Thursday, 21 July 1949
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: When I moved to report progress last night, Deputy de Valera and myself were pondering together as to whether the repeal of the External Relations Act was a good thing or a bad thing. We were making some effort to elucidate the mystery of Deputy Boland's speech on the subject in Bantry, having regard to an earlier speech which was delivered by Deputy Lemass in Rathfarnham.
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy explain how it arises, because the debate on External Affairs has  already been discussed? I do not know to what extent it was discussed last night, but in my opinion it should not have been discussed.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: The question was raised yesterday—I do not think directly—by the Taoiseach. I think it was referred to by Deputy Lemass in the course of his speech on the broad question of policy, to use Deputy de Valera's phrase, as to whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.
An Ceann Comhairle: I did not hear it.
An Ceann Comhairle: Yes.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: ——and in connection with our relations with Great Britain it seems to be generally accepted that the most important item of Government policy was the repeal of the External Relations Act. I should like to submit, with regard to the question of policy as distinct from the question of administration, that that can be discussed. My recollection of the Chair's ruling on the Vote for the Department of External Affairs is that when it was sought to discuss the question of the repeal, from the point of view of policy, the matter was ruled out by the Chair and the attention of Deputies was directed to the fact that only the administration consequent on the repeal could be discussed.
An Ceann Comhairle: Technically, the Deputy is correct.
An Ceann Comhairle: Has the House not decided that that is the law?
An Ceann Comhairle: As to whether the legislation is good or bad.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: As to whether the policy of the Government in repealing the External Relations Act is a good thing or a bad thing, there was no doubt regarding the unanimous attitude of the House when the repeal was being discussed here. One or two Deputies felt that they would only adequately and properly represent the people who put them into the Dáil if they expressed their disagreement with the Government policy on the matter. It was conceded by all other Deputies that those Deputies were fully entitled to take up that line of argument and that they were quite entitled to hold that the Government policy in the matter was not best suited to the interests of this country. However, in so far as the vast majority of Deputies is concerned, the vote actually went through unanimously and practically all Deputies supported by their speeches the Government's decision. Before that had happened at all, sup port of the policy of the Government in the matter had been announced by Deputy de Valera in this House and elsewhere and by Deputy Lemass in Rathfarnham.
In that atmosphere, with one or two discordant notes from Deputy MacEntee, that portion of the Government's policy was adopted by this House and it appeared that there was a certain amount of rejoicing from Deputies opposite—rejoicing, I might say, in a rather cheap and sneering manner, nevertheless, rejoicing—in speeches they made throughout the country at the fact that whatever doubt and confusion had existed in the past now you had a Dáil which was unanimous regarding this particular matter of policy and which was united in expressing what Deputy Lemass described in Rathfarnham as “the wishes of the vast majority of the people” that the Act should be repealed.
I am not aware that any serious  departure from that approval took place until quite recently. Circumstances existed then in the south of this country which propelled Deputy Boland down to the southern area. Deputy Boland there raised the first question mark on the subject which came from the Fianna Fáil Benches, when he suggested that the policy of the Government in relation to the repeal was motivated “either by deliberate mischief-making or shortsighted incompetent leadership.” That statement, of course, was challenged by speakers on behalf of the Government; and I think I had the pleasure of putting the question directly to Deputy Boland on three or four occasions. I am not sure that he gave any adequate answer.
Mr. Boland: The Deputy did not wait for the answer.
Mr. Boland: The Deputy never heard me say any such thing.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Deputy de Valera also made an effort to clear up the mystery and, in his unequalled, decisive and clear fashion, he decided it was time for the Leader of the Opposition to make a spectacular pronouncement on the subject. So he travelled south also and there he said he did not know whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.
Mr. Aiken: That statement is incorrect.
Minister for Defence (Dr. O'Higgins): Like many others of his statements.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Yesterday, I had arrived at the stage where Deputy de Valera thought I was taking those words out of their context and I invited him—as I invite Deputies Aiken and Boland now—to let us know before this debate concludes whether, in the considered opinion of the Fianna Fáil Party, the Government's policy in relation to the repeal of the External  Relations Act was a good thing or a bad thing.
We should remember that, despite the fact that Deputy de Valera and his colleagues are now on the other side of the House, they claim—and, I suppose, rightly claim—that they have a very considerable following in this country, that a number of people are willing to adopt their political views and their political actions from statements on policy made by Deputy de Valera and Deputy Aiken or Deputy Lemass. It would be a matter of some interest to find out where they stand now on this particular subject. Remember, Deputy Little yesterday, in the course of this debate, suggested that after the discordant noises and the original conspiracy of minorities, the Government had now clambered back safely on to the solid ground of Fianna Fáil policy. If we are back on “the solid ground of Fianna Fáil policy”, it is even a matter of interest to Deputies on this side of the House to know what that policy is. I would like if Deputies opposite could see their way to induce their Leader to make another of his clear, decisive pronouncements on this particular subject and if, now that the political flags have ceased to wave down south, and the drums are no longer beating there, in the cool of reflection, having studied the results of his pronouncement down south, he might now give the House the benefit of his up-to-date opinion on the subject.
Deputy Lemass, in the course of his speech yesterday—I am not quite clear, from the ruling of the Chair last night as to how far this subject may be pursued—undoubtedly suggested, as a matter which the Taoiseach should consider on this Estimate, the setting up of a formal tribunal of investigation, to investigate into the circumstances surrounding suggestions of corruption against the Fianna Fáil régime. Deputy Lemass advanced that seriously as one of his contributions to this debate. I take it, a Chinn Chomhairle, that I would be entitled to follow on Deputy Lemass's lines and to suggest also to the Taoiseach that perhaps it is not such a bad idea after all; but I propose differing from Deputy Lemass when he asserts that such a tribunal could not  come to any decision other than that Fianna Fáil were white-headed boys in administration and that any suggestions of political corruption levelled against them had no basis or justification in fact. I suggested yesterday that they have and that I am not making any suggestions at all of personal corruption, but I am suggesting that, coming towards the end, at any rate, of their 16 years in office, Fianna Fáil had become so accustomed to political corruption that it was treated by them as a matter of routine, as a matter of course, a matter that was expected of them by their own supporters and by their Party, and was treated by them, whenever they were challenged by it, in a very nonchalant manner.
One Deputy in particular, and perhaps two—certainly, one who is listening to me at the moment—was prepared to come into this House and to say to Deputy Costello, as he then was, that he admitted quite frankly that the Fianna Fáil Government went in for a system of political patronage. He expressed his own view at that time—I am referring, of course, to Deputy Boland, in case Deputies are in any way puzzled—that no better system could be evolved and that he would like to know a better system if you could get one. This was a system of political patronage, deliberately indulged in by the Fianna Fáil Government. The particular matter under discussion at that time was the appointment of State solicitors and county registrars.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy suggested that he was following Deputy Lemass——
Mr. Boland: Of course, he said all this last night.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have no more to say, as I am not allowed to say it.
Mr. Boland: Please yourself.
An Ceann Comhairle: “Please yourself”. I would like Deputies to realise that if the Chair is making a statement he should be allowed to make it without interruption from any  side of the House. The Deputy is repeating what he said last night and a review of Fianna Fáil's activities, or alleged activities, back for four years is hardly a reply to a suggestion of Deputy Lemass that an inquiry should be set up. The findings cannot be considered now, as it has not been set up.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I, of course, accept your ruling. I was going to suggest that Deputy Lemass's suggestion should be expanded somewhat and should not merely refer to the administration of old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and such things as that. If the Taoiseach is seriously considering adopting the suggestion made by Deputy Lemass last night, I want to plead with him that that investigation tribunal of inquiry, if it is established, should be much more broadly based and should include the matters which I have suggested to Deputy Boland. I want to be quite clear on this. I am satisfied from what I have read from Deputy Boland and other Deputies on the far side of the House that what I am saying is fact and fact supported by the record. It is purely because it would not be in order for me under the ruling of the Chair to give the specific cases and quote Deputy Boland's words to him that I cannot do it. It is not because I have not got the goods to deliver or that I am in any way reluctant to do it.
Deputy Lemass also dealt yesterday with the question of Córas Iompair Éireann and he repeated a suggestion which had been made earlier by Deputy MacEntee to the effect that the difficulties of Córas Iompair Éireann were due to deliberate Government policy. I do not know whether Deputy Lemass' language was quite as strong as that used by Deputy MacEntee, but the suggestions were the same: that this Government, for its own ends, in order to palm off on the people a policy of nationalisation, had deliberately bankrupted Córas Iompair Éireann. That suggestion, of course, was made earlier in the year by Deputy MacEntee, and in February last he is reported in the Irish Press as saying: “The way has been perfectly prepared for these developments. For instance, Córas Iompair Éireann has been deliberately bankrupted by the Government in order that in desperation the people might acquiesce in the new measure.” He was referring at that time to the question of the nationalisation of transport. The same suggestion was made last night by Deputy Lemass. I think it is necessary to remind Deputies of a discussion which took place in this House on 23rd March last in relation to the increased bus fares in Dublin and to point out how intemperate the language of Deputy MacEntee and of Deputy Lemass was on this suggestion. Before I do that I think it is fair also to remind the House that on, I think, actually the same day as Deputy MacEntee was reported as making that suggestion at the annual Westmeath Fianna Fáil convention in Mullingar a letter appeared in the daily newspapers from the ex-Chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann in which he gave his side of the story. One of the things suggested by him was that outside assistance to Córas Iompair Éireann was necessary, that outside assistance could be made available by three methods. I am quoting from a letter written by the ex-Chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann to the daily newspapers——
An Ceann Comhairle: Was that discussion not on Industry and Commerce or more relevant to it?
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I do not think so.
An Ceann Comhairle: How is that gentleman responsible to this House?
