½ pints of  milk, 7½ ounces of butter and 42 ounces of bread per week. That is given in an institution where no one in this House would ever want anyone belonging to him to reside. Of course, it will be suggested that the amount given on the food vouchers is supplemented, that the actual money received will enable them to add to the food. If you work out a calculation of the amount actually given to an orphan under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act, you will find that the amount allowed for a child will not be even sufficient to buy one-quarter of the difference between what is allowed on a food voucher and what is considered as the minimum in the Dublin Union for a child inmate. That is the position we are facing so far as these payments and this additional supplementary relief given during these four years are concerned.
On previous occasions I remember that the question of destitution in our cities and towns was raised with the Taoiseach. I am not one of those who, because I may differ politically from the Taoiseach, have a feeling that it is not possible to find any common ground. But I do feel that in certain matters he has given to him advice or information which is not correct and which causes him to refrain from taking action. I realise that, moving in the atmosphere of Government Departments or even of this House, many of us very easily forget that there is another life outside, a life that I do not deny the Taoiseach and other Deputies are just as familiar with as I am. I do not want to suggest for a moment that all the decent human feelings are concentrated on these benches. I quite accept that in every Party in this House there is a feeling and understanding of the needs of our people. But it is one thing to have feelings and intention and another thing to apply them. From going amongst the people I do know that in the City of Dublin and other cities and towns and in the countryside generally there is actual destitution, there is actual want of food, there is actual want of clothing and footwear.
I am sorry to say that during the  past few months in Dublin a sight has become common that I thought I would never see again in Dublin. I I remember when I was young watching children going through the streets of Dublin on cold, wet days ragged and with no boots or shoes on their feet. That day has come again. I have almost become a victim of the habit, when going through the streets, of watching the feet of children as they go by and I estimate, without any exaggeration, that at least one out of every 20 children that you see passing in the poorer sections of the city to-day has no boots and that of those who have boots or shoes, at least two out of ten would be better off if they were barefooted, and the clothes they are wearing are no protection either for their bodies or against the inclemency of the weather. That is a condition in which children are going to be the victims of diseases which are on the increase, and also a prey to ills of body and mind that will cripple and maim them for the rest of their lives.
I realise that when we come to deal with this problem of social payments there are certain statutory requirements, certain relationships set down between payments in the different sections, which it is difficult for the Government to set aside. I am not, therefore, suggesting when I make this appeal that when we come to deal with this problem it should be on the basis of trying to apply in the field of social services what we of the Labour Party believe should be the scale of payments. I am trying to approach this as a purely emergency measure, something that can be dealt with so as to carry us over the period that may remain of the war, so that the most defenceless and helpless section of our people will be given some protection, some relief within our means. The Government, as I have said, is made up of individuals. They may follow a different line with regard to politics and social ideas from myself and other members of the Party of which I am a member. I do admit that amongest them there are individuals who are human, but I am afraid that they  allow their humanity to be covered up by politics or lack of understanding of what is going on or by the fact that they do not realise that it is possible to give this relief to our people.
Those on the Government Benches in years gone by entered into a struggle in this country to achieve certain ends. Whatever may be the form in which these purposes or objects were clothed in words, I do not think any of them will deny that right through the period of struggle they, as ordinary individual Irishmen, were actuated in the main by one idea, and that was, to give to our people a better form of life. That idea was first embodied in the 1916 Proclamation, which stated in general that it was the task and the object of these men and women of that day to cherish all of their people of the nation equally. Then, in the present Constitution, to which the Taoiseach refers so often and in which he seems to take particular pride, you have undertaken, as part of its framework, that the State pledges itself to safeguard with especial care the economic interests of the weaker sections of the community and, where necessary, to contribute to the support of the infirm, the widowed, the orphaned and the aged.
I want to suggest, not in any Party spirit, not with the intention of making a speech that will go on the record or may get into the papers, but purely as an appeal for those who, apparently, have no one to appeal for them, that outside of certain sections of our people, that Constitution is not being lived up to either by the Taoiseach or his Government, that there is a mass of our own people, men, women and children, in this State to-day who are without sufficient food, without sufficient clothes and boots and who, from day to day, are living under conditions that everyone of us will agree are objectionable and should be changed. I believe that, as an individual, the Taoiseach has a human outlook. Whatever failings he may be guilty of —and I feel he has as many failings as anyone else in the House—I have always admitted, not only here but on public platforms, that he has an honest  purpose, however misdirected it may be, and a human side to him that, I think, can be reached if he only realises the position. Possibly, when I make this appeal, his answer will be, as we have been told before, that the Government is doing everything within its resources, that everything that is possible is being done, to afford the greatest possible relief to these sections of our people. I want to suggest that that is not correct; that the Government is not doing everything; that it is not cherishing all the children of the nation to an equal degree; that it is not giving effect to what should be a fundamental principle, especially at this time, that whatever sacrifices are to be made should be on a basis of equality and apportioned according to the ability of each section of the community to bear them.
I am referring to wages and the fact that during this period the average increase in wages has been 10 per cent. and that the mass of our people are being required to live on the same scale of social service payments, with a small addition of food vouchers, a small monetary increase, and the issue of free fuel, as they were required to live on in 1939. Yet, if one goes through our city to-day, or to any part of our country, one will find that there are sections of our people living in the same luxury, the same affluence, the same circumstances, untroubled and unworried by the burdens of this emergency, as they enjoyed four years ago.
It seems to me to be not out of place in a serious debate like this to point out that in shop windows in Dublin it is still possible to see fur coats displayed with price tags on them of £80 to £100. Goods are not put into shop windows unless there is hope of a buyer, and if in our community there are people who can afford to pay £80 to £100 for a fur coat, then I say it shows that there are resources in this country that can be called upon by this Government to feed and clothe those who are required to live for a whole year on the price of one of these fur coats.
During this period in which wages have been strictly controlled and prices  have galloped ahead, I state, without fear of contradiction, that, with few exceptions, there has hardly been a balance sheet issued by any commercial or industrial firm in this country that has been a bad balance sheet. According to the printed reports that are published in the Press year after year, the same rates of dividends are paid; in most cases there is a figure carried into reserve, and still they are able to make their contribution in the form of increased taxation called for by the Government. Only the other day there was a statement published that is in many ways typical of what has happened here. A company declared a dividend, and it was explained in the report—the report was published in the Government organ—that they actually carried forward a sum of money sufficient to pay the dividend on their ordinary stocks 34 times over. And this is in a condition of emergency where we are supposed to be carrying the burdens of that emergency on the basis of equality.
I referred only a short while ago to another company that has increased its profits over four times thanks to a Government monopoly given to them in this city during the period of emergency. I remember a director of one of the largest food-producing companies in this State complaining that, because of Government regulations, they were not allowed to pay out as much money as they wanted to.
Money is being earned in this country. If one looks at the returns for the assessment of surtax, at the growth of the deposits in the banks, at the development of the assets across the water, one will find that there is plenty of money in the country but, unfortunately, we are not taking the measures whereby some of that money could be utilised for the benefit of the weaker sections of the community. We have in official Government returns a statement that some 80,000 industrial workers receive approximately £9,000,000 in wages each year and, in the figures issued by the Revenue Commissioners, we have another statement that less than 3,000 people in this country also receive in the form of income, either from rents, interests, profits,  investments, a sum of £9,000,000 per year and, finally, the amount of money that we allocate in social services to provide all of these various payments which are the basis on which some 300,000 of our people are forced to live, is only a little more than the amount that these 3,000 favoured individuals are able to take out of the national income each year. I suggest that in a time like this, when it has become an absolute need for a great section of our people to receive relief, it would not be untoward or out of the way to ask the well-to-do section to pay heavier taxes and to forfeit some of the income they do not actually require in order to meet the ordinary claims of life.
When one reads of people going to hotels and paying 15/- and 20/- for a dinner, when one knows that that is the amount allowed to a family in many cases to keep them for a week, when one knows, as I know, of cases where a dinner for a private family costs as much as is allowed to a man and his wife and family to live on for a whole week, one realises that there are things that can be done by the Government if they only realise the position that exists around them.
Finally, if the Government is not prepared to increase taxes—and taxes in this country are below the level of those obtaining across the water —surely it would be possible in a situation like this, where, as I say, there is destitution, lack of food and lack of clothing, where there is suffering and misery amongst our people, as an emergency measure, to raise an emergency loan to be carried as a future burden on the people after this emergency has ended. That is something that has been done in other countries. It is not out of the way. It is not bad finance. Even if we were to carry an abnormal deficit for a number of years until after this emergency, surely all would be justified in order that we should give to our own people the ordinary simple minimum needs to enable them to obtain food and shelter at this time.
I want to suggest, not as a political  argument, not as an argument from a Party or a group of people having certain political or social ideas, but as an echo of what is existing outside this House, that the Taoiseach as an individual, one who has shown himself on many occasions kindly and considerate and having a human outlook, should give thought to this problem, that he should realise that, as an immediate measure, without any effect on the statutory scales, there should be some form of subsidy, at least to the extent of 60 per cent., afforded to those people who are dependent on unemployment assistance, various forms of pension, and outdoor assistance. If we do that, we will at least case the burden on those most helpless and most without comfort within our community. We will be safeguarding many of our children against future disease and we may be enabled to carry on in this emergency for a further period.
I am making no plea at the moment whatever for wage earners or salary earners. Let us treat them as a political or social subject for discussion. But, surely, the position of these helpless 300,000 people—that is practically the figure—is one in respect of which we can forget our political differences and deal with it as ordinary human beings. On the Taoiseach, as one charged with the main duty under that Constitution, there is the responsibility and duty, no matter what may be the attitude of his Ministers or of his Government, of ensuring to those people the ordinary requirements and the minimum means of life in this country.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: We have heard the statement that has just been made by Deputy Larkin, but I wonder whether the Deputy has gone to the trouble of comparing the present expenditure on social services with the expenditure on social services ten years ago?
