Seanad Éireann - Volume 25 - 28 May, 1941
Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order—Motion to Annul (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order, 1941, Tabled on 14th May, 1941, be and is hereby annulled.— (Senators T. Foran, E. Lynch and S. P. Campbell.)
Sir John Keane Sir John Keane
Sir John Keane: I propose to be brief in my remarks. I intend to support the motion largely on the broad principle that legislation of this kind is quite unsuitable for order. It is far too complicated. I very much doubt if all the interests concerned in this order have been consulted. I do not consider that, without that consultation, the Government has the necessary knowledge of commerce to make an order merely on the information available from official sources. Other speakers, notably Senator Douglas, who has an intimate knowledge of commercial affairs, have dealt with some outstanding objections. One I may mention is: does the limitation of income-tax apply to the cases of pensions where the employer is under obligation to pay income-tax? Reading the order, I can see no mention of pensions whatever. Although there may be no mention of them, pensions are indirectly affected in some cases by the limitation of income-tax to be paid. Then, again, I very much doubt that the Government is wise in placing a figure on the maximum dividend that can be earned on enterprises of any kind. I quite agree that on a well-assured, non-speculative enterprise, 6 per cent. over a period of years, after adequate reserves have been made, is sufficient, but you will never get any fresh capital into an enterprise of a speculative kind, based on a limitation of 6 per cent.  for the year, because I understand by the order that the 6 per cent. is not to be cumulative. If people are expected to invest capital in a new enterprise, to go perhaps for three years during its development without dividend, and at the end of three years are only to get 6 per cent., it will simply not work in practice. People will not invest capital in that kind of enterprise.
These are only a few of the outstanding objections that occur to me. Then again I do not think it would be possible in the case of the lower rates of wages, such as Senator Lynch mentioned yesterday, to maintain a refusal to increase these wages in face of an increased cost of living which might be due to causes utterly unconnected with labour. As we know, the costs of freights and insurance have risen rapidly and these are all responsible for an increase in the cost of living. I do not think that you can maintain a refusal to increase wages having regard to these increases in the cost of living. The objection might be justified to some extent if you say that it will apply only to wages in excess of £3 10s. 0d. per week, but below that figure I feel, although I am not generally sympathetic to the demands of workers in sheltered occupations, that we have to recognise essential justice in these matters.
I would be prepared to vote against the motion if the Government gave a specific undertaking that within, say, a month, they would bring in legislation to supersede this order. With legislation introduced the whole of this matter could be thrashed out by ordinary Parliamentary procedure. Any member who objects to anything in that legislation could raise it in the ordinary way. The making of this order is an utterly unsound method of legislation for a complicated question of this kind. I cannot say that there has been adequate force in the Minister's argument that legislation would not be suitable for an emergency of this kind. You can always bring in legislation on the basis that it can be suspended by order. There would be no objection to that but there is very serious objection to trying to deal with  a subject of this kind by a cut and dried, hard and fast, formula and without adequate consultation with the various interests involved.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: Having listened to many erudite and eloquent addresses on this order, ranging from Senator Lynch's description of the condition of labourers under Edward III to the new socialist order envisaged by Senator O Buachalla, I do not intend to inflict a long speech on the House. However, in view of some of the remarks made yesterday I submit that it is not inopportune that the view of that section of the workers I represent should be known to this House. In that connection I would be putting it mildly indeed when I say that the publication of this Emergency Order No. 83, prohibiting an increase in the pay in certain specified classes of workers came as a profound shock, and caused feelings of deep resentment throughout the country amongst those who will be brought within the restrictive ambit of that order. Nothing this Government has done so far has done so much to cause anger and resentment in the ranks of the organised trades union movement as this most undemocratic and dangerous decree. I feel constrained to make this statement in view of what has been said by Senator O Buachalla, when he said firstly, that the mass of the Irish people, workers and employers alike, did not feel that any injustice had been done to them by this order. Secondly, he said that if the workers were left to themselves they would not feel any injustice had been done to them.
I do not know what justification the Senator has for that statement, but I do know that we who represent the ordinary workers in this House—I refer mainly to industrial workers—that the 200,000 of these 300,000 who will be affected are affiliated to the Trades Union Congress and we are authorised to speak on their behalf. We were instructed on this matter by a special conference. The conference was called to deal with the Trades Union Bill, but the delegates were so enraged—the whole body of workers organised in the trades union movement were so  angered with this order—that the Bill took second place when the conference came to consider this order. We were authorised by these people whom we represent to protest in the strongest manner we can against the provisions of this order so arbitrarily imposed on them without any prior notice, or any consultation with those it condemns, or seeks to condemn, to a steadily decreasing standard of living. It achieves this by restricting the purchasing power of the workers while the prices of commodities are left virtually uncontrolled and permitted to rocket sky high without any attempt being made to arrest them. The Government, in my opinion, must accept the major responsibility for that situation. It has made it necessary indeed for certain workers to take the only step open to them and seek financial help from the only source where they can get it, and that is their employers, to help them to bridge the widening gap between wages and the ever-increasing prices for the merest necessities to maintain even a frugal standard of living as understood by great Christian teachers. The prices of foods and commodities required by workers have now soared to such a height that they have gone beyond the reach of even the best paid workers or those who have been referred to here as sheltered workers.
Senator Tierney gave us some examples of what he had observed in regard to prices of commodities and mentioned that turf was sold at 1d. per sod. One can appreciate the difficulties of those condemned to purchase fuel in small quantities, particularly room dwellers and slum dwellers, who cannot purchase it in any other way and who have to rely on it for cooking and heating. Unless they are prepared to pay that exorbitant price they are left without fuel for cooking purposes. The House has been considering this question on a higher level than myself or my colleagues on these benches, but I submit we ought to consider the appalling conditions under which even the sheltered workers are compelled to exist at the present time. One only needs to walk around the streets of this city to realise how the cost of living has sky-rocketed during  the last 12 or 18 months. Yesterday I saw apples in a shop at 8d. each and leeks at 7d. each. Some people may say that workers have no right to eat apples or leeks at that price, but the fact that the price of these commodities is so high puts them absolutely out of the reach of workers here. There might be some little justification for these prices if the agricultural community got any benefit from these high figures, but such is not the case. These increases in prices and the exorbitant profits do not go to the agricultural community but are raked off by middlemen and distributors. My trades union activities do not bring me into contact with the general body of workers referred to here as craft unions, or sheltered trades, but I do know from my own industry, which is a comparatively well-paid industry, that conditions are difficult.
I know that the conditions under which many of the workers in the one industry with which I am associated are trying to exist at the present time are very difficult. Some of these men have undertaken obligations such as the purchase of houses that they are now unable to fulfil. This week two of these men who purchased houses under utility schemes had to give them up. These men are in well-paid employment, but cannot meet the instalments with the other heavy demands made on them, with the result that they cannot continue to enjoy the luxury of living in these houses and must perforce get other and cheaper accommodation. The men I refer to are not men one would regard as extravagant. They are Pioneers and non-smokers, but they found it difficult to continue paying the weekly purchase rents on their houses. The same thing applies to what you might call the better-class workers, who are sending their sons to the Christian Brothers' schools and other secondary schools in order to provide them with a decent education. They are finding it difficult to continue to send them there for the reason that they cannot pay the high prices exacted for the books necessary to continue their education in these schools.
Senators who are in contact with  workers must be aware of these facts. I do not suggest that they ignore them but they must be aware of them to some extent. I mention them to prove the difficult conditions under which lowly-paid workers are obliged to carry on. Had the Government taken the precaution of pegging prices as well as wages when the present conflict began, we would not find ourselves in the position in which we are to-day. But, no, even in the early days of the war, the Minister for Finance, in his speech on the Supplementary Budget, indicated that the big stick would be reserved for that section of the community least able to stand the attack, and permitted the profiteers to start out on their rake's progress until, as we find to-day, we are forbidden by Emergency Order 83 to exercise our rights—rights won after years of struggle and organisation—to negotiate our wages and conditions with the organisations of employers on behalf of those workers organised in the trade union movement. The least the Government might have done, before issuing this Order, was to have taken steps to bring down the cost of living even to something approximating to the level of the increases obtained by workers since the beginning of the war.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking in the Dáil a few weeks ago in defence of the order, referred to the wage increases obtained by certain workers amounting, he said, in some industries to 9/-, 12/-, or 13/- a week. Senator Lynch referred to these increases in his speech yesterday and I do not want to elaborate that aspect of the question. I do not say that the Minister, when quoting these figures, deliberately tried to be misleading but I do think he gave the impression that the demand for increased wages to meet the ever-rising cost of living had developed into something in the nature of a ramp and that tens of thousands of workers were participating in these increases. What are the facts? I am credibly informed by those who negotiated these increases that the number who received them is almost negligible, and that, in one industry mentioned by the Minister, the  employees did succeed in reaching an increase of 12/- by the end of last year. But an increase, let it be noted, on a sliding scale based upon the Minister's own Department's cost-of-living index figure; the number included in this category was no more than 250; it was not a food-producing industry and, furthermore, the selling price of the commodity was more affected by an arrangement made with the Government than it was by the wage increase itself. Similarly, in the case of those to whom the Minister referred as having received an increase of 9/6 per week, the total number of people involved did not exceed 500. No amount of specious argument will dispose of the fact that, since the outbreak of the war, the cost of living has increased by 26 or 27 per cent. and that, where such increases have been given to meet that still-rising cost, the increases have not, in the overwhelming number of cases, been more than 6 per cent. or 7 per cent., and that, in fact, thousands of workers have not received even a penny to meet these increases.
The plight of what are called the better-paid workers is, in all conscience, bad enough, but the terrible prospect facing the more lowly paid class may be more easily imagined than described. They form the biggest number and are the worst paid section of the whole working community. The operation of this order, if it is persisted in, will, indeed, be a veritable deathblow to their hopes of doing anything to bridge the wide gap between their appallingly-low and inadequate purchasing power and ever-soaring prices.
The imposition of this order, in my opinion, constitutes a grave abuse of the powers conferred on the Government by the Oireachtas when it passed the Emergency Powers Act in September, 1939. That Act was passed so that the Executive might be armed with the necessary powers for the defence of the State and for the maintenance of its neutrality. It was, I submit, intended for that purpose, and for that purpose alone, and none of us who gave his support to that measure ever envisaged its being invoked and used as an instrument to interfere with the legitimate right of trade unions to  negotiate and to determine the wages and conditions of their members. We are fortified in that belief by reason of the fact that, when the Bill was being considered in the Dáil, Deputy Norton asked for an assurance that there would be no use of its powers to prohibit a withdrawal of labour if employees believed such a course to be necessary. Mr. Lemass replied: “We are not proposing to do that.” “Under any circumstances?” inquired Deputy Norton, to which the Minister answered: “The Government will not have power to do that. The compelling of any worker to work against his will is conscripting him.” Again, in Section 2, sub-section (5) of the Act, it is specifically laid down, among other things, that nothing in this section shall authorise the imposition of any form of industrial conscription. That proviso, so far as I can remember, was inserted as a result of the discussion to which I have referred, and it was inserted for the purpose of ensuring that the Act could not be used to impose conscription, or be used for the purpose of abrogating ordinary labour conditions or rights.
The rights guaranteed to us in that Act have, in my opinion, very definitely been abrogated by the imposition of this order. The rights of the people, attained after so long and such bitter struggles, have been swept away by a stroke of the pen, and the safeguards for the workers embodied in the Trade Disputes Act, in the Conditions of Employment Act, the Apprenticeship Act and in the Trade Board Acts are now suspended. In other words, the issuing of this order has had the effect of repealing certain beneficial laws and wiping off the Statute Book much of the ameliorative legislation passed by the people's representatives. Whatever reasons the Government might have advanced for stabilising the wages of what are called the better-paid workers, there is not a shred of justification for their action in doing so, in respect of the poorly-paid workers, who, unfortunately, constitute the big majority of those affected by the order, and who will be the hardest hit by its operation.
In this connection, it is interesting to recall that the Minister for Industry  and Commerce, in his defence of the imposition of the order in the Dáil, posed himself this question: “In a world where, for the poorest elements particularly, conditions were worsening, should not the worker in secure employment be content to undergo some self-denial for the common good?” Of course, the workers generally in secure employment are content to undergo some self-denial for the common good—most of them have been doing so since the war began—but does the Minister for Industry and Commerce imagine that that can be effectively done by stabilising the wretchedly low wages of those for whom he claims—and rightly claims—that conditions are worsening? There might be some case for the order if wages had been pegged at a level that would ensure a decent standard of living, and if steps had been taken to curb the profiteers. But, no, we have not even the promise that that will be done, and the sole object and purpose of this order is, in the opinion of those we represent, to keep wages down without even the pretence of stabilising purchasing power.
In my opinion, the stabilisation of very low wages is a grave act of social injustice. In the totalitarian countries, I am informed, they do not stabilise the highest wages. They bring the lowest up to a certain level, and simultaneously they stabilise prices as part of the order.
This order makes no such provision, and the situation confronting 300,000 people whom it will affect may bring about serious repercussions. If the Government is wise in time they will alter what is apparently their policy in this respect, namely, to stabilise wages but not to stabilise prices.