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I am not criticising him in any way. All I want to do is to point out that a man who was in a responsible position also recommended in this letter that a policy of nationalisation should be adopted by the Government as one of the methods of rendering assistance to this concern and that in the face of that it is surely ridiculous to have Deputies opposite saying that this Government had deliberately bankrupted Córas Iompair Éireann for the purpose of making way for a policy of  nationalisation. I do not think speeches of that sort are likely to be helpful when we come to discuss the transport proposition in this House. Deputies are aware of the serious position which had been reached in that particular concern, and I do not think it is fair of them to endeavour to panic the people who are employed in Córas Iompair Éireann. I think that the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave the figures last March that about 20,000 people are directly employed and that the concern has effect on their family connections, and so, approximately 80,000 people in this State. It has, I think, a wage Bill of over £6,000,000 a year.
I think also that we on this side of the House are entitled to protest against the line of argument which is adopted in relation to every aspect of Government policy by particular Deputies in Fianna Fáil. It was suggested by Deputy MacEntee time and time again—and unfortunately, as the Minister for External Affairs stated on his Estimate, this statement of Deputy MacEntee got publicity abroad—that the Government's policy in relation to the repeal of the External Relations Act was in order to pander to Communist elements in the Government. A similar suggestion has been made at various times by the same Deputy. It was made even in relation to the Local Authorities Works Bill when the Second Reading was taking place in this House. I think Deputies should realise that abroad in Europe there is a serious position with regard to Communism and the clash between Communism on the one hand and the Christian Churches, particularly the Catholic Church, on the other. I think it is a very great disservice to a State which is predominantly Catholic and practically entirely Christian for a Deputy with years of responsibility behind him such as Deputy MacEntee should endeavour to tar this Government or any section of the Government with the Communist brush. I think it is a very regrettable, a very deplorable thing, that, for the sake of his own selfish interests in the constituency which he represents or for the sake of  deriving political profit for his own Party, that kind of scandalous utterance should be made by that Deputy.
I think it is particularly regrettable that on every matter of major Government policy that Deputy should stand up in this House or outside of it and endeavour to use the same brush in order to give the impression to timid people in this country, perhaps not deliberately but at the same time definitely, and to people abroad, that in this country you have the same division in the same proportions as you have in other European countries as between Communists and others. That type of speech does not deceive the people very much in this country, but it can deceive people abroad. It will result in encouraging Communist activities in so far as it is a well-known fact and has been for countless generations that this country is predominantly Catholic. It undoubtedly will encourage Communist elements abroad if the impression is given by a responsible person, or a person who should be responsible, in this country that even here in Catholic Ireland you have the same sharp division between Communists and others and that the present Government is dominated by Communist elements.
I sincerely hope that Deputy MacEntee will think of the country rather than of himself or his political Party and that he will see that the remarks that I am making are justified, that he is treading a very dangerous path and is doing that merely for the sake of trying to boost his own political Party or boost his own vote in his own constituency. It is true that in certain constituencies more than others that type of propaganda would have a particular effect. Deputy MacEntee's constituency is one in which it would have that effect. Deputy MacEntee knows that and I appeal to him, through the Deputies who are sitting opposite to me at the moment, to see to it that this kind of statements are not made in the future. They are untrue. I think it is unfair that members of the Government should have to stand up in this House or at public meetings outside in order to rebut statements of that sort, which are made purely for the purpose of mischief-making  and of damaging the prestige of the Government.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I wonder am I?
Mr. Butler: You are.
An Ceann Comhairle: I think the Deputy might now come to the Vote.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I think this is a matter that is of very grave importance. This is the only Estimate which gives Deputies on this side of the House an opportunity of discussing broad questions of policy in the way in which this invidious type of propaganda can be rebutted.
Mr. Butler: Did Deputy MacEntee ever state that the Government was dominated by communists, or did he ever make the statement that we had a proportion of communists in this country? As I understand you, you are entirely misrepresenting Deputy MacEntee.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I merely want to say that I do not believe I have over-coloured the picture in any way. Deputy MacEntee may not have used the words which I have used. I do not say that he used those words. I  said that was his object, and I can say that in speaking at a meeting of the Yeats' Cumann in Jury's Hotel in reference to the repeal of the External Relations Act, Deputy MacEntee is reported as saying—and he has never contradicted the report—that the purpose of the repeal of that Act was two-fold: that the first objective was to placate the communist elements in the Coalition Government ——
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: That is precisely what I have done. It is not only in relation to one particular measure that the same type of statement has been made by the same gentleman and the same type of gentleman. I want, as far as I personally am concerned, and as far as the Party which I have the honour to represent is concerned, to rebut emphatically the suggestion that this Government, any part of it, or any member of the Fine Gael Party supporting the Government, had any motive such as that attributed to them by Deputy MacEntee in mind in supporting measures brought before this House. I suggest that the Deputies opposite should accept that, and should refrain from endeavouring to create mischief in a situation which, in other countries, is particularly serious.
I do not think there is anything else that I have to say except to congratulate the Taoiseach personally and the Government as a whole, for the work they have done in the last 12 months. I think the thanks of the nation are due to the Taoiseach in a very particular manner. The leaders and representatives of other Parties supporting the Government have been unstinting in their tributes to the Taoiseach. Deputy Con Lehane, last night, gave the same picture from the Clann na Poblachta point of view as to how the Taoiseach appeared to them, and I think I am right in saying that the same views will be reflected by all Parties and Deputies who have had anything to do with the Taoiseach during the year. I think that he, personally, has carried out the duties of  his office in a way which would be expected of him, in a dignified, capable and courageous manner.
I think that the Government as a whole have done extremely well in face of difficult times and of obstreperous opposition. They have demonstrated that Irishmen can get together, irrespective of their past differences and irrespective of their sharp differences on political matters in the past. They have socially, economically and nationally improved the position of this country. They have done that in no small way because of the fact that they were prepared to get together and to co-operate in the best interests of all sections. As an individual, I hope that we will not see the day when this country will again be governed by considerations of what happened in the past, but rather by consideration of what is best in the present and what is best for the future.
Mr. G. Boland: The Deputy who has sat down has referred to me as the keeper of the Russian jewels. I cannot claim to have ever had that honour. Those jewels were never in my custody. They were brought over by my brother and given to my mother to mind and then to my sister. I wonder what would have happened to them if the person who raised this matter in Cork during the election had the custody of them? All that I have to say about them is that they were handed up intact to the Government. Then there is the matter of corruption. The Deputy has been very vocal about that and had quoted me. I certainly admit that, when it came to the making of judicial appointments, the Fianna Fáil Government did appoint people who were friendly to the Government. I certainly do not deny that. In doing that we merely followed the example that had been set by our predecessors and that has been followed by democratic Governments everywhere. But we did not do it to the exclusion of people who were opposed to us, because several of those people were appointed in our time. It has been the practice since this State was set up, when High Court judgeships were in the making, that the AttorneyGeneral  was appointed by the Government. The first Government did that by appointing two of their Attorneys-General. We followed that example, too.
Mr. S. Collins: It is too bad you did not appoint the third.
Mr. G. Boland: That is questionable, whether it is or not; whether the Bench would suffer more than the country, I do not know. If he was not appointed, that was his bad luck. On the whole, I think it would have been a good thing if he had got an appointment; it would have saved a lot of what has gone on for the past 12 months. We merely followed, in our appointments, what was done by other democratic Governments. At the present time there are 11 Circuit Court judges. There used to be ten. Of those, we appointed four who were never supporters of our Party. We have been told often enough that in these appointments we considered only supporters of our Party. One of the judges was taken off the Opposition Benches, and a very good judge he is. We had no Party considerations in connection with that appointment.
In the High Court we made certain appointments. I went over them this morning, because of the references that have been made. In the High Court we appointed three judges who were never supporters of our Party. One of them was taken from the Opposition in Seanad Éireann. That does not look like corruption. We promoted judges who were appointed by the last Government, and we promoted them on merit alone. We appointed the late Chief Justice purely on merit; he replaced Chief Justice Kennedy. We regarded it from a national point of view, like any Government will do, and like this Government is doing, and we did not turn down people because they were not supporters of our Government. That list will show that what I am saying is quite true. The Taoiseach will know that it is true and he will know who these people are. I do not propose to mention their names.
When the new Government came in they were in a dilemma because there  was a small appointment to be made in Cork. Over the wireless, after the appointment was made, we had a statement that a new method of appointment to these positions had been adopted. I was anxious to know what the new method was and I asked a question of the Taoiseach. I asked to what office did this new system apply and he told me it applied to sheriffs only. I asked him would it apply to county registrars, State solicitors or judges, and he said it would not. There are only three sheriffs in the country, all of whom are part-time officers and the Government have the right to make these appointments under the latest Court Officers Act. To show how corrupt was the first appointment that we made under that Act, the first sheriff we appointed was a well-known supporter of the Fine Gael Party and a personal friend of the Taoiseach and a friend of mine also. He is a very capable man. There was no corruption in that appointment.
I was anxious to find out the result of the Cork appointment, what sort of a non-Party man we would get. After all the trouble it turned out that a member of a family that has done very well out of this country got the appointment in Cork. It might have been an accident, of course, but that is what happened, and, the appointment having been made by this Government, it was not corruption. Another appointment was made that I certainly would not have stood over. The appointment was made in a certain county. I might have favoured that person myself, but there were very sound reasons why he should not be appointed. I communicated these to one person especially who is at present a Minister and, in spite of that, that man was appointed. He is an ex-Deputy of Cumann na nGaedheal.
In another county there was an appointment of a State solicitor. A very good man was appointed, but he happened to be an election agent of a Fine Gael candidate at the last election. I am not saying a word about the appointment. He is an excellent official. The method of selection is just what it was in our time, only a bit  more so. I would like to see the time coming—may be it will or maybe if they will be there for 16 years—when anyone known to support us will get an appointment. The only judge they have appointed is a good judge. I have not a word to say about that, only he was a Fine Gael candidate who was defeated at a couple of elections. There is my answer to the Taoiseach, to young Deputy O'Higgins and to Deputy Collins. Deputy Collins did not wait to hear it; he knew what was coming and so he went out. He knows what I am talking about.