Mr. Larkin (Junior) Mr. Larkin (Junior)
Mr. Larkin (Junior): I have.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I wonder has he gone to the trouble of finding out how much money is being spent now on those services as compared with the amount spent ten years ago, and how the  measures brought in by this Government, from time to time, have contributed to relieve the needs of the poor.
Mr. Larkin (Junior) Mr. Larkin (Junior)
Mr. Larkin (Junior): It is not so much a question of the amount of money—it is the need.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I realise the need quite as wll as the Deputy does, but will he realise something else? Will he put, side by side with the position of the wage earners, the fact that the average income of any farmer and his family in this country is somewhere about £100 per year, and would the Deputy bear in mind that, after all, the farmer is the main source of wealth in this country? I think it should be borne in mind that the average earning capacity of the farmer in this country, for himself, his wife and his family, is less than £2 per week, and there is no six-day week for him, or no Sunday off.
Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
Mr. Corish: He must be a bad farmer, if so.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: No, he need not be a bad farmer. I am pointing out that that is the situation that exists with regard to the farmers, generally, in this country, and I think that it is a matter that must be considered. If you will examine the position, I think it will be found that there is very little belonging to the farmers. Deputy Larkin has referred to the bad conditions in the City of Dublin, but I know of people in my own constituency who are living in worse conditions than those of people in the worst slums of Dublin, and the people that I have in mind do not get the benefits of the social legislation that this Government has put into effect. I know that there are certain people in my own constituency who are in a worse condition than anybody in the slums of Dublin could be in, but we have to see what ways and means we can use to meet each situation as it arises, and you are not going to meet that situation by talk of the kind that has been indulged in by Deputy Larkin. I do not expect the situation to be remedied here by either of the teams opposite, or even by this Government, because, after 17 years' experience here——
Mr. Larkin (Junior) Mr. Larkin (Junior)
 Mr. Larkin (Junior): I have not had that much experience.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: ——I have seen both Parties opposite combine during the last few years to drive this Government out of office. For what? Because the Government were not willing to increase the salaries of civil servants. Those Parties combined to drive the Government out of office on that issue, but they know the answer that they got from the country. You are not going to make much of an appeal to the agricultural community, whose average income is less than £2 Os. Od. a week, by asking that the salaries of civil servants should be increased during the present emergency—particularly when one remembers that the present Civil Service system is largely baséd on the system that was handed down by the British when they were here.
All we want is fair play. I do not expect this Government to be able to do everything in this matter, any more than I expect the people over there, who look for increased salaries for civil servants, to do it, but with regard to any of the things that Deputy Larkin or other Deputies may be looking for, I say that the one thing that will have to be looked after is the putting of our agricultural community on a proper basis. That is the first thing that must be looked after. I heard Deputy Hughes attacking Deputy Donnellan here for giving facts and not giving ideas. Well, there is one thing that the Farmers Party can be thankful for, at any rate, and that is that nobody in that Party has got up in this House to express such views as Deputy Hughes has expressed. Are we to take it, from the remarks made by Deputy Hughes, that the only future for our agricultural community is on the lines of the views he has put forward in this House, and that that is the only future to which they can look forward? If that is the type of brains that is going to lead the agricultural community of this country in the future, then I think there will not be much hope for us. Deputy Hughes, evidently, thinks that the agricultural community of this country should go  back to the conditions that existed 100 years ago, and hopes, evidently, that the destiny of this country is to be, as it was supposed to be in the past, that of the fruitful mother of flocks and herds for Great Britain. That is the future to which, evidently, Deputy Hughes looks forward for this country.
Now, I think it will be admitted by everybody that it has been proved that, during the three or four years of the emergency, we have hardly been able to produce sufficient food for our own people, but Deputy Hughes, according to his own statement to-night, is prepared to ration even the small amount of food that we have here— admittedly, insufficient to feed our own people—in order to supply Great Britain with food: as a gesture of good will, according to what he says. Deputy Hughes belongs to a Party that, in the grand old days, brought eggs to this country from China, bacon and the long-bottom from America and Poland. The same Party thought that Irish-grown oats were not good enough for Irish horses, in such constituencies as those of Deputy Norton or Deputy Hughes, and therefore oats had to be brought in from Russia and other countries and our bread from Canada. These are the gentlemen who now get up and tell us that we have no proper agricultural policy. We hear talk about production—about production from the land, if you please—and from whom? From those who preached, night and day, that it was impossible to grow wheat in this country: that it could not be grown here? We now hear of more production on our land from the people who stood up here time after time and used every means in their power to protect the ranchers who refused to plough up their land. Those are the very people who tried to see that these ranchers would not be subject to the law that was introduced here in this House, the object of which was to see that such people would be compelled to produce enough food for our own people.
Anybody who cares to take the trouble of going over the Order Papers for the last two years and reading the  various Parliamentary Questions that were put down can see where, time after time, Deputy Hughes asked, in question after question, why Mr. So-and-so should be prosecuted for not growing the quota of wheat that had been laid down by the law of this country. He now speaks about the necessity for growing more crops, but he cannot blow hot and cold in connection with this matter. He cannot, on the one hand, ask for more production on our land and, on the other hand, try to protect those gentlemen who do not want to produce more food. We have heard that kind of nonsense, day in and day out, from Deputy Hughes, but he cannot have it both ways. Deputy Hughes is in the habit of giving us examples. In almost every sentence of his speech to-night he gave us examples of what is being done in England.
In that connection, I should like to tell the House what is being done in England. I know of the case of an Irishman—a Corkman, by the way— who had two farms in England at the start of this war. One was a farm of 120 acres and the other a farm of 100 acres. He got an order from the agricultural committee that he would have to plough 70 acres of the farm of 120 acres, and that he would have to lay down certain definite crops on that land. He did so, and in the first year that he tried his hand he found that, in the end, he was at a dead loss of £123 on the 70 acres that he had tilled. In the second year he tried to go one better, by getting the agricultural committee to work the land for him. The agricultural committee sent their land girls, tractors, ploughs, and so on; ploughed up the land, sowed it, and reaped it, and then sent him a bill for £225 for the loss that they had incurred, and he had to pay that bill. He then said to himself that it would be better to get rid of the land altogether and give it over to them altogether, and he did so; but they then came back at him last year and told him that he must sow such-and-such percentage of the 100 acres that he still had with potatoes, and do whatever he could with whatever acreage was left. When he did so, he  was told that he was not carrying out proper husbandry on his farm and that, accordingly, they were going to take the farm from him. Now, that is one experience of a man in England, and it is an example of the way they get their work done there.
Then Deputy Hughes comes along to shed crocodile tears about the lack of planned production and at the same time he wants to know why poor John So-and-So with 380 acres of land was prosecuted for tilling only 20 acres. That is the situation we have to face. That is the kind of stuff that is dished up to us. I say the Irish farmer is a wonderful man to start out producing wheat, in spite of all the preaching he has heard from so-called representatives for the past five or six, or even the past ten years. He is a wonderful man to have done it, considering the kind of propaganda that was worked up in this country against the growing of wheat.
Then we heard all about a planned economy. Deputy Hughes would like to join hands with Deputy Dillon but he has not the pluck to do it. We also heard about the lack of essential equipment. Where was the essential equipment, that Deputy Hughes wants to give us, years ago or what has happened to the farmers of this country who learned to plough their land with horses before tractors were ever heard of? Apparently the only use that farmers in Deputy Hughes' constituency can find for horses is racing. They think that horses are no use for anything except jumping ditches. I speak as a farmer with 240 acres of arable land, 125 of which are under the plough, and the only time that farm ever sees a tractor is when it is brought in for threshing. I can do all my ploughing with horses, and I say that 95 per cent. of the farmers of this country find no trouble in carrying on their ploughing with horses. If they were to do otherwise, how could they give employment to the unfortunate people who seek it on the land?
I remember going out to a demonstration a few years ago at which Deputy Cosgrave and General Mulcahy  were present. Speaking about the wonderful machine that was being demonstrated, I said to them: “If that machine is generally adopted in this country, the unemployment figures, which you are so fond of quoting, will be far more correct than they are at present.” I was alluding to the unemployment figures which they quoted here so often in this House and which were generally upside down. If we are to make use of tractors generally, why not turn the country into ranches which will give as little employment as the cattle ranches did? I say that the Minister for Supplies is far too generous in dealing with these requests of kerosene for tractors. There are plenty of horses in the country which can be utilised for this work. I am sure that Deputy Donnellan would not understand the type of farming to which Deputy Hughes referred. I have travelled over every inch of the constituency which Deputy Donnellan represents during elections. It is a constituency where small farmers who do their own work are in the majority. They do not belong to the type of farmer who turns out in collar and tie to see that the road is swept lest he might soil his boots in going down to see where the other fellow is working. There is too much of that type of thing in this country.
If we are ever to be in a position in which we can provide sufficiently for the poor of the country, or if we are to find a remedy for the conditions pictured by Deputy Larkin a few moments ago, there must be decentralisation in the cities as well as in the towns. It is rather anomalous that there is a shortage of labour on the land and an unemployment roll here in the city. Surely this island of ours is not so large that one section of the community is to be regarded as unemployable on the land? In that situation, the cities are getting bigger and bigger and the country people are running away from the land into the cities. If something is not done to correct that situation, there will be nobody on the land later on. It is all very well to talk about salaries and wages, but we had a condition of affairs this year in which the whole agricultural community were held up  for a month because 36 men would not work for £6 a week.
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: Were you not giving more than £6 a week to the foreigners in these factories?
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: Against that you have those unfortunate farmers and farm labourers, who are paid only 36/- a week, out on days like yesterday and days like Saturday and Monday, pulling stuff that should have been taken in in dry weather if those men in the factories were men, and if there were not so many comparisons between Jack with 2½d. and Jack with 3d., bringing us back to the days of the woman with the three cows. We are sick of that kind of thing in this country and I should like to know now whether any steps are being taken to see that those men can be replaced in the factories if anything of that description occurs again. I should like to give fair warning that the farmers of this country will have to get a very definite assurance as to what the labour conditions are to be and a very definite guarantee that there will not be any further strikes in the factories before they agree to grow any further beet.