If prices are permitted to go on rising unchecked a very serious situation, I am afraid, will develop. The people will not stand for this denial of their right to seek the only method available to them, to bridge the ever-widening gap between purchasing-power and prices, and as time goes on and as the stress of living becomes more aggravated we may eventually be confronted with a very grave and  menacing problem. In that connection, it is only necessary for people to read the papers to see the way workers are organising themselves at the present time. A very definite effort is being made by people outside the organised trade union movement to mass together in resistance of one kind or another to the imposition of this order. The situation may pass, out of our hands and, if it does, the responsibility will rest on the Government. We cannot do anything to prevent these people going ahead with their propaganda and organising at the present time.
I am one of those trade union representatives who utterly and absolutely abjures the doctrine of class warfare, and all that adherence to that pernicious doctrine connotes. I would go to any reasonable length to frustrate strikes and lock-outs, but I have no hesitation in saying that this order, imposed under the pretext of the national emergency, has done more to shake my faith in peaceful methods of negotiation to determine the wages and conditions of service of the organised workers, than anything that has hitherto occurred in this State. I do not know what the position will be during the coming winter. The Minister cannot be deaf or blind to what is happening all around him. Thousands of people in this city are not able to pay the rents of their houses. Other interests are organising these people to prevent them from paying any rents and I am afraid that that doctrine will be poured into the ears of people who may be able to pay their rents but who, as a result of the agitation, will refrain from doing so. One cannot blame them if the remuneration which they receive is not sufficient to provide for food, fuel and clothing. One cannot condemn them overmuch for their attitude in this respect.
I never have been a hostile critic of the present Administration; indeed, I do not think I have been even an unfriendly one, but I do gravely fear that this order, taken in conjunction with the Trade Union Bill now before the Dáil, will have the effect of causing grave and growing discontent, if not something worse, in the ranks of all  those affected by it. I hope my fears may prove unfounded; but, whether they turn out to be real or imaginary, I think I can guarantee that the trade union movement is not likely to yield up its hardly-won rights and privileges without a struggle, and I do hope, if there still is any intention in the mind of the Minister to proceed with the order, that he will, even at the eleventh hour, be wise enough to abandon it or present it in a new form.
The Minister made a cardinal error when he imposed this order without any consultation with the representatives of the employers' organisations or the representatives of the trades unions. It is in direct contradiction to the attitude he has adopted recently when, on another matter vitally concerning the workers—I refer to the question of rotational work—he invited the Federation of Employers to meet him in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress representatives. Had he done that in this case, he might have avoided this discussion and all the discontent and resentment aroused throughout the country. In so far as this order itself is concerned, I do not think there is any real justification for the proposals it contains. It has been imposed without any consultation with the representatives of those whom it so vitally affects; it is distasteful to the whole body of organised trade unionists; and, in no democratic State, belligerent or otherwise, has an order of such serious and drastic import been put into operation without prior consultation. In that respect, the Minister has made a profound mistake.
Emphasis has been put on the point that groups of workers sufficiently well organised to secure compensation for rising prices have been availing of their sheltered position to help themselves at the expense of less advantageously placed sections of the community. If that statement were examined, I do not think it could very well be sustained. I happen to be a representative of probably the best organised union—though I say it myself—in this or any other country. I refer to the Dublin printing industry and particularly to my own union. Nine or ten years ago we anticipated  this war and we set out on a campaign to build up a big fund to meet such an emergency as has now arisen. We are well organised—sheltered, if you will— in the newspaper and printing industry generally; but we did not exploit the situation to secure any abnormal increases for ourselves. Some months after the outbreak of the war we secured an increase of 5/-, covering all workers in the newspaper and jobbing sections of the printing industry. Our members, however, realising the situation created by the war and the consequent unemployment, immediately, of their own volition, suggested that they pay that 5/- into a fund to sustain their unemployed members. That money was paid into a fund for the past two years, plus their ordinary subscriptions. That is a tax on them of 10/- per week out of wages of £4 14s. 0d. When the war started we had amassed a fund of £50,000 ourselves in a union of 1,100 members.
Immediately war broke out we were confronted with an unemployment situation. I am merely stating this as an example. I do not want to be in any way inflated about it. We had from 160 to 200 people unemployed every week since the war began. Senator Sir John Keane suggested that he would fix the living wage necessary to maintain a family at £3 10s. 0d. a week. It is interesting to note that as a result of our efforts we were able to pay our unemployed men £3 10s. 0d. per week. They get £2 10s. from the union, and of course they get £1 a week from the State unemployment insurance which we administer by arrangement with the Department. I only mention that to disprove the statement made by Senator Hayes yesterday that the trade union leaders did not care a hang—or something to that effect—about the unemployed. I want to refute that statement. It may be said that my exception may only prove the rule, but I know that there are other unions, particularly the craft unions, who have made tremendous sacrifices to maintain their unemployed during this period of stringency. I do not like statements of the nature of Senator Hayes' statement. I am sure he did not make it with any malice,  probably as the result of his own observation, but I am giving a very definite and concrete example of what the workers are doing to help themselves. I think it is a very good example. Furthermore, the people who are out of work pay no subscription. They are entitled to all benefits just as if they were working. The result is that a man who is constantly in employment and a man who is constantly out of work are on practically the same level so far as wages are concerned. There is a difference of only 5/- or 6/- a week in both these grades. I think that is an example of what we are doing to help ourselves and a denial of the statement that people in sheltered occupations are trying to cash in on the present emergency.
While I am on this point I should like to say—and I think it is only fair to the employers to say—they are contributing to that too. I refer particularly to the newspaper industry in Dublin. There is in operation there a system of rotational work. There, let me say, we are in advance of the Minister again. We have made provision in that respect. These people are more highy paid than the workers in the jobbing industry.
If they are out of work for a week they go on rotational work in different offices. The employers subsidise each worker to the extent of £1 per week, in addition to the money he receives from his own union, and in addition to the provision the workers make for themselves inside their own workshops. Their wages average about £6 a week, and the man out of work is receiving just as much as the man at work. I think it is only fair to say that.
While I am referring to the newspaper industry, which is a sheltered industry, too, I suppose, I am afraid the shelters are being very rapidly blown off the printing industry. Everyone knows that the paper situation in that industry is becoming very parlous, and that in 12 months, or probably less, according to the size of the papers decided on, there will be no paper left and no newspapers. If that was not sufficient, the Government availed of  the recent Budget to put another tax on the newspapers, another tax which the Minister may have to remove next year and try to tax something else, because the tax on newspapers may not be collectable. A serious impost is inflicted on the provincial newspapers now by the fact that they must increase their price to 2½d. per paper, a sum that, I suppose, an agricultural labourer or even a farmer would look at twice before parting with it for a weekly paper. At the same time, papers from across the Border are permitted in here at a lower price than the price at which papers produced in the State can be sold. As I said, the newspaper industry, that has done so much, not only to help its workers but to help the whole State in this time of emergency, has received very shabby treatment at the hands of the State.
Rightly or wrongly, the workers at the present time feel that this order is not unrelated to the Trade Union Bill that was introduced recently in the Dáil. I have attended about 12 or 14 meetings and conferences, starting with the special Trade Union Congress. I have attended special meetings of certain organisations of unions in this country and of individual unions. I attended these meetings in connection with the Trade Union Bill, but at these meetings no one wanted to discuss anything but the Emergency Powers Order No. 83. I feel that if this order is imposed it will seriously jeopardise the whole position in respect of the measure to which I have referred. It is felt, rightly or wrongly, that this order, in conjunction with the Trade Union Bill, is a very definite attempt to lower, not for the period of the emergency, but for all time, the standard of living of the organised workers. I do not know to what extent that may be true, but that is the impression and the opinion held, I think, by the vast majority of workers organised in the trade unions. The trade union movement itself feels that this draconian order is a declaration of war, not only on the 300,000 who are going to be so severely hit by it, by the consequential lowering of their whole standard of living, and by denying to them and their representatives the  right to bridge, by peaceful and lawful methods of negotiation, the ever-widening gap between purchasing power and rising prices; but, taking it in conjunction with the Trade Union Bill, they have a very real fear that it is a deliberate attempt on the part of the State to reduce the whole trade union movement to a condition of impotency and futility.
That is the position as I observe it and I have very minutely observed it during the past three or four weeks. If the Minister would do anything to dispel that apprehension and to reassure the workers that such is not the intention, I think it would be very welcome. In so far as I can judge, they regard it as a serious affront to them and an unwarranted interference with their right to negotiate and determine their wages and conditions of service. The method of its introduction was, I submit, arbitrary and the application of the proposals it contains has caused much concern. I do think that, even at this late hour, the Minister should withdraw this order, in the interests of peace in industry, in the interests of the community as a whole, in the interests of the country in this time of grave emergency, in which the whole working-class movement—if I may call it so—has rallied behind the Government in its desire not only to defend the State but also to help in the maintenance of its neutrality. I think they have received shabby treatment. There is no use in the Minister or any other person in this House comparing the condition of, say, railway workers with £2 5s. or £2 2s. 6d. a week with people placed in more advantageous positions. These workers, as I said already, have to lower their whole standard of life, have to go into cheaper houses, and to withdraw their children from schools while those who are in a better position can continue much the same life as they had been living. We will not find many people who are affected by dividends having to withdraw their children from Trinity College or the National University. Their standard of education will be the same as heretofore but the standard of education for people less favourably placed will be changed through stress of circumstances.
 We have done everything possible to support the Government in this emergency. Speaking for myself, having regard to the serious position with which we are confronted, I would do the same if the Fine Gael Government were in office and I make no apology for making that statement. I think it is the duty of every man and woman in this country, no matter what their politics, to rally behind the nation in this time of crisis, but I certainly feel that there ought to be some reciprocation on the part of the Government for that help; that they ought not to drive down to a position of penury and poverty the vast majority of the people who will be affected by this order. In supporting the motion, therefore, for its revocation, I hope the Government even at this late hour will be wise and withdraw it altogether.
Donnchadh O hEaluighthe Donnchadh O hEaluighthe
Donnchadh O hEaluighthe: Ní rabhas chun rud ar bith a rádh ar an gceist seo ach tar éis an méid adubhairt mo shean-chara an Seanadóir Seán Campbell sílim gur cheart dom cúpla focal a rádh. I did not intend to speak on this motion at all, but having listened to my friend Senator Seán Campbell I feel that I must contribute something to this debate. Senator Campbell represents a certain section of our citizens, but there is another section which is unrepresented, and it is on behalf of that section that I intend to address my remarks. Senator Campbell referred to the fact that there are members of this Seanad who would not possibly be in touch with the situation and that possibly his trade union activities did not bring him into contact with the majority of the citizens. I accept that as a correct statement, but unfortunately my position brings me into very close contact with the most helpless section of citizens. I happen to be associated with the distribution of outdoor relief and home assistance and am a member of the Dublin Municipal Council and in that way I am brought into very close contact with the poorest of the poor. Now, if the policy, that everybody who is in a position to do so puts the rising cost of living over on somebody else, continues, and we reach a terribly high level, what is going to  happen to those who cannot put the cost of living over on anybody else, and what is going to happen to the poorer section of our citizens? They must bear the burden. These, who are least able, must bear the whole burden.
As every Senator knows, this city was left in a terrible state by the British, when they cleared out, from the point of view of housing and other matters. After the managerial régime from 1924 to 1930, when the corporation was restored, the members of the council who were then elected—there are two of them beside me—dedicated themselves to the clearance of the city slums. Any Senator need only go round the city to see the success of the corporation's efforts in the blocks of modern flats, and, in the suburban districts, cottages and plots. Senator Campbell referred to the organisation of tenants of the corporation in these areas in the direction of refusing to pay rents. I say here, with due deliberation and with a due sense of responsibility as a public representative of the city, that any man, no matter what his position, who talks in that way is doing the worst day's work that could be done for the city. It is true that there are some people who are selfish enough, when they are housed in flats and modern homes, not to think of those who are left behind in the slums. We have to consider all classes. We have to consider the interests of everybody, and our desire is to clear away these filthy slums as quickly as possible. But if a campaign concerning rents is started it would be a very serious thing to organise workers to band together in opposition to meet their obligations to the corporation. That would be a very serious matter, and I warn everybody here to be very cautious in that respect.
I want to refer now to other points made by Senator Campbell. We all know that rates are going up, and that affects the poor people I am referring to, who have accepted the responsibility of paying rent. In some of the earlier flats which were built, when the cost of building was not as high as it is now, these modern flats were let at  2/- or 3/- per room or 6/- per the three-roomed flat. Owing to the increase in rates something like 4d. or 6d. a week is imposed upon the tenants to meet the increased rates. According as costs increase that section of the citizens will have to pay their portion to people who are comparatively well off. The section that Senator Campbell spoke of have wages of £4 14s. a week with a deduction of 10/-, leaving them still with £4 4s., but the people of whom I am speaking are living on unemployment assistance or outdoor relief. That is a feature of the situation that I want to impress upon Senators. Let nobody think that I am in any way against a living wage for anybody. I am not one of those who was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I worked my way through life and I feel proud that I was able to do it. I have no desire to minimise in any way the efforts of trade unionists, but we must remember every section of the community and deal fairly with every section. I referred here within the past couple of days to the high price being charged for milk in Dublin as compared with the price the producer gets for it. I made some comparisons, and while I do not want to dictate to trade union leaders, I think their time would be better spent if there was more attention paid to the cost of certain articles for which the poor people have got to pay big prices. I understand that exorbitant prices are being charged for tea in the city, that people who have hoarded tea are charging as much as 6/- per lb. for it. I have also been told that people are selling white flour at an exorbitant price. Where they are getting it I do not know. Those are matters which should receive the attention of the Government and the people who are trafficking in these commodities should be dealt with drastically. I wish to make it clear that I am not in any way opposed to a reasonable wage for everybody, but I must make special reference to the most helpless section of the community whom I have mentioned. That is the sole reason I have intervened in this debate.