Captain Cowan: It would be a great job to forget all about that now.
Mr. G. Boland: If I have anything to do with it in the future I will never agree to change it. I have stated frankly what we did, but this Government will not say it frankly. It is the best method. You will not get a better selection board in the country than the Government of the day. Where would you get them? The Government that are responsible to the whole people and that have to stand over every appointment they make is the best selection board you can get for the high appointments. If, unfortunately, some appointments do not turn out well, that could happen under any system.
Now, as to this External Relations Act, apparently it has become high treason to criticise the manner in which the members of the Government carry out their work. A very junior Minister accused me of treason—a new word now for traitor, a Chinn Chomhairle, is Quisling; that is what they call it—because I exercised my right as a member of the Opposition to criticise the manner in which they handled the Republic of Ireland Act, which I did not think was a wise thing and still do not think was a wise thing. I made my position quite plain when  I was speaking on that Bill.
Mr. Derrig: The Republic of Ireland Act.
Mr. G. Boland: Yes, the Republic of Ireland Act and the repeal of the External Relations Act. I was against that, as I said, but, as a democratic member of the Party, I accepted the majority decision. What I objected to in Bantry was not the passage of the Act, but the manner in which the whole matter was handled. I said there, with full deliberation, that it was done in a spirit of incompetence and mischief-making, and I meant that. The incompetence was on the part of the Taoiseach, and the mischief-making was on the part of the Minister for External Affairs. Is that clear?
Mr. Hickey: Too clear.
Mr. G. Boland: Why did I say that? We are dealing with the Taoiseach's Estimate and we are dealing with Government policy. I think an important decision, like the repealing of an Act like that, which was going, as we were told, to break the last tenuous link with the Commonwealth, should be announced in this House—that it is in this House the first statement should be made and not away in Canada. I never heard of anything like that happening before in any Government. I never heard of the head of any Government going away to another country and there proclaiming to the world that he was going to take certain action of which his own country has been completely unaware. It is normal for the head of a Government to inform his own people first of any proposed steps his Government intends to take. That was a piece of incompetence that I consider entirely unforgivable. That statement came the day after he had made another statement telling the Canadian people that, if Canada were attacked by any Communist State, we would come to its assistance. The very next day the position was reversed. I think there is cause for grave complaint at the manner in which the whole matter was handled. Both those statements were  of the utmost importance. I wondered what steps the Government had taken prior to that statement being made. Was the other Government concerned acquainted? The fact is that the Government had taken no steps unless one was prepared to read their intentions into some of the speeches that they made. The usual method is, as everybody knows, that when a Government contemplates taking a serious step of this nature the other Government concerned is advised of the intention. The Government proposing to take the step can then feel its way and consider what repercussions are likely to occur. Having done that, they take the ultimate decision with the full knowledge of what that decision entails. But that was not done in this instance.
If we are not entitled to criticise then there is no object in our being here at all. Why should we be described as Quislings when we give criticism where criticism is due? If that is the attitude, then I am prepared to be a Quisling. Last night I listened to Deputy Lehane. He was busy pointing out how the Clann na Poblachta Party had implemented a number of their election promises and he instanced, amongst other things, the repeal of the External Relations Act. Up to last night I was under the impression that the Clann na Poblachta Party disclaimed all responsibility for the repeal of that Act. I was under the impression that they stood over their Leader's statement that they had no mandate for it and they claimed no credit for it. That was my understanding of the position. Now we are told that that is not so and Clann na Poblachta are taking credit for the repeal of the External Relations Act. Some one will have to resolve the situation for us.
I do not know what the inner workings of the Government Parties are but it is obvious that something must have happened between the time the Taoiseach made the statement that we would go to the aid of Canada and his subsequent decision on the following day which practically reversed his prior promise. What happened I do not know. Quite a number of us would  be glad to have some enlightenment on the subject. It was the general belief that Clann na Poblachta were not prepared to do this. How then can the Taoiseach claim that he had a mandate for it? In actual fact his policy, as enunciated by himself, was one of a closer relationship with the Commonwealth and there was no question of an isolated Republic. Perhaps the Coalition Parties can explain all this to their own satisfaction; but it will take a good deal of explanation to convince me that any of them had a mandate to do this.
Deputy O'Higgins stated that Deputy Lemass said that our Party intended to repeal that Act. Our Party never had any such intention. The leader of our Party did say that he had been thinking about it because of the gross misrepresentation of the then Opposition Parties.
Mr. G. Boland: I do not know about the intention. Certainly it never came before the Government. Our leader did mention that he had been thinking about it. He never brought it before the Government. He never said he did. He may have intended to repeal it in order to get rid of the gross misrepresentation to which we were subjected by the Opposition. He may have wanted to clear the air. But it was never decided by our Party when in Government and Deputy Lemass never said that it was. That is gross misrepresentation. What might have happened had it come before our Government I do not know. It never was brought before our Government. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, I would have taken exactly the same attitude as I have taken here. First things should come first and the interests of the whole country should come before any truncated republic. That is my policy. I have been a republican all my life, but I have been a 32-county republican. The part of Ireland that I was brought up to revere most is that part of Ireland comprising the counties of Antrim and Down. To  my mind the most historic event which took place in Irish history was the meeting on Cave Hill. The people whom I have always admired most were a group of people amongst whom there was not one Catholic; I refer to the people of Antrim and Down, on whom Wolfe Tone mostly relied, and not to the people of Tyrone and Fermanagh. They were the people who fought the battle of Ballinahinch and Antrim town. There was not one Catholic amongst them. There was Jimmy Hope and Harry Munroe and Henry Joy MacCracken, William Orr and the rest. The Republic in which I am interested was smashed by British artillery used by some of the people who have been put in power by the Clann na Poblachta Party.
An Ceann Comhairle: What has that to do with the Estimate?
Mr. G. Boland: That is the position and that is my outlook. I want a republic for 32 counties. My personal opinion is that we took a retrograde step when it was decided to repeal the External Relations Act, thereby obtaining international recognition for the partition of our country. We have now achieved international recognition for part of this country as an Irish Republic. The present situation is an outrage on the consciences of all true republicans. If I am any judge it will take quite a long time to get that work undone. The mischief-making of the Minister for External Affairs can be thanked for that day's work.
Mr. G. Boland: The Deputy was not listening to me then. We were grossly misrepresented. I hold that we have now done a bad day's work for this country. That is my personal opinion and that is an opinion that is being shared by a growing number of people all over the country. Naturally, we had to stand together in protest against the action of the British Government in passing the Ireland Act. We had to stand together against their action in introducing the Ireland Act. We could not have a debate on that because we had to show a united front  against a common enemy. But it was lamentable to listen to the kind of speech made by the Taoiseach on that occasion. I never felt so ashamed for many a long day. It was a ranting speech. It was humiliating to listen to the futile threats he uttered, talking about hitting the British in their pride and in their prestige and in their pocket. If he even believed we could do that the matter might be different. If it was Government policy, of course the Government would follow him. But where is the use in talking like that when we can do nothing? Why should he refer in such contemptuous terms to the Prime Minister of the Six Counties? Why should he describe him as the “Squire of Colebrook”? That is not the way in which to refer to the head of any Government.
Captain Cowan: It was good enough for him.
Mr. G. Boland: It is not good enough for him. He is the Head of a Government and he is entitled to some respect. It is not by futile threats that we shall make progress. It is bad enough to have back-benchers indulging in that kind of puerile talk but it is deplorable that the head of the Government should indulge in it. Can anybody say that the situation was handled as it should have been handled?
An Ceann Comhairle: Order.
Mr. Hickey: It is your Party speech.
Mr. G. Boland: I am speaking my own mind. We are not the Government now. When we were the Government we spoke with one mind. Any little individual differences that may have existed between us were resolved in the council chamber. We came to the country united on a common policy. Let nobody have any doubt as to where we stood in that respect. Not like this Government. You have one Minister getting up and asking for free transport, for competition with Córas  Iompair Éireann to show them how to make money. Then the Minister who is responsible for that gets up and contradicts him. Another gets up and speaks in favour of social welfare and the Minister for Finance attacks that too. That never happened in any other Government but this one, in the whole world. We had our differences of opinion about these matters, undoubtedly, like any other Government, but we thrashed them out in the council chamber. Now we are in opposition and we are not subject to the same restrictions. All that is required from us is that we accept the majority opinion of the Party, that we discuss our own ideas and try to arrive at the best solution we possibly can in our Party. We do not try to prevent members from saying what they think about a particular thing. I spoke for a small minority of our Party, with conviction, about the wrongness of that action.
Captain Cowan: You are not ashamed to be the King's Boland.
Mr. O'Rourke: You know he is not the King's Boland.
Mr. G. Boland: I do not mind that. My record in national affairs can stand beside Deputy Cowan's or anybody else's. Whether it can or not, whether I never get another vote or not, I am going to say what I think is in the best national interest. I am not the King's Boland. As far as that is concerned I would prefer—personally speaking again—to see the state of affairs that existed here before we were smashed by British artillery in 1922 rather than the position we have to-day with a divided country and, as far as I can see, with very little hope of bringing us together. Make what you like of that, now.
I had a few other things to say but we are short of time and I think I will have to give somebody else a chance to talk. A few things were mentioned yesterday which I am very keen on dealing with. I suppose, on account of having been a Whip so long, I am always thinking of Parliamentary time and consequently I will make way for somebody else.
Minister for External Affairs (Mr. MacBride): I had not intended intervening in this debate but I think that in view of some statements made by Deputy Boland it is necessary to clarify a number of points. In the first place, I would like to say that it is tragic and deplorable that in the year 1949 Deputy Boland should, in this House where there is a certain degree of unity on the national objective, seek to revive all the bitterness of the civil war. I think that is deplorable and I hope the Deputies on either side of the House will not follow him.