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: Are you not getting sugar for it?
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: If you want a scrap on that issue, you can have it as soon as you like. If you think that the agricultural community and the unfortunate labourers working at 36/- a week——
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: Why not give them more?
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: Because you are not prepared to pay a price for the beet that would enable them to get more—that is why. That is what we are up against: “Give more to everybody.” That seems to be the cry, no matter a damn where it comes from.
Mr. O'Leary Mr. O'Leary
Mr. O'Leary: Why not pay the agricultural workers more?
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I say that the agricultural worker is worth £6 a week if the man in the factory is worth £2.
 Acting-Chairman: Deputy O'Leary will have to cease interrupting or otherwise he must leave the House.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: The man on the land producing food in all sorts of weather is certainly deserving of a better wage than the gentleman inside the factory, under cover, who is sitting around most of the time and has an eight-hour day. He spends nine or ten months out of the 12 lying round and getting paid for it. He gets £6 a week for the two months he works and £4 17s. 0d. for the rest of the year while he is idle and still that little body of the community compelled the unfortunate farmers to keep their beet in the ground until they had to pull it in weather such as we have had for the past week. Let us have fair play and a fair and reasonable “do” for every section in this country. There is one section of the community for whom I am anxious to make a special plea and I do not believe that the situation can wait for extensions of boundaries or anything like that— the 18,000 persons living around the City of Cork.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise on this Vote. It was raised already on another Vote.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I want to raise it as a matter of urgency.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not relevant.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: In that event I shall not proceed further. I am certainly anxious that those who speak of higher and higher wages should realise that the source of all that wealth is the agricultural community, where the average income is under £100 a year. In the second place, they should realise that, if this country is to be put on a fair economic basis, it cannot copy and hope to carry the dead weight of the British Civil Service system. It cannot be done and it should not be done. The agricultural community at present has to carry too much of a dead weight.
I heard Deputy Hughes complaining  about reputable firms who were prosecuted for charging a penny or twopence more than they should. I would ask the Minister for Supplies to go very carefully into his prices at present and to have no mercy whatever on anybody he finds exceeding the fixed prices. I wonder what kind of prices commission he has fixing them, as, in my opinion, they are not properly fixed. The margin between the producer's cost and the cost to the consumer is entirely out of proportion. I gave one small instance of that on the Vote for Agriculture, in regard to seeds.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy discussed it on the Vote for Agriculture, as he did, he may not quote it again now.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I am quoting it because, in this particular case, if those costs are to be piled on, it only means piling higher prices on the unfortunate people to whom Deputy Larkin alluded a while ago. If there is to be a margin, by which seeds are bought from the farmer at ¼ and sold back to him at 7/6——
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy was told it is not relevant.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I will not go further than allude to it.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not have repeated it.
Mr. Corry Mr. Corry
Mr. Corry: I would ask Deputy Larkin to make up for himself the situation as regards the social services when this Government took office and compare it with the situation under the present social services. When he does that he will have a rare eye-opener.
Mr. Cogan Mr. Cogan
Mr. Cogan: Farmer Deputies are accused of many things, including the making of dull and tedious speeches, but to-day we had another accusation. On this occasion, the Leader of the Farmers' Party was accused of having gone to the trouble of preparing his speech. I have listened very attentively to Deputy Dillon, who made that accusation here to-day. I have almost  felt, when listening attentively to Deputy Dillon's speeches on economic and national questions, that he was reading a speech written for him by some dead, damned and discontented enemy of this country.
I agree that Farmer Deputies' speeches may sometimes appear to be drab, but if the farmer lives in drab surroundings, perhaps it is the weeping climate of our country that affects him. In this House, we are inclined to dwell too much on the things that have been done or left undone and not to cast our minds to the things that might be done. If you take a superficial view of a farmer working in the field, ploughing in the winter months behind a pair of horses in drizzling rain, I agree he does make a drab picture. If, however, you have any imagination, you will see that that farmer is not a pessimist. The man who goes out in the rain in the middle of winter to plough his land is a hopeful optimist who does not look at the rain nor at the clouds overhead, but is thinking of the springtime, the summer and the golden harvest. We Farmer Deputies may sometimes give a drab picture of economics and the agricultural industry as we see it, but we are not pessimists. We have come into this House as optimists, to deliver a message and with a definite mission to put before the people a sound economic policy.
Has the national economic policy pursued by two successive Governments over the past 20 years been sound? Has it given any hope to our young men and young women to remain and work here? I am one of those who hold that this is an opportune time to break with the past. I am one of those who hold that the stand which this nation has taken in this emergency will have a more far-reaching influence on the future destiny of the country than even, I might almost say, the stand taken in Easter Week or in 1921. I believe that, from now on, this nation, having taken a separate stand in international affairs, must be prepared to stand upon its own feet in future in economic matters. How have we been attempting to stand during the past 20 years? We have been attempting  to carry out a far-reaching protectionist policy in regard to industry, while compelling agriculture to face unsheltered the winds of international competition. We have pursued a one-sided policy—of protection for our secondary industries, but none whatever for agriculture. I am not one of those who treat with contempt those engaged in the production of manufactured goods. I believe they are fulfilling a very useful function, that they are helping in their own way to make this country stronger, materially and financially. But why have we persisted for 20 years in protecting those secondary producers, while condemning the farmer and the agricultural worker to face unchecked competition in the world's markets?
During the seven or eight years that preceded 1938, the average income of the agricultural industry—that is to say the value of our total agricultural output—was about £40,000,000 per year. £40,000,000 divided amongst the 650,000 people working in agriculture gives an income for each individual of 23/- per week. Will anybody dare to suggest that agriculture could prosper and advance and that able and ambitious young men could be attracted into that industry while that condition prevailed, while, at the same time, the total income of the other half of the gainfully occupied section of our population—the people engaged in non-agricultural pursuits— made a total income of £164,000,000, which amounts to about £2 13s. per head? That is a vast difference between the income of those engaged in agriculture and those engaged outside agriculture.
I know that the Taoiseach will ask: “What can we do about it; how are we to protect people engaged in producing agricultural goods so long as there is a surplus to be exported?” I do not agree for a moment that that problem cannot be solved. There are two alternatives to the present hopeless policy of protecting the manufacturer while leaving the agricultural producer unprotected. One of the alternatives is to withdraw the protection  given to our manufacturers. That is a policy which has been frequently and, I must say, fearlessly put before the House by Deputy Dillon. That is the policy more or less implied in most of the statements which have come to us from the Front Bench of the chief Opposition Party. Deputy Hughes condemned the Leader of this Party for not putting forward some constructive suggestion to-day. I have been listening to the Front Bench of the chief Opposition Party for six years and I never heard a really constructive suggestion from them and I do not recollect any really serious attempt to face up to all the implications of the economic policy which they seek to put forward. Unlike other members of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon has been direct and forthright in stating that his aim is to abolish all secondary industries. That is a logical alternative to the present policy of protecting secondary industries and omitting to protect agriculture. But I do not agree that it is a sound policy. I do not think that we should accept from Deputy Dillon the slogan: “Burn everything Irish except turf.” I hold that the alternative to the present system is to apply to agriculture the same measure of protection that has been applied to industry. I hold that that can be done.
If there is an exportable surplus, what does that mean? It means simply that our agriculturists are producing goods which will, ultimately, go to the benefit of the Irish consumer. Every pound's worth of agricultural produce exported from this country is, ultimately, transformed into a pound's worth of imported materials essential to the requirements of our people. Therefore, the man who produces goods which it is necessary to export is producing for the home market indirectly to the same extent as the man who produces goods to be directly consumed here. I shall be asked “How are we to protect the interests of the agricultural industry: how are we to maintain a stabilised level of prices here if the level outside collapses”? Is it not apparent to everybody that the problem of ensuring for the farmer an economic price for the goods which he  produces for consumption here is a simple one? I think that that will be accepted. It is merely a question of paying the farmer a price which will enable him to pay his workers a decent wage and obtain a margin of profit. It is necessary to point out that the Irish consumer does contribute in very large measure to the total price of agricultural goods produced here. We know that the total value of our agricultural output last year was £76,000,000. That is an increase of £36,000,000 on that of the pre-war years. Was that £36,000,000 obtained from abroad? It was not. The value of our exports increased only from £14,000,000 to £21,000,000—a net increase on the value in pre-war years of £7,000,000. In view of that, is it not important to remember that the Irish consumer is a very important factor? He has contributed £29,000,000 to the increase which took place in the value of agricultural produce last year as compared with pre-war years. So far so good.
The question is: Can we not also ensure that the price of that portion of our agricultural produce which is exported will not be allowed to influence the value of our total agricultural production? I do not see any reason why it should. If left to the operation of the ordinary laws of commerce, I know that the presence of an exportable surplus, no matter how small, will have the effect of pulling down prices. But we have agreed to the principle of subsidy in the case of certain agricultural products. We have subsidised flour so as to ensure for the home consumer bread at a reasonable price.
There are people in this country who adopt the attitude that a subsidy is something wrong, something criminal, something which cannot be condoned and which must be terminated as soon as possible. It has also been suggested that subsidies on food are a gift to the agricultural producer. That is not true. One of the essential requirements of the agricultural producer is a reasonable price for his produce. If the consumer is not in a position to pay that, it is often found desirable to provide a subsidy. It is sound Government policy to provide bread at something  less than the cost of production, just as it is considered good Government policy to deliver to the consumer whiskey far in excess of the cost of production. In the one case you have a subsidy to help consumption; in the other case you have a tax to restrict consumption—which is also, perhaps, for the consumer's benefit.