Mr. Hogan Mr. Hogan
Mr. Hogan: I felt that Senator Healy would characteristically disassociate  himself from Party prejudice and support the motion. I congratulate him on his speech in favour of the motion. He certainly made one of the best speeches I heard in favour of it. If there is an agitation against the payment of rent or rates, why is there an agitation? Because the cost of living absorbs all the money that people have; because the cost of food and clothing absorbs all their money. I rarely knew an agitation that had not some cause. I must therefore congratulate Senator Healy on giving his support to the motion, at least verbally. I do not intend to take up much time in dealing with the motion, but I feel that even at the tail-end of the discussion it is possible to say something approximating to commonsense in support of it. Apart from the fact that the order gives very extraordinary powers to Ministers of State, apart from the fact that it would tend to elevate the Executive above Parliament, the order does not seem to have any guiding principle to assist Ministers or their Departments in its ad ministration.
One would think that the Executive could say what is the lowest standard of living for which they stand. Is there no standard of living at present in existence observed in the occupations which they have scheduled, which would justify an advance in wages? Are there no wages at present being paid in scheduled occupations that they will stand over definitely and say: “That standard of living is justifiable”? Even suppose for a moment that the cost of living was stationary, would they be justified in saying in regard to these wages, “You cannot move beyond that”? But with the cost of living advancing and sky-rocketing as it is, the Government say, “You must not endeavour to meet the increase in the cost of living by seeking advances in your rates of wages.” That is the lack of principle that I see in forming this motion. If there is a principle underlying it, the Minister did not give it to us. He did not say what was the basic consideration underlying it. One would think that if he wanted to defend the motion he would do so on some such ground as  that the standard of living in these industries is something that could be defended and sustained.
By other orders the Minister has taken power to reduce the standard of living of workers. I notice the Minister looks surprised. Let us put it this way. He has made an order suspending the 48-hour week in respect of some works. Take, for instance, a case with which I am very well acquainted in my own county, where for a 48-hour week the Clare County Council pays 35/-. The county council workers have been recently engaged in cutting turf, and they have to work a 54-hour week for the same wages. Taking their ordinary wages as 5/10 per day, the fact that they have to work an extra six hours means that their weekly wages have been reduced by approximately 5/-.
It is useless to say that there is any stabilisation or any control of prices. Anybody who has to purchase anything at the moment knows perfectly that there is no such thing as control of prices. Senator Buckley based his remarks on the assumption that the increased cost of commodities was almost entirely due to the advance in the labour costs. When a man of the standing of Senator Buckley, trained economist as he is, makes a statement like that, one would expect that he would give us something further beyond the mere bald statement—that he would give us some proof. Let us take the one item of food alone. The figures I propose to give are taken from the Minister's own statistics. On the gross output of food, the labour charges, wages and salaries, were 10 per cent. in 1939. That showed an increase of 1.5 per cent. For the net output the percentage for labour costs was 47 per cent. while for other factors it was 53 per cent. In the net output the increase in wages was 4.7 per cent., whilst the increase in other factors was 31.1 per cent. It will be seen that many things outside our control run up the cost of these commodities. I could give many other instances, but one is sufficient. I was surprised that a Senator of the standing of Senator Buckley would make a statement without giving us some  figures to sustain the argument he put up.
My main reason in rising was to ask the Minister whether he has considered the position of the lower-paid workers in the industries he has scheduled. The Trade Journal gives a table showing the weekly rates of earnings of wage-earners in the production of transportable goods. Transportable goods cover approximately 80 per cent. of the gross output and 70 per cent. of the net output. Let us see what are the wages of people employed in the production of transportable goods. The earnings of 38 per cent. were less than 50/- per week, of 34 per cent. less than 40/- per week, and of 11 per cent. less than 30/- per week. Instead of concentrating upon what has been described as sheltered occupations, let us pay some attention to the 38 per cent, who are receiving less than 50/- per week, and also those at 24/- per week and 30/- per week.
Let us see how that order will affect these people, and see if it would not be easy to justify them in asking for an advance in their rate of wages, particularly if the cost of living is bound to advance and sky-rocket. What about those who make up the 38 per cent., the 24 per cent., and 11 per cent., and who are endeavouring to eke out an existence on 30/-, 40/- and 50/- per week? They do not enjoy any advantage of being in sheltered industries. I would expect the Minister to say what is the intention of the Government in respect of standards of living because that is the main thing in this motion. We should get from the Government some statement as to what they mean by a standard of living, whether they mean a bare subsistence standard, or something above or below that. The Minister gave no indication of his mind on that point. There was a curious juxtaposition in the speeches heard here yesterday. At one point we were discussing the Constitution and amendments to it. In that Constitution we have Article 45 in which this passage appears:
“The State shall in particular direct its policy towards securing that the citizens all of whom, men  and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood”
(and I underline the words “adequate means”)
“may through their occupations find the means of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.”
Now think of the 38 per cent., the 24 per cent. and the 11 per cent. who constitute almost 80 per cent. of those engaged in industry, making adequate provision for their daily domestic needs on the figures I mentioned. I think this Seanad should demand that there should be a limit—a reasonable limit— placed upon this order to ensure that it would not apply to workers in receipt of a certain low standard of wages, and certain wages which merely give those receiving them subsistence or a little above that level. There should be a stay of that kind put on this order. That would not imply an increase in any commodity or imply an increase in wages. It would simply say that the standard of living these people enjoy was absolutely essential. I do not know whether the Minister will make the case that the standard which he regards as acceptable for the workers is so low that the lowest wage paid at present is sufficient.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I am afraid most of the things said with regard to this order were not to the purpose. I do not intend to dogmatise. Most of the things I will say will be more or less of an interrogative nature. I am not even at this moment prepared to say what many people have said already, and announce categorically that I will support or oppose the motion. I listened a good deal to the speeches and read all the newspapers had about them this morning. Those in favour of the motion, or some of them, paraded a certain amount of data, and assumed from that that something was proved which had not been proved at all. The very things that I wish to be convinced of they left unsaid. It is very easy to condemn this order of the Government. To begin with, everybody knows that in this country you are not supposed to examine things or analyse them. When one comes to talk about labour one is.  supposed to melt into sentimentality and blind oneself to the material facts. We know from the public life of this country any calumny can be said about the two big Parties, but nobody has the courage to say a word of criticism in this House or elsewhere about the Labour Party. In the Legislature here there is a very small section representing Labour, but we have no evidence of what is meant by Labour, nor is any proof brought forward as to why it is that in some mysterious way this small section represents Labour. In this House one can be as abusive as one likes about Fianna Fáil, and it can be as scandalous as it likes about me, or people on this side, but one must never say any adverse word about our friends behind here. It is very easy to attack this order and to make a case to show how the order made here, if its terms were strictly carried out, would necessarily mean a degree of injustice since the whole matter is being considered in vacuo. The debate and the order have raised a whole lot of queries in my mind which have not been cleared up. If they were cleared up I might join in the general attack. Yesterday I heard Senator Campbell give a big array of figures.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: I did not speak yesterday.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I am sorry. It was Senator Lynch. He gave some official statistics or a series of figures about the wages of people; 38 per cent. were people receiving below a certain wage. First of all he had posed the case that a certain sum of money was necessary for a family of father, mother and three children. He then said that 38 per cent. of certain categories were getting less than the sum he said was the minimum necessary for the support of the husband, wife and three children. Then he blandly assumed that he had proved that the 38 per cent. were living on less than had been the minimum, but he had not proved that at all. I want to know how many out of that 38 per cent. included the husband, wife and three children under 14 years of age. These are facts he did not give us. The idea of mathematical equality in the social order, to put it  that way for argument sake, is one which cannot be accepted. I would like to know how many unmarried men belonged to the category of more than the 38 per cent. The last speaker said he would like to know what the Government regarded as the minimum necessary under the Constitution to provide an adequate means of support. The means of support are the result of human activity, the activity of capital and labour. I think what we will call the income of this country is got from this activity, and is something around 135 to 150 million pounds. If I am not right, perhaps someone will correct me on that, but so far as human activity and the operation of capital and labour on industry are brought to bear on certain materials, they increase in value by 135 or let us say, 150 million pounds per annum.
We understand that the population of this country is about 3,000,000 people. Therefore it would appear that if we had this absolute system of mathematical equality, which it is said would not be unjust and disastrous, the result would work out at about £1 per person. If we were to work on that system of absolute equality on the figures I have given, it would mean that a father, mother and one child should have £3 per week. In the case of father, mother and three children—I admit I am basing this on a figure which can be easily challenged —the figure should never be more than £5 per week.
The last speaker referred to agitation and said, “Where you have agitation you have cause.” You never have anything without cause. But he blandly assumed that you cannot have any agitation which has not justifiable cause. With my own knowledge of the country, my real sympathy goes out to the farm labourers, the unemployed and certain very low-grade workers. Some time ago I was speaking to a person intimately associated with certain labour movements. He mentioned the organisation in which there was what you might call the most revolutionary ferment. I think the average wage in that particular order is rather more than £5 per week. It is a particularly sheltered and lucky occupation.  The wage of an Irish farm labourer, working under bitter conditions in all weathers, may be something in the nature of 25/- per week. If I find agitation in this particularly sheltered and well-favoured organisation, I am to say that there is justifiable cause for it, whereas, in the case of the farm labourer, who is bearing his burden with infinite patience, I am to say, “No agitation, no justifiable cause; therefore he is all right, and the other man is not” I do not accept that very easy system of argument.
The Constitution, as we have just been told, says that adequate provision should be made for the maintenance of every citizen and his family. Here I may be slightly irrelevant. The Constitution, in stating these things, is really going completely outside its bailiwick. Either that doctrine is right or it is not. The purpose of the Constitution is to create a positive law and it is the most fantastic arrogance if the State is going to propose that certain natural justices become binding on our consciences merely because of a certain enactment. They were binding long before the State was ever heard of. As to “adequacy,” you have to face up to the facts. If I am right in saying that the total earnings from the activities of organised society in Eire, calculated arbitrarily in terms of £'s, are from £135,000,000 to £150,000,000, we find that we have to reorganise our whole ideas as to what is reasonable and what is not. I think it was Senator Campbell who spoke about members of his trade union who, because of increased prices and growing unemployment, will have to remove their children—I think this is one of the greatest blows to a parent —from schools where they are receiving a high standard of education to schools where they will receive a lower standard of education. I think that is a thing which should be considered, but a great deal of the argument in the case he put up was really proposing what I might call mathematical Galatarianism. He said that the unemployed members of his trade union received £3 10s. 0d. per week. Such a man is living in a very happy position,  and the fact that he is consuming that amount means that somebody has got to have less than the mathematical proportion of £3. Under the argument I am trying to present, if anybody has more than £3 a week, somebody else must have less than £3. I am prepared to have anybody correct me on that point.
The Government is asked to state what sort of minimum they recognise. That is a difficult thing to do, and I should not like to do it. If the Government is to say the minimum on which a human being can subsist, they ought to consider how that amount, multiplied by the number of people in the State, is to be produced. It can be produced only as a result of human activity and, strictly speaking, as I said yesterday, I recognise the correlation of responsibility and power. If we are going to say to the Government: “You are bound to make a promise that everybody shall have goods to the value of a certain amount,” I do not see how you can, at the same time, say: “You shall have no such control over the people as will put you in a position to force them to produce that amount of wealth.” When you demand so much from the State, you can only insist upon getting such service when you give the State sufficient coercive powers to fulfil what you are asking of them.
The trade unions have established a working week of so many hours. I do not know if when the trade unions were deciding upon a 48-hour week—or whatever the number of hours may be— they satisfied themselves that everybody working for that time would produce goods that would give to everybody in the country the degree of material for consumption that the trade unions say, at the same time, they should have. I should like to have some light from the trade unions on that point. I think it was Senator Campbell who referred to the great work done by trade unions in the last century. There, I entirely agree with him but I should like to raise another question in that connection. Social conditions in those countries are enormously indebted to the activity of organised labour but, in looking back  on what has been done, you must remember that anything directed to one set of conditions may not only not be good for the new conditions but may be bad for them.
Here, I should like to register a criticism of trade unions with reference to the Trade Union Bill. What I have been hoping to see for the last 20 years was trade unions themselves recognising a responsibility transcending their immediate responsibility to their own members—a responsibility which would take into account the whole social condition of the State. Have we seen it? Should I paint a fanciful picture? Can you see a trade union coming forward and saying: “Inasmuch as the wages and hours of labour which we have succeeded in getting for our members would put an additional cost on the goods to be consumed—such goods having also to be bought by less happily placed men—we think that we should ask our members to accept something less, in the interests of their less fortunate brothers.” They did not do that or, if they did, I have not heard of it.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Utopia!
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: Unfortunately, there is the demand that the other person create the Utopia. I am hopeful about the matter. As the man said once: “We are desperate, but not despairing.” We are hopeful, but not too optimistic about it. Senator Campbell, in speaking on that point—where I had perfect sympathy with him—mentioned trade unionists who, with rising costs, will not be able to give their children the education which they could give them in more happy circumstances. Let us put sentimentality aside and recognise another aspect of justice. I have seen in my own lifetime—and so has everyone here—a complete revolution in which the whole order of society has been wiped out. I recognise what I may call equality of proportion. If a sacrifice is to be universally borne, it does not mean either that the same deduction should come from the poor man as from the rich man, or even that the same proportion of income should be taken from the  poor man as is taken from the rich. Therein a different ordered ratio would appear. We have seen that.