Deputy Boland devoted a portion of his time to explaining, or seeking to explain, statements he made in relation to the passing of the Ireland Bill by the British Parliament. I think it is necessary to place the context of Deputy Boland's Bantry speech on the 22nd May last, in relation to the events surrounding it. Deputy Boland was then talking of a measure which was being passed by the British Parliament. The purport of his speech was to accuse the Government elected by this Parliament of having been responsible, through mischief or blunder, for the action of the British Parliament. In other words—a thing that has seldom happened in the history of this country —a man in the public life of this country sought to justify an act of aggression by the British Parliament against this country on the grounds that they were justified because of the action of the Government elected by this House. His statement was reported in the Irish Press of 23rd May, 1949:—
“The deterioration in our relations with the British was due either to short-sighted, incompetent leadership or to deliberate mischief-making by the Government ... Fianna Fail ... had no responsibility for the foolish or mischievous leadership which had resulted in that legislation...”
He was referring to the passage of the Ireland Bill by the British House of Commons. I do not know whether Deputy Boland realised the gravity of the statement he made. To anybody with the interest of the country at heart, a statement of that  kind was very little short of treachery to this Parliament and to this Government. Deputy Boland denied this morning references that were made yesterday by Deputy O'Higgins to a statement made by the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Lemass, at Rathfarnham in October, 1948. Deputy Lemass's statement was reported in the Irish Press of the 21st October, 1948. In the course of that statement Deputy Lemass said:—
“Members of Fianna Fáil did not conceal their disappointment that a step which their work had made practicable was not being taken under the guidance of a Fianna Fáil Government. The general election had deprived them of that opportunity.”
It is now ... going to go and would probably have gone some time, in any event. We do not mourn its passing and will support its removal. But there can be no going back from the stand now taken. Not only that, but there can be no collateral sacrifice of our sovereignty in consideration of its going.”
Mr. O'Rourke: That is doubtful. When did you consult our Party?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has no right to interrupt.
Mr. Aiken: He did not say anything of the kind.
Mr. Aiken: Who are the “we”?
Mr. MacBride: I presume it includes him and the members of his Party.
Mr. Aiken: It includes you and does not include us.
Mr. O'Rourke: It does not.
Mr. Hickey: You should have more respect for them.
Mr. Friel: We stand for it, too.
Mr. MacBride: It has been suggested that the repeal of the External Relations Act in some way justified Britain's interfering in the internal affairs of this country. That is the only meaning that can be taken from Deputy Boland's speech and from the statements he made before.
Mr. Derrig: Nonsense.
Mr. O'Rourke: Nobody will agree with you in that.
Mr. MacBride: It has also been suggested that it had some adverse effect in relation to Partition, that it was a policy other than that which was approved of by Fianna Fáil. Again let me quote what the Leader of the Opposition said, as reported in the Irish Press on the 6th December last at Buncrana.
“It was a glorious thing that all those separated by the Treaty were proclaiming with Fianna Fáil: `We have a republican State as far as the Twenty-Six Counties are concerned.' Was there anyone who thought that that position would have been reached if it were not for Fianna Fáil?”
“The suggestion has been made that we (that is, Fianna Fáil) were negligent about Partition. If you read the speech that was made at the foundation of Fianna Fáil you will see there definitely outlined the national programme and the course we were going to pursue. It is not to-day that the policy of isolating Partition as the one remaining cause of difficulty between ourselves and Britain was first put before the people. It was put before them in 1926. Six years were spent in getting unity amongst our people; another six in getting rid of the British dictated Constitution.”
Deputy de Valera then sought credit for the repeal of the External Relations Act by saying it was the policy of Fianna Fáil, that it was the policy of Fianna Fáil to isolate the question of Partition from all other questions, that that was the policy it had proclaimed so far back as 1926, that that was what was being achieved now and Deputy de Valera claimed that as an achievement for Fianna Fáil. To-day, we have Deputy Boland coming in to the House saying that it was a bad day's work for the country.
It has been suggested that the Party, which I have the honour to lead, has  been in some respects inconsistent in relation to the matter. When this Government was formed I indicated to the House that, as it was not a Clann na Poblachta Government, I could not undertake to put into operation the Clann na Poblachta policy save and except as it was covered by the ten points which had been agreed to by the different Parties. That did not alter the Clann na Poblachta policy but I was glad to find—and I here pay full tribute to every other member of the Government and to every other Party behind the Government for it—that they, too, were in complete agreement with asserting the complete sovereignty of this country, irrespective of the wishes of Britain. Now many taunts have been thrown across this House at Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, on these matters. If Deputies will take the trouble to read the speech of Deputy Dillon, as he then was, when he supported the election of the Taoiseach in this House, they will find that he made it clear that he was in favour of getting rid of the External Relations Act on that day when the Government was formed an this House.
Mr. O'Rourke: He is a republican!
Mr. MacBride: Read his speech.
Mr. MacBride: He made it clear, not merely when this Government was elected, but when speaking in this House on the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs when Deputy de Valera was Minister for External Affairs. So did other members of the Government.
Deputy Boland in some way sought again to justify the action of the British Government in, without reason and unjustifiably, seeking to impose its will on the Irish people, by suggesting that the British Government had no notice of the Government's policy. The British Government knew, or should have known, the views of this Government in relation to the External Relations Act. They were made public in  this House at least a year before. They were made public by Deputy Dillon in this House when the Taoiseach was elected. They were made public by me when I introduced my Estimate last year. They were made public by the Tánaiste on the adjournment in this House just a year ago. So that there could have been no doubt in the British Government's mind as to the views of the Irish Government in relation to the repeal of the External Relations Act. But, is it seriously being suggested by any member of this House that the decision of the Government or the decision of this House concerning the sovereignty of the Irish people was to be determined by reference to the wishes of the British Government?
Mr. Aiken: Nobody ever made any such suggestion.
Mr. MacBride: Is not that the effect of Deputy Boland's suggestion?
Mr. Aiken: No.
Mr. MacBride: Is not that the effect of his speech?
Mr. MacBride: Deputy Boland, who to-day, and indeed when the repeal of the External Relations Act was before the House, expressed views which could only have meant that he considered that we should have remained in the British Commonwealth of Nations, said, as reported on the 28th October, 1948, in the Irish Press:—
“They should tell us what was to take the place of the External Relations Act which would bind us more closely to the Commonwealth. That question was causing great concern and it should be answered clearly and at once.”
The Deputies on the opposite side of the House tramped around the country trying to sow suspicions in the minds of the people that the country was being sold and that there was some other arrangement being come to which would bind us more closely to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Then we  were told, of course, that it was a Communist measure.
I would suggest that before the Opposition come into this House to criticise the policy of the Government they should at least agree among themselves on a policy; that instead of having Deputy Boland coming in here and seeking to justify the attitude of the British Government, seeking to attack his own Government on that basis, and Deputy Maguire and some other Deputies coming into the House and advocating that we should break off diplomatic relations with Britain and repudiate all trade agreements with Britain and march on the North, Deputies on the other side of the House should agree among themselves on a policy. I think it is a pity that there should be divergencies of views among the members of the Opposition on matters such as these. I think that a time has been reached when it should be possible for the members on both sides of the House to be in agreement on matters relating to the sovereignty and unity of our island. I hope that the speeches we heard here in the course of the debate on my Estimate will not be repeated, that from now on wiser counsels may prevail, and that on matters affecting the unity and the sovereignty of the country no Deputy will be found who will be prepared to attack his own Government in order to justify the action of the British Government in relation to this matter.
Mr. T. Brennan: What a change in the Minister's viewpoint!
Mr. Aiken: With the Minister for External Affairs, I hope that the time has been reached when, as he said, both sides can agree on matters affecting the sovereignty of the country. Unfortunately, there is a background to the present situation and one of the reasons why it is difficult to get absolute and complete agreement on all matters affecting the sovereignty of the country is that there was such violent and unjustifiable disagreement about such matters in the past. Let us take just one phrase which the Minister for External Affairs used a moment ago. He said that what Deputy Boland stated could only have meant that he  wanted “to keep us in the British Commonwealth”. The fact of the matter is that when the Minister was replying to Deputy Cowan some months ago he told us that we were out of the Commonwealth, that we had left the Commonwealth in 1937. But he repeats to-day his old canard that was being used over a long number of years after 1937, that we were in the Commonwealth and that, in some way or another, the repeal of the External Relations Act took us out of it.
When the Republic of Ireland Bill was being discussed here, all who had strong views on the matter said what they had to say. Deputy Boland took the view at the time that the time for the repeal of the External Relations Act was not ripe, and he said so in no uncertain terms.
Mr. Aiken: No. In that regard, Deputy Boland has the same sort of view as not only the members of Fianna Fáil but 99 per cent. of the Irish people. I think it is wrong for the Minister to say that the Irish people have any strong difference of opinion about the Commonwealth. A certain number of members of Fine Gael were not satisfied with the external association of the 1938 agreement and the External Relations Act and they wanted to throw it aside and go back fully into the Commonwealth, but the Irish people repudiated that policy. At present we have this fortunate position—that Fine Gael have thrown over their past and have now accepted the situation that we should be what Fianna Fáil wanted back in 1921—outside the Commonwealth. The members of Fine Gael, as the Minister knows, fought a bitter civil war to try to keep us in, but now, thank God, they are all agreed that we should be out and remain out. If you talked to them privately they would agree with what the Minister for External Affairs said publicly in 1948 before the Republic of Ireland Act was passed or even heard of—that we were outside the Commonwealth and had been outside it from  1937. The Minister will remember when he used these words. So why does he want to use the phrase here to-day that what Deputy Boland said “could only have meant that he wanted to keep us inside the British Commonwealth” when the Minister himself said over a year ago that we had left the Commonwealth in 1937?
Mr. MacBride: I was only talking about what Deputy Boland said.
Mr. Aiken: The Minister had better read what he said because I took down his words. It is a very good thing to hear Deputy O'Higgins, junior, and Deputy Collins saying that it was a damn bad thing that there was a civil war to keep us in the Commonwealth and to push the King down our throat. I for one am delighted to see the day that I hear Fine Gael repudiating the justification that they pretended they had for the civil war.
