Dáil Éireann - Volume 146 - 02 July, 1954

Committee on Finance. - Vote 50—Industry and Commerce

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Norton): I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £5,990,240 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during [1097] the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

I take it, it is agreed to take all the Estimates in this group together. It is customary for a Minister, when introducing the annual Estimates, to furnish an account of the activities carried on and the services administered by him in the preceding year. It is also usual for him to give an outline of the developments planned and the extensions or alterations of services contemplated for the year to which the Estimate relates.

Since I have only recently taken over responsibility for the Department of Industry and Commerce and its associated services I think it would be inappropriate for me to undertake a review of the activities of the Department over the past 12 months since this would amount to rendering an account of the stewardship of my predecessor. If Deputies have any questions to raise on the Estimates I shall endeavour to answer them or to inquire into them. My desire is to provide the fullest information to Deputies on the work of this very important Department of State. Deputies will also understand that, in the short period since I assumed office, it would have been quite impossible for me to ascertain in detail the activities of the Department for which I am now responsible. I propose, however, to refer to a number of matters which seem to me to be of immediate concern and to give some indication, in respect of these matters, of what my general policy and the policy of the Government is going to be.

We have now reached a stage of industrial development at which it is permissible to hope that while there may be minor disagreements on certain aspects of our national development programme, there is broad agreement as to the main objectives to be achieved. It would, I think, be harmful to our future development plans if there should be [1098] acute and acrimonious discussions on our industrial aims. I hope that whatever our disagreements may be on other aspects of policy it will be possible to secure a substantial measure of agreement among all Parties that our industrial resources should be developed to the full. Such agreement, and the assurance of no violent changes in our objectives, will, I feel sure, make a substantial contribution to promoting conditions of stability which will stimulate further industrial development.

Tariff reviews: A policy of protection has been pursued here by successive Governments and many of our Irish industries have enjoyed the benefits of protection for many years. I think that the time has now come to review and assess the results of this policy, and I think that view is shared by my predecessor. At all events, this matter has been under consideration by my predecessor, and I have now decided that a review of tariffs should be initiated immediately and I have entrusted this task to the Industrial Development Authority, which, as the reviewing body for the purposes of article 8 of the Anglo-Irish trade agreement of 1938, has already had experience in this direction.

I have given the Industrial Development Authority a first list of tariffs for review and it is my intention to add further items to this list from time to time. I have informed the Industrial Development Authority, however, that the selection of industries for review should not be interpreted as implying that the industries concerned are inefficient. The object of the review is to explore the possibility of securing expanded production, higher efficiency and improved methods generally, to reduce unit costs, to give the consumer the benefit of such improvements as it is possible to achieve, to develop or expand exports and, consistent with the foregoing, to secure maximum employment.

It should not be necessary for me to say that the fact that I have initiated this review of tariffs does not mean that I have any doubts about the need for protection for Irish industry. Nevertheless, in case anybody should [1099] have any doubts in the matter, I want to make it quite clear that it will be my policy to ensure that Irish industrial enterprises will be given every reasonable assistance and protection against foreign competition and against dumping from abroad. As I said recently in a public speech I want to assure industrialists that it is my aim and the aim of the Government to promote Irish industrial expansion on all fronts and those industrialists who desire to increase production and expand opportunities for employment will be warmly and sympathetically received by me as Minister. I am well aware of the difficulties facing anyone who wants to establish and maintain an industry in Ireland in the face of competition from bigger and more highly industrialised countries. I am also aware of the urgent need for the provision of more opportunities for employment in field and factory and it is and will remain the policy of this Government to seek to provide these opportunities by stimulating increased industrial and agricultural production.

Let me repeat, therefore, that I am determined to maintain an adequate and reasonable degree of protection for existing industry and that I will welcome proposals for the expansion of existing industries and for the establishment of any new industries which can be set up in this country on a sound economic basis. Any industrial promoter who comes to my Department with a sensible proposal can be assured of a warm welcome. He can also be assured that all the advice and information at my disposal which will be likely to assist him in formulating concrete propositions will be freely and gladly made available. Where it is clear that protection is needed for the establishment, maintenance or expansion of Irish industries on a sound basis I am prepared to recommend to the Government that the necessary protection should be provided.

Price Control: My policy in regard to prices and price control has already been clearly stated, but in case there might be any doubt in the matter, I wish to repeat that it is my intention to take-all possible steps to reduce the [1100] cost of living in relation to the people's incomes, and, in particular, to effect a reduction in the prices of essential foodstuffs. A reduction in the cost of butter has already been announced by the Government, and an examination of the prices of other commodities will be undertaken as quickly as possible. My aim will be to ensure that the investigation and control of prices will be operated in the interests of the consumers and to this end, I propose to take an early opportunity of meeting the members of the Prices Advisory Body. In the year ended 31st March, 1954, eight commodities were freed from price control on the recommendation of the Prices Advisory Body, and the Orders relating to these items revoked, mainly because adequate supplies of the goods concerned had become available. It must, however, be clearly understood that if there is any evidence of an unwarranted increase in the price of any commodity so freed, or, indeed, of any commodity, I will have no hesitation in reimposing and enforcing price control.

As Deputies are no doubt aware the Prices Advisory Body was established under emergency legislation which is due to expire on the 31st March, 1955. I am convinced that, in our circumstances, it will always be necessary to have in existence a body on the lines of the Prices Advisory Body whose function it will be to act as watch dog on behalf of the consumer, while acting fairly towards those engaged in the manufacture, importation and distribution of essential commodities. I am, therefore, examining the position to see if it would be necessary in making permanent arrangements to widen the functions of the Advisory Body.

Tourist Boards: I have no difference of opinion with my predecessor regarding the importance of the tourist industry as a factor in our economy, or the need for Government assistance towards the development and promotion of that industry. I am most anxious to give every assistance in ensuring the fullest development of the tourist industry. The need for two separate statutory bodies to carry out this development and promotion work has not, however, been established to [1101] my satisfaction, and I am considering if an arrangement can be made for the amalgamation of these two bodies in the interests of efficiency.

An Tóstal: There has been a good deal of public discussion about both the merits of An Tóstal and of the advisability of holding it so early in the year. I have not yet had an opportunity of examining this matter fully, but I have asked An Bord Fáilte as a matter of urgency to let me have their views on the scheme generally in the light of the experience of the last two years. Until I have received and examined these views, I would prefer not to say anything further.