Senator Douglas raised a number of points, one of which was, in regard to this order, that where under an existing contract the employer gives a wage and pays a man's income-tax, he will not be able to increase the wage by further relief of income-tax. Is that something we should complain about? On the legal point, I think that the State does not know such a thing as an income which is not calculated for income-tax purposes. If a firm gives a man £5 a week and pays his income-tax, from the point of view of any law that man's income is £5 plus the amount the firm pays in tax. Therefore, the situation which Senator Douglas raises is that when the Government—which for the last ten years has been increasing taxation— increases income-tax, if the firm then continues to give an employee the £5 a week and pays the larger sum of income-tax, that would be regarded as an increase in wages. Should it or should it not be so regarded? When the Government imposes an income-tax and establishes by law the incidence of relief and so on, that is meant to be borne by all sections due to pay income-tax. Here would be an arrangement whereby those fortunate individuals would be able to save themselves, when the Government itself has proposed that everybody should make certain ratio of sacrifice?
There were references to the labour content in the cost of goods. Senator Campbell, I think, spoke of the poor in Dublin—referring to what Senator Hayes said yesterday—having to pay 1d. a sod for turf. I would have been interested if Senator Campbell had gone on to show us the labour content. Who is the profiteer there? That is what I would like to know.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Ask the Minister.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I will ask the Minister. Is somebody making a vast profit? One of the reasons for high profit is the peculiar expense in buying by the sod. That is one of the costs.  I think it will be found that, in the case of turf, the major cost is the labour. Senator Hogan, I think, gave certain figures as to the labour content being 47 per cent. and 53 per cent. If people produce mangolds on a farm and they are sold ultimately in Dublin, is the cost of transport and of selling over the counter calculated as part of the labour costs?
Mr. Hogan Mr. Hogan
Mr. Hogan: I gave two sets of figures—one for gross output and one for net output. The gross costs clearly embrace transport.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: There is another matter I wish to refer to. About a year and a half ago I noticed that the Government was controlling milk prices, and I read in the paper that certain prices had been fixed. I do not remember them exactly now, and I am prepared to be corrected on any detail. It was something like this. If milk was x pence per pint in a shop, it was x plus ½d. delivered. Suppose it was 3d. for a pint of milk and the delivery to the house was a ½d. per pint. In most houses that I know, the milkman delivers three or four bottles at a time, that is to say, for the simple act of delivering that item the labour cost is 2d. I am not prepared to stand over the exact figures, but that is approximately the position.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: May I ask Senator Fitzgerald a question? Recently, in a Dublin suburb, I noticed a particular commodity to which Senator Fitzgerald has referred—I suppose it is a turnip it is called in Dublin. I saw turnips sliced—at 3d. a slice—and each slice an inch thick. What is the labour content of that? I estimated that there were about seven slices in this particular turnip.
Mr. Tunney Mr. Tunney
Mr. Tunney: Turnips were sold at 7/- a ton in this country.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: That was last year.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: How much did the farmer get out of it? How much did the railway worker, the carter and  the assistant behind the counter get out of it?
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: They may have been grown in Dublin gardens.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: There is no use in the Senator raising the question unless he can give the necessary data. Speeches have been made here recently about the farmers getting only 6d. a gallon for milk. And yet, for merely delivering pints of milk from house to house, the cost is ½d. If all the intermediaries—the man rolling the churn in the railway station and the various workers—are to be paid on a labour content at the rate of 2d. for delivering four bottles of milk in my house, what would be the price of milk to the consumer or what price could the farmer possibly get? I am merely raising these points because I wish them cleared up. There is a growing cost with regard to commodities at the moment.
Some people speaking here have undertaken to foretell the future in a way I could not possibly undertake. We are told there will be a shortage of commodities, and all prudent judgment agrees on that point. It is said there will not be any chance of increased wages. I admit that one cannot, in regard to this war, deduce anything by considering the last war. I do know this, that in the natural order of things—and all history will tell you—the moment you have a shortage of commodity that is the time when you are able arbitrarily to put the price up. I do know, from my own observation, that when the immoral employer begins putting up the price arbitrarily his employees are well aware of it, and know that that is a good opportunity to insist on an increase in wages. Prices are going up and for reasons, admittedly, that are very largely out of the Government's control. As I say, if we take this arbitrary figure of £150,000,000 as the value of production in the country at the moment to be distributed amongst the 3,000,000 people, if prices are going up because of a shortage of commodities, I do not know how the value of money is going to vary but, strictly speaking,  for this year the country will really be producing less and, therefore, the people should consume less when it is producing less.
We know that all this pariah class of dividend receivers, and so on, have got to suffer and possibly have their whole income wiped out. That may well be. Remember, what are called the wealthy class are going to be less wealthy at the end of the war because they are going to be mulcted for the payment of the war, whatever happens to anybody else, as we saw in the last war. You are going to have this simple arrangement, that, as the cost of commodities goes up, so earned incomes should go up or, alternatively, it will be recognised as an injustice and a hardship if they do not go up in the same equality. I would like to know where the money is going to come from.
I do think that this question has never been faced squarely, because we are partly blinded by sentimentality, partly blinded by a desire to be nice popular people and always say the things everybody will applaud. But personally, as I understand a number of things that are foreseen as a result of the war in this country, it means that we have got to be poorer. The Government takes certain steps, such as increasing income-tax and so on, to take, not only income, but also capital from the wealthier class in this country. I have no doubt its only limitation of that will be the degree of possibility in the matter. We have got to be poorer. And who has got to suffer? Everybody should suffer, minus certain people in a very low grade. If you will take what I call that arbitrary figure of £1 per person then, obviously, everybody with that or anything above it is due to contribute to the needs of society in general. Here I just want to digress. Senator Campbell said that the working class—I do not know what that means; I have so often heard people talking of themselves as working men, on the grounds that they were out of work—have rallied to the Government, and that the Government ought to show more appreciation. That, I think, should not come from any man who purports to represent the working  class. Surely, to support one's country, to have a piety towards the society of which one is a member is binding upon all people, without any thanks to them. I do not quite understand why a sort of quid pro quo should be asked in the case where what is called labour supports it, and I do not see why one class, except under special conditions, should be exempt from a general sacrifice. I admit that the sacrifice in the amount and in ratio demanded from the wealthier man should be greater than that demanded from the poorer.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: They are making sacrifices to the extent of 20 per cent., the difference between the increase in the cost of living and the increased remuneration to meet that.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: Of course everybody has to pay the increased cost of living. I admit that for anybody who has to spend all his money—as most people do—the sacrifice will be greater. Again, it is only a matter of ratio. The Senator says that the sacrifice being made is 20 per cent.. I understand one of the purposes of the resolution put forward is to prevent the proposed stoppage of increases in wages. The Senator also said, I think, that since the war his particular trade union succeeded in getting an all—round increase of 5/-. He then spoke of the generosity of the workers in that trade union in putting that increase by as a sort of insurance for themselves. That extra 5/-, I think one can say, is going to come out of the pockets of the consumers. Those consumers, in the case of printed matter, presumably are practically of all classes, including the less fortunate class than the members of that trade union. I admit I am putting this up more for argument and not to say that the trade union did otherwise than right. That trade union has succeeded in getting that out of the general consuming public, that is to say, the unfortunate people in this country who are going to have a lower standard of living because of the increase in prices. It has succeeded in imposing an additional burden upon the general consuming public and providing for its own members an insurance scheme out of it. I think that is  very good human wisdom, but it is nothing for which I am personally going to have tears of gratitude in my eyes.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: I am not weeping over it either.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I think it was very good business on the part of the trade union, but why should it be paraded to us, we having to pay more for our daily newspaper or whatever it might be, for our Penguin or our Claidheamh Soluis or whatever the paper is.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: It was not paraded for any purpose of that nature. It was in reply to a remark made by Senator Hayes.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: It does seem to us that the trade unions have made their first care what I will call the organised industry, the protected industry. Senator Hayes says, in a rough way, that the trades unions do not concern themselves so much for the underdog, for the position of the unemployed, and a Senator here pointed out that as far as his trade union was concerned it was able to use its organisation to mulct the public, who are already faced with a decreased standard of living and with increased unemployment in other sections of the community, to make them pay for an insurance policy so that members of his trade union would not suffer even when they are unemployed. I think I could almost thank the Senator for giving such a splendid illustration of the literal truth of exactly what Senator Hayes said. He referred at a later time to that very unimportant, negligible and almost criminal class, the rentier or dividend holders. I am very interested to see that the members of that trade union, when unemployed, do not join the class that we call the unemployed class. They join the class of rentier or dividend drawer. When they are unemployed they fall back and live upon their dividends.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: There is a very big difference.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
 Mr. Fitzgerald: A great deal of difference.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: This is a gross misrepresentation of the position.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I am not seeking to misrepresent it.
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: You are making a very good effort.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I just take my own interpretation of what the Senator said. I do think it is time we asked the trade union organisations to recognise, in a way they have not done hitherto, their duty to society in general. I know that every time there is a motion on the adjournment or something like that in the Dáil there is something like this: What is the Government going to do for the unemployed? Well, I am quite ready to ask what are you going to do for my neighbour but really, I think it would be much more convincing if it was pointed out to me what I was going to do myself. In regard to this order which is made by the Government, it is, if you like, quite unjustifiable. It is quite certain that there are many men working in this country who if it were possible for the industry to provide them with a higher wage all justice would require that they receive it. The most obvious case is that of the farmer.
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: It depends on the farmer.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: Quite right. It depends on the farmer. If I could foresee the happy circumstances whereby, during the period of the emergency, the ordinary farmer would find that the result of his labourer's assistance to him would be to produce wealth which would enable him to increase and multiply the labourer's wage, I would feel that this order, if it is going to operate as against that would be diabolical. I would not set myself up to define or to limit the orders. The only terms would be that in the case of certain low paid workers if the industry in which they are employed could in any circumstances be  enabled to increase their wage, some machinery would be established to enable that case to be considered.
I do not see how in present circumstances there can be any increase in wages that are offered by employers, and I am here accepting the judgment of my friend behind me on human nature with which I entirely agree. I do not foresee that there is much danger of employers insisting upon increasing workers' wages when that increase is going to come only from their own impoverishment. Therefore, I think where it is possible, without increasing the cost of the goods produced, an increase of wages can be given, and not “passing the buck” on to the consumer—that increase should be given. Personally, I do not see any urgent need for wages to be kept down in that way. I can see that under the peculiar circumstances of the present time, in order to get the whole attention of the Government directed to the question, and while the Government is examining certain matters such an order as this would have a useful purpose. If I use the words “stand still” everybody will say that is not right, because wages cannot go up, but they can go down. Let us say it is a restriction of movement. I can see that the Government may have in mind that this restriction of movement is not going to keep things as they are, but is going to enable the Government to keep a better balance.
It does seem to me that there is not going to be any increase in wealth and production in the immediate future, and therefore we cannot hope that we are going to be richer. I think the most important thing is that, as far as possible, the rise in prices should be limited. I say as far as possible, because we know that rises in prices of commodities are determined outside this country. We all know that all the talk about making this country self-sufficient, was just a disastrous and misleading doctrine. There is hardly anything which we can consume, the price of which can be regulated, and which can be produced totally in this country. I cannot think of anything— not even a turnip can be produced without a plough which contains imported  steel, and it is so with a dozen other things.
Listening to the various speakers, each point each speaker seemed to think he made remained unmade to me. I would not like to support an order which was going to condemn the farm labourer unnecessarily to be satisfied with 24/- a week, and I would not like to support an order which, in the case of the poorer paid workers, would keep them to a very low minimum wage. But when we talk about calculating and when we talk about a man with a wife and three children there is a point on which organised labour can come in and help. Senator Lynch based his argument on the calculation of what a man with a wife and three children was getting, and assumed 38 per cent, I think it was, were getting less than a certain sum and were living in bad conditions. I quite agree, but if you are going to fix what you call your minimum as adequate for the married man the other man will be overpaid. I think you must not say the trades union rate is £4 per week, and therefore there must be no diminution but something must be added in the case of the larger family. Therefore, you have got to take a balance and consider the thing in an unprejudiced way and ask, if the man with a wife and three children is getting this, what is the unmarried man getting, and let him contribute something. If you are going to calculate on the basis of five units for a man with a wife and three children, then it will be only one unit for the unmarried man. You cannot have it both ways.
I have really nothing to contribute to this debate, because I am really inviting elucidation, and I would like elucidation from the putative sole representatives of labour. Do they propose increased production possibly by working longer hours of work or by some redistribution? I do not see what the most egalitarian distribution would give them. As far as I understand the figures, it would only mean that the most skilled man working with the most devoted industry, with particular gifts from nature and from God and as a result of his own early discipline,  would work his maximum for your £1 per head. Personally I know that production in this country would automatically move to something less than it is. You must calculate your distribution, not dragging in Christianity where it has no relation at all, and not dragging in the Christian State as if Christianity was weighed up in pounds of tea. It is all very well to ask, can a man support a family on 16/- a week, but I would like Labour to tell us out of whose pocket or out of whose labour the increase is going to come. There is no use talking about the present system. When you condemn the present system in vague terms, you do not say what the present system is and you do not say what the new system you have in mind is to be.