Mr. S. Collins: Do you remember the time you had the green uniform?
Mr. Rooney: It was a fight for jobs.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Made a good fight for it.
Mr. S. Collins: You are unable to talk.
Mr. S. Collins: I can always stand up to you.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Collins should allow somebody to speak.
Mr. Little: Will Deputy Collins try not to be a bosthoon?
Mr. S. Collins: You would make a poor master.
Mr. Hickey: This is worthy of this House, I must say.
Mr. Aiken: The Minister said that Deputy Boland had suggested that the British were justified in introducing the Ireland Bill and that clause particularly in which they sought to make Partition permanent. There is no one in this country who was ever a Nationalist or had any Nationalist associations who would attempt to justify the British introduction of the Ireland Bill. Everybody in the country has repudiated it. Deputy Boland fought against Partition in the Treaty. He fought against the Partition Agreement of 1925. His whole history and the history of his family has been of bitter hostility to British domination here over any part of the country and particularly, as he said here to-day, over the six most historical counties of Ireland. He did suggest, however, that the whole thing could have been handled better. Surely to goodness we should have progressed beyond the time when a Deputy cannot say, or is accused of being a Quisling if he suggests, that, even though this House had agreed to a policy, the Government has handled it badly.
One of the things that caused me some trouble was that you have certain parties in England, who could not justify the Government's action in regard to bringing in the Partition clauses in the Ireland Bill, who were told by some members of the Government over there that one of the reasons that this Bill was introduced was that they had got no notice. The British Government made that the excuse. Some of the members of the British Government made that excuse to their followers and it was a bad thing that they should be in a position to do so with some effect. No matter what reason the British Government had for that act—and my belief, if the Minister wants to know my belief, is that the British Government passed the Ireland  Bill because they were asked to do so by the British Imperial General Staff and that they made all sorts of excuses and exaggerated various happenings in order to justify themselves to their own Party for bringing in that Bill— they had, from an Irish point of view, no justification, good, bad or indifferent for the introduction of the Ireland Bill. I think we have had enough about the External Relations Act and that matter.
In order to put on record again what Deputy Boland said on the Second Stage of the Republic of Ireland Bill, I will give a quotation from the Dáil Debates. The whole thing is contained in column 562, Volume 113. Deputy Boland said:—
“I am voting for this Bill with a certain amount of misgiving and anything but enthusiasm. I certainly hope that the outcome will be good for the nation. I am not the best judge. I have my own views and have had them for a long time.”
“I have been in this movement for a long time and have held certain views and I hope I have an open mind on these matters. I am not saying that my judgment is the soundest one but I have a certain feeling that the time we have chosen for this and the manner in which it is being done was certainly ill-chosen.”
However, whether the time was ill-chosen or not, it was done, and our job here is to make certain that what was done is accepted by the whole of our people and that they all support the Constitution loyally from this time forward. We had an unfortunate situation for a number of years that a number of people were disloyal to the Constitution. I hope we are now all loyal to it and will continue to be and that we will extend that Constitution over the whole 32 Counties.
Mr. Aiken: I do not know. The Republic  of Ireland, as the present Attorney-General said, came in in 1937 and, according to the Minister for External Affairs, we left the Commonwealth in 1937. There were a number of young people in this country who believed that we did not. We will leave the matter at that.
I want to say a few words about a matter which the public discovered only yesterday was on foot. The management of the Great Northern Railway announced that the workers in Dundalk and on that railway would be on day-to-day employment after the 1st September. Surely to goodness the Government got notice of that some time ago, and why is it that some statement was not made or some effort was not made to meet that situation before the management had to call in the workers and make that announcement? I heard from a person who, I think, knows about the matter that the Government were informed about this situation three months ago and the first thing that we see is this thing breaking in the Press as a bombshell on a number of people whose livelihood depends upon these railways being continued and operated in an efficient and profitable manner. I hope that the Taoiseach or some other Minister will give us some indication as to what they have done, what steps they have taken since they were informed a few months ago that this situation was about to arise, and what steps they propose to take to keep the Great Northern Railway, and particularly that part over which we have control ourselves, going and in full operation. They might also see an opportunity of getting into contact with the people in control in the remaining portion of our country to see whether co-operation on this matter could not be secured between the two Governments. I do not want to go into the matter any further at this stage, but I hope the Government will have some reassuring statement to make on it before the debate concludes.
Deputy C. Lehane yesterday made a very eulogistic speech on Government policy and Government action. He said that the picture painted by the Taoiseach “was a good picture to look  on”. Some people see mirages in the desert and they are good pictures to look on, but there is nothing to them. Such pictures are will-o'-the-wisps and the nearer you come to them, the further they seem to recede. Surely there is no member of Clann na Poblachta, or indeed of any other Party in the Coalition Government, which made, and rightly made, a great fuss about the emigration which took place in this country, who can say that the picture of Irish economy is good to look upon when last year there was a big reversal of the trend which showed itself in the last years of Fianna Fáil in regard to emigration. In the last year of Fianna Fáil Government, we had a big influx of people into the country who had formerly emigrated, but in the first year of this Coalition Government, instead of 9,000 or 10,000 more coming back than came back in 1947, an extra 12,000 or 13,000 went out. That picture is not good to look upon. I am not blaming the Government for the whole of it. I think, however, that if they had clearly adopted the policy enunciated by Deputy Lehane here yesterday, we would have been somewhat further on the road to a solution of this national problem.
Deputy Lehane said that he “would have liked to have heard the Taoiseach say that what we could produce here should not be imported.” I am perfectly certain that if the Government had been more enthusiastic in seeing that what we could produce here would not be imported, we would have had very many fewer people exported last year, that some of our young people would have been able to stay at home and produce more goods on the land or in the factories. We are going to import this year large quantities of wheat, sugar and other commodities that we could have produced here at home, and, in Deputy Lehane's phrase, we did not produce things in the country which we could have produced.
Take, for instance, another bombshell which has affected certain towns in recent weeks, particularly the position of the boot factories in Dundalk. In one factory alone, 750 people have got notices of dismissal and the 1,400  or 1,500 workers employed in another large factory have been put on short time. During the months of May, we imported £50,000 worth of boots and that figure multiplied by 12 is £600,000, which would keep a big number of people employed in making boots here. Surely, when Clann na Poblachta claim to have such influence with Fine Gael and the other groups, they should endeavour to put into effect the policy enunciated by Deputy Lehane here yesterday.
Mr. Rooney: Has the Deputy no control over Deputy Lemass?
Mr. Aiken: The policy of reasonable self-sufficiency was not the monopoly of Fianna Fáil. It was the policy of Sinn Féin and it was the policy enunciated by Arthur Griffith and preached by him for many years in the wilderness. It was the policy adopted by Fianna Fáil in 1926 when Fianna Fáil was formed. It is a policy which, I think, brings with it the support of all reasonable people in the country. On that matter of the national policy of producing what we reasonably can within our own shores and keeping our young people at home to produce these goods, there seems to be a difference of opinion developing within the Clann na Poblachta Party. The Minister for External Affairs the other day read us a memorandum which he had sent to the Council for European Co-operation and I should like to ask him what exactly he meant by it.
Mr. MacBride: Will I be allowed to answer that question?
Mr. Aiken: I have a summary here which I think is correct. One of the matters the Minister referred to in that memorandum as causing trouble in Europe was the tendency to rebuild autarchic economic systems. An autarchic economic system is a system of self-sufficiency.
Mr. MacBride: Hear, hear! May I say this to the Deputy. The actual point under discussion there was the question of limitation of trade by means of exchange controls—not the question of protective tariffs. Every  country agrees on protective tariffs as being necessary to maintain industries in different countries. However, the burden of the discussion centered on the additional restriction on trade imposed by means of exchange controls or by means of limitation of trade. In other words, the same kind of thing which happens to us which precludes our exporting books, periodicals and so forth to Great Britain—not the question of protective tariff.
Mr. MacBride: I accept that straightaway.
I feel very strongly that the policy of the Government should be that which Deputy Lehane announced yesterday and I hope, like him, that even though the Taoiseach did not advert to it in his opening statement he will, in his closing statement, announce as his Government's policy that anything we can produce in this country should not be imported. In other words, we should have here an agreed policy of reasonable self-sufficiency and not only should  we have it here for our own guidance and for the guidance of all the people who want to know how to behave in the future with regard to the investment of money but we should make it clear to other countries with which we have associations that that is our fundamental national policy in this country and that it is agreed to by all Parties.
I should like the Taoiseach, when he is concluding this debate, to withdraw a statement which he made down in Bantry on the 12th June last and which was reported in the Press of the 13th June, 1949. He said:—
The Taoiseach: You do not expect me to agree to that.
Mr. Aiken: I do.
Mr. Rooney: What was your target?
Mr. Aiken: I would refer the Taoiseach to the financial statement issued in connection with the Budget in 1949. The Taoiseach will see there in Table 4 that the expenditure in 1947-48—the last year of Fianna Fáil Government—was £65,165,000.
Mr. Rooney: What was the 1948 target?