The principle of the subsidisation of food products is sound, and it is a principle which we must make up our minds to see continued. It is desirable that certain foodstuffs which are essential articles of diet should be given to the consumer at a cheap rate so as to encourage their consumption. If it is not possible for the producer to produce this food at a price the consumer can pay, it is a sound policy to pay a subsidy so as to ensure that those articles will be consumed and the people will not want. The same principle applies to exported commodities. These commodities are exported for the express purpose of bringing the Irish consumer or user some article which he requires. If it is necessary to export a fat bullock in order to bring into this country ten tons of coal—I am referring to normal times—is it not a reasonable exchange, and is it not true that the man who puts on the market a fat beast is providing an essential requirement for our industries and for the general benefit of the community? Is it not also sound and reasonable that, in order to ensure that a man who exports agricultural produce deflated, reduced by reason of the fact that his produce is exchanged for some essential requirement, we should pay a subsidy on that exported article and, if necessary, collect that subsidy on the article which is imported in exchange? That is the only way that prices of agricultural produce can be stabilised, having regard to the fact that we have an exportable surplus.
This is not a question which can be treated lightly. We know that the value of agricultural produce has gone up since pre-war days by £36,000,000. We know that in the pre-war years the farmer and the agricultural worker were receiving less than £1  per week. Do we want to go back, or can we go back, to that condition of affairs? Suppose the value of agricultural produce in external markets declines, are we to accept that decline? Are we to force agricultural labourers back to the standard wages of ten years ago? We often heard it remarked that the agricultural wages tribunal has worked very well. It worked well because it worked in a certain direction—it worked to increase agricultural wages—but suppose that machinery were to go into reverse, what would the position be?
I can foresee great difficulty in forcing agricultural wages back to what they were ten years ago. That would be a thing which no farmer, or anyone who has the interest of this country at heart, desires. We know that one of the bitterest conflicts that occurred in this country during the last 20 years was the clash between farmers and agricultural workers in 1922-23, in relation to wages. Do we want that repeated when this emergency is over? I do not think anyone wants to see it repeated. There is one way to prevent a repetition, and that is by ensuring that agricultural produce, regardless of what may happen in external markets, will continue to give the farmer a decent return for his labour and the worker a decent wage. That is the only basis of a sound, economic policy.
We cannot continue the present policy of assisting the manufacturer while depriving the agricultural producer of any assistance. Neither can we adopt the alternative of closing down all manufacturing industries which are unable to compete in the world markets. I think that would be a disastrous policy. During the general election there was one incident which made a very deep impression on my mind. I happened to encounter a worker in a flour mill and I discussed with him national affairs, political affairs generally, with a view to getting his viewpoint. One of the advantages of a general election is that one can get around and discuss matters of that kind more freely than  in normal times. I asked this man what his attitude was towards the existing political Parties. He said: “I intend to support the present Government. Prior to their coming into office, I was forced to sneak to the relieving officer and obtain from him a dole of 5/- a week. I am now in receipt of an income of £4 5s. 0d. weekly. I would not be a decent citizen if I did not show gratitude to the Government that made that possible.”
Can we close down every industry in this country that was established under the basis of protection and that pays, in many cases—there are exceptions—a decent wage to the workers and enables them to hold up their heads and look the world in the face as respectable, decent citizens? No man can hold up his head and look the world in the face if he is drawing a miserable and inadequate dole. No man can hold up his head and look the world in the face if he knows that the shirt on his back is not paid for. If we want, therefore, to make our country strong we cannot adopt the alternative of closing down our manufacturing industries. The only other possible alternative is to give to the Irish agricultural producer the same measure of protection as has been given to the industrial producer.
In order to offset the demands of the agricultural community, it is often said that farmers are well off. Deputy Dillon came into the House some time ago, and I suppose will do it again, and said that the farmers were never better off. I know they are better off to-day than they were five, six or seven years ago, but how did they exist then, when the income of each person engaged in agriculture was less than £1 a week? It is not just, fair or reasonable to suggest that the farmers and agricultural workers are not as poor as they are represented to be. We are frequently reminded of the deposits which farmers have in the banks. The deposits in the banks from the farming community, or alleged to be from the farming community because it is very hard to segregate deposits by farmers from those made by other members of the community, are said to be in or about £25,000,000.  At the time that figure was given, bank loans to farmers were put at £12,000,000, leaving the net amount of deposits £13,000,000. That is a substantial sum, but it must be remembered that farmers are very thrifty and that all over the country you have aged and ageing men with perhaps large families, as well as large numbers of men and women who, by reason of their hard work on their little holdings, have accumulated savings and because they never considered themselves in a position to get married.
In that way there are fairly substantial deposits in the banks from the farming community. It must be remembered that almost all the savings of farmers are put on deposit in the banks, whereas business and professional people put their savings into foreign investments. The total investments of this country are now said to be in the neighbourhood of £500,000,000, that is taking internal and external assets. Of that large sum, the farmers' proportion is very small, because we all know that the farmer does not dabble in stocks or shares or consider himself sufficiently well-informed to invest his money in foreign securities.
The contention, therefore, is made that, because the farmers hold a fairly considerable proportion of the deposits in the banks, they are well-to-do. No one, I think, can suggest that people who worked for eight years from 1930 to 1938 on an income of less than £1 a week could have accumulated savings. Deputy Dillon frequently says here that we should go back to the days of our-fathers and grandfathers. He must know that in those days the wages of the agricultural worker were 5/-, 6/- or 7/- a week, and that the expenses of carrying on the agricultural industry and providing for all its needs, apart from wages, machinery, implements, manures and everything else that a farmer requires, were only a small fraction of what they are to-day.
I am recommending to the Taoiseach the proposition that agriculture must get the same measure of protection as industry. In that lies the only hope for the future of the country. We can  develop agriculture and develop the manufacturing industry side by side. The genuine Irish farmer has no hostility or animosity to the Irish manufacturer, and the genuine Irish manufacturer will do well to have no animosity and no hostility to the Irish farmer. If both those Irish producers are prepared to work and co-operate together, there is a future for the country. I suggest to the Taoiseach that his approach to our economic problems should be along these lines.
Deputy Hughes taunted our Party with not putting forward constructive suggestions in the speech which Deputy Donnellan delivered to-day. I have listened to the Opposition Party for a long time and have failed to see anything constructive in their economic policy over a period of 20 years, both when they were in office and since they went out of it. They went out of office realising—whether they realised it or not I do not know, but it was certainly clear to every intelligent person—that their economic policy had not succeeded. The present Government may go out of office any day. I think they ought to realise that their economic policy of protecting secondary industry while not protecting agriculture, the first, has also failed. It would be well for them before it is too late, before they are thrown out as their predecessors were thrown out, to consider and take note of adjusting their policy.
Mr. Roddy Mr. Roddy
Mr. Roddy: I have listened very carefully to Deputy Cogan's speech. He has accused the members of this Party of not having offered a single constructive suggestion for the betterment of agriculture. I do not think that he has added to his laurels by the speech which he has just made. It was the same cry as Deputy Larkin's: an appeal to the Government to give more money, more subsidies and have more taxation. Somebody recently remarked that subsidies are like boomerangs. They always come back on the people who throw them. The only effect they have is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. To some extent subsidies have worked out in that manner here. I agree with Deputy Cogan that it is necessary, to  some extent, to subsidise the agricultural industry, but to make an appeal for wholesale subsidies on the same scale as they have been given to other industries is, to my mind, ridiculous, and shows clearly that Deputy Cogan has not given any deep or very serious thought to the real problems that face agriculture.
Deputy Cogan's leader said that a broader outlook was needed in respect of agriculture. I think that what Deputy Donnellan meant to say was that a more intelligent outlook is needed. After all, agriculture, for a number of years, was made the plaything of Party politics, with the result that the farmers were left to suffer and endure hardships which no Government, really and seriously concerned about their welfare, would have imposed on them. Deputy Donnellan went on to say that he believed that when the war was over the tillage policy would be continued on a greater scale even than it is being carried on at present. I think that if we want to improve agricultural conditions, and if Deputies really want to make an intelligent contribution to the agricultural problems which confront us, it will be necessary to relate conditions as they are now and as they will be for the remainder of the war, to conditions as they will be when the war is over. It seems to me that if there is to be any change in policy we will have to take into consideration conditions as they exist to-day and as they will exist when the war is over.
All sorts of people have been writing articles about post-war agricultural conditions. Some members of the House have painted some extraordinary pictures of what agricultural conditions will be like when the war is over. Various other writers, men bearing well-known names, have contributed articles pointing out, from their point of view, what they believe conditions will be post-war. In fact, almost every individual in the country is interesting himself in post-war agricultural conditions except the farmers themselves. Some of these writers have suggested that agriculture should be subsidised on the same lines as  urban industry, that there should be fixed prices for all kinds of agricultural produce, that farmers' sons and daughters should be paid a minimum scale of wages, and so on. Personally, I think a farmer would be a fool if he were deceived by that type of propaganda and by that kid of proposal. The farmer will have to work as hard, perhaps even harder than ever, when this war is over, in order to obtain a modest livelihood. What we can foresee is that, post-war, the world will be no richer. There may be a trade boom for a year or two, but following that trade boom there will be, undoubtedly, a period of depression. The last war was, and the Napoleonic wars were followed by a period of depression, and it is more than likely that this war will be followed by similar depression. When the labours of millions of people are, for a number of years, deflected from production to destruction, it is inevitable that the world will be poorer, and when everybody is poor it is hard to expect that our farmers will be wallowing in the fat of the land.
If we are going to prepare plans for agriculture, both for the remaining years of this war and for the period immediately following it, it is necessary that we should take into consideration unpleasant as well as pleasant factors int he situation. It appears to me that there will be a widespread demand for food when the war is over. After all, most countries affected by this war are living in a state of semi-starvation, and when the conflict ceases there will be a general demand for food. Our farmers are the people best qualified to supply that need. We will have to supply food to countries that cannot give anything in exchange. There is an obligation on us to do that. If we escape the ravages of war, we should provide food as a thanks-offering. Other people, with whom we had no commercial or other associations, bethought themselves of our plight during the years of the famine. We should remember their generosity and, in our charity, not forget their needs when this war ceases. When the immediate demand for food has been satisfied, the next  demand will be for pedigree live stock. The live stock of the countries affected by war must have depreciated considerably, and naturally it will be their desire to restore these stocks as speedily as possible. In the effort to do so I imagine they will try to secure a good pedigree foundation. Irish farmers would now be well advised to take steps to supply that demand when it arises. I believe demand will exceed supply but this is the one country to which other nations will have to turn for good pedigree stock.