A Senator A Senator
A Senator: It condemns itself.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: The thing is relative. I would only admit it condemns itself when it is shown that you are going to get a better system. Humanity has condemned itself and every one of us is condemned as a sinner. It is a cheap way to come along and condemn the present system. Get up and tell as what is the alternative system and how it is going to bring about better conditions. I will say quite frankly I always suspect that rather dishonest talk about the present system. There is nothing innately wrong with the present political system. I want to know what is this other system that is to come along which is not going to be capable of these corruptions?
Mr. Tunney Mr. Tunney
Mr. Tunney: If the Senator and the likes of him were to go out of public life it would be a great improvement.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I am only asking a question.
Mr. Tunney Mr. Tunney
Mr. Tunney: And I have given you an answer.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I always suspect, when people talk about a new order, and hesitate to say what it is, that they do so, because they know that if they  gave it its real name, it would not be accepted by the people.
Mr. E. Lynch Mr. E. Lynch
Mr. E. Lynch: You should quote Hitler.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: Hitler is the director of a social doctrine which to me is utterly deplorable. Mussolini is the director of another form of Socialism which to me is equally detestable. All forms of Socialism mean that the State comes in to compel people to act in a certain way. I do not want that.
Mr. Lynch Mr. Lynch
Mr. Lynch: Is the present hangman, who is a State functionary, a Socialist functionary?
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: I think the hanging of convicted murderers is an essential function for the State, and the State only, to carry out.
Mr. E. Lynch Mr. E. Lynch
Mr. E. Lynch: He is, therefore, a Socialist functionary.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: No, he is a social functionary.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee) Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee)
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): There are a number of minor points which I should like to dispose of before I come to the main arguments in this debate. Senator Campbell suggested that this order was not unrelated to the Trade Union Bill. I should like to assure the Senator that the order and the Trade Union Bill have nothing whatever to do with each other. The fact that the Bill was introduced prior to the Budget——
Mr. Campbell Mr. Campbell
Mr. Campbell: I said that that was the opinion of the average worker. I did not say that I held that opinion.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: I just want to correct the impression which I gather from Senator Campbell is abroad. These two matters, the Emergency Order and the introduction of the Trade Union Bill, have got no connection or association whatsoever with each other. Senator Sir John Keane asked whether this Bill would apply to pensions which were paid free of income tax. If the Senator will look at Article 6, paragraph  (1), he will see that the order does not apply except to persons who are in the employment of an employer at the operative date. A person who has retired on pension is obviously not in the employment of an employer at the operative date, therefore, the order does not apply to him.
Senator Douglas yesterday raised a point whether a person who had been a director on the last pre-appointed-date accounting period could receive the emoluments attaching to a post of managing director on being appointed to a post as managing director. As the order has been drafted, the position is not quite clear. It seems that the drafting is faulty, and, perhaps, the situation which the Senator has suggested to be the case, is in fact the position. Accordingly, we propose to look into the drafting of the order, and in the drafting of the Ministerial order which I have made under the Emergency order, to clear up that ambiguity so as to make it quite clear that a person appointed to a new post in the service of an undertaking will be entitled to receive the appropriate emoluments of that post whatever they may have been.
No person who has listened to this debate, as I have listened to it yesterday and to-day, can fail to have been struck by the sincerity and restraint with which those who are in favour of this motion for the annulment of the order, have presented their case. When I say that I do not want to be taken as accepting for a moment the validity of their arguments. Indeed it is clear to me at any rate that they have misunderstood the Government's purpose in making this order. The order is not designed as an attack upon the standard of living of wage and salary earners. The Government fully appreciates that the workers of this country have faced the emergency, the outbreak of the war and all that it has involved for them and the nation, with courage and with devotion. With few exceptions they have accepted the difficulties of the present situation with a splendid self-discipline. It would indeed be a national calamity if, when our difficulties are coming to a crisis, that discippline  were to break down simply because those who were charged with the responsibility for bringing this country through the present peril have made an order—have given an order if you like—which, in their view, is essential for the preservation of the State.
This order is simply an order to stand fast for the present. It was made after the fullest and most careful consideration of all the circumstances. When it was made, the Government was well aware that its purpose might be misunderstood and could be misrepresented. We knew that, without any warrant, it would be stigmatised by many—the majority of unthinking people, by many sincere and even thoughtful people, as well as by the subversive elements in the community—in terms calculated to weaken and discredit the Government. But we knew also of the perils which beset the country. We feel, and still feel, that if the State and the whole community are not to come down in economic disaster, this was one of the steps which had to be taken to save it.
The order has been made by the Government with the keenest appreciation of their duty to the country as a whole. It is not an attempt to victimise any class, but an attempt to ensure that no class, and particularly not the poorest class in the community, will be victimised. The criticisms that have been launched against this order have proceeded, in my view, from a wrong hypothesis. Listening to them we would come to believe, if we did not know better, that hitherto in this community everybody, and particularly every worker, irrespective of his trade and condition, had been able to compensate himself fully for the rising cost of living. We all know that the actual facts are that while some sections of highly placed workers have secured substantial increases another numerous section has secured only trifling increases, while yet other elements, including organised and unorganised workers have not been able to secure any increases at all. Unless definite action was taken to control this tendency on the part of certain  sections to seek compensation at the expense of the rest of the community, it was bound to persist and would eventually have become more aggravated as our circumstances worsened, and the cost of living continued to rise. The privileged sections in the community, the specialists; the men who are in key jobs and sheltered occupations; the men employed by monopolies would naturally try to recoup themselves for the increased cost of living. Indeed, in certain circumstances their employers, if they did not encourage them, would not discourage them from doing so, secure in the knowledge that eventually the cost of those increases would be passed on to the consumer.
But the workers who have been able to do that, the workers able to seek a substantial measure of compensation, are the lucky ones, the powerful ones, and they number approximately about 10,000. They are 10,000 persons who have received increases ranging from 8/- to 9/-, 12/- and 13/-, per week, all of which have been reflected in the rising cost of living. Then there is an intermediate class, larger perhaps than the first class, but not so large as the remainder. This intermediate class have secured increases which, by comparison with the others, are trifling, and range downwards from 5/- to 2/- per week. Below those there are the more numerous class of people, the class for whom I am going to speak, people who are in precarious employment, the people whose chances of remaining in their present jobs are going to dwindle as supplies of raw material run short; the people whose employers themselves are in difficulties; the people whose employers keep them not because they can afford to maintain them in full employment, but out of consideration for the appeal of the Government not to dismiss workers. These are the people who are hanging on to their jobs from week to week and from day to day.
There are very large numbers of them in this country; men working in shops, men working in offices and in other concerns. What are we going to do, or rather what is the State going  to do in regard to them? These workers cannot seek compensation for an increase in the cost of living, even though that increase had been due in part, at least, to the rising wages which their more fortunate comrades had obtained. Men and women in these circumstances could not go to their employers and say that the price of bread had gone up, that the price of gas, the price of boots and the price of clothing had increased, therefore wages should go up because the wages of the gas worker, the boot and shoe operatives, and the woollen and worsted operatives had increased. Let me repeat again that the workers in this condition are the more numerous ones and they are employed by people who see their business declining but are trying to keep their staffs on. If new demands were made upon these employers many of them could not keep going at all. Does not every Senator know that that will be the position of an ever-growing number of employers and workers so long as the war continues?
Senator Lynch, Senator Hayes and Senator Douglas admitted that this position existed. They stated quite frankly, and quite correctly, that the struggle of most workers and most employers would be to ensure the continued payment of the existing rates of wages. In the face of that situation, do Senators who have spoken in favour of the motion think that the Government should stand by while the more fortunate elements in the community compensated themselves for the rising cost of living, in sending that cost of living mounting still higher, at the expense of the remainder? We do not think that the Government would be justified in remaining passive in the face of that situation.
But apart altogether from the industrial workers whose jobs are uncertain, and apart from the clerical workers and the people working in the shops, what about the people on the land? In the course of this debate I heard complaints about the high price of turf, the high price of bread and the high price of vegetables. Is the Government to  be asked to ensure that food and fuel will be forthcoming at reasonable prices for the industrial workers by fixing prices for wheat, butter, milk, and perhaps turf, and, at the same time, to permit industrial wages to soar and inflate the price of everything the man on the land has to buy? While on that point I would like to make it clear that this order does not apply to agricultural wages. It is quite true that there have been inequalities in remuneration in this country. It is true that the discrepancy between what can be earned in the primary industry and in other occupations has been very great, and there have also been great discrepancies in remuneration between one manual occupation and another. In some cases since the outbreak of war, however, these discrepancies have been intensified to a much greater extent. That they have not been aggravated to a much greater degree is due to the wise restraint exercised by many sections of the workers themselves, and for that action I wish to pay them tribute.
Though the urge, up to the present, has been strong and though the discrepancies have been increased to a degree which, in my view, is unjustifiable and inequitable to the bulk of the population, the urge will be intensified still further and will be very much greater than it has been up to this as supplies become still shorter. Then, the natural tendency will be for everybody to try to secure as large a share as possible of the available commodities for himself. In these circumstances, prices are bound to rise, for reasons altogether outside the control of this community. They will go still further, however, if certain sections of the people are permitted to compensate themselves for this rise at the expense of the others. Those others cannot be expected to remain, in such an event, inactive. They would seek to compensate themselves, in turn, and, ultimately, the scramble to secure compensation would develop into a free-for-all in which, assuredly the strongest elements would come off best at the expense of the weakest sections in the community. This order is primarily designed to prevent that from coming  to pass. It is intended to give the Government of the day, no matter what that Government may be— whether it be the present Government or an alternative Government, formed by another Party, or an All-Party Government—a grip of the situation to prevent it from developing in a way which would be bound to undermine the whole economic foundations of the country. If that were to happen, we should have nothing but chaos and anarchy in this State. The order, therefore, is quite clearly one which comes within the terms of the Emergency Powers Act, for it is an order “essential to the preservation of the State and for the provision and control of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.” That is my first answer to those who have suggested that the Government, in proceeding by way of Emergency Order, have acted ultra vires.
It is no answer to say that, when the Emergency Powers Act was passed, the present situation was not foreseen. Of course, it was not foreseen. Did any of us think we should be in a position in which it would be a matter of the greatest uncertainty as to whether we were to get our bread supply, our coal supply or the essential raw materials necessary to keep our industries going——
Mr. MacDermot Mr. MacDermot
Mr. MacDermot: I think that a number of people contemplated that situation.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: It was common knowledge that there would be a shortage.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: I do not think that any person then visualised precisely the situation in which we find ourselves now. I do not think that anybody, with that picture before his mind, would have suggested that the Government should not be given powers to deal with the situation in the manner in which we are dealing with it to-day. It has been suggested that we ought to have dealt with it, not by way of emergency order, but by way of legislation. I cannot see a single practical argument in favour of that procedure. The enactment of a law implies a certain permanence of policy. It suggests  that the measures embodied in the law have come to stay. It is true, of course, that many temporary statutes have been passed. Some of these have been allowed to lapse but others of them have been renewed, year after year, by the Expiring Laws (Continuance) Bill. The fact that this policy of renewal has been adopted has very often been the subject of criticism in the Oireachtas—criticism which, in my view, has been reasonably well founded in some cases. I have not any doubt whatsoever that, if we had proceeded in this matter by way of temporary Bill, those precedents to which I have referred—those instances in which temporary measures have been renewed year after year by the operation of the Expiring Laws (Continuance) Bill—would have been cited against us as evidence that the professions of the Minister promoting the Bill were not sincere, that this principle of wage restriction was intended to be permanent and that, under the guise of the emergency, we were seeking to promote legislation which would secure that end. I have not the slightest doubt that, if we had proceeded by way of Bill in this matter, many of the critics of this order would have suggested that, if we meant it to be a Bill to deal only with the present emergency, we should have proceeded, as we are now proceeding, by way of order under the Emergency Powers Act, 1939. The very fact that we have proceeded by order under that Act is, I submit, substantial evidence of the sincerity of our professions in regard to this matter.
Perhaps those members of the Seanad who have been influenced by the suggestion that we should have proceeded by legislation have overlooked the fact that the Emergency Powers Act, 1939, can continue in force only until the 2nd September next. It will then expire unless the Oireachtas otherwise determines. If the emergency is past and the Act expires, this order will expire with it. That is one safeguard, at any rate, to those who are naturally solicitous for the interests of labour in regard to this matter—that this order, if it does not go before then, will expire  with the termination of the Emergency Powers Act, 1939. As to whether, even if the Emergency Powers Act does not expire next September, this order should continue, that is a matter upon which I have, at the moment, an open mind. It is a matter which, so far as I am concerned, will be determined by the circumstances as they then exist. If there were, at that time, the same dangers inherent in the situation as we believe to be present now, it would be necessary, perhaps, to continue the order, modified as may be to meet the changed circumstances of the time. On the other hand, if the situation has improved and the principle of the order has been accepted by all concerned, then there would be something to be said for reconsidering that part of it which relates to wages and other forms of remuneration.