Mr. Aiken: That £65,000,000, Fianna Fáil expenditure, jumped to £71,943,000 in the first year of the Coalition Government, and in this year's Budget the Minister for Finance budgeted for an expenditure of £72,916,000—in other words, an increase of £8,000,000 instead of a reduction of £7,000,000. The Taoiseach very rightly said that “nowadays everyone is a taxpayer.” All sorts of taxpayers have contributed and are expected to contribute this year to this £72,916,000. Take just one little item—people have to pay more  on the stamps for postage. You have the people who have to pay greater National Health Insurance without getting any increased benefit. You have the people who have to pay for white flour if they want to make a bit of cake. I am not going to go into them all, I am only giving a couple of instances. This collection of taxation is going on, from everybody in the country, as the Taoiseach said, and the total amount of it this year is going to be £72,916,000. That is altogether apart from any of the capital section part of the Budget that was alluded to yesterday. For the ordinary household running expenses—as Deputy Lehane called them yesterday—this is costing the taxpayers this year £72,916,000—which is £8,000,000 more than that of the last year of Fianna Fáil Government, which was £65,165,000 by published accounts. An increase of £8,000,000, instead of a decrease of £7,000,000, as the Taoiseach stated. Everybody has to pay it, as the Taoiseach said in Bantry. In fact, if we take it this year, every person in the country—every man, woman and child—directly or indirectly will pay £24 6s. 0d. per head. In 1947 they paid £21 14s. 0d. per head—nearly £3 a head less than now. When the people were contributing and when we were spending at the rate of £21 14s. 0d. per head we were told that it was fantastic and that we were ruining the country by collecting that huge amount of taxation. But this year, notwithstanding the fact that we no longer have to pay such famine prices for imports as we had to pay in the last year of Fianna Fáil Government, and notwithstanding the fact that £6,000,000 which was in the Fianna Fáil Budget for subsidies for food and fuel has been cut out, taxation has jumped to £24 6s. 0d. per head. That is a tidy sum. Indeed, that is only direct tax. There are other things that are affecting the cost of living which could be put into that account and which were formerly put into such accounts by the Minister for Agriculture and other members of the Government when they were in opposition. However, we take it that this £24 6s. 0d. per  head is all that the people are having to pay for this Government. I want to know from the Taoiseach whether he sees any hope in the future that it is going to go back to the £21 14s. od. per head that the Fianna Fáil Party collected for housekeeping. Remember that, out of that £21 14s. od., we spent a couple of pounds per head in subsidising food and fuel in a year in which there was a famine in both food and fuel.
Deputies in the Coalition Benches referred to the second part of the Budget. It is a good thing that the Government continued certain parts of the capital development programme of Fianna Fáil. I was glad to see that the Government had provided more for machine-won turf development and did not cut down on the electricity development but carried on what we intended to do and the work that had been started. I was also glad to see that they were proceeding with the telephone development which was started in 1945 or 1946. The strange thing is that, while the Government has provided in the Budget a large sum of money for capital development, the rate at which men are being employed on capital development is disappointingly low. What is the use in providing more money for the Electricity Supply Board, for instance, for rural electrification, when, on July 1st, 1949, there are only 720 people employed, whereas in 1948 there were 711 —showing there is an increase of only nine persons in a year, on the development of rural electrification? Everybody agrees, on all sides of the House and in all parts of the country, that this should be proceeded with as quickly as possible, but here we have a situation that, in a year when vast additional sums are being provided in the Budget for rural electrification, when it comes down to brass tacks, down to the men digging holes for the poles and putting up the wires and the transformers, there are only nine more employed this year on the 1st July as compared with last year. There is something wrong with that and I ask the Taoiseach to inquire into it and to get a bit of a hurry put on the people who are responsible for holding down  employment on this necessary development to the level of 720.
The power stations are little better. There are, however, I am glad to see, another 300 men or more employed in building power stations. There is another 1,000 or so in developing machine-won turf. After all this fuss about forestry, what do we find? Between the two years, the employment on forestry has gone up only by about 10 per cent. With 10 per cent. extra men, the members of the Coalition Parties are asking us to believe that they are going to plant 400 per cent. more trees. That just does not hold water. If we are going to plant 400 per cent. more trees, it would be normal to expect that we would be employing four times the number of workers, whereas, in fact, we are employing only 9 or 10 per cent. more. On the 1st July, 1948, 1,904 were employed on forestry, while this year it is 2,094, less than 10 per cent. increase. We want to see forestry going ahead as quickly as we can. We know that one of the main difficulties is the getting of suitable land. There is no use in planting land that will grow only stunted trees, in which some types of pine trees will grow for a couple of years and then die when not very much higher than the heather. We know the difficulty is to get land that is worth planting. It would be a disastrous mistake from the point of view of public economy to adopt the policy announced by the Minister for Lands, after he was kicked by Clann na Poblachta in public, that he was going to plant on land that was hitherto supposed to be unplantable. I have been visiting forests and plantations for the last 40 years and I know that trees will grow at a certain altitude and, when you go past that, they get smaller and smaller until at last they are no bigger than the heather. We do not want to waste any money, whether Marshall Aid money or any other, in planting unplantable land and I hope the officers of the Department concerned will have a sense of honour and responsibility, and will not allow, without some public protest, unplantable land to be planted.
What we want to do is to use the money well. We are collecting this big sum of money from the people,  £24 6s. 0d. per head, and we want to see the people getting a good return for it. If the present generation does not get it, we want to see future generations improved by the collection of this sum of money. We also want to see that they get a return for this Marshall Aid burden we are putting upon them. We are borrowing money at the present time and no one sees very clearly how it is going to be paid back in dollars. In that regard I think the Minister for External Affairs is a little bit off the mark when he blames European countries. The real fact of the matter is that America cannot get paid back the dollars which she is lending at the present time unless she accepts repayment. The only way that any country can accept repayment for past investments is by the importation of goods or by the importation of a promise to pay, which is a further loan. There are only the two ways, the country can accept repayment in goods or can accept deferred repayment, that is, by giving a loan. Finally, in the last analysis, international debts can be paid only by the importation of goods and services, and if the Americans are not prepared to do that now and are not prepared to do it in the future, the world is going to be in a bad way. They can do the same disastrous thing which they did in 1929, when they refused to import goods, demanded gold, and put the world into a tail-spin.
I hope the present generation of American politicians and economists are somewhat more alive to the solution of the problem than their predecessors of a generation ago. I can see that if Europe is to recover, if Americans are to give a reasonable assurance to the Europeans that there is not going to be a disastrous economic war, they should undertake now that after a certain period they will balance their books and will undertake to import, by way of buying goods or buying services, to the extent that they export, that is, to the extent that they receive interest on past loans or that they send out goods in the particular year.
If they do not balance their books in that way, if they do not buy as much  as they sell, somebody else must be in debit to them. Creditors in the present situation have a responsibility of taking the action that will redress the economic balance of trade in the world. The debtors in some cases cannot do it, and it is up to the creditors, who want to see the world running on a smooth basis, to undertake that in a reasonable time they will balance their books in that way. If they did, less energy and goods would be wasted on capital development in countries like France and England and others and more energy would be put into goods for current consumption. That would in turn give those populations a higher standard of living at the present time and much ease of mind. I do not want to go very far into that problem, but I hope that the Minister for External Affairs will study that aspect of it. If he wants to study it he will find in the Department of Finance and, I think, in his own Department memoranda prepared by me going back to 1939 and some to 1933 on that idea of balanced national trade.
I hope also that the Taoiseach in winding up this debate will say that the policy of this Government is that what we can produce in this country should not be imported. That is an aim of policy and we are not demanding that it should be made completely 100 per cent. effective within one year, 18 months, five years or ten years, but it is an aim which we should have and try to implement with all possible speed. I think it is disastrous that we should this year be facing a prospect of a cut down in the wheat crop when we have to borrow dollars to buy wheat in America. It is the same with sugar. We have 33,000 acres less sugar beet and if the Lord is not good to us there will be a very much lower yield per acre than last year and consequently we have to borrow more dollars. Those dollars will have to be repaid some time if we want to keep the good name we have in the United States and if we want to keep our own independence of judgment on various matters. We do not want to have that creditor-debtor relation with the United States or any other country if we can avoid it.
 One small point that I did not understand from the speech of the Minister for External Affairs and which the Taoiseach might clear up is what exactly is the name of this State going to be in international documents, international agreements and matters of that kind. When Deputy de Valera asked about our being described as the “Irish Republic” in the statute for the Council of Europe the Minister for External Affairs said:—
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Does the Deputy notice an omission in the United Kingdom title?
Mr. Aiken: Was there a bargain, United Kingdom and Irish Republic? The Minister gave as one reason that the Republic of Ireland Bill had not come into operation when the draft was being prepared. The draft was signed on the 5th May and the Republic of Ireland Bill came into operation on the 18th April. The Minister might ask the Taoiseach to explain, or, if he wants to do it, do it himself now if the Chair will permit. On the 5th May we had passed the Bill, and it had come into operation, in which it was laid down that the State shall be described as the Republic of Ireland. If we go back before the 18th of April when this was  being drafted the name of the State was “Ireland” in the English language, but we neither get “Republic of Ireland” nor “Ireland”. When the names of the countries are given as “Belgium”, “Denmark” and “France”, not “Republic of France” or “French Republic”, one would expect that the next thing one would find would be “Ireland”, but instead we have “Belgium, Denmark, France, Irish Republic, Italy, Luxembourg” and so on. I just want to point that out because I do not know how it happened that “Irish Republic” was the name instead of “Republic of Ireland” or “Ireland”. One or the other should be used. Constitutionally the name of the State is “Ireland” in the English language. An Act was passed saying that the State shall be described as Republic of Ireland, so it should be one or the other and not this name, “Irish Republic”. The Minister will know that when the Ireland Bill was going through the British Parliament a number of——
Mr. A.P. Byrne: What does it matter, Deputy?
Mr. Aiken: ——M.P.s there suggested that the name should be “Irish Republic”, simply for the reason that they did not want to accept the name “Republic of Ireland”, as they thought it entailed a claim on our part which we shall never surrender to the whole of Ireland. They wanted to popularise the name “Irish Republic” as the name of a State of merely 26 counties. We want to keep up the name given in the Constitution, “Ireland”, in order to show that our claim is to the whole island of Ireland and in international documents, in my opinion, the State should be alluded to as “Ireland” or the “Republic of Ireland”.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Cosgrave): I marvel at the blatant audacity of Fianna Fáil Deputies and particularly at some of the speeches here yesterday on the Estimate which alleged that this Government had not carried out the ten-point programme or had not implemented the undertakings it gave  when it was elected. I propose to elucidate, from the things which have been accomplished and the policy which has been implemented, a set of circumstances which will show clearly that with a few exceptions this Government can point to a record over the past 16 months which will defy and refute the allegations that the policy which was announced has not been implemented.