We may ask ourselves this question: What about the British market when the war is over? For some years after the war there will be a fairly widespread demand for foodstuffs. The British workman will have money to spend out of war savings and he could not spend it more profitably than on good food. Those of us who lived in England for a number of years know that the British workman has a rather fine taste for the best food, and I believe that there will be a demand for some time for our foodstuffs. Possibly the British Government may retain the control and rationing of food for some years, but I do not think we need be alarmed about that. For some time after the war I am of opinion that Britain will take all the food we can supply, although prices may be controlled.
When the emergency period passes what will be the position in the British markets regarding imports of foodstuffs? Some of our agricultural experts seem very much concerned about the rapid advance of tillage in Great Britain since the outbreak of this war. There has been, unquestionably, a phenomenal increase in tillage in Great Britain, but I do not think that should be any cause for alarm to Irish farmers. After all, the industrial tradition is pretty strongly embedded in the British people, and I do not think they will ever take lovingly to agriculture. My impression is that the British people will again revert to their urban industry and commerce because of the greater profits to be derived. Some people seem to think that now that Britain has advanced so wonderfully in agricultural  production she is likely to continue that production. I do not think so. The industrial tradition there is too strong, and because of the greater profits to be reaped from industry the British people will inevitably revert to industry. The greatest danger we have to face is outside competition. I do not think we need fear any competition in regard to live stock. So far as quality is concerned we are supreme, and while the quality of our live stock remains as high as it is, then its future is secure. Turning to bacon, butter, eggs and poultry, undoubtedly these were very profitable sidelines here in the past. I think we will have considerable difficulty in selling such produce in the British market after the war. Denmark may be out of the picture for some time, but Canada, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Australia are preparing to enter the fray immediately, and unless we take steps now to organise the production of these products, and market them in the best possible way, it is unlikely that we shall be able to stand up against the competition of these countries. Britain will not, I am sure, take these goods from us merely because we are her nearest neighbour. If she can get better value from these other countries, unquestionably she will give preference to the goods from those countries.
To my mind, the big question, so far as agriculture is concerned—and I thought Deputy Donnellan and Deputy Cogan would have dealt with this aspect of the problem—is whether the Irish farmer will be permitted to buy the raw materials of his industry, such as artificial manures and feeding stuffs, in the cheapest market. If he cannot produce cheaply, it follows inevitably that he cannot sell cheaply, and if he cannot sell cheaply, there is a danger that he will be squeezed completely out of these foreign markets. Deputy Cogan dealt at length with the question of subsidies for the agricultural industry. So far as the home market is concerned, it will, I am sure, be possible to reward the farmer with subsidies, but to subsidise exports in preference to placing the farmer on a level with his competitors is really to  put a tax on industry and to pass an undue charge on to consumers throughout the country. If there is any serious agricultural planning to be done, the question of freedom of purchase should be one of the first things considered by the people engaged in these planning operations, because on that question depends entirely the advantage we shall be able to take of post-war opportunities.
These are my views with regard to post-war agriculture, and, as I said, I thought Deputy Cogan or Deputy Donnellan would have dealt with that aspect of post-war agriculture but neither, so far as I am aware, made a reference to it. I think that, in preparing our plans, we should break away from the experiences of Britain and other countries. There is a tendency in this country to follow, literally and absolutely, the example set by Britain and other countries. Conditions are completely different in this country and, for that reason, if the plans we are preparing for the post-war years are to be really effective and helpful, we shall have to plan in such a way as to recognise our own position, our own problems and our own difficulties. After all, only 9 per cent. of the people in Britain are engaged in agriculture, and in any other agricultural country in the world, with the exception of this country, only 15 per cent. to 30 per cent. of the population, at the very highest, are engaged in agriculture. In this country, over 60 per cent. of the population are engaged in agriculture and, for that reason alone, it is quite apparent that our planning will have to be on such lines as will recognise that the farmers are the main producers and entitled to first consideration in any post-war plans being made.
The question of transport was mentioned by Deputy Davin, and I am glad that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is here, because I should like to hear from him whether it is proposed to extend the transport scheme now in operation in Sligo and other western counties to the rest of the country, or whether the scheme in operation there is to be limited to these counties.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
 An Ceann Comhairle: That matter was discussed on the Minister's Estimate.
Mr. Roddy Mr. Roddy
Mr. Roddy: I was not present when the Minister's Estimate was being dealt with, but the matter was raised here to-day by Deputy Davin.
An Ceann Comhairle Frank Fahy
An Ceann Comhairle: Which, as I said once before, is not conclusive evidence of its being in order.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: It is fairly substantial all the same.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: It is presumptive evidence that it is not.
Mr. Roddy Mr. Roddy
Mr. Roddy: As I am on the subject of planning, naturally any plans being made will have to take into consideration the numbers of our people who will have to return from Britain after the war and also the numbers of men who will be demobilised from military service in this country. I suggest that if suitable and adequate plans are to be made, the Government should not confine the work of planning for the future to officials or to the members of their own Party. They should take into consultation the members of all Parties, and, as a matter of fact, the most competent and most able individuals they can find outside, men who by their experience, training and ability would be helpful and useful in preparing plans for the future. It is impossible to envisage what conditions will be like when the war is over, but in preparing plans we must try to envisage to the best of our ability what conditions may be and arrange our plans and schemes accordingly. I suggest that in devising plans for agriculture, the Minister should take into consultation the most capable, the most competent and the best farmers he can find in the country, men with experience and ability who will be able to give him useful advice. In that way, I am sure that the plans when they emerge eventually, will be useful and constructive and will help to bring the people of this country safely through the difficult period which will follow the war.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
Mr. Connolly: There have been so  many comprehensive reviews of the economic and political situation that there remains for me merely to raise a matter which may not be of any great present importance but out of which may grow a question of importance. I noticed for some time before I came into the House the practice, and that practice still continues, of Ministers making important statements of policy and surveys of the national position outside this House. I am questioning whether this is in the best interests of democracy and I am asking the Taoiseach to examine the propriety of this custom, as to whether it does not detract from the importance of this House and decrease the interest of the people in the proceedings of this democratic Assembly. He, as the Leader of the Irish people and head of a democratic Party, is the custodian of all the conventions of democracy, and it is well to examine this practice before it becomes too widespread.
I need not dwell too long upon this, but I may mention some examples to point my argument. On 10th November, the Minister for Supplies utilised the radio to make a very important announcement, an announcement which was expected and looked for day after day since the advance notice appeared in the paper. I refer to his announcement in regard to the 85 per cent. flour extraction for bread. Now, the significant thing about it is that just seven days prior to that, in reply to a question in the House, the Minister for Supplies stated that no decision had yet been taken in the matter. That, I presume, is correct—no decision was taken. But the Minister, I think, could easily have asked the Deputy, as other Ministers have asked other Deputies, to repeat his question in a week's time, and he could then be in a position to give information to the House on this very important question. The Minister, however, preferred to refuse information to the Dáil and to go outside the Dáil and use the radio. I am sure no Deputy has any intention of denying to the Minister the use of the radio. But, if the Minister has a flair for that manner of expressing his views, surely it would be possible for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs to run a  line into the Dáil and allow the Minister to make his announcement to the Dáil and, simultaneously, to the whole nation. Why cannot we become up-to-date? It is being done in other assemblies more sanctified by custom than ours. If these Ministers wish to utilise the radio, then there should be an arrangement made to utilise the radio through the medium of this House.
I need not go back very much further than that, except to instance the very comprehensive survey by the same Minister on October 12th. I may be a bad judge of what the Minister intended, but he did give to the South City Dublin Executive of his Party a very comprehensive survey of the economic position. Though we are not denying the Minister the right to address his constituents or his Party organisation, it might be well to examine whether, in the first instance, these important pronouncements, containing quite a number of matters of Government policy, should not first be put through the House. The Minister for Agriculture, just about the same time as the Estimates for his Department were on in the House, also utilised the radio to give to the public his yearly review of agriculture and his policy for the year in regard to many important matters. This practice may be defensible, but I am querying it and asking that the matter be attended to or examined as to its propriety.
Now, the last instance I want to give of it concerns An Taoiseach himself, and I want to bring to his notice and to the notice of the House a statement that he made and to ask him whether is was an indication of public policy on a very important point or whether, in fact, it was not so, that it was merely a temporary personal expression of opinion to attain a very proper and correct aim for the time being. What I want to question is whether the time and the place for such a statement or advanced consideration of such a subject were correct and whether in this case the House was not the place to come first on the list of priority. The statement to which I refer, though it may have been just a recruiting appeal, may, on the other hand, have been of  greater importance and it may, as I said in the beginning of my speech, grow into importance. It is not that I wish to allay any uneasiness about the matter, because I do not feel that any uneasiness exists. It is not because I am unsympathetic either with the subject matter of this. But I want the position clarified and I think that the House has a right to this clarification on this Vote.
On the 12th September, at Dundalk, An Taoiseach made this statement. There are three versions of it. They are not altogether the same but, as I myself attended on the occasion, I will take the one which I think is definitive, that which appeared in the Irish Press So far as my recollection goes, it does correctly interpret what was said on that occasion:
“Accordingly,” said An Taoiseach “not merely for the present, but for a long time into the future, we would need our manhood to be trained. We would have to have them trained as at present in the voluntary forces or, if we could not have them in these, it might be necessary for the existence of the nation that compulsory training would be introduced.”
The Irish Independent, to give its version, stated on 13th September:
“ ‘If they could not get volunteers for the Defences Forces it would be necessary to introduce compulsory service,’ said Mr. de Valera at the conclusion of the North Louth ‘Step-together Week’ in Dundalk yesterday.”