Córas Tráchtala Teoranta: On the recommendation of an advisory committee set up by the previous inter-Party Government, Córas Tráchtála Teoranta was established towards the end of 1951 to assist in the promotion of exports to the dollar area. I think it will be agreed that the company has been doing very good work in this direction and that its efforts deserve governmental encouragement.

I am at present considering the desirability of extending their promotional activities in the national interest to cover exports to other areas including certain overseas parts of the sterling area. I hope to reach an early decision on this aspect of their activities.

C.I.E.: Deputies will recall that, in his Budget statement, the previous Minister for Finance referred to the provision of £1,000,000 for C.I.E. in the Estimate for Transport and Marine Services. That sum was made up of two parts, namely:—

1. Grant towards operating losses and revenue charges               £463,000

2. Repayment to Central Fund of advances to meet interest payments on transport stock for the year 1953-54                                             £537,000

The former Minister for Finance indicated that in view of an improvement in the finances of C.I.E. and of the fact that certain payments charged to revenue should more appropriately have been charged to capital, it would not be necessary to make any [1102] payment to C.I.E. this year towards operating losses and revenue charges. The financial relationships between C.I.E. and the Exchequer are somewhat complicated, and I have not yet had an opportunity of going into this matter fully. I cannot say what action will be taken in relation to these particular transactions until I have had an opportunity of studying the matter and consulting the Minister for Finance about it.

Factories Bill: Deputies will recollect that the Factories and Workshops Bill had not been passed before the Dáil was dissolved. A large number of amendments to the Bill had been put down for consideration on the Committee Stage of the Bill, and I propose to re-examine the draft Bill in the light of the amendments submitted for the Committee Stage before reintroducing it. I hope that it will be possible to reintroduce it in the next Session, and I trust it will be possible to secure the agreement of the Oireachtas to the improvement of our present code of factories legislation.

Holidays (Employees) Act: Representations have been made to me from quarters for an amendment of the Act relating to workers' holidays with a view to increasing the minimum period of holidays with pay at present laid down by law and also with the object of making certain other amendments. I am at present examining these suggestions.

Air Services: On the question of air transport, the Dáil is aware that at the request of the British Government discussions have taken place between representatives of my Department and representatives of the British Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation about the provisions of the Air Transport Agreement of 1946. These discussions have not yet concluded, and I am not therefore in a position to-day to make any statement about them.

A separate and indeed a serious problem arises in connection with the financial position of Aer Lingus. The company's accounts show a net loss of £83,313 in 1952-53; and I am informed that the accounts for 1953-54 will show a loss of the order of £105,000. For [1103] 1954-55 the indications are that the accounts will show a loss on the present basis of approximately £220,000 and this figure may even be exceeded Moreover, there is no indication that the company can get back to a profit earning basis in the immediate future. I have made arrangements to discuss this disquieting situation with Aer Lingus and I hope it will be possible to take steps to reduce this heavy deficit. I think, however, the Dáil should be informed at once of the gravity of the position. It may be necessary to take a Supplementary Estimate during the current financial year to provide for the deficits in respect of the two earlier years mentioned.

Bord na Móna: I would like to refer briefly to the activities of Bord na Móna as I think the importance, from the national point of view, of the developments entrusted to the care of that body can scarcely be exaggerated. In this matter I hope I will have the wholehearted co-operation of all Parties in the House in the fullest development of our turf production programme. Bord na Móna is carrying out simultaneously two large development programmes. The first, which was commenced in 1946, was aimed at the achievement in ten years of an annual. output of 1,000,000 tons of sod peat.

The second programme, which was commenced in 1950, is designed to achieve an annual output of 2,250,000 tons of milled peat by 1960, and, as in the case of the first programme, the bulk of the output will be used for firing the generating stations of the E.S.B. These two programmes, which between them are estimated to involve a capital expenditure of £14,000,000, are proceeding simultaneously and it is expected that the first generating station to use milled peat at Ferbane will come into commission in 1955-56. The bulk of the work at present in hands under the second development programme consists in initial development work such as drainage.

The importance of this turf development work cannot, as I have said, be exaggerated. In the first place, it involves the utilisation of native [1104] resources which, for centuries, had lain virtually untapped and, to a large extent, despised and derided. That, in itself, would have been a sufficient justification for a scheme for the development of our bogs on a national scale but, in addition, there are numerous other advantages. Peak employment by Bord na Móna in the 1953 season amounted to approximately 7,000 persons and this was a valuable source of employment in the rural areas.

By utilising our own natural resources, we can supply power to industry and agriculture at a lower cost than if we relied on imported coal, while, at the same time, we can reduce substantially our dependence on imported fuel. Not the least of the benefits to be derived from turf development is the ultimate addition to our resources of land which should be suitable for agricultural or forestry purposes.

As Deputies are aware, the first international peat symposium will be held this month under the auspices of Bord na Móna, and will be attended by representatives of practically all the nations of Western Europe, as well as by representatives of Canada and the United States of America. The fact that the symposium is being held in this country is, I think, a notable tribute to our achievements in the field of peat development.

I have confined my statement to the main activities of the Department. If there are any other aspects of the Department's work on which Deputies desire to get information, I shall be happy to provide it.

Mr. Lemass: The statement made by the Minister does not call for any prolonged comment at this stage. I gather that certain proposals which he has under consideration will come before the Dáil later. It is satisfactory that only the very minimum of changes are contemplated by him in the operations of the Department of Industry and Commerce and in the plans in progress there.

With regard to the proposed review of tariffs, I think it will help to avoid [1105] any possible misunderstanding, as to the intentions behind it, if I endorse what the Minister has said, that such a review was in contemplation by me, and that, in fact, instructions had been given to the Industrial Development Authority to commence it in respect of particular tariffs. The need for such a review arose under two main headings: the first and minor heading was the fact that our tariff schedules are unduly complicated.

Yesterday, in the course of the debate on the Finance Bill, Deputy Sheldon had occasion to refer to the difficulty of the ordinary citizen in finding out what tariff applies to what commodity and in getting for himself from the review of the tariff list a clear picture of his obligations under the law. That position was borne in on me particularly when the need arose to consider the bringing back into operation of the final revocation of many tariffs suspended under emergency legislation since the beginning of the war. In each case when this question arose as to the need for reviving or permanently revoking these tariffs it was clear that definition difficulty and other problems had arisen in the past and were likely to arise in the future. In fact, in many of these cases of suspended tariffs it was impossible to take a clear decision, without having a detailed consultation with the Revenue Commissioners on the one hand with a view to ascertaining what their interpretation of the definitions was and on the other hand with those concerned with the production or importation of the goods as well.