I propose, in particular, to discuss the ten-point programme and to give the Dáil the facts under each heading, as well as the extent to which the programme has been implemented, in some cases completely and others partially. In doing so, I think it is no harm to say that when that programme was announced it was never stated that it would be completed within the first 12 months. But over the last 12 months there has been progress made under every single heading in that programme towards implementing the policy therein outlined. The first point in that programme was “increased agricultural and industrial production”. Last year agricultural production increased over the previous year. The Taoiseach yesterday gave facts which show that not only had that production increased but that, as a result of it, our adverse trade balance last year was reduced, and that in the first five months of this year there has been a substantial improvement in our exports. The improvement in exports, if continued, indicates that for the coming year the policy of increased agricultural production with a consequent increase in exports will undoubtedly go a considerable distance towards bringing about an improvement in our balance of trade.
Similarly, with regard to industrial production. The figures show that last year our exports increased by over £2,000,000. Some Deputies seem to consider that the improvement there was not adequate, that it does not reflect a sufficient advance or mean that we have yet reached anything like the level of industrial production that we ought to aspire to. Under both headings, however, there has been a substantial improvement, an improvement which is reflected even more significantly in the first five months of  this year. The trade statistics published in May last show that, for the months January to May our exports amounted to £22,062,230 as against exports for the same period in 1948 of £16,543,418. If the increase that is shown there is maintained, as I think everyone believes it will be maintained since all the indications show that it is likely to continue, then the policy of the Government on increased agricultural and industrial production is being implemented, and in the earlier part of this year has been put into practice.
The second point in the programme was “immediate all-out drive to provide houses for the working and middle classes at reasonable rents.” In February, 1948, the number of houses in course of construction by local authorities was something over 3,000. The number at present in course of construction by local authorities is over 9,000. The number of persons employed on that work in February, 1948, was between 3,000 and 4,000. At present, there are over 10,000 persons employed on local authority houses. The number of houses being built by private enterprise at the present time is approximately 5,000.
The second part of No. 2 in the ten-point programme was that luxury building was to be controlled. Since last year no licences have been given for houses over 28,000 cubic feet, and since the beginning of this year licences are no longer required for the construction of houses either by local authorities or by people availing of the subsidy. It is quite true that housing output is not sufficient. It is true that there was, and that even yet there is, some shortage of materials. The restrictions on the use of materials for non-essential building work, the increase in the supply of skilled craftsmen and the impetus given by the Minister for Local Government and his predecessor to the housing drive, all operated, I believe, to increase the number of houses in course of construction and will mean, in the coming year, a further increase.
I come now to the principal item in the charge levelled by the Opposition that the Government have not reduced  the cost of living. Reference has been made to the fact that there has been little change. These references ignored a number of reductions which have taken place, but which are never taken into account, in the cost of a wide variety of commodities and they are not included in the regular cost-of-living index figure. Up to date, since last October, there has been a reduction in the cost of a number of clothing items, in the cost of suits averaging 4 per cent., coats and sports wear 5 per cent., shirts and collars 2½ per cent., hosiery 12½ per cent., pyjamas and blouses 11 per cent., worsted suitings, 2 per cent.
Mr. Lemass: Why, then, did the index figure go up?
The Taoiseach: On the old index it is down ten points.
Mr. Cosgrave: Quite a number of those commodities are not taken into account in the cost-of-living index figure. In the case of building materials, standard metal windows are down by 20 per cent.; nuts, bolts and sheet-glass from 9 to 6 per cent.; fire clay goods, 5 per cent. I could go on and give a miscellaneous list which includes motor-cars, springs, sparking plugs, industrial gases, sugar confectionery, jams, margarine and timber, all of which show a reduction varying from as low as 4 per cent. up to 16 per cent. These items, as Deputies are aware, are not included in the official cost-of-living index figure, which, as the Taoiseach has said, has itself shown a reduction.
Deputy Aiken a few moments ago referred to the fact that he did not believe in the system under which certain commodities are sold at prices which are above the ration price. He forgot to tell the House that there is now available to every person, just as there was under Fianna Fáil, a ration of bread and a ration of tea at subsidised prices. I should say in connection with the ration of tea that the tea ration is now a half-ounce higher than it was, thereby increasing the State subsidy by £400,000. There is also available a ration of sugar at the controlled price, but over and above that supplies of bread and sugar are available to those who wish to purchase  them at the economic price. At the same time, an increased butter ration has been made available. It was not available in 1946 and 1947. There are also available increased supplies of bacon and of eggs. All these essential foodstuffs were scarce at a time when, if we are to take Deputy Aiken's words, we should have been producing from our own resources—our own farms and factories—the goods which our own people require.
I think it will not be out of place if I refer for a moment to some of the achievements of Fianna Fáil under this heading. In the last year that Fianna Fáil was in power, the total cattle population fell by 4.5 per cent. Cattle under one year fell by 8.4 per cent., milch cows by 4.6 per cent., sows by 8.6 per cent., and then there is poultry. Under the headings Deputy Aiken announced to-day, we should have had increased production—under the headings which, he said, referring to European trade, were essential if they were to have a balanced economy. The Fianna Fáil effort not only did not produce the increase but, under various headings, by either the effects of the wrong policy, or by not knowing the effects of the policy——
Mr. Cosgrave: ——in one year pigs under Fianna Fáil had become so scarce that, to use the eloquent phrase of Deputy O'Leary, if a man met a pig on the road he would lift his hat to him. This year pig production has increased and bacon is available now to everyone at a reasonable price. The indications are that if the increase in sows continues, there will be a substantial improvement in the supply of bacon, an improvement not only which will make it available to our people, but sufficient once again for us to engage in the profitable export trade which, in the earlier years of Fianna Fáil, was available to this country but which, due to some mismanagement or to deliberate mishandling, was lost to the extent that, in so far as they were concerned, they were prepared to allow it to go down, not only at a time when  we wanted it ourselves, but at a time when we could have secured a profitable market for our agricultural produce abroad.
I was particularly interested last night in Deputy Childers' statement that some of the Parties supporting this Government, or represented in it, had gone before the people on a policy of full employment and that now, after a period of office, Clann na Poblachta said that that was still their policy but that they had not yet been able to see it implemented. He went on to say that Fianna Fáil knew the problem, that they realised the difficulty and appreciated that unemployment was a problem not confined to rural areas or to urban areas, but that it was common to the country as a whole, that it was not seasonal, that you always had a problem there to deal with, but that they knew that it required a solution and, as a result of their experience, appreciated that it could not be dealt with on a short-time basis.
It is interesting to hear that in 1949 from Deputy Childers, because I have here a few quotations from what the Sunday Independent described on one occasion as the old family album. And I find, at the opening of the Tuam beet factory, as reported in the Connacht Tribune of 2nd December, 1933, the former Taoiseach, Deputy de Valera, said they could support a population three or four time their present number with a higher standard of comfort than they had at present, if they set about it properly and co-operated with one another as they should. Speaking in Clare, and as reported in the Irish Independent of 11th January, 1932, he said no other country could point to such a ready solution of the unemployment problem. Then, speaking at Athy, and as reported in the Irish Independent of 4th February, 1932, he went on to say that no other country could solve its unemployment problem as easily as Ireland because they had a home market capable of consuming all they produced.
Deputy Lemass was not to be outdone. As reported in the Independent of 30th January, 1932, he said that if they set out to do what they obviously could do, produce their own food, make  their own clothes and build their own houses, instead of letting the foreigner do it for them, there would not be enough idle men in the country to do the work and they would have to call back some of the 250,000 who had emigrated during the previous nine or ten years.
After experience in Government and after putting the Fianna Fáil policy into operation, Deputy Childers was forced to say last night that they knew the extent of the unemployment problem and they realised there was no ready solution which could be taken out of blue prints and put into practice. He upbraided Clann na Poblachta for maintaining that it was an easy problem; he upbraided them for their innocence or their ignorance and he forgot to refer to the advice of his own leaders, probably through which not only Clann na Poblachta but the more innocent Fianna Fáil supporters were deluded.
Mr. C. Lehane: Clann na Poblachta does not accept it as a delusion.
Mr. Cosgrave: It is significant that Deputy Childers went on to say that they believed more employment could be created by tillage and that tillage was one of the methods which they regarded as being an effective step to solve rural unemployment. I wonder when will we get rid of the foolish notion in this country that some Parties stand for tillage and that others are against it?
I think, and I have repeated it before, that the best prospect of a prosperous agricultural and a prosperous rural community, the best hope of providing more employment and securing a bigger return from the land, and the best hope of making available to our people the goods which they require, essential foodstuffs, and offering a reasonable prospect of permanent agricultural conditions, was long ago described in the phrase, one more cow, one more sow and one more acre under the plough. It is, I believe, a foolish, stupid approach to agricultural problems to suggest that live stock and tillage are in some way opposed to each other. Anyone who  has had the slightest experience of agriculture knows that if you keep another sow and another cow, if you carry that process to its logical conclusion, you will need another acre under the plough and perhaps more than another acre. As long as our live-stock numbers increase, as long as we can keep them increasing, we will increase tillage.
But people omit to add that if we were to till without having live stock, rural employment would be provided only in the spring and in the autumn of the year and there is a gap in between when tillage does not require the same attention as it does in the spring and the autumn. It is true that you have to attend to crops at all periods of the year, but by and large, the maximum amount of employment in tillage is given in the spring and the autumn. If you have, at the same time, a live-stock economy, there is permanent employment over the whole year in order to look after the live stock and attend to their requirements.
Indeed, it is not out of place to give some facts about the policy which was carried on here during the war, apparently at a time when you had not only the maximum inducements for more tillage but at a time when we had compulsory tillage to assist whatever monetary inducements there were, caused by the world shortage and by a shortage of essential supplies at home. During the years 1941 to 1946—that is, at the time when you had compulsory tillage, a shortage of foodstuffs, and a shortage of ordinary agricultural production—the number of males employed in agriculture dropped from 555,000 in 1941 to 519,000 in 1946, a drop of 36,000. I do not know whether facts have any influence on Fianna Fáil mentality.
