Location: Unknown. Private meeting.
The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE formally moved the adoption of the Report of that Department.
The ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT seconded. He asked what proportion of the citizens of the country knew of the Prohibition Orders against English goods. He always felt that while the young men were giving up their lives for their country the women folk and their families were filling the War Chest of the enemy, and helping to keep the Army of occupation in the country. He wondered was it possible to form some organisation of women on the basis of Parish units and get them to take up seriously the question of boycotting English goods and giving preference to articles of Irish manufacture.
P. BEASLAI (Kerry, East) asked had anything been done about the suggestions made at last meeting regarding German goods.
The SUBSTITUTE MINISTER FOR LABOUR asked if in view of the Irish surplus of butter at present in the country an Export trade could be opened up with the United States where, according to reports in the papers the Danes had now found a great market for their butter.
J. MACENTEE (Monaghan, South) referring to the Report on the Commission of Inquiry considered that a great deal of the ineffectiveness of the Commission had arisen through faulty organisation. The Secretary appeared to have endeavoured to retain all the activities of the Commission too completely under his own control, instead of devolving a great deal of the work upon technical experts and assistant secretaries. While the Commission were collecting a huge amount of information on numerous subjects there was no one to digest the returns, and no expert to compile satisfactory reports. The Coal Memoir, he said, was going to cost £800 to print, and he doubted if they would get any practical result from it. It dealt purely with the geological aspect of the question. He had submitted the Milk Report to several people, and they held that from a practical point of view it was of no value. All this was due to the fact that skilled men were not employed to get out these reports. He objected to the form in which the accounts of the Commission's expenditure were printed.
The MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT asked if the Director of Trade and Commerce was in charge of all the Consuls. Did he control the American Consulate, and does he get reports from all the Consuls on their activities.
P. O'KEEFFE (Cork, North) moved that the Commission of Inquiry be wound up on the 1st July, 1921, and that all reports be handed over to the Director of Trade and Commerce. That all books purchased for the work of the Commission be handed over to the Secretary of the Dáil, and that a detailed report of the work done be supplied to the Dáil at its next meeting.
The PRESIDENT said if the proposal was put in the form of a suggestion to the Ministry he would be in favour of it. He thought they should go into the reports of the Commission and get them examined by experts before publication so that the published reports might be of practical value.
The SUBSTITUTE DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE said he could spend some time discussing the Stud Farm Report but he considered the suggestion of the President the best solution. The Ministry should be made responsible for the close examination of the Reports, and it should be left to their decision as to when the Commission should be wound up.
The DEPUTY-SPEAKER said they would take that recommendation as having the general approval of the House.
The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE in replying to the various queries, pointed out that in issuing Prohibition Orders great care was necessary, and consequently he had to go slowly. He had, of course, examined a number of articles outside those already prohibited, and he would be able to issue orders more frequently in future. He had written to Mr. Fawsitt three weeks ago for a full report as to the possibilities of a market for Irish butter in the United States. He had not yet received an answer, but he heard the Danish venture was a failure owing to transit difficulties. He agreed with the views expressed by the Deputy for South Monaghan regarding the Commission of Inquiry, but he thought that the position was not altogether the Secretary's fault. The members of the Commission could not be absolved from blame, and the Dáil itself did not give proper consideration to the project when setting up this Commission. The work done had a great propagandist value and the memoirs prepared could form the basis of further inquiries by special Commissions to be appointed at a later stage. He considered the best course was to wind up the Commission and go into the reports afterwards. The 50 per cent export tax on German goods which had been imposed since last meeting had destroyed any chance of trade. German firms did not want to deal at present. The Consul in America had done an immense amount of propaganda in regard to direct trade between Ireland and the States. The matter had got a great deal of publicity in the Press, and the Consul was in close touch with the United States Shipping Board. He believed that beyond propaganda their Consuls could do very little, as they had not the standing or status that Consuls of other countries had.
The ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT repeated his query as to the publication of Prohibition Orders and the formation of an Organisation of women to help in the Boycott of English goods. He did not place too much faith in Consuls. It would be better to devote most of their energy to waging war on the enemy at home.
The SUBSTITUTE MINISTER FOR LABOUR explained the method of working the English Boycott. The Director of Trade and Commerce would issue the Prohibition Orders and the Boycott Committees would see they were enforced. There would be 360 of these Committees is existence by the end of the present week. These Committees would meet at least once a week, and he intended to retain eight Organisers for the purpose of keeping them active. The Director of Trade and Commerce would issue suitable propaganda to show the people of Ireland what their duty was as far as English manufactures were concerned, and he (the Minister for Labour) would guarantee that all Prohibition Orders and Propaganda would be put into every house in Ireland. He was sure that by the the end of May the Assistant Minister of Local Government would be quite satisfied that anything prohibited by the Director of Trade and Commerce would be very difficult to obtain in Ireland. As the Prohibition Orders grew their resources would grow. He thought the women were the best workers on all the Boycott Committees.
B. O'HIGGINS (Clare, West) suggested the prohibition of English newspapers. There was a million pounds spent annually on English papers and they were an important medium for advertising English goods.
The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE said he would not like at present to recommend this prohibition.
The Report was adopted.