In the light of the future, as we are now visualising it, this order, in my view and in the view of the Government, is “essential for the preservation of the State and for the proper provision and control of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.” Any person who would, after the full and careful consideration which the Government has given to the whole of this question, by annulling this order, proceed to nullify the measures which the Government has taken and the further measures which it proposes to take for dealing with the situation, would take upon himself a very grave and serious responsibility. The Government takes responsibility for this order and for the policy behind it. Those who vote for the annulment of the order take upon themselves responsibility for formulating a new policy to deal with the dangers which now confront our people and there can be no escape from that responsibility. It will not be sufficient to say—it has been said— that their attitude might have been different if the Government had proceeded by way of a Bill instead of by way of an order.
I have indicated that, because of the very fact that this order was intended to be temporary and passing, it was advisable to proceed by way of  order rather than by way of legislation. I should like to add to that my view that it would have been impossible to secure the purposes of this order if we had proceeded by way of legislation. We all know how long it takes to secure the passing of even the simplest measure through the Oireachtas. In the case of a measure purporting to impose limitations on wages or on the distribution of profits, we can well understand the amount of prejudice with which the whole proposal would be approached.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: The Minister is making an argument against Parliamentary institutions.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: As this discussion to-day indicates, Parliamentary institutions are in no way jeopardised by the fact that this order has been made. If Parliament desires to annul it it has full power to do so. Parliament is still in control, but Parliament has placed a responsibility for devising a policy upon a Government, and then it should be very careful not to nullify the policy unless it has an alternative to put in its place. I was saying that one could just imagine the prejudice with which a proposal of this kind would be approached. We know the heat which would be engendered; we know the misrepresentations of which every line of the measure would be made the subject; we know the demonstrations which would be held, the bitterness which would be created and, above all, the time which would be spent in passing such a measure. And, while all this was being done, we can well imagine the steps which would be taken by the interests affected to defeat the purposes of the measure when it became law.
The moment the Bill was introduced, we should have an inflated distribution of dividends and claims for increased wages. In many cases, no doubt, such increases would be granted and these would be followed inevitably by a rapid increase in the cost of living, setting in train an inflationary process of appalling dimensions. Thus, the very calamity which the order is designed  to prevent would have been precipitated by the introduction of a Bill to achieve the purposes of this order. Think of the progress of that Bill or of the schedule to it. In relation to every industry, we would have an argument as to the exact effect of wage increases upon the general cost of living. As I have said, the process of enactment would be almost interminable and, in the meantime, I repeat, the very danger which the Bill was designed to prevent would have come upon us.
It has been advanced here, as an argument against the acceptance of this order, that Ministerial orders made under Part II of the Act cannot be discussed. That is a point which is easily met. Ministerial orders have been made under other emergency orders and by the simple process of tabling them in the House it has been possible for members to put down motions approving or disapproving of an order. My powers to make orders under Part II of the Act are strictly limited. With the exception of machinery orders providing for the records which must be kept, I have only power to add to or subtract from this schedule of employments. I will undertake in that regard, first of all, to table any orders I may make. If any member of the Seanad wishes to challenge an action of mine under Article 3 of the order, it will be open to him to put down a motion disapproving of the order which I have made, and the whole matter could be discussed here exactly as if it were discussed in Committee. In fact, it could be discussed with greater clarity, as the issue would be narrowed down to whether I was justified in adding a particular industry to the schedule or—as may be more likely to happen—in striking it out of the schedule. So far as any criticism is founded upon the suggestion that Ministerial orders would be removed from Parliamentary discussion, I think it falls to the ground. In any event, I am giving an undertaking now which will enable the House to consider any orders I make.
Mr. MacDermot Mr. MacDermot
Mr. MacDermot: There is a little  doubt there, in regard to a point of order. I remember a somewhat similar question arising in regard to the censorship. Grave doubt was expressed as to whether it would be in order to table motions about individual acts of the censor within six months of a debate on the general question of the censorship.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: I think that point could be overcome. I suppose a Ministerial order would be a separate act. If the order is tabled, then I think the House would be quite entitled, under the Rules of Order, to discuss it. Another suggestion was made—by Senator Douglas, I think. While he admitted the need for some procedure of this sort to prevent costs going beyond control, he suggested we should set up a tribunal to consider wage applications and adjudicate upon them from the point of view of the public interest, with a desire to protect, above everything else, the interests of the consumer. That is a matter which has been long and frequently considered, but I do not know whether the procedure has been considered by Senator Douglas as carefully as by other people. In order to have a wage application considered in the light of its reactions upon all the interests involved, it would be necessary to have most elaborate terms of reference. I can give a sample of them. It would go, perhaps, something like this:
“The Minister refers to the tribunal the consideration of the application made by X for increased remuneration and, for the purpose of such consideration, the court shall have regard to—
the effect upon the general economy of the community of the price of the commodity in connection with the manufacture of which X (the workers concerned) are involved;
its reactions upon the standard of living of the people in general, in particular of the poorer sections thereof;  the rates of profit and the general rates of wages and conditions of employment prevailing in the principal, primary and secondary industries on which the national economy is based;
the rates of profit and the normal rates of wages and conditions of employment of workers engaged in comparable undertakings here and elsewhere;
the trend of the cost-of-living index;
and, finally, any other consideration which may appear to the court to be relevant to the issues involved in the application.”
I wonder has Senator Douglas ever considered, first of all, the nature of the personnel of such a tribunal and, secondly, the length of time which it would take and the extent of the investigation which it would have to make in order to come to a fair conclusion upon a wage application referred to it under such terms of reference? It would take five or six months, at least, and in the meantime there would have to be a whole array of competent persons, specialists and others. You would have to have people who were engaged in the day to day management of their business giving up a large part of their time to dealing with the whole of this problem. And, ultimately, it would take, as I have said, about five or six months perhaps, even with the greatest expedition, to come to any sort of conclusion upon the application.
If it is remembered that there are 40 main categories of industries in this country, and within these 40 main categories, numerous sub-categories, and that in respect of any one of these sub-categories a wage application might arise which, if granted, would have its reaction upon the cost of living of the community in general, I think it will be conceded that it would be quite impossible to get a tribunal to adjudicate in that way upon these applications with any sort of expedition.  or with any sort of satisfaction to the community as a whole. The whole matter would simply be looked upon by the workers as a sort of time-saving device, and would not be any more acceptable to them, and certainly would be much less advantageous to the general community, than the manner of dealing with this problem which we have taken now.
I should like again in that connection to emphasise that we do not intend, and it has never been the intention, that having made this order, we should freeze the situation as it is for a prolonged period. We are quite aware of all the arguments that have been advanced here in relation to the lower-paid workers. This order, I repeat, has been made mainly in the interests of the lower-paid workers, mainly in order to ensure, in so far as we can, that costs which are within our control will be controlled because it is only when we control costs that we can control prices. As the Seanad is aware, we have been, I think, fortunate enough so far to escape the full blast of the war in so far as actual unemployment is concerned. Broadly speaking, and taking everything into consideration, it can be said that unemployment in general, taking agricultural unemployment as well as industrial unemployment, is, in the aggregate, no worse to-day than at the outbreak of the war. Industrial unemployment, however, is greater. But we cannot anticipate that the existing situation, in which the aggregate unemployment is, perhaps, less than it was at the outbreak of war, will last, and we are taking such steps as we can to alleviate the ill-consequences which may follow when the position gets worse.
Certain additions to unemployment benefit, and further relief for the recipients of unemployment assistance, old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions are planned, as the House knows, and will shortly come into operation. This represents an attempt to ease the burden, so far as the resources of the community will stretch,  of the additional cost of living resting on the shoulders of the poorest classes of the community. In addition, we are endeavouring to make such arrangements as will, through the cessation of overtime, and through part-time employment, stretch out existing employment and shorten the period of total unemployment for as many people as possible. But the benefits of all this —and this goes to the root of this order—the benefits of all this will be lost to the extent to which we permit costs and prices to rise.
It is true, as I have said, that we cannot control all costs and, therefore, some increase in the cost of living is inevitable. We can, however, do something to prevent some part of the increase. We can avoid additional taxes on food and clothes, for instance, following the line taken by the Minister for Finance in this year's Budget, and we can, as this order does, take steps to prevent further unregulated, uncontrolled rises in wage costs. When we talk of the rising cost of living we must realise that prices are determined ultimately by costs, and when we come to consider costs we cannot close our eyes to the position which has grown up in recent years in which persons employed in sheltered industries, public utility undertakings and in other occupations, have secured a special position as a result of public protection that they are in a position to dictate their own terms.
In the direction of protecting the less favoured classes in the community— and those less favoured classes include, I should like to emphasise and repeat, the majority of the wage-earners—from the inevitable increase in the cost of living and rising prices, if the better organised and better paid workers are granted increased remuneration now, in no sense can Government action, by way of the present order, be regarded as an attack upon the standard of living of workers in general. It has been admitted here in this debate that though many workers have secured increases, others have not and are unlikely to do so. That fact is the basic justification for this order, that those who have used it as an argument in  favour of the motion have, in fact, been defeating their own cause. Workers in the sheltered trades have got the largest share of such increases as have been obtained. Concerns which are engaged in industries which have been in a position to pass on increased costs to the community are those which have yielded most readily to applications for increased remuneration. Industries which have been heavily subsidised by the Government such as the building industry have been equally yielding. We have certain monopoly undertakings in which the final price of the product to the community is regulated by the wages paid. They have also yielded readily to wage demands.
It was, of course, not unnatural that under the present circumstances such undertakings would connive at an increase of wages. Industrial concerns provide their profits from the processing of raw material. That is to say they derive their profits from the consumption of raw materials and in the employment of labour, so that working capital is apportioned as between buying the one and paying the other. If circumstances are such that the supply of raw materials available for working dwindles and continues to dwindle, not only will the opportunity for profitably employing the working capital hitherto used in purchasing the raw material dwindle but so also will the opportunity for employing the fraction of it, which was hitherto utilised in paying wages dwindle—employment will decrease naturally, as we know, with the decreasing supply of raw materials. But this tendency of profits to decline because of scarcity of raw materials can to some extent be compensated for by increasing the proportion which wage cost bears to material cost in the total costs of production. If a large proportion of the costs of production can be converted from commodity charges to labour charges, not only will there be less material to work, less employment to give, and a lower output of the finished article, but a profit may be earned at the same or even a greater rate than before on the increased wages.
Inflation of costs and therefore  of prices has an additional advantage from the point of view of the employer. Over and above the fact that it helps the concern to maintain its absolute quantum of profits, it discourages the demand for the products and this reduces consumption of raw materials and of course the demand for labour to work them. The concern accordingly gives less employment, albeit at higher wages and as wages and prices rise and the demand for the product falls unemployment grows. That is the reason why concerns by investing in labour a great part of the working capital which they formerly invested in commodities can maintain their profits.
There is in the circumstances such as we are now facing naturally an incentive for employers to allow costs to rise, but if they do then the cost of living to the whole community goes up. Concomitant with that unemployment grows and increasing sections of the population are faced with rising costs of living in circumstances in which their resources, to meet that rising cost of living, are substantially decreased. Now the major problem which is facing this country, apart from the danger of being actively engaged in the war, is that of unemployment. The Government having carefully considered all the factors in the matter has come to the conclusion that from the social point of view, while the aggregate of the opportunities for employment is likely to decrease, it is important that such opportunities as remain should be available to the greatest possible number. The natural tendency for high wages to restrict employment is intensified when the supply of raw materials for working is falling. It would be inconsistent with the general Government policy of spreading employment over the greatest practicable number to allow uncontrolled wage increases to confine employment to an ever diminishing few. To prevent that is the object of this order. That purpose is as much in the interest of those who are directly affected by the order as it is in the interest of the community as a whole. The order is a step to cope with an emergency  situation and, I would like to repeat again, cannot be regarded as part of normal Government policy. If, as we think, it will have the effect of putting some check upon what is so often called the vicious spiral of rising costs and prices then I think it would be admitted that we have taken a step in the interest of the national economy.
Now, as to the future, the whole position under this order will, as I have said, be kept under review, and I have little doubt one of its consequences will be a tendency to maintain more workers in employment. At such a time as the present that in itself will be a valuable contribution, apart altogether from the plans for working overtime and working part-time, and employers are, I believe, generally sufficiently understanding to maintain as many as possible in employment. In the difficult circumstances we are facing, nothing will be more conducive to having more people thrown out of employment than repeated applications for increased remuneration. If the Seanad accepts this motion and annuls the order, it endorses the principle that under the present circumstances when there is bound to be a rise in prices wages should definitely be linked with the rise in prices. In my view you cannot give effect to that principle without creating a most dangerous inflation in this country.
On the other hand, if you reject this motion and accept the order, if it is accepted by the Seanad and by the workers throughout the country generally, as I believe it will be, as an earnest attempt to cope with a most dangerous situation, if this order is accepted in the spirit in which it is meant, then we shall have a period of calm, for a time at least, in the industrial world which will yield better results in the direction of maintaining employment than the few extra shillings which might be obtained by means of a threat of organised agitation. I feel sure that employers, in accordance with the Government's request, will continue to retain as many workers as possible on their pay-roll and that they will hesitate to dispense  with anybody of whose services they can make any use whatever. A much worse calamity than fixed or stabilised wages would be no employment at all.
As I have said earlier, I fear that we are really approaching a period when employment must tend to decline more rapidly than hitherto. We can only try to ensure that if unemployment should continue to grow, at any rate the worst consequences to those who are unfortunately subject to it, will be mitigated. They can only be mitigated by endeavouring, as I have said, to control such factors as make for rising costs. We cannot control the costs of raw materials that are imported and it is not practicable to fix prices of all commodities. The consequence of fixing prices in relation to certain articles elsewhere has been that they have simply vanished off the market. It does not mean that they are not being produced or that they are not being sold; it means that they are being sold illicitly at illegal prices and contrary to law. From the point of view of the poorer sections of the population, the sections of the population which the fixation of prices was intended to serve, the consequences have been disastrous. They have not been able to secure any share of the commodities in respect of which prices had been fixed.