The major reason why it is necessary to carry out this review of tariffs, however, is because no record has ever really been established of progress made in each industrial field consequent on the protection afforded. No very detailed examination has been made as to the adequacy of tariff definitions, the need for maintaining duties as they were originally imposed, and the possible advisability of extending these duties so as to promote and encourage extended activities in particular fields. I had personally decided [1106] that the review was to be undertaken by the Industrial Development Authority, but I had come to the conclusion that the powers of the Industrial Development Authority in this connection were not sufficient, and that these powers would have to be extended, and I contemplated that they would be extended in intended legislation which I had forecast dealing with price control.

We have, in the past, discussed here the efficacy of Government intervention in the matter of prices, and Deputies are well aware of my view that the level of prices of industrial goods is affected only insignificantly by the profits taken by those engaged in the manufacture or distribution of these goods. They are affected very considerably by the efficiency of the industrial methods and by the labour practices applying in particular industries. If we are to get the prices of industrial products down, it will have to be done in general consultation with both parties in the industry with a view to establishing those systems of working which, while capable of giving a fair return to the manufacturers and a reasonable wage to the employees, will, nevertheless, mean that no unnecessary charges are added to prices for any reason.

That, of course, cannot be done by a body that is solely concerned with the investigation of prices. It is a specialised task and must be done by some such body as the Industrial Development Authority which has had special experience in that field arising out of the review of tariffs under the trade agreement with Great Britain and which, in any event, is in direct contact with industry and is aware of its problems. The Minister has foreshadowed new legislation dealing with prices. That legislation will, of course, be necessary if, as the Minister for Finance indicated, the decision to allow the Supply and Services Act to lapse on the 31st March next is adhered to. At present, price control is exercised under the authority of that temporary Act. There was a Price Control Act passed before the war but it has been in abeyance and I do not think it should be revived because it did not [1107] prove very useful. The Minister will find in his office the draft of new legislation dealing with prices outlined by me earlier this year. That involved dividing this function of price control into its two constituent parts—the establishment of a body to consider whether there are unnecessary profits being made, or unnecessary distribution charges added, and the allocation to the Industrial Development Authority of the important function of deciding whether the cost of producing goods was unduly high.

The Minister has foreshadowed the possibility of the reduction in price of essential foodstuffs. I would like him to give an indication of what foodstuffs he has in mind. I do not think that it is wise to hold out to the public the possibilities of prices coming down for any class of goods unless there is a fair chance that it is going to happen soon because, as the Government has already found out, the holding out of the prospect of lower prices tends to depress trade. The natural reaction of every trader if he thinks prices are coming down is to minimise stocks and that means the slowing down of orders in every branch of the trade and ultimately unemployment among the producers. Unless there is a very fair chance that those forecasts are likely to be realised in the near future they should not be made. By and large, it is true to say that a private enterprise economy such as ours works satisfactorily only when there is a slight inflationary tendency, an upward movement of prices.

Many Deputies will not have had the experience which we had when this Party first formed a Government in the midst of a world slump when it was certainly borne in on me that the social consequences of a serious fall in prices are far greater than the consequences of a rise in prices. The position which I believe to be most conducive to economic health and most beneficial to the workers depending on the value of their wages for a livelihood is one of price stability and it is far wiser to hold out a prospect of price stability than a prospect of prices falling. If there is going to be a fall in prices, one that can be [1108] definitely foreseen and to which a time can be put, there may be need to warn people that it is coming, but to hold out a vague hope with no definite likelihood of it being realised is undesirable.

The Minister will find, I think, that the power of the Government to control prices by way of Order is very slight. In fact, the power of the Government to control prices by way of subsidy is very slight. During the past year the consumer prices index number fell by two points. I am not claiming any credit for that. The general prices trend was downward and that was reflected by a two-point fall in the index number here. The previous Government decided to increase the subsidy on bread to an extent that will cost the taxpayer £1,000,000. The present Government has decided to increase the subsidy on butter by £2,000,000. That is £3,000,000 additional in price subsidies and the effect is to bring down the consumer price index number by about 3/4 of one point. If there is to be a slash in the ordinary individual's cost of living by subsidies, Ministers and the Government will have to think in terms of much larger sums than those involved in the present proposals.

The Minister has, apparently, in mind the idea of putting the Prices Advisory Body on a permanent basis. I gather he has not yet met the members of the Prices Advisory Body, but when he does, I think he will find that they are very doubtful themselves about their efficacy. There must be, in any price control system that we establish, two essential features: (1) an authority, whether an individual or a committee or a Government officer, to whom the ordinary citizen can go if he thinks he is being overcharged, with a knowledge that that individual or authority has power to investigate his complaint and rectify it if it is found to be well-founded. There must be associated with that authority some consultative body, some body composed of individuals drawn from the trade union movement, from the manufacturers' association, and from the various distributing organisations which will be able to give to the controlling authority general information [1109] as to the trend of events and as to the directions in which investigations might produce worthwhile results.

I maintained that Prices Advisory Body in existence because in fact it was the only authority, outside the Department of Industry and Commerce, functioning in regard to prices when the previous Government resumed office in 1951, but I found all the time that the members of that body did not think themselves that they could be very effective, mainly, of course, because during the greater part of the period when I was Minister in the previous Government the trend of prices was downward and the need to put brakes on any upward movement had largely disappeared. In my experience, attempts to control prices by Order during a period when prices are tending downwards in any event, has the effect of keeping up prices rather than of accelerating a fall. There was more than one occasion during the period of office of the previous Government when I found that the maintenance of a Price Control Order was used as an excuse by traders for marking up prices to a higher level than they would have reached if full competition had been operative. In present circumstances, with full supplies and other factors such that there is full and complete competition between persons engaged in trade, the need for control of prices by the Government is very slight and, where control is exercised, it must be done with great care if wrong results are not to follow.

The Minister referred to the importance of the tourist industry in connection with our national economy. That importance cannot be denied by anybody who studies the figures of our national income. It is the second biggest industry we have and if the income which it yields were to be substantially curtailed it would weaken the national economy and lead to a deterioration in the standard of living of our people. I gather the Minister is going to examine the need for having the two statutory bodies dealing with tourist activities amalgamated. I do not object to that but I should not like the Minister to [1110] assume offhand that one body is necessarily more efficient than two. There is a very important field of work for each of these bodies. I do not think that their amalgamation could produce any economy in respect of staff. There is no overlapping that I could discover. The advantage of having a separate body dealing with tourist publicity is that it makes it possible to link in with the publicity work of these statutory bodies the activities of the voluntary tourist association.