The Irish Times said:
“We will need the manhood of the country to be trained as they are at present in the voluntary forces and, if we cannot have them in the voluntary forces, it may be necessary for the existence of this nation that compulsory service will be introduced.”
Now, why I was interested in whether it was the considered policy of the Government or whether it was just a part of a recruiting appeal, was that the following week, at Navan, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures seemed to have modified to a considerable extent the  sentiments expressed in the previous week by An Taoiseach. There is in his statement a sort of cognisance of what had been stated the previous week and a retreat from the line of that. On the 19th September, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures stated:
“The strength of our voluntary Army and our defence services compares favourably with the numbers raised by compulsion in other countries but, as we are weaker numerically and industrially than most, we must, in order to protect our rights, be ready to mobilise the last man who can be persuaded to do his duty by his country and his people.”
These are sentiments which we all admire and endorse. The only point that I am raising is the question of the implementation of them and I seek some declaration from the Taoiseach on this question.
It is not possible to examine the proposal in full. Obviously, from these statements, it is in a very nebulous form as yet, and I suppose no Party has had an opportunity of considering it, and no statement could be made. But, we may be driving nearer to the post-war period than many of us believe; it may be that things are moving faster than some of us think, and we would like to know in how far this question of compulsory training, as it is called here, or compulsory service, is in the post-war programme of the Government.
I would say that, under certain conditions, under certain circumstances and with certain restrictions, we would not be unsympathetic to this question. It depends upon the background and the setting. It depends upon whether it is utilised for purely national defensive purposes or whether it is utilised as an escape, perhaps, from some of the economic commitments or economic duties of the Government. For instance, it could quite easily be visualised that this is to supplement the post-war economic policy of the Government. It might be an attempt to absorb the returning emigrants or the returning demobilised soldiers of the British Army. It is very uncertain as yet as to whether it is a policy  at all. We do not know, and that is why we are raising the question.
On the other hand, it may be very wise forethought on the part of the Government. They may be looking ahead to the post-war years which in actuality may prove to be the pre-next-war years. They may be looking to the period when we will be not taken as we were in the present emergency and when we will have far better defensive services to maintain whatever policy we think best in the next war They may be as far-visioned as that. It is very difficult to say, but it is certain that the world after this war will be a world embattled for war. No one with experience believes in the slightest that there will be a period of disarmament after this war. Whether we believe, or not, that Fascism will be smashed, whatever takes place on the Continent of Europe, everyone knows perfectly well that the roots of Fascism, finance, capital, predatory imperialism, will still remain, and some of us perhaps in this House may have a very invidious choice if there is conflict between some of the members of the now united nations when the victors propose to quarrel over the spoils.
That may be the reason why the Government is already thinking about this matter but, of course, there may be nothing in it and, if there is nothing in it, we should know straight away so that we can estimate it carefully before the whole question assumes importance by some new post-war crisis. I need not dilate upon the question. I just raise it here. There are many aspects of it which might be very well brought to the attention of the House, not only the political aspect of it but the economic aspects of it and, finally, one might even consider the individual aspects of it.
We should be careful, of course, of the terms that are used. The people in this country have not a very kind regard for conscription. We, of the Labour Party, with all other true Irish nationalists, vigorously protested against conscription in the North, conscription of our nationals by an alien power, and we were justified in doing so. But, if it is a matter of universal military training for the defence of this  country and the policy of the country, there is an entirely different aspect of the matter raised.
Now, perhaps, is not the time to go into this but just to raise it and consider that if it is brought up under proper conditions and perhaps without exemptions, it may do a lot of good to the individuals of this nation. Incidentally, it might enable many of the Deputies of this House to speak with experience, perhaps, on the Army Estimates in future. It might permit some of us to wear the uniform of our country for a short period and, judging from his attitude in the Dáil and his form here, a Deputy, say, like Deputy Dillon might make a very good regimental sergeant-major and Deputy Corry might make a very good and disciplined private. In fact, it might do a lot of us good and, therefore, perhaps it might receive more sympathetic consideration by this House than many another proposal.
Mr. Everett Mr. Everett
Mr. Everett: The country will not receive it anyway.
Mr. McGilligan Mr. McGilligan
Mr. McGilligan: The Taoiseach has recently been addressing the people of this country, at one of the student societies, on democracy and his view was that the people of this country had a preference for democratic rule as long as it was explained to them. I would agree with him about the necessity for explaining certain things that are happening under the democratic rule we have at the moment to those who are afflicted by just what is happening. I conceive it to be one of the tenets of democratic government that government policy at points on which it appears bewildering to the people should be explained to them and that anything that disquiets the people, anything which savours of corruption, either inside the Government itself or amongst its adherents, or that might filter out in a corrupt way from the Government to other people, should have the most explicit explanation given of what has happened.
The Taoiseach, in that speech, talked of the abuse made of criticism, and had a reference to the powers that are given him in connection with either sedition or seditious libel. It is notable, of course, that that speech  occurred a little while after the question was canvassed in this House of whether in fact it had been said on one occasion that the fruits of Government policy were, all other things being equal, to flow first to Government supporters. An explanation given here of that cannot be considered a very clarifying one. It is noteworthy, of course, in that connection, that the person who was alleged first, and denied afterwards, to have made that statement did say here or, at least, did record in a letter read here, that if certain people could only get these aspirants for a certain post brought over the level of competence he would see that the best person from the political angle was appointed—and that, of course, stands uncontradicted. The only person who stood up in this House and made any mention of it, did associate with it as a policy and endeavoured to justify it.
I make that as a preamble to two or three points that I consider have disquieted quite a number of people and on which I would ask the Taoiseach to give us certain information. I find that, in connection with certain insurances of local authorities—I quote the Roscommon County Council— letters were sent around to insurance people in this country saying that people tendering for insurances should note that all those accepted must pass through the agency of the county secretary for the time being, Mr. Gillooly, and, in the case of the Workmen's Compensation Act, through Messrs. MacDonagh and Boland, and in the case of all other insurances, through Mr. Maguire, Cross, Claremorris, for brokerage purposes. In other words, somebody was interested that payments in connection with the insurances of one county council must go to a certain named firm, and a certained named individual. Why are MacDonagh and Boland singled out for this peculiar preference? What is the situation with regard to it? Who is responsible for that direction of a county council? Who is responsible, in any event, for the county council having issued that statement in letters they circulated to insurance people? I  take Roscommon as an example. I find also this happened elsewhere.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: In Galway, where a member of the council was a member of the firm to whom the insurance passed.
Mr. McGilligan Mr. McGilligan
Mr. McGilligan: That makes it much worse. Let us take a letter that I have here in my hand. It was issued on the 1st October of this year from the Department of Supplies, and is directed to traders and includes the following:
“The Minister considers that Irish Shipping, Limited, established by the Government for the purpose of importing essential supplies to this country, should be supported by Irish importers in the matter of insurance contracts.”
And it winds up by saying:
“The Minister would be glad if you would advise the Department whether it is your intention to approach Irish Shipping, Limited, in connection with any further insurances you may find it necessary to place on the shipment of goods from abroad.”
Now, in that connection, I should like to know what is the personnel of Irish Shipping, Limited. Who are they? What are their names, and can the Minister give us an assurance that any application of this nature would not be of a political type?
The Minister was asked to-day a number of questions in regard to the Great Southern Railways Company. I was not here at the time, but I understand that the Minister said, in that regard, that dealings in connection with the stock of the Great Southern Railways Company were neither abnormal nor extensive on the information available to him. I understand that he also said that there was no leakage so far as he knew in connection with these transactions. It seems to me, however, that the Minister will go a long way before he will find anybody to agree with him on that. His first defence was that the volume of the transactions had not been very much. That may be so, but I want to find out what was the movement of Great  Southern Railways stocks last year as compared with this year. The Chairman of the Great Southern Railways, or rather, the gentleman who was put in, in a managerial director's capacity, in the Great Southern Railways, made a speech on the 3rd March of this year.
That speech could only be described as painting a very gloomy picture of the position as it then appeared, and I think that the facts, as they have emerged since, have proved that the picture he then painted was correct, and that the situation, as regards the future of the railway company, was very bad indeed. His views were given honestly and conscientiously with a view to showing the parlous position to which the railway company had been reduced. The day after that statement was made, stocks dropped a little. Then they dawdled along through the summer, and then there was a rise, and if there was no leakage, it would appear, at least, that a fair amount of inspiration came in some way to certain people. I am told that there was very little trafficking in railway stocks compared to last year, but can the Minister tell us what did railway stocks go to at the highest point that he spoke of last year? What was the great advantage that would induce people to buy these stocks, in view of the very pessimistic and gloomy statement that had been made by the chairman? Let the Minister compare the price of railway stock at that time with what happened to prices of railway stock, in the meantime. I am speaking of the situation as it existed prior to the making of the statement by the chairman of the company as compared with the situation as it arose between that time and the 25th October, when the announcement was made that the company was to be reorganised. In other words, I am referring to the rise or fall of stocks as between the 5th March of this year, after the chairman made that statement, and the 22nd October of this year, before it was announced that the company was to be reorganised.
I am taking the Stock Exchange quotations as between the 5th March and the 22nd October of this year, before  there was any mention to the public, through the newspapers, that help was to be given to the Great Southern Railways. Debenture stock stood at 55 on 5th March, and on 22nd October it was 71. The guaranteed preference shares, which had been fluctuating between 22½ and 30, on the 2nd March, went to 45½; in October, preference shares had gone up from 12½ to 23 on the 22nd October; and the ordinary shares, which had been fluctuating between 9 and 10, nearly doubled, and went up to 21¼. Now, if that was not leakage, what was it? Will the Minister compare that with what he said happened last year?
Then there was another example. The Minister says that on the 26th October this year, the 4 per cent. Debentures, at 85, recorded an advance of 13 points over Friday's closing. The company's 4 per cent. preference shares went at one time as high as 30, but closed at 27, as opposed to 33; but they were at 27 at one time. This is a matter that can be divided into two periods, and let us take these two periods. First of all, you had that increase in the price of stock before the announcement was made, and then there was the second period when the re-organisation of the company was made known through the newspapers. As far as the second period is concerned, all I can say is that the buyers' criticism of the Government's proposals was that they were too good. What happened in between? Was there any leakage which caused this speculative buying?