Again I should like to say—I am sorry to have kept the Seanad so long —that this order has no relation to, and no association whatever with, the Trades Union Bill. It is not meant to be an attack on the wages of the workers. We are not trying to depress wages. We are only saying that those workers who are strong enough to force up wages in present circumstances—there are some workers in that position—should refrain from doing so, that they should have some regard for the people at the other end of the scale who are in precarious employment. It has been suggested that, with this order, we should also issue an order to prevent wages from falling. How could we do that in circumstances in which unemployment is likely to grow? Is there anybody who can tell me——
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
 Mr. Foran: Might I suggest to the Minister that he could make a standstill order to prevent a reduction as well as an advance in wages? That is a simple matter.
Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
Mr. MacEntee: I have pointed out to the Seanad, and I am sure the Senator knows it as well as I do, that there are employers in the country who are carrying on with staffs, which having regard to their turnover, might be taken as excessive. Supposing we found a concern coming to the end of its resources and the proprietors said: “Well, we have got to close down or carry on with smaller costs.” I do not want to suggest that wages in such a concern should be reduced, but, in the circumstances in which we are at the moment, if a man can employ a person at less wages than would be fixed by an order, I cannot see any justification for saying to that man that we would prefer that he should discharge the employee rather than keep him at work. Ultimately the position may come in the country when we shall have so many unemployed, that we would be glad to have anybody at work for a wage that will give him any sort of adequate remuneration. The situation, thank God, has been slower in developing than we anticipated it would four or five months ago, but we cannot close our eyes to the fact that employment is not increasing, industrial employment in particular. That is tending, as I have said, to decrease, and in these circumstances it is difficult for us to say that we could make an order which would ensure that wages would not decline.
One of the admissions made by speakers for the motion has been that the trouble henceforward is going to be, not the prevention of an increase in the general level of wages, but the prevention of a fall in the level of wages. It might be said it is an argument against this order when I say that the general level of wages may come down. While I say that employment in many industries may get less, there are certain industries we know in which employment will remain fairly stable. The bakery industry, the flour-milling  industry, the sugar manufacturing industry—industries which are working upon raw materials of which there is, in one form or another, a full supply in this country—will continue to give full employment. If we were to accept the principle of this motion, that every man who is in employment is entitled at the expense of the consumer to seek compensation for an increase in the cost of living, when we know that, due to factors outside our control, the cost of living will tend to rise, what is going to be the situation of those unfortunate individuals who will not be in constant employment, of those industrial workers who will have to be put on part-time, of those who will have to go on unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance, or who will have to be supported by public moneys? What is going to be their position if we allow the wages of people who are producing foodstuffs and who are in constant employment, to go up and, because they go up, we allow the cost of living to rise accordingly? That is the justification for the step we have taken.
We feel that it is necessary that a grip should be taken of this position for the next four or five months. During the whole period that the order is in operation, the position will be kept under constant review. It is suggested that we might be able to modify it in respect of the lower paid workers. That is an aspect which I shall consider. It has been already considered but the difficulty is that there is no standard. What are we going to set up as the standard of maintenance in this country? Would those who are supporting the motion, like me to say, for instance, that any person who is in receipt of less than 40/- per week should be excluded from the order? Supposing I did, what would be the line of attack then? That I was laving down 40/- a week as an adequate remuneration for any worker irrespective of his personal circumstances or his family obligations. We are not purporting to lay down standards. We are only saving that as far as existing standards go, they will, so far as we can assure it, be preserved because we do not think  that it would be advantageous to allow some sections of the community to improve their lot at the expense of others.
Sitting suspended at 6.10 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.
Question again proposed:
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Crosbie
Mr. Crosbie: I would like to pay a tribute to the manner in which the Minister has made his case here this evening against the motion. It has seldom been my pleasure in this House, or in any other assembly, to listen to a case more logically or more clearly put. If the Minister had made this order a little over 12 months ago, and simultaneously taken other steps I would have felt it my duty to give him every possible support. I have not the slightest doubt of the Minister's good intentions in this matter. They are praiseworthy in every way. I am satisfied that neither the Minister nor the Government are desirous of inflicting undue hardship on any class or section in the community. Unfortunately he cannot put his intentions into practice, as demonstrated in this order, without strong concurrent action in other directions. The objects aimed at in this order are the cessation of the vicious spiral of rising prices, the prolongation of production, and the equal sharing of the burdens arising from the present economic difficulties. By itself the order will achieve none of these objects, but on the contrary, in my opinion, will in certain cases impose grave injustice, or what is worse, a fear or sense of injustice amongst certain classes in the community.
These, I admit, are all criticisms that are easy to make. I realise that, in themselves, these criticisms which I am making are merely destructive. It is clear, therefore, that to attempt to remedy this situation, certain ideas for constructive action by the Government must be put forward. The formidable task of attempting to control the cost of living is, of course, that which comes first, and that which is  most obvious to one's mind. This is not as simple as it sounds, and I sincerely sympathise with any Minister or any Government which has to tackle that task. On the other hand, the cost of living can be reduced to three main headings—food, fuel and clothes. Food can be sub-divided, again, into main essentials, and it may be impossible for the Government to control the prices of all food commodities. In fact, that is, probably, in many cases completely beyond their control. There are, however, certain commodities which it should be possible for them to control. One of these commodities, for instance, would be flour, which is now largely home-produced, and, in future, will be entirely dependent on our own production of cereals.
Certain economists maintain that a nation's expenditure matters very little if the money is spent at home. As I am not an economist, I am not very competent to express any hard and fast view on that theory, but I do hold that, in our present position, whatever money we would spend in this country in the reduction of the cost of essential foodstuffs would be well spent, even if that money had to be borrowed. Up to the present, we have in this country, in one way, being subsidising flour production. The form of subsidisation adopted has caused the flour to be dearer rather than cheaper, but it would be possible, by further subsidisation in existing circumstances, to reduce that. I understand that a very large sum of money would be required to reduce the cost of living in respect of flour and one or two other food commodities by as much as 8 per cent. In present circumstances, with the prospects of continued employment on any decent scale, such as we would like to see in this country, being in jeopardy, I think the expenditure of any sum would be well justified.
Another urgent and most necessary step which could be taken in this connection would be the formation of a national register concomitant with a rigid tightening up of existing rationing,  and a general extension of rationing of commodities, whether raw materials or manufactured articles. An effort should also be made to get the Prices Commission to function in a manner which would not so closely resemble that of an inanimate corpse. The Minister would, to my mind, be well advised to hold over this order for the present, and to endeavour to take such measures as I have suggested. Having done that, I am firmly of opinion that this House and the other House would give him every support on the introduction of an amended and, possibly, more elastic order, as it might turn out to be when being drafted a second time. It is with regret that I cannot see my way, after the very convincing case the Minister has made, to support this order.
Mrs. Concannon Mrs. Concannon
Mrs. Concannon: With a humility even greater than that of Senator Fitzgerald, because it springs from a more real cause, I hesitated to intervene in this debate. I felt that I was not in a position to contribute anything useful to it, but I should like to say a few words in courtesy to a body for whom I have a great respect—the trade unions. Just as I entered the House yesterday, I received the following telegram: “Conference of labour and trade union delegates' meeting in Galway protests against Emergency Powers Order (No. 83) and call on you to vote for its annulment.—Brennan, Secretary.” On receipt of that telegram, I felt that I should be wanting in courtesy to a body for whom, as I have said, I have the greatest respect and regard, if I were to give a silent vote on this motion.
I am one of those who, from my study of history, am convinced that no movement in human history has done more for the advancement of real civilisation and true democracy than the trade union movement. For that reason, I have the greatest respect and regard for it. I feel, however, that the interest of the trade union movement itself is involved in this matter, as are all our interests. The motion before the House calling for the annulment  of Emergency Powers Order (No. 83) seems to me to mean a vote of want of confidence in the Government on a matter of primary importance and fundamental policy. For such a vote to come from this House at this particular time would have most disastrous reactions not in this State alone but, perhaps, outside. For that reason, even before the Minister made his most convincing speech, I determined that I could not support the motion.
The Minister has made plain that, before the Government tabled its Emergency Powers Order (No. 83), it gave the fullest consideration to all the surrounding circumstances. It knew quite well that it would have to face much misunderstanding and, perhaps, some misrepresentation because, at first glance, the order does seem to limit the rights of a class—rights which have been hardly won. The Minister has made plain that something more vital than even the rights of a class is involved—the rights of a people. He convinced me that the Government made the order as being essential for the safety of the State and the proper provision and control of supplies necessary for the full functioning of the life of the community. In face of that grave declaration, one would have to be very thoughtless to vote for the annulment of the order without, at the same time, putting in its place something that would provide in an equal manner for the safety of the State, the provision of supplies, and their proper distribution.
Another reason for voting against the motion is that the order is an emergency order. It is designed only for an emergency. It lessens in no way the rights that have been secured. Senator Lynch asked what the emergency was. I think we all know what the emergency is. The blockade is the emergency—the blockade, with the ever-increasing danger of the cutting off of raw materials and the limitation of the activities of industry. That is a very grave situation. When we ask the Government to face that situation  on behalf of the whole people, we have to realise that the Government thinks of the employed and unemployed, those on the dole and those who have no dole, as some women have none.
I also support the order as against the motion, because it seems to me a necessary prelude to something which is very essential—control of the rising cost of living. I do not think that, up to this, anything really has been done to control the cost of living, and perhaps it was a psychological mistake on the part of the Government to introduce this order without at the same time making it plain beyond yea or nay in what way they will control the cost of commodities. The Prices Commission is non-existent, as far as we know in the country. People do not know how to set about reporting things and the machinery is not efficient.
When the Government issued this order, they should have felt bound to institute something which would mean a real control of prices. If it is to be a standstill order, it should really be one, and as far as possible, there should be an assurance that if wages must not advance every reasonable effort will be made to see that they do not recede. As I have already indicated, I would not have spoken at all were it not that it seemed that courtesy demanded I should reply to those who sent me the telegram.
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: There have been two events of great importance recently which must have put every citizen of this State asking questions about what is taking place. One of them was the publication of this order—the standstill order—and the other was the calling of a conference by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to consider, with the representatives of Labour and federations of industry, how best the people in employment may be kept even in part-time employment. That must have brought pretty well home to every one of us the seriousness of the position as the Government  saw it. It is in relation to that particular phase of it that I should like to say a few words.
In reading some of the statements made by the Minister at that conference, I learned that the Government was considering a scheme whereby employment may be subsidised and whereby people who would be prepared to put into employment those in receipt of the dole would receive the unemployment benefit as a subsidy. If something were done in that direction it would be a great fillip and a great help. I believe there is a number of people who would undertake very important works of utility which they are not in a position to undertake at the present moment, if they could receive from the State the money which is at present given out as unemployment assistance. If something on those lines could be brought about, it would be of the utmost importance and assistance in relieving the unemployment position.
We all realise that this order is a serious one so far as the workers are concerned. They look upon it with suspicion and feel that an advantage is being taken of them which they cannot overcome. They think they will be denied the right to an increase in wages, while the price of food will be allowed to soar higher and higher. Simultaneously with the making of this order, the Government should set up some organisation whereby there would be proper control of prices. I quite realise that they cannot control all prices, and that there are certain commodities imported into the country the price of which, for a number of reasons, they cannot control. There is no use in saying we have a Prices Commission. The ordinary people in the country and the ordinary men and women in the street who feel they have been overcharged, will not take the trouble to get a receipt and sit down to write to the Prices Commission about it.
I would like to make a suggestion  about that—one which I think it is not impossible to carry out. In order to give people confidence that the Government intend that prices will be brought to a standstill as well as wages, in every urban area—it is urban areas that are affected—some organisation should be set up to deal with complaints. This organisation could be the urban authority, the county commissioner, or some vigilance committee, or some one member of the Gárda Síochána. Then the ordinary man in the street who felt he had a grievance could have it investigated locally and it could go before the Prices Commission if there was sufficient reason. If the Government think that they cannot do that, I make the suggestion to the labour organisations. They have branches in each urban area and they could be of great assistance to the workers, and would also further their own organisations by having such a voluntary body to investigate complaints.
It would be much better for the Government to set up the organisation and ensure proper investigation. In the country we tell the people the Prices Commission is there and that complaints can be referred to them. However, we have read in the Dáil Debates where certain Deputies have stated that, in their areas, incidents of overcharges have been brought to their notice. Yet these people, although public representatives, have not taken the trouble to go to the Prices Commission. If they do not do it, how can we expect the ordinary worker to do it? In many cases, these people will not go to the Post Office for the forms to fill in. An organisation would give the workers confidence that the Government really was serious in saying that, when wages are at a standstill, prices will be controlled as far as possible.
There is another matter which affects workers to a very great extent. According as commodities become scarce, the wholesalers are withholding supplies from the small retail  shops. In the working class quarters the people deal with the smaller shops, and only in some cases do they deal with the large wholesaler. The only people who deal with the big wholesaler are the retail shopkeepers or people who have monthly, fortnightly or quarterly accounts with these shops. The supplies to the retail shops are being curtailed, and in that way they are curtailed to the worker. I think whatever organisation is set up to deal with prices should also be in a position to deal with that point and to see that each shop would get its quota.