The Irish Tourist Association was the first body established in this country for the promotion of tourism. It was established by private individuals on a voluntary basis. It later got some statutory backing and the support of local authorities under the Act which was passed many years ago. My predecessor in the previous Coalition Government had been considering the possibility of changing the law in regard to the then Tourist Board and extending its powers and financial resources. Decisions were taken which seemed to involve the elimination from the picture of the Irish Tourist Association, decisions which aroused a considerable amount of hostility and produced many representations from various county councils and local persons interested in the activities of the Tourist Association, leading to the postponement of the operation of these decisions.

I found that dispute in progress and I resolved that dispute by an arrangement under which the Tourist Association has the effective right of nomination of members of An Fogra Fáilte, which system has in my view worked well. If there have been any disputes between the two bodies, they arose out of personal clashes rather than from any conflict in their activities. If there is a proposal to amalgamate the two bodies, it can be considered on its merits but I do urge the Minister that he should not just assume that amalgamation will lead to economy or to greater efficiency, without examining the matter in detail.

With regard to An Tóstal, I think it would be a mistake to drop that project. I was personally associated with [1111] the initiation of it but I was at all times most careful to avoid any connection with the activities associated with An Tóstal which might have the result of stirring up political controversy. I think that in our circumstances it is rather remarkable that we have had An Tóstal developed and carried on for two years without any taint of political controversy attached to it. I hope that will continue.

I think the Minister will find if he consults with the tourist development bodies, the tourist organisations who are in a position to advise him as to how interest in An Tóstal is developing abroad, and with the hoteliers, that it is something well worth maintaining. It will in my opinion take about five years to establish it firmly. It would be completely wrong to regard it as an inadequate tourist promotion project on the past two years' experience.

My view that it will take five years to establish it and to get it to become an important feature of our whole tourist programme is based upon opinions expressed to me, particularly by important personages associated with Irish-American Societies. They told me that in the first year knowledge of An Tóstal had barely penetrated beyond the people at the top of these organisations who were in constant contact with this country and that in the second year it had penetrated to another layer, and that interest in it was growing. They think that after the first three or four years it will become a recognised thing for every Irish organisation in the United States to have its contingent of members present in this country during the Tóstal festivities. I do not have to remind the House that if we could establish it as a recognised custom that everybody in America of Irish parentage or origin should visit this country just once in a lifetime, we would have an influx of visitors every year far more than we could accommodate with our present facilities.

As to the date on which An Tóstal should be held each year, I have a completely open mind. There were advantages, as I stated here, in linking An Tóstal with a feast like Easter [1112] which is well known throughout the world and which has the same date in every country in the world. In recent conversations with people who hold an important place in the hotel business, I was informed that a feeling was growing strongly amongst them for the retention of Easter as the date of An Tóstal. Others take a different view, and in certain years Easter is probably too early. I asked that An Bord Fáilte should contact all the local Tóstal committees to get the general consensus of opinion as to the best time of the year for the holding of An Tóstal and to advise me, and now my successor, as to the results of their consideration. Again, I would advise the Minister in that regard to get the advice of everybody who is likely to be interested, because he will find that there is a very strong divergence of opinion as to the desirability of holding An Tóstal at Easter or at some other period.

I agree that it is desirable that Córas Tráchtála Teoranta should be allowed to extend its activities outside the dollar market. In fact, the initial decision to confine Córas Tráchtála Teoranta to the dollar areas was due partly to a desire not to incur too large an expenditure upon that trade promotion project until some evidence of its utility had been demonstrated and partly through a belief that it was possible for an organisation of that kind to work exclusively in dollar areas without suffering any disadvantage. Experience has shown that Córas Tráchtála Teoranta in its efforts to assist industrialists to secure export business is handicapped by being limited in its activities to dollar areas and that many firms were deterred from co-operating with Córas Tráchtála Teoranta because of that limitation and I have no doubt whatever that if Córas Tráchtála Teoranta is allowed to extend into other markets, particularly the Far Eastern markets and some sterling markets in different parts of the world, they will not merely be able to open up trade prospects in these markets but will increase their own efficiency in dealing with trade possibilities in the dollar areas.

The Minister does not want to talk of the finances of C.I.E. I do not want [1113] to talk about them either. My colleague, the previous Minister for Finance, got a bit hot under the collar when he found that C.I.E. were charging to revenue, therefore against subsidy, certain expenditures which they had previously listed as capital expenditures to be financed out of their previous issue of Government guaranteed stock.

We must all, I think, express our satisfaction that the financial position of C.I.E. has improved and it has improved no matter how their accounts are presented. C.I.E. will probably try to charge against revenue every expenditure that they can hope to get away with and get it covered by subsidy if possible but it should be possible to devise a reasonable arrangement of calculating what are proper charges against revenue, what proportion of the renewals expenditure is normal recurring expenditure and what is properly chargeable to capital. On any reasonable basis, it is clear that C.I.E. is getting very close to the point where its revenue will be adequate, and perhaps more than adequate, to meet its outgoings. I think they can get into that position this year. They may not be able and will not be able to meet their capital charges. They will not be able to meet, perhaps, any exceptional expenditure on renewals which may be incurred but, in the normal working of the undertaking, its income should be this year equivalent to its outgoings.

There are, of course, capital liabilities on C.I.E. which have not yet been charged against the undertaking. The Dáil has, over a number of years, voted, as we are voting now, to repay to the Exchequer money advanced from the Exchequer to pay the interest upon C.I.E. stock. These advances are, under the 1950 Act, a liability of C.I.E. and the Minister will have to decide what he is going to do about them. There was an earlier advance in the days of the previous Coalition Government for capital purposes to C.I.E. which we had decided to wipe out. The Minister will find a Bill dealing with C.I.E. finances ready for introduction. I hope he will give his full support to the programme which [1114] the board has prepared for the re-equipment of the undertaking. I have always personally held the view that railways in this country were capable of profitable operation.