It is notorious throughout the city there was another type of speculation of a lucrative kind last year and that was in connection with whiskey shares. The outlook of that gamble depended on whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce would give a permit to allow whiskey stocks to be sold outside this country. If he gave that permit, it would be a great gamble for the speculators and they would make a lot of money, but if he did not give the permit certain people would hurt their fingers. Of course, the Minister did give the permit and, as a result, the speculators did well. What happened  in connection with the Great Southern Railways is that the same Department had proposals in hand for the reorganisation of the railway company— proposals which, when announced through the newspapers, made the public buy even beyond the inflated price to which these stocks had been forced as a result of what I have referred to as a leakage, and it was on the same Department that the speculators depended. The Minister says to-day that there was no leakage. He says that there is a committee dealing with vast schemes for post-war development, and that he is on it and I suppose there will be other things of a lucrative nature to look forward to from the setting up of that committee. Surely, a democracy is entitled to know whether such leakages have taken place or can take place. If we could be informed as to whether such leakages have occurred, I think we could teach these speculators a lesson that they would not easily forget. I am all in favour of doing justice to the people who, in bad times, held on to these railway stocks, and if any advantage is to be derived as a result of the proposed re-organisation scheme, I think it should be confined to those people who had held on to these shares and who had them in or about March of this year. I would make vigorous inquiries before I would allow one penny of this money to be given to the people who have bought these shares in the meantime.
If we do that, I think that a great deal could be done in the matter of cleaning up this matter and avoiding such a thing happening in the future. I do not understand why the Minister cannot make inquiries with a view to cleaning it up, and I think it is necessary to do so. The Minister must know that certain people are priding themselves on having got away with this money. The Taoiseach and the Minister himself must know that it is certainly no matter of pride to this country that such a suspicion should be abroad, whether it be groundless or not. I say that if a cleaning-up of this matter could be accomplished, it  would be a good day's work for the country.
Has the Minister made any inquiry as to who were the purchasers last year and who were the purchasers this year? Can be give us any information in that regard? You can follow up the question of who were the purchasers and sellers in connection with the main transactions that took place since last June; and it should be possible to find out whether the large transactions were mainly made through undisclosed bank nominees. Of course, that is the way this kind of thing is done by people who do not want information to get out as to what they are doing. If it is discovered that the vast bulk, or even a majority, of the purchasers in this case are bank nominees, surely the Government could find out who these purchasers are before we come to a vote on the new proposals?
Apart from that, there is one other thing to which I should like to call attention. I have heard it referred to in this House on many occasions, but I should like to call the attention of the House to it again. Speaking as reported in column 969 of the Official Report of the Debates for the 8th November, 1939, the Minister for Finance, talking about inflation and depression, said: “The Government feels that it has a duty to do everything in its power to avert such a development”—that was an inflationary one. This was then the guarantee he gave to the country from this House: “It is determined to set its face against the efforts of any class to obtain compensation for the rise in prices at the expense of the community.”
Let us have a look at his success or failure in his attempt to prevent any class by increased moneys drawn into it setting off the increased cost arising from the war. I find from the last issue of what is now the Central Bank Bulletin that the total monetary circulation in this country in September of this year was £32,500,000. In July of 1939 it was less than £16,000,000. It has just doubled in the period. How did that doubling come about and who has got the advantage of it? We have here for  September, 1943, in the official journal of the Department of Industry and Commerce the cost of living as at mid-August. The cost of living is up for all items to 284. That is an increase of 111 points since mid-August, 1939. It is an increase of 64 per cent., and it is divided in this way: Food shows an advance of 58 per cent., clothing of 90 per cent., fuel and light of 84 per cent., and sundries of 65 per cent. Clothing is 90 per cent. up. A person with a small income who has a family and who has to devote part of that income to buying clothes has to spend nearly double the amount for that purpose than he had to spend at the start of the war.
There is a standstill Order with regard to wages. I do not know what the present increases with regard to bonus payments and all such matters are, but in March, 1943, the wage increase figure in industry was 115 as opposed to 100 for September, 1939, but the numbers in employment were 85.6 per cent. of the total numbers previously employed. Roughly, the calculation has to be weighted in a variety of ways but these two things, 85 per cent. getting 115, an increase of 15 points, and 100 per cent. on the prewar mark, roughly are equal. As far as wages are concerned, even with this 15 per cent. advance, they have not caused any part of the increase in money in circulation in this country. They are not responsible; wage-earners are not getting, as a group, any part of that £16,000,000 increase in the money now in circulation in this country.
Everybody knows that the middle-class people have been very badly hit. They have got no relief; they are persecuted by increased and increasing prices. Those of them upon whom income-tax is leviable are persecuted by an increased rate of income-tax. It is well known to anybody who inquires into the circumstances that some of them are selling off any investments they have or are dipping into any savings they may have made in former years. A great many of them are even in a worse situation. They have fallen into the hands of moneylenders and they have had recourse to moneylenders, even though quite a number  of them have readjusted the programme of education they intended for their children and are sending them now to cheaper schools than those which they had, in their ambitious way, plotted for them. One might be able to bear that with equanimity if the scales were balanced equally and if the Minister had carried out his promise that he “would set his face against the efforts of any class to obtain compensation for the rise in prices at the expense of the community.”
The Minister for Industry and Commerce was recently at a meeting. He, apparently, has not heard of what his colleague, the Minister for Finance, said in this House in May, 1941. The Minister, introducing his Budget in that year, as reported in column 34 of the Official Debates of that date, said:
“The accounts now available (that is, through the Revenue Commissioners) indicate that a considerable number of business concerns have been making substantially increased profits since the outbreak of the war and that these concerns are mainly in the hands of limited companies.”
Later, at column 37, the Minister said:
“As I have already stated, my information goes to show that the businesses which have been making substantial excess profits are mainly in the hands of limited companies.”
Understand what he means by “substantial excess profits”. In part of the report that is intermediate to these two quotations, he went out of his way to say that everybody who made profits was not a profiteer. He pointed out that a man might have increased his turnover and while he charged the ordinary rate of profit on his prices, his profit on his gross trade would automatically be increased. He put these people on one side and said that the people who were making substantial excess profits since the outbreak of war were mainly limited companies. He proposed to tax these companies so as to take a substantial proportion of their excess profits. A fortnight later he came into the House and reversed that decision. What did that mean? According to his own statement,  it meant that he was remitting £750,000 in taxation. He gave that back to these companies, although it is on record that they were making substantially increased profits. He gave it back to people who were what he called “excess profiteers”.
Notwithstanding that, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Supplies goes to Trinity College in the month of October and tells us, according to the headlines in the newspapers, that “capitalism is dead”. As I read the report, however, he did not say that. What he said was: “It is as dead as ever it would be”, and there is a vast difference between the two statements. I have read that the biggest funerals that have ever been seen in America were those accorded to certain great gangsters. They did themselves handsomely even in their death. They had entourages that were never seen at the funerals of even prominent business people. The Minister tells us that capitalism is as dead as ever it would be, but the issue of the paper of the 29th October, carrying the report of his speech also records the meeting of a company dealing in what would be regarded as an essential commodity. The chairman of the company, addressing his board of directors, said that they “Had duties towards everybody, the nation, their traders, their customers and the whole community.” Having said that he went on: “Of course, our prices have had to be increased.” Then he said: “All our prices are subject to the scrutiny of the Prices Branch of the Department of Supplies, and that scrutiny is both detailed and exact.” It used to be said in old Roman times that one Augur never met another Augur without winking. I think it might now be said of our times that one trader never tells another trader that the scrutiny of the Prices Branch of the Department of Supplies is both detailed and exact, without winking. What did this man go on to reveal? That their profits were the highest they had ever had. Now, £16,000 is a small amount for this country, but it is joined with a considerable increase on last year's figure. What is the increase?  For two years previously, they declared a dividend of 4 per cent. This year they declared a dividend of 7 per cent., and they carried enough to unspecified reserve to give another 4½ per cent., if they had wished to declare it and make the dividend available at this period. They could have declared a dividend of 11½ per cent., instead of the 4 per cent. which they gave their shareholders last year, and the 4 per cent. they gave the year before. That, as I say, happened to be listed in the same issue of the paper as carried the Minister's pronouncement that capitalism was dead.
I was interested, by seeing that contrast, to run through a number of other reports of company meetings. I found one that it is difficult to understand. I am wondering if it really has reference to an English company instead of an Irish one. On the 5th of this month, there is a report of a gas company meeting, which disclosed an increase of 400 per cent. in its profits. The profits are supposed to be under regulation by the Department at the moment, the prices charged by gas companies are statutory charges and subject to detailed scrutiny when they are made. Yet these prices enabled this company to increase its profits by 400 per cent. I have the case of another company of which the report of its meeting in June of this year contains a lively statement by the chairman that the profits there were the highest ever earned by the company. I have the case of another company, which could hardly be classed as manufacturing an essential commodity but certainly dealing in an essential commodity and certainly coming under the scrutiny of the Minister. They contented themselves with declaring a dividend of 12½ per cent.; but, whereas last year they carried nothing to reserve, this year they carried enough to reserve to have enabled them to declare an extra 6 per cent., if they wished to do so. They could have gone to 18 per cent. instead of 12 per cent., but they contented themselves with 12 per cent.
I have another concern—a tailoring concern. The profits last year were £10,000 odd; this year they are £16,000. The best example of the lot  is a company trading in fuel and declaring a half-yearly dividend of 16 per cent., making 21 per cent. for the full year, as against 13 per cent. last year. That is a lively corpse the Minister is dealing with. That is 21 per cent. from a firm dealing in fuel; and yet this House often considers why turf is sold in this city at such high prices. I could run through numerous cases of this sort. There is one company which was able to pay off the arrears of dividends this year. They were arrears which had accumulated up to this year, and they cleared them off under the careful scrutiny of the Minister. Another one here paid 10 per cent., and another paid a lowly 8 per cent.
Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
Mr. Dillon: Do not forget the company with the £216,000 net profit.
Mr. McGilligan Mr. McGilligan
Mr. McGilligan: That is a question we will inquire into on another occasion, to see how much of the profit is represented by the tax ground out of the people to pay the subsidy on bread. We will find out how much of it goes across the water, not to Ranks (Ireland) Ltd., but to Ranks the individualists, who after capitalising the concern at more than they had paid for it, sold less than half of it and recouped themselves the amount of the capital, and are now pocketing in dividends a certain amount of the bread subsidy that we pay year after year. Last year, or possibly a little earlier, the banks were in such a parlous condition that, in order to keep alive, they had to increase the charges made to customers for accommodating them.
Mr. Flanagan Mr. Flanagan
Mr. Flanagan: The Minister is controlled by the banks and he had to do it.
Dr. O'Higgins Dr. O'Higgins
Dr. O'Higgins: They control the lot of us.
Mr. McGilligan Mr. McGilligan
Mr. McGilligan: Last year, two of them paid 11 per cent., while another paid 12½ per cent. Those are not bad percentages for concerns so badly off that they had to grovel to the Minister for an extra allowance for dealing with their customers. It is the inequality of these things that hurts. There is a standstill Order, under which the worker cannot have his wages increased  unless he goes before a tribunal and, on their report, the Minister in his benevolence may grant a particular increase which is limited to a certain amount. When it was all totted, in the early part of this year, it represented a 15 point advance, if we take the 1939 figure as 100. We know that the cost of living has gone up 111 points. We know that middle-class people have not got the 15 points increase. From that, I think we are entitled to say that, if the Minister said he would see that no class of the community would make good at the expense of other persons, he has not been successful in his efforts.
I have some hesitation in entering upon another part of this matter. Anybody who speaks about money or banking in this community almost definitely puts himself forward to be dubbed a crank, or at the best a theorist, but “theorist” is spoken with such an inflection of tone to mean that he is worse than a crank. Like everybody else, I have to admit that this is an extremely difficult subject to deal with. There are certain things, in any event, which we are entitled to inquire about and find out whether the Government has any answer. I have said before that the money in circulation in this country has risen from something short of £16,000,000, at the start of the war, to nearly £32,000,000 now. How did that come about? I say this not for the sake of creating mischief and I hope I will not be accused of trying to demean this country. If what I say is demeaning to this country, it is the fault of those who have established certain circumstances. I am speaking of what I have recognised objectively.
People on that side of the House will tell you it is wrong to have a managed system of currency. They forget that we have a managed system at this moment. The trouble is that the people who manage it are not the people here, but the people on the other side of the water. There is a managed currency; the process of inflation is going on; and we do not want to stop it, apparently. I do not know what the difficulties are about it. It should not be so difficult  to take steps to stop a certain inflow of money into this country.
There may be a repercussion of a dangerous type arising from that, but the country never has got any explanation of it. There is £16,000,000 more in circulation than there was. The old dribble of emigrants' remittances used to be £300,000 and there has been an increase of, let us say, £6,000,000. If anybody in this House proposed four years ago, at the start of the war, that we should print £6,000,000 in notes and circulate them, there would have been a fierce hullabaloo.
We would have all the bogey of inflation displayed to us—what happened in Germany in the bad inflation period. The worker would be told that his little savings would disappear and that the money he had paid in would be gone or worth only half or a fraction of what it had been worth previously. Amongst those who had money savings in banks, such a panic would be created that, if they could, they would take out any money they had on deposit in banks and transfer it out of this country.
That would have happened, if someone had made a proposal four years ago that we should print the £6,000,000 and circulate it. What is the difference between that and allowing in £6,000,000 that has not been worked for here, and for which no goods have been produced in this country to equalise the new money in circulation. I am talking entirely from the point of view of inflation. I suggest that there is no difference between allowing in £6,000,000 of currency completely in the management of people on the other side, and printing £6,000,000 here and circulating it. If, from the point of view of inflation, there is any difference, I would like to know what it is.
Suppose that, instead of printing £6,000,000 and distributing it, we did something else. In this, I confess that I am fumbling my way but I understand the theory regarding inflation to be based upon this principle: when you increase the money in circulation in a country without increasing the  consumption-goods in that country, you are likely to cause inflation. Suppose we used that sum of £6,000,000 to increase consumption-goods in this country and only succeeded in securing an increase of £3,000,000, then it could be said that we had inflated to the extent of £3,000,000. But we would at least have produced goods to the value of £3,000,000, the workers would have obtained wages in their production and there would have been a new demand. Suppose we went to the complete height and succeeded in producing £6,000,000 worth of consumption goods, there would be no inflation whatever. Instead of doing that, we let our people go to the other side of the channel. There they make goods which we do not get. But we get £6,000,000 in one year— £16,000,000 in four years—of new money in circulation.
Nobody will say that more than a fraction of that £16,000,000 has brought about an increase in goods here. Some fraction has, of course, gone to the farmers, who are getting better prices for their produce than they were obtaining in 1939. But they are paying high prices for what they have to buy for the farm. If some of them have small bank balances at the moment, we know well that their capital equipment, their land, has deteriorated over the past four years. I doubt if any increased money in the hands of farmers will recoup them for the loss they have suffered by deterioration of the land of the country during the past four years. In any event, we have this £16,000,000 of increased money freely circulating and we are so afraid of the bogey of inflation that we allow inflation to that extent to occur.
I take up a very sober English journal, The Economist, and I refer to an article entitled “The Future of Banking” in its centenary number of September 4, 1943. It is too long an article to go through in detail here, but they do, in a series of arguments that, I think, will commend themselves to most people who read them, come to this conclusion: that the textbook definition of a bank is now badly out of date. “A bank”, they say, “used  to be an institution which collected savings by offering to pay interest on them and used them to make loans to industry and trade.” “A bank nowadays,” they say, “is an institution which holds the credit-money of the community, created by Treasury financing, and uses it to finance the Government deficit.” This year we have arrived at the conclusion that something nearer to white bread is to be given to the community. Four years ago, we went in for a very high percentage extraction of flour. Later, we went in for the full 100 per cent. extraction. After a few years, we discovered that it was not good for the human interior to have a lot of offals —animal food and roughage—thrust into it. The community rebelled and the Minister confessed, over the radio, that he could not stop the sieving of flour. He made that one of his excuses for going back on the present position. Alongside us, we had the English example. If the Minister had ever seen bread coming into the North for American troops, he would have known that both America and England had decided that complete extraction was not a good thing and that, even with a high percentage extraction, the loaf required certain rectifiers if the human frame was to stand up to it. But we had to go along in our own way, shutting our eyes to what these people were doing and allowing rickets and intestinal trouble to increase. After four years, we go back on our attitude and are to get something more nearly approaching white bread than the bread we have. Are we going to allow four years to pass without noticing the developments which have taken place in money matters and the handling of public finance and then come along, when irreparable damage is done, and new schemes are undertaken under old conditions, and try to readjust a position which could be dealt with now by a process of thought, if thought were applied to the matter.
This article on banking comes to the conclusion that cheap money is an essential part of any full employment policy and that the rate charged by the banks for advances is one of the basic elements in the whole interest-rate structure. They analyse the workings  of the banks and the changes which have taken place and they say that, for the future, the function of the bank is mainly going to be as to one-fourth of its moneys a matter of dealing with private investors and, as to three-fourths, a matter of financing Government schemes with credit created by the Government. They ask that the whole system and the whole structure of price-charging by the banks should be inquired into because they believe that it might be found that the depositor should be charged for the service the bank is giving him —that he should pay the full cost of the service the bank gives to him— and that, where public money is being used to finance public schemes, it should bear only the mere cost of operating the banking machinery after the depositor, whom the bank serves, has paid his fair share. They believe that the net cost, in that event, might well turn out to be nil, or even negative.
We are to have “vast schemes of post-war development,” according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He was the wrong man to say that. He always talks of “vast schemes.” Deputies remember his pigeon-hole speech. We may be told that these vast schemes are prepared and pigeon-holed and, when we come to examine them, we may find that it is again a case of the supplies before the war. We are to have “vast schemes.” Under what circumstances are these vast schemes to be undertaken? The Minister for Agriculture has told us that exports of dairy products, and pig and pig products may be things of the past when we come to the post-war period. The Minister for Local Government has said that the cattle trade may virtually disappear. The Minister for Industry and Commerce told us that we could not look for priorities with regard to raw materials for years after the war. We are to have no cattle trade, the pig is to be merely a matter for home consumption, dairy products are not to figure as exports. Yet, we shall have to export something when the day comes to take our place in the queue to get some of the raw materials which industry requires.
 Into that gloomy picture the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in optimistic vein, projects “vast schemes of post-war development” covering every human need. We are told that new money to the amount of about £6,000,000 will be required for the railways. To carry what? If we have no raw materials for industry, if cattle exports, pig and pig products and dairy products are to disappear, why this sum for new railway development? We are to have children's allowances. We have yet to hear the cost of that scheme. I suppose it will be a matter of some millions. We are to have a scheme of electrical development. What it is to cost, we do not know. These, with other vast plans, are projected. How are they to be financed? Are we to go along in the same old way, asking people to lend money from alternative investments and pay them 5 per cent. or 2 per cent. or any other percentage, or are we to adopt the attitude the modern community has adopted—that credit is the credit of the community and that such a public service ought not to be at the disposition of private concerns and, certainly, not at the disposition of private concerns which are allowed to make 12 per cent. while the community goes to rack and ruin. If one saw a derelict farm with the outbuildings in disrepair and were told that the owner of that farm had a vast amount of money in the bank and would not use it on the farm, would not one laugh at him for a fool. Why should we not have that laugh at the folly of the Government which acts similarly to the nation?
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: I move to report progress.
Progress reported. Committee to sit again to-morrow.
Dáil Éireann 91 Committee on Finance. Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).