We heard some complaints to-day about the price of turf in Dublin. I think some Senator remarked that it worked out at something like a penny a sod.
Mr. M. Hayes Mr. M. Hayes
Mr. M. Hayes: A penny a sod?
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: Yes. It may seem strange that that is about the same price at which it is being retailed in Galway City.
Mrs. Concannon Mrs. Concannon
Mrs. Concannon: That is true.
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: The turf is taken from Galway, transported to Dublin, and yet it is sold at the same price in Dublin as in Galway City. If the people in Dublin have a grievance about the price of turf, I think the people in Galway have a greater grievance seeing that it is Galway turf that is being sold in Dublin. In my opinion Senator Honan made a very reasonable request to the Minister, that is, that this order would not affect those in receipt of rather small wages. There are people in certain employment in the country who, as we know, are not in receipt of a living wage, and I think the Minister in administering this order should give serious consideration to their case. I have no great sympathy with people who are in what has been termed a sheltered position, because, as the Minister said, they are  the very people who can enforce their demands for higher wages. But they are very few, and the great majority of people, who are in receipt of smaller wages, should be allowed to make a reasonable demand for an increase if the industry can afford it.
I ask the Minister particularly to consider the setting-up of some organisation for the control of prices. I think that is most important. It is important to ensure that people would accept this order in the confidence that the Government intended there would be no profiteering as a result of it.
Mr. O'Dwyer Mr. O'Dwyer
Mr. O'Dwyer: I think it my duty to vote against the motion although I see the force of most of the objections that have been raised against the order. No doubt the order is very drastic and autocratic and, it might be said, illogical but after all, Governments have to do drastic things and illogical things in cases of necessity. The Labour members seem to think that they alone are the victims of this sort of legislation but other classes have to submit to it also. It is only a few months ago that a similar order was laid on the Table of the House under which the farmers had to till 20 per cent. of their land. It was very hard on them and a great deal could be urged against it. It could be said that it affected their rights of ownership, that it affected the liberty of the individual and it could even be said that it imposed a state of slavery on the farmers. But nobody raised these objections because everybody realised that the only alternative to that Compulsory Tillage Order was starvation for the country. Therefore, the House unanimously accepted it. The same argument could be applied to this order, when all is said and done. If the Government allowed increases of wages, as is natural to expect, because there is justification for increased wages in view of the increased cost of living, as the Minister explained, that increase in wages would be followed by further increases in the cost of living. We had the example in the last war when every increase of wages was followed by an increase in the cost of living, one after  another. Such a spiral would be very serious at present because, during the last war, there was inflation of currency and the people were able to follow those high prices but to-day there is no inflation and an increase in the cost of living would only lead to chaos and want. No matter how hard it may be, I think this order ought to be accepted. It is only for a short time. Everybody must submit to hardship. They must forego their rights in case of necessity.
I agree, however, with what other speakers said that, in making this order, it would be necessary for the Government to tackle the whole question of profiteering. Whether it is true or not, there is a feeling all over the country that there is wholesale profiteering in all directions. Manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and all, are supposed to be carrying on a wholesale campaign of profiteering in the present emergency. No doubt there is a good deal of truth in that supposition though there may be exaggeration but I am quite sure that it is a question which the Government should tackle without delay.
It has been pointed out that the working of the Prices Commission has not been effective in controlling prices. It seems to be that the main reason is that it has to rely on individuals to bring forward cases of over-charging. It should not have to rely solely on individuals. The State has at its disposal means of investigating prices. The Gardaí and the detective forces should be employed in this connection. If the Gardá authorities were sent to watch different shops it would be quite easy to bring to book shopkeepers who over-charge.
I ask the Minister to take up this question seriously, because if this order is passed, and if there is a standstill enforced as regards wages, and the cost of living in the meantime goes up, it will be necessary for the Minister either to revoke the order or to allow increases in wages to take place, because if there is an increase in costs wages cannot remain permanently down. Now that imports are coming  practically to an end, and that all our foodstuffs and other commodities have to be produced in the country, I see no reason why prices should not be strictly controlled. I would ask the Minister to take up the question of profiteering in addition to the other matters dealt with in the debate.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Somebody said that this discussion was carried on with the utmost sincerity and moderation. I want to subscribe to that, and to say I fully endorse it. The debate has shown, I think, that the Government is out of step with its own Party. I think the best case for the motion was made by Senators Healy, Hawkins, and O'Dwyer. We suggested in moving the motion that the Government was beginning at the wrong end, that the first thing that ought to be done was to control prices, and having got a grip of that position, then to stabilise or standardise wages. Somebody is calling this a standstill order. We contend it is not. Some Senators here this evening said the Minister made a convincing case. A convincing case for what? For a general reduction of wages and consequently for a general reduction in the standard of living. Anyone who listened to him must have been convinced that he realises more than anyone in the State that the application of this order will mean a general worsening of the conditions of the working classes. It is a misnomer to call it a standstill order. I think Senator Rowlette put the proper title on it. It is a no progress order. Retreat, yes, as far as you like, but no progress. Once this order is made it will be an outrage to give any increase in wages. We are not advocates of increasing wages to cause an increase of prices.
I think the ex-Lord Mayor, Senator O'Neill, and I know more about the folly of trying to chase prices by increasing wages than any two men in this country. We spent more time trying to augment wages during the last war in order to try to overtake the increase of prices. We know the folly of it, and  we do not advocate it. What we do advocate is a standstill order regarding prices. Control them, and having done that apply the other order that there shall be no increase in wages. By that means you are not interfering with the standard of living of the masses of the people. It is a pity Senator Crosbie did not advocate his theory a little further. It is not my intention to develop it, but I think he was on the right lines when he said the amount of money spent within a country matters very little, so long as you are purchasing the stuff that is available or produced within it. Now, at one time the present Minister belonged to a party that had certain economic theories. I learned some of my policy from them.
Mr. M. Hayes Mr. M. Hayes
Mr. M. Hayes: Shame.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: But it is forgotten and on occasions he has gone a long way from it. Perhaps like others he has got confused and a bit muddled. Senator Buckley in dealing with this matter said: “Leave the workers alone and it will be all right.” Leaving the workers alone is going back to the Middle Ages. Had they been left alone then they would be chattel slaves to-day as they were in that period and that is the only contribution the Senator had to make to the debate—leave the workers alone and they will be all right. The Senator went on to lecture the commercialists on commerce. I venture to say that I know as much about commerce as he does. I have some little experience and he has only theory. I do not suppose he could run an ice cream shop if he was thrown on his own. That is the kind, of thing we have. Senator Fitzgerald came in and he told us in his opening remarks that he had very little to contribute to the debate. He was the only truthful speaker. He certainly kept his word although he kept the House two hours. At the end of that time I think it would be unanimously agreed that he had contributed, as he said in the beginning, nothing.
Now coming back to reality what is the standard of living visualised by  the Government for the working class of this country? When the Minister was speaking I asked him did he anticipate a coolie standard of living for the workers of this country. Really that is what his policy means in the last analysis. We know commodities are short, we know the necessaries of life are getting short and we know that people who do not depend on wages but had other monetary resources could lay in considerable stocks. These are now running out and they are coming into competition with the people who had no financial resources, competing with them for what is there. We have no rationing. Is it not only commonsense to imagine that the people with the most money will get the most of these commodities? Now the Government's attitude to that is— no increase in wages; no rationing in general, no control of prices. Do we not all realise what that is going to lead to? We are going to be deprived of the opportunity of getting any reasonable share of what is available. The shortage is there and we are deprived of any means of obtaining more money and of the only way we have of getting it. The only way we can get more money is by our labour. Other people can get money through their investments and some of them seem to feel sore about the fact that there has been some encroachment there. But that is the place to go for it—where it is—unearned income, but do not lay the heavy hand on the workers. Senator Hayes found fault with the trade unions.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: No, no, I did not say a word about them.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Well it was the trade union leaders. The trade unions select their leaders. They may be bad leaders but they satisfy them and so long as they satisfy them that is the only thing that matters.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: There is a much bigger problem than that.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: Well, I do not know it.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
 Mr. Hayes: Well, I do.
Mr. Foran Mr. Foran
Mr. Foran: You think you do, like a lot of other people—kidding themselves. We are told—leave it to the Minister, leave it to the Government, and everything will be all right. I mentioned in moving this motion that Trades Boards were shelved under this order. Trades Boards were established originally to deal with sweated industry. Now I have a case in Cork where this Trades Board concerned with the Mineral Water Trade, and with employers and workers represented on it, not all trades unionists, had agreed to an increase in Wages, and the people carrying on the industry were paying the increase up to the time this order was made. You will understand, of course, that civil servants are very slow, and possibly this agreement was not brought before the Minister at the time when the order had come into operation. In the meantime the increase in wages was stopped, the employer alleging that to give any increase now, or pay the increase, would be violating the law. That is Cork. That is the sympathy the workers are going to get, that is the attitude of a very large number of employers in this country. This will be their attitude— “the Government will not allow us; we know you are entitled to it, but the Government will not allow it.”
I will mention another case in Dublin. A very well organised company not engaged in food production had an agreement with a certain Union to pay a cost of living bonus. Under that scheme the workers received as much as 8/- per week each on the Government figures. They got this by agreement, following the increase in the cost of living. They were due for a further increase and the company called the Union into consultation and said: “This is getting a bit out of hand; we are getting out of proportion with other industries.” The Union talked it over with the company and agreed that an increase of 1/- per week per man would settle the case. In the meantime this order was issued, and the company said: “We cannot pay you the 1/-; we should be violating  the law if we did. We would be putting ourselves in a position in which we would be liable to be fined £100.” These are two instances, but they will show the way the wind is blowing generally, and the steps that will be taken when this order is put into operation—no increases, but any amount of decreases.
We recognise that the opportunities for employment are getting more restricted, that it will be more difficult to get employment, and that there will be more hardship for the general body of workers in the country, but those people who become unemployed are going to be put in competition with the people in employment and their position exploited to reduce wages still further. They will be exploited, but there is no order against that. The Government have taken no steps to remedy that, or to control the increase in prices. They have made no effort to guard against a reduction in wages. Senator Hawkins made it more clear than I could, that it is a mistake to think you are stabilising the standard of living, helping the unemployed or the badly paid man by this order. As I stated in moving the motion, no section of the community has been more loyal, or has given more help to the Government in this emergency than the workers. I think the Minister has admitted that. There is an emergency in this country, but there is not a major crisis. This order, if carried into effect, may easily bring about such a crisis. The emergency exists because of external circumstances. We can easily have one arising from internal circumstances, and we fear that. We fear that more than anybody. We have given ample evidence up to now of restraint and of the desire of the working class generally to help the Government during the emergency. This is our reward—reductions in wages, but no increases. If you look around any city or town in Ireland, who constitute the bulk of the forces that have been orgaised for the defence of the country? The working classes. They have given their services and their time free,  gratis and for nothing, and have shown a splendid willingness to co-operate with the Government in the defence of the country. That is a spirit that should be encouraged. Every encouragement should be given to those people who have so willingly given their time when they might be otherwise engaged, but the attitude of the Government is: “No increase in wages; reduce them, yes.”
By some extraordinary economic philosophy the Government believe, or try to make people believe, that they are going to help the lowly-paid workers by this order. I cannot see that any lowly-paid worker is going to get any help whatever from this order. You are going to bring about a general worsening of conditions. I speak as a man who has had 30 years' experience of dealing with employers in this country. I can say after these 30 years' experience that the workers never got anything from employers except what they were able to wring from them through the power of organisation. Certainly if you are going to take away that power it will have very serious consequences. The Trades Disputes Act is shelved. The Constitution itself is shelved. We say there is no justification whatever for this order. The only thing that could possibly justify an order of this nature is a major crisis in the country. That is not here, and may never come. I hope it will never come. If such a situation came about none of us—certainly none of us on these benches—would take any exception to an order of this nature.
We have more interest, or at least as much interest, in the lowly paid worker as anybody in this House—the Government or anybody else. We are deeply concerned about these workers. If this order comes into operation we fear that certain disruptive elements in the country will exploit it, not because they are keenly interested in the worker but because they see an opportunity of unsettling things which fortunately have remained peaceful and happy for a very considerable time. As I have already stated, ample evidence has been given of the sincerity  of the desire of the organised labour movement in the country to help the Government. We are not getting any help now and our power and influence may easily pass to other people who have less regard for the safety of the State than we have.
I want to ask the Minister seriously to reconsider this matter. He has promised that he will lay all further orders under this order on the Table of the House. That is no good. This order should be suspended. It should be delayed until at least the Government has come to grips with the question of fixing prices. Having done that, they could come again to the House. There is nobody in the  country, or represented in this House, will give them more wholehearted support than we because we contend that no section of the community is justified in exploiting the present emergency. The man who comes out of this emergency with more wealth than he had at the beginning of the emergency is a traitor to the country. The workers are not likely to come out of this crisis with more than they had at the beginning. Conditions are going to be worse from day to day. I sincerely hope that the Minister will seriously reconsider his decision and shelve this order until he brings in machinery to regulate prices.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 15; Níl 29.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Campbell and Hogan; Níl: Senators Goulding and Hawkins.
Motion declared lost.
Seanad Éireann 25 Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order—Motion to Annul (Resumed).