The contention that they had become obsolete, surplus to our requirements, was, in my opinion, unsound. We recognised, and all my experience has confirmed the view, that C.I.E.'s equipment was hopelessly inefficient, hopelessly out-of-date, and if they were given new equipment at any time they could have cut their losses very much and, perhaps, have eliminated them altogether. That, I think, would be true even if the new equipment they got was similar in character to the old equipment, even if they were given only new coal-burning engines to replace the old coal-burning engines; but, with the development of diesel traction, new possibilities are opened up. The mere fact that by substituting diesel locomotives for coal-burning locomotives saves £1,000,000 a year in fuel costs demonstrates the possibility of getting the railway organisations out of the red and off the Book of Estimates for the Dáil.

I was surprised to hear the Minister say that he is proposing to introduce a factories and workshops Bill in the next Session. I think he would save considerable time by introducing it in the present Session and leaving the Dáil in a position to take the Second Reading of it when it resumes after the Summer Recess. It is a normal practice, as he knows, when Bills are being prepared which may be ready for circulation during the recess. It permits of their circulation in the recess, and thus avoids delay on the resumption of the Dáil.

So far as the Holidays Acts are concerned, I recognise that the existing legislation which was passed some time ago has many defects in it. Some of these defects are of minor character; some are, perhaps, more important. I had, however, come to the point of view that, the principle of holidays with pay having been established by Government action and legislation in the past, it was undesirable that the State should be the instrument by [1115] which the scope of that principle should be extended.

I think trade union activity in many instances has already secured for workers holiday benefits considerably in excess of the requirements of the statute, and I am not sure that the trade unions are wise from their own point of view in pressing for further legislation in that regard. I think it is far better that these benefits should be secured in agreements made between employers and trade unions, the benefits being adjusted to the circumstances of individual trades, rather than that we should attempt to establish a common statutory form for all trades.

If, however, there is any feeling that the time has come to extend the scope of the Act in any way, there will be no resistance here provided we are satisfied that all parties concerned, particularly the Trade Union Congresses, have given full thought to the implications of that policy.

As regards Aer Lingus, I recognise that the discussions with the British authorities which have been in progress for some time are not completed and consequently the Minister is unable to say anything about them. I do not altogether agree that these discussions are a separate problem from that which arises from the financial position of Aer Lingus. At any rate, under the existing arrangement there is an obligation on the British partners in Aer Lingus to meet a substantial part of any loss that is incurred.

The Minister talked about a Supplementary Estimate. I think he should think twice about that. I have taken the view that there is an obligation on Aer Lingus to defray its losses out of revenue and told them that they must not be thinking in terms of Government subsidy. I do not accept the contention that it is not possible for Aer Lingus so to alter its working methods as to avoid losses and enable it to repay losses incurred in the past.

As I understood the position, Aer Lingus were not seeking subsidies but had decided to allow losses in the past to stand in their profit and loss [1116] account in the expectation that they would in the future be able to reduce them or eliminate them. It may be that they are in a transitional position at the present time. The older type of aircraft that they have been operating are being replaced by new aircraft, the economics of which can only be demonstrated in actual operation. But I think the Minister should consider in consultation with the board whether there are other steps which can be taken to rectify the financial position of that undertaking before allowing into their minds the idea that a Government subsidy will be forthcoming. In my experience, a Government subsidy always means inefficiency and unduly high costs. It is only when an organisation of that kind is brought up against the reality of a firm decision that subsidies will not be able to solve their problems that they will face up to them fully.

The statement made by the Minister regarding Bord na Móna and the importance of its activities is most acceptable. I think the achievements of Bord na Móna are very largely due to the extraordinarily high morale which exists in its organisation. Men have gone into the work of developing the peat resources of this country with a real enthusiasm, men with a mission, knowing that their work was going to be of immense value to the country and of immense benefit to its people. I think anything that would undermine the morale of its organisation is undesirable and I hope the Minister will talk to his colleague, the Minister for Health, and encourage him to refrain from criticising that organisation publicly.

I will not deny that in an organisation of 7,000 people individuals may exceed their authority or in some way act to the detriment of the organisation. I personally never heard during all my period as Minister any complaint against the administration of that organisation or any suggestion that discrimination was being exercised in the recruitment or promotion of staff.

Minister for Health (Mr. O'Higgins): Unfortunately it is true.

[1117] Mr. Lemass: May I urge on the Minister for Health to make his complaints in private to the Minister for Industry and Commerce? I am certain that Bord na Móna will investigate any such complaints if the details are given to them. Attacks in public can only do damage to the organisation, an organisation which has already done work of immense benefit to the country and which is capable of doing a great deal more.

Mr. O'Higgins: I am glad to say it is being investigated.

Mr. Lemass: I do not know of any facts. All I know is that there existed there an organisation of great efficiency and high potentiality. I have often felt that I should like to see engaged in other branches of national activity an organisation like it. Whatever the explanation is, the board has been able to get behind its activities a drive and enthusiasm that are often sadly lacking in other organisations.

Mr. O'Higgins: There is no one disputing that. The Deputy referred to my charges of victimisation. These charges are well-founded and ought to be investigated.

Mr. Lemass: I never heard the slightest suggestion that such charges could be made during my period of office.

Mr. O'Higgins: When the Deputy was in office as Minister I made a similar complaint.

Mr. Lemass: I have no recollection of it. These are the various points referred to by the Minister and I have nothing further to add. I think the Minister will agree that the industrial organisation of the State at the present time is in good shape. Production is increasing, new industries are being established, employment is increasing, and most of our industrial concerned are working at full pressure. The reports of company meetings in the Press indicate that to be so and there is no reason why it should not continue to be so. All the problems of the past, the difficulties about getting raw materials, getting new equipment [1118] when required have disappeared. The prospect of price stability is encouraging people to make plans for new extensions. So long as conditions remain as they are, our industrial progress will go on. I must say that the statement made by the Minister to-day will, I think, be beneficial in that connection.

Mr. Desmond: Because of the importance of this Department in connection with the everyday life of our people, we should consider it from every angle. I wish to congratulate the Minister on his new office. I believe that under him the Department will have an outlook which will reflect the importance of industry in this country even in a more forcible manner than in the past. We have been warned in this country about one particular aspect of that, and that is the continuous overcrowding of industry in Dublin and also to a lesser degree in Cork City. Many of us have been complaining, both in this House and outside, about the people leaving the rural areas. Great credit is due to the Governments of the past 25 years for their endeavours to help Irish industry in every possible way. I know it has not been the fault of any particular Government, but the tragedy, however, is that every improvement in regard to the establishment of Irish industries means a greater bottleneck in one small part of this country at the expense of the other parts of the country. I believe, whether we like it or not, that the present conditions cannot be allowed to continue in so far as we are simply allowing industry to develop in Dublin at the expense of the rest of the country. Therefore, I think, no matter how we are going to achieve our ultimate aim, that to make industry anyway prosperous from the viewpoint of the people, and not simply from the viewpoint of the industrialist himself, we will have to try and help in every possible way the decentralisation of industry.