Mr. Cosgrave: Is the Deputy in favour of compulsion?
Mr. Lemass: No, but why is tillage going down?
Mr. de Valera: Tillage is going down —is that not so?
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not know whether it is Fianna Fáil policy permanently to compel our people to follow a certain line of life. I do not know whether that Party is in favour of telling the farmer what he must grow, how he must grow it and when he must grow it. I do not believe that is a way of life our people would wish to follow. I do not believe that our people have to be dragooned into doing things. I believe that if the farmers get a better price for wheat under this Government than they did under the Fianna Fáil Government they will grow wheat. I believe that if they get a better price for barley they will grow barley. The result of lifting the ceiling on barley from 40/- to 50/- and removing the control which prohibited Messrs. Guinness paying a higher price for malting barley is that there has been a substantial increase in the barley acreage and I believe that that will continue.
Mr. Allen: At the expense of oats.
Mr. Allen: And at the expense of wheat also.
Mr. Cosgrave: Wheat for which a higher price is now being paid. Is the Deputy's conclusion then that we should pay a lower price for wheat and, by emergency Order, by legislation  and by putting inspectors over the farmer compel him to grow so much wheat, barley, or beet? Fianna Fáil policy was to eliminate the pig.
Mr. Blaney: It is all grass now.
Mr. P.J. Burke: You know we have to feed the human beings and not the animals.
An Ceann Comhairle: Order! All interruptions are disorderly.
Mr. Cosgrave: I remember a time when it was Fianna Fáil policy to prohibit the import of maize. There was a scheme at one time called the maize admixture scheme. I think that was the title of it. Unfortunately, the back-benchers in Fianna Fáil are always a little way behind their leaders. Deputy Lemass has talked throughout the country about our wanting increased quantities of maize, but that, of course, has not yet filtered into the heads of the back-benchers. They are still a few years behind. Not only do we need our own production of barley, oats and wheat but we must import additional foodstuffs in order to increase our live-stock population. There was an increase in the price paid for wheat and a number of other crops during the emergency coupled with the Compulsory Tillage Order, but we were not even then able to produce sufficient for our own requirements. Whether an increase can be brought about by compulsion or by inducement, or by a combination of both, is doubtful taking into consideration our experience during the emergency. However necessary it may now appear to the Fianna Fáil Deputies that we should have an increased acreage under beet, I want to point out that that is a definite change in outlook on their part. I remember a time when Deputy MacEntee described the beet factory when it was only in its infancy as a white elephant.
That brings me to another matter to which I wish to refer and to which Deputy Aiken adverted at the conclusion of his remarks. He deplored the fact that there was not a greater increase in the number of persons employed on rural electrification. It may be news to the Deputy that at the present rate of expansion in the rural  electrification scheme the programme outlined will be completed in less time than orginally anticipated.
Mr. Cosgrave: The scheme outlined will be completed in a shorter time. I do not know whether one should employ people in excess of the numbers required, but that was the conclusion to be drawn from Deputy Aiken's remark. At the present rate of expansion in the rural electrification scheme the programme that was outlined in the White Paper will be completed in less time.
Mr. Lemass: It only began in 1948.
Mr. Cosgrave: Nevertheless, it is four times what it was. It is rather significant that that was another of the schemes described by Deputy MacEntee as a white elephant. We are told that the members of this Government speak with different voices. Was there ever anything more contradictory than the voices of the present Opposition when they were in Government? Deputy MacEntee was a Minister at the time when he announced in the Seanad that this scheme was a white elephant. Some of the present Opposition even went so far as to say then that we should have started on smaller schemes instead of on one really big schemes of a constructive nature. It is one example of a scheme administered under a State company and giving a fair return for the initial expenditure. Deputy Lemass referred to the fact yesterday that we had delayed the implementation of a number of schemes that were likely to be productive. He referred in particular to the transatlantic air service. I think some other member of his Party referred to the Tourist Board. The  prospects were that the transatlantic air service would be run at a substantial loss. The local service run by Aer Lingus, which operates under more favourable conditions generally speaking, is still running at a loss. It is significant that at a time when the tourist traffic was the largest in the history of the country and when every hotel was finding difficulty in accommodating tourists, the Tourist Board hotels operated by Fáilte Teo. demonstrated that it was possible to lose money on tourist traffic.
Mr. Derrig: How long were they in operation?
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not know whether it is a good thing to continue——
Mr. Lemass: They did not lose money until last year.
Mr. Cosgrave: They lost money every year. The Deputy knows that the accounts originally published did not take into consideration depreciation or any of the other normal accountancy factors that must be adverted to in any balance sheet. He knows well that the figures published did not give anything like a true representation of the facts. It is significant that these hotels, which were regarded by the Fianna Fáil Government as such an important industry, should show that it was possible to lose money on this traffic. I do not know whether this or any other Government can continue to squander money at the expense of the people when there is a prospect of productive work which will give a return, not only now but also in the future, by providing a more stable basis for our economy as a whole. I do not know whether or not it is better and more beneficial to the community to spend public money on productive projects rather than permit extravagant claims to be made for wholly illusory benefits from some of the schemes carried on under the Fianna Fáil régime.
Mr. Lemass: You stopped at point three.
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not believe that the people who want the old age pensions, the widows' and orphans' pensions and the blind pensions are interested in a White Paper. What I do believe they are interested in is the increase that took place at the beginning of this year in old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and blind pensions, not resulting in increased taxation, but amounting in increased benefits to the whole community to over £2,000,000. The previous Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Dr. Ryan, said the country could not afford an increase, although the modest motion which was brought forward by Deputy Dr. O'Higgins and Deputy Costello, as they were then, was to increase the old age pensions by 2/6. I believe that what the people require and what they are anxious to get from the Government is not a White Paper; they want results. They have got an increase in old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and blind pensions. Then, as a corollary to that, there was to be a modification of the means test. That was the last point in the ten-point programme. There has been in this year a modification in the means test as applied to old age pensions and other pensions. That was one of the undertakings which was given and one of the undertakings which have been implemented.
Some of the Deputies opposite referred to the fact that the Ministers spoke with different voices. They criticised the divergence of viewpoint which they alleged was sometimes expressed by individual Ministers. I think it was Deputy Boland this morning who said that when they were the Government they arrived at agreement —maybe they argued it out—and they then announced their decision. The difference between this Government and the last Government is this: that Ministers have a personal viewpoint. Deputy de Valera generally took his own line and the rest of them followed. Deputy Lemass spoke on economic matters and the other Ministers just said ditto. In this Government a Minister is free to express his personal  opinion. It is a good thing that they have personal opinions. However, when Government policy has been decided, that policy is then put into effect and the Government as a whole has responsibility for it. The mere fact that a Minister gets up and makes a statement which differs slightly from that of other Ministers is not any indication that there is a divergence of opinion or that the Cabinet has split. In fact, I think the last 17 months have convinced even the most optimistic Deputies opposite, as well as the most optimistic of their own supporters, that the line of propaganda that the Government would not last, will no longer work. The Government is going to last. A significant development has taken place since this Government was elected. When the Government was elected quite a number of Parties and a number of Deputies not supporting any Party, supported it. Some who are not supporters of Fianna Fáil had some misgivings but the passage of time has convinced those Deputies of the wisdom of the policy of the Government, of the benefits that it has succeeded in securing and of the general improvement in national economic conditions. It has secured their support almost without exception, and Fianna Fáil are now isolated and alone in their opposition.
There is one other matter I want to refer to which was mentioned by Deputy Aiken. That is the fact that there was not adequate protection here for the boot and shoe industry. He went on to rant about producing all we want at home, giving the industry an opportunity without it having to meet competition from imports. I want to give him some facts about the imports of boots and shoes. In the year 1945 the quota period Order allowed in 925,000 pairs. In 1946 it allowed in 925,000 pairs and in 1947 up to 1,250,000 pairs. In 1948 it was cut down partly by an Order of this Government on the 1st July of that year to 775,000 pairs. This year it was reduced to 225,000 pairs. Anyone who has any experience of the boot and shoe industry, and Deputy Lemass will agree that that quota is so low as to have no effect on home production. The quota there fixed applies to certain  lines of production not catered for by the home manufacturer. Therefore, in so far as adequate protection is concerned, there is no step left to this Government with regard to prohibiting imports that it can take which will alter or improve the conditions under which home-manufactured boots and shoes are produced. I think the quota is so low that even if the remaining 225,000 pairs were excluded it would not make any difference. Deputies who are familiar with the trade and with production realise that the quota there fixed applies to lines the need for which home production cannot meet.
I want to say in conclusion that the fact that this Government has in such a short space of time implemented so much of the policies outlined in the ten-point programme is not only a tribute to the Government but is even a greater tribute to the Deputies and to the people outside who elected the Deputies in this House and who last year elected this Government. It is a tribute to the capacity of our people to work together in harmony, to agree on a common policy, to agree on major issues and to put these policies into effect; and not only that, but when they are put into effect to examine the results. On the results which have been accruing and which I believe in the future will accrue from this Government's policy, the condition of affairs when the term of office of this Government is concluded will be substantially improved for all sections.
I should like to say just a word on a matter which the Taoiseach referred to yesterday, to say that I believe it was a wise step. I was glad to hear Deputy Little comment favourably on the Government's desire to promote opportunities for cultural development here. I think the fact that it has been possible to get an acknowledged expert of the standing of Dr. Bodkin is something of which not only this House but the country can well be proud. It is fortunate that we have been able to secure an Irishman who has not only a national but an international reputation for work of that kind. I hope that the terms of reference which he has will result in making available to this  country increased opportunities for cultural development as well as an opportunity of once again securing international recognition for the high level of Irish culture.
Mr. de Valera: I move to report progress.
|Last Updated: 31/08/2012 10:10:33||Page of 33|