Nothing was mentioned in the Minister's statement — nor did Deputy Lemass refer to them—about the undeveloped areas which come under an Act of this House. I had hoped, in [1119] regard to that measure to which the Labour Party had given support a few years ago, we would by now have got some idea as to the progress that is being made under it. When that Bill was introduced, the Labour Party drew attention to one particular weakness as regards the possibility of industry in these undeveloped areas, and that is that capital may not be available. I know, of course, that both of the large Parties on that occasion did not agree with us. That does not mean that we are going to change our views.

I still believe that there is a possibility in parts of this country, particularly around the south-western area, of making use of by-products from seaweed and kelp. I believe there is a possibility of utilising the raw material available on the shores of our country. Such material is being utilised in Sweden and elsewhere. But, even if the people in certain undeveloped areas got certain facilities, I believe the capital would not be available in sufficient quantity in these areas.

I consider that the ultimate object and aim of whatever Government is in power should be to help in the establishment of industries in these areas. Otherwise, we will continue year after year lamenting here, whether in Government or Opposition, about the number of young men and young girls leaving these rural areas all the time. To achieve success in industry for the benefit of the people in the various areas, we should concentrate more on establishing industries based on natural resources available at home, much more than we have been doing up to the present. That may help us to achieve success. It may be all right for us to speak in peace time of industries based on materials that have to be imported. When troubles arise, we may be handicapped again as we were in the running of trains during the last emergency owing to the shortage of coal. We should establish more industries based on home materials, even though they may be small industries. There is a system in operation in America which no one of our present day Irish industrialists seems to thing feasible here. Why is it not possible for some of our larger [1120] industries to have something like branches in other areas?

We often speak of our home or cottage industries, but would it not be possible, where there are suitable premises and labour available in smaller towns, and where there is no hope of establishing large factories, to arrange that some of the lines running in industry in larger city factories would be made up or finished in those other areas? If that can be done in large States in America, it should be possible to do it here. I have in mind some small towns in my constituency —I will not mention any names—and I am sure every Deputy knows of similar towns in his or her constituency, where perhaps a dozen or two dozen people could be employed in that way. That may seem a small number, but it must be remembered that in a small town the emigration of two dozen workers may mean the emigration of two dozen families as well.

My main idea on this important Vote is that, rather than come here as members of a Government claiming credit for the establishment of industry in Dublin, every effort should be made towards decentralisation in order to establish, even in a small way, some form of industry in the smaller towns. If that were done, it would undoubtedly be something worth while.

The Minister gave us a very interesting picture of Aer Lingus at the present time. It is not for me to go into detail on that, as I know so little about it but what struck me forcibly was that, now that Aer Lingus apparently is in the blue financially, fortunately in that respect, it is strange that we were attacked so much a few years ago, members of the Labour Party and all members of the present Government, when we said we did not consider it possible to continue a transatlantic service.

Mr. Lemass: It is a different point. The board of Aer Lingus said they cannot make a success unless they have a transatlantic service.

Mr. Desmond: Through the Chair, may I say to Deputy Lemass that it [1121] may be a different point, but even with two points, when you draw the line from them you reach the same position —it is financial instability, a very nice expression, but in the case of any of these Constellation aircraft combines, the taxpayer here would have to pay for the luxury of people travelling in them. It is about time we realised that we are suffering under an awful illusion when we speak of our importance in the universe and about the necessity of providing luxury travel for people in other countries. We are a small nation and must admit we are a plain people; and the sooner we are prepared to cut our cloth according to our measure the better for everyone.

As the Minister mentioned Aer Lingus, I am sorry some of my colleagues from my own county are not here. Some of them would agree with me and, perhaps, more would not. I would ask him to examine this question of the amount of money proposed to be spent on the projected airfield at Farmer's Cross. Now that we have figures for Aer Lingus and a fair indication of the position, I believe it would be far more advantageous that the money which we hope will be spent on an airfield for the benefit of the southern counties would not be utilised to provide a brand-new airfield when some of us believe that at a lesser cost the present one can be improved. It may not be so, but I am convinced of it at present and will remain so until the reverse is shown to be the case. We believe that again the taxpayer is to be fleeced if the suggestion is accepted that the proper system would be to scrap the present airfield and construct a new one at such enormous expense to the people.

The Minister mentioned—as did also Deputy Lemass—the position of C.I.E. There again I am not going into a discussion, except to say that I still hold the view I held all the time. Deputy Lemass mentioned the presentation of the C.I.E. accounts. One glaring injustice is the way that the freight and rail services are being subsidised not just by the State but doubly so by the unfortunate bus travellers. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have to travel in country [1122] areas in South Cork—for instance, many of them go into Cork City to work—and as ordinary citizens of this State they have done their share directly or indirectly in helping to subsidise C.I.E., to which we have all agreed. It is equally true to say, however, that because of the manipulation of the accounts the bus fares have been increased time and again solely at the expense of the unfortunate bus traveller, in order to help the other sides of the C.I.E. accounts. It is a glaring case of injustice.

In various parts of the country people are being charged prohibitive bus fares in order to build up the financial side of other parts of C.I.E. I would ask the Minister to consider that, in view of the hardships inflicted particularly on workers who have to travel day after day into the cities. It is hard on those who may have to go to city or town once a week, but it is not so hard on them as on the people who have to get weekly tickets. I can recall a time not many years ago when in the small village I come from, 14 miles from Cork, a weekly ticket cost 10/-. For the last few years that ticket have been costing 21/- or 22/- because while the bus service was paying the rail and freight sides were not paying and those unfortunate men and girls living in that town 14 miles from Cork City had to pay through the nose to help C.I.E. It is about time people using the bus services of necessity in earning their daily bread should get consideration in connection with any proposals which may be coming through as regards C.I.E.

The Minister mentioned tourism. We all agree on the importance of tourism in this country. However, I do not think I can agree with the views expressed by Deputy Lemass in connection with An Bord Fáilte and Fógra Fáilte. Deputy Lemass's remarks on the setting up of boards in relation to tourism reminded me very forcibly of the matter of subsidies for certain industries in this country. There is a danger that, in providing subsidies, the people who will benefit by them will take things easier than if they had to work and earn every penny.

[1123] I represent County Cork on the Irish Tourist Association and I am convinced that the premier tourist body in this country should be that association. I have always made my views clear on this point, no matter what Minister was in office. I do not agree with the present position whereby the Irish Tourist Association is, in itself, only a little lap-dog, as it were, to the Tourist Board. I willingly give Deputy Lemass credit for his work in trying to heal what could have been a dangerous breach a few years ago. However, I want to take this opportunity of making this observation. I think I am right in saying that even though the Irish Tourist Association got powers to nominate a few of their members to the new Tourist Board, all the nominees were not accepted. I am not making that assertion from any political aspect.

Originally, the Irish Tourist Association was established as what one might call an amateur tourist association. It gave to this country men who worked loyally, not for any financial reward, but because of their great interest in furthering the cause of tourism here. My view is that we could get much better results than we have been getting if the Irish Tourist Association had more power than they have at the present time and particularly more power than the Tourist Board.

An Tóstal has been mentioned. We have heard a great deal of talk about it. Some people are in favour of it and other people are against it. Be that as it may, I believe I am justified in making the complaint that, in the establishment of An Tóstal, an amazing number of officials cropped up overnight. It was exactly as if one went out early one morning and found a field full of mushrooms. As soon as this tourist banquet, as it were, was set up we heard of ambassadors going from here to Cork, to Galway, and so on. I have an idea, however, that, in all that travelling to and fro, these people were not ambassadors at their own expense. We had ambassadors with a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin to some other lord mayor. We [1124] had other such ambassadors who went from here to Washington, Boston and other places. I even read of one such ambassador who brought paintings of some beauty spots in Ireland to some famous warrior in another country—a person who was never in his life in Ireland and who probably never will come to our country.

If we want to make a success of An Tóstal or of any such project, do you not think it is time we approached the matter from a common-sense point of view? When An Tóstal was first set up, quite a large number of people were given appointments and they have held on to those appointments ever since. What is the reason for that? After all, An Tóstal lasts for only a few weeks in the year.

Last year, we were informed in this House by the responsible Minister, the number of tourists to this country— even though An Tóstal was in operation—was lower than the number who came here the previous year. However, that fact did not interfere with the number of officials who became necessary and it did not interfere with the continuous employment of these officials for the 12 months. We have been told that it was vitally necessary to keep those highly paid officials in office for the past 12 months in order to ensure that this year's An Tóstal would be a success.

At this stage, let us try to assess the value of this year's An Tóstal. There is no use in saying that even though An Tóstal may be considered a loss in one respect it is still a success from the point of view of publicising our country. I should just like to mention Puck Fair in this context. There are many Deputies listening to me now who have never been at that fair but they have all heard of it and they all know what a success it is. There is a lady Deputy in the House, and she will agree with me when I say that we never had to send an ambassador to America to publicise that fair and that we have never had to send a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin to some other lord mayor describing Puck Fair. That fair is known not alone through the length and breadth [1125] of Ireland but far beyond the seas. It is fairly difficult to squeeze dollars out of some Americans, but they are willing to spend money to come to Ireland and to visit Puck Fair. They are willing to spend money on visiting Puck Fair and Bartlemy Fair, and I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that it has not been necessary to spend large sums of money publicising those fairs in an effort to attract people to come to them. These fairs were established by the willing and voluntary work of the local people. In my view, we should get far better results if the matter of An Tóstal were approached in that same way. If we could cut out all the trimmings and the appointing of officials and ambassadors, I believe we could make An Tóstal a success. I fear that the present position is just another method of helping to fleece the general taxpayer in this country.

This Minister for Industry and Commerce has only just taken office. Please God, his activities while he is in control of that Department will completely justify the hopes which the members of the Labour Party have in Deputy Norton. Please God, too, his work will be a complete answer to the vicious insinuation made to him on the 2nd June by Deputy de Valera, the Leader of the present Opposition Party.

Mrs. Crowley: One Act has been referred to that was passed by the last Government and that is the Undeveloped Areas Act. It has been of great benefit to at least one town in my constituency. A grant has been given to start an industry where an industry could never have been started without a grant and it has given new heart to the people of the district. Other towns now, seeing that this industry will be established there with the aid of this grant, are thinking up ideas, and they too, will apply for a grant. I hope that, when the Minister gets these representations from the districts in the undeveloped areas, he will bear in mind that the people of one district are grateful to the last Government for introducing this Act. The employment will not be great to [1126] start with but there are hopes that it will expand and lead to other things. Anything that can be done in that way to keep people in these country districts should be done and I feel that any Government should be proud of any achievement in that direction.

Mention has been made of the tourist industry. As has been said and said very often, the tourist industry is our second greatest industry. A lot of people do not realise that the tourist industry benefits everybody. When trying to put through a grant for the Tourist Association through the county council, I know that quite often the farmers on the council will say: What good is it to us: it is only good for the hotels in Killarney and elsewhere? They do not realise that, after all, the tourists eat the produce of the farms. Anything that can be done to help the tourist industry should be done.

The last Government started An Tóstal. That was an experiment and, as Deputy Lemass said, it takes some time for an experiment to be a success or a failure. In the main I think An Tóstal was a success. There are various reasons why I think it was too early. The country hotels do not have the heating which many visitors require in the early months of the year. They are more used to summer tourists and the expectation of good weather. The result is that they have not got central heating and large fireplaces so that tourists, if they come to a ceremony in the early part of the year, are very often cold and go away disappointed. If An Tóstal is continued—and I hope it will be, though later in the year—I think it would be a greater success than it has been so far.

An Tóstal brought a lot of latent talent to light in the country by way of bringing out the gifts of some people for organising which can often be turned to advantage in other ways. Once people feel they have confidence in themselves, start something and make a success of it they will, perhaps, branch out into other lines that would be for the benefit of the country in many ways. I hope the Minister will take a special interest in the tourist [1127] industry and that the Tourist Association will not be smothered or done away with. It is a voluntary organisation. Nowadays so many people look to the State for everything that where you can get a voluntary organisation to run anything, I think it should be encouraged in every way.

I would not agree with Deputy Desmond that there are too many officials connected with this organisation or even with An Tóstal. My own experience is that often the bodies running these shows want more people to come down from Dublin, see them for the purpose of either praising them because they are getting on so well or helping them in some way. If they get into some sort of difficulty, the first thing they want to do is to ring up Dublin and get somebody to come down and help them, so that I think all the blame should not be laid on officials.

I do not think there is anything else I want to add at the moment but, as I say, the tourist industry is one of the most important industries under this Department.

Mr. A. Barry: I want to congratulate the Minister on his appointment. I wish him every luck in his efforts to obtain the results we all hope from him. I think the policy of his Department should be to interfere as little as possible with the activities of the ordinary citizen in industry and commerce.

There is some mystery about the airport project in Cork. I would be glad if the Minister would, when closing or at a later date, tell the Deputies from Cork what the position is about this airport and to what extent could a more modest proposal than the one envisaged by the Minister's predecessor be useful. If the extension of the activities of Aer Lingus would lead to a growth in Aer Lingus losses, then I think that any of us on either side of the House would find it hard to justify such an extension.

I also want to remind the House that an airport in Cork will probably provide a linking service with the national airport at Collinstown. That will also provide to some extent a further headache for C.I.E. In fact, while on that [1128] subject, I think that C.I.E. should get the help of the Dáil and that the Dáil should compel Deputies to travel by C.I.E. That would be a sensible thing to do.

I would ask the Minister not to make a hasty decision in the matter of arranging imports of tea to this country. The trade was not quite satisfied with the position. It is not now satisfied and I think it will not be satisfied in the future if the scheme in regard to the trade by the Minister's predecessor is carried out. I think it is an attempt to confine a very profitable import trade to very few people. I think it actually contravenes the Constitution. I do not want to go into the details of the matter now but I would ask the Minister not to make any final decision about it without consulting the trade generally and not the very limited portion of the trade which the Minister's predecessor consulted.

I want to conclude by repeating that I hope the Minister will have every success in his office. I am quite satisfied—I know Deputy Norton for some time and I have observed him—that he is a sensible, common-sense man. I think he is the kind of man who would make a very good Minister.

Mr. James Tully: I would like to add my voice to the appeal made by Deputy Desmond for more rural industries and I am quite sure that the Tánaiste will do his best to look into this matter. I personally believe that this question of rural industries is, in the end, the only answer to rural unemployment and to emigration from the land. I believe that if the produce of the farmer can be processed in the rural districts and industries set up for that purpose we can relieve an awful lot of unemployment and possibly build up a very good trade.

I listened to Deputy Lemass speaking about Bord na Móna. He said there was a very good drive behind it. I would not agree that it is the best run industry in the country because to have an industry very well run you must in every case have contented workers. I am afraid we cannot agree that workers employed by Bord na Móna are contented workers, and we [1129] cannot agree at all that the method of recruitment of casual workers by Bord na Móna is what would or should be desired.

I wonder is the new Minister aware that hundreds of workers who are entirely unsuitable for turf work go to the works run by Bord na Móna in the summer season from towns and cities? The only reason they go there is because their unemployment benefit is cut off and they are told that there is plenty of work on the bogs. When they go there they find that they just cannot make a living. They cannot make out a decent week's wages, and some of them do not even wait to see if they can, but leave after two or three days. I believe that there is needless expense incurred by the State and Bord na Móna in bringing these people there, and hardship on them because they could not possibly make a living, so that there is no point in having them sent there.

The wages paid to workers by Bord na Móna are really very small judging by the standpoint of wages paid to men employed in other industries. It may be argued that the rate laid down for piecework for the employees of Bord na Móna enables good workers to earn a high rate of wages. That is true in many cases, but in many cases also it is entirely untrue. We find very many workers, because of the nature of the work they are doing, which is classified with some other easy phase of the work, are unable to make anything like a decent week's wages at the rate laid down for that particular type of work. On top of that there is the question of conditions. We know that we cannot expect Bord na Móna to put a glass roof over all the bogs they are operating in, but we do think it unfair that workers who are exposed to all the rigours to which they must be exposed on that work should be paid a miserly rate of pay. Some provision ought to be made in the line of shelters for those men when extremely bad weather comes, and provision should be made for a hot meal to be provided for them during the night hours especially. It would be a very easy matter to arrange it. No provision is made for protective clothing which would prevent them from catching [1130] cold in the hardships they must endure on the bogs.

I agree that the work carried out by Bord na Móna is very important. If we are going to depend entirely on native fuel eventually then its work cannot be pushed forward fast enough, but I believe that the way it is being done at present is not the way to do it, and I think that unless and until, first, the scale of wages being paid to its employees is considerably increased, and, secondly, their conditions are vastly improved, we will not get the right type of worker who will be prepared to stay there and to work there over the years.

There is also the question with Bord na Móna of casual employment. Men are employed during the summer period, and during the winter period they can go anywhere they like, no matter how good they are. If some scheme could be devised—and at the present time I could not even suggest a way but the Department of Industry and Commerce might—to keep in employment the really good workers they recruit during the season, so that the following season they would be available to carry on the good work, it would be a great help.

We have also the question of industry which must be looked after in rural areas as well as in the towns. I wonder if the Minister for Industry and Commerce would consider looking into the situation of some of the present industries which were considered very safe a few years ago in this country and are now having their very existence threatened. One of the industries to which I am referring is that of cloth-making, the tweed industry, suitings. I find that a certain type of cloth is being imported from Scotland and from Italy which looks as good as the Irish material and sells at about one-third of the cost and wears for about one-tenth the length of time of the Irish material. I understand that the previous Minister allowed considerable amounts of this cloth to be imported. I believe that that cloth is still being imported, and I would ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce to look into the matter and see if something can be [1131] done about it immediately before the Irish woollen mills are forced to close down because of the fact that they can get no sale at home for their materials.

I do not know whether or not the Tourist Board or the I.T.A. is responsible for a particular incident which was related to me a few days ago. The manager of one of the holiday camps in this country told me that in 1952 a request was made to the Tourist Board to help this camp to bring visitors from England to this country and that the authorities of the camp were prepared to put up half the cost of any advertisements which were inserted in English newspapers. They met with a blank refusal. He said that the board responsible went ahead and gave dinners and balls to the bigwigs, as he referred to them, in various towns in England, and as a result maybe one or two or three tourists came over. Their idea was that the proper way to get tourists to come to this country was to approach the various factories in the industrial towns of England and try to put over there the idea of a holiday in Ireland. That is what they were doing, and in one particular town which the Tourist Board refused to have anything to do with they got in one week almost 2,000 tourists to come to Ireland and spend their holidays here. That is something that should be looked into by the Department, because if what he says is true the money that this board is costing the country is being wasted.

As far as An Tóstal is concerned many things can be said for it and against it. If it is to be run at all I believe that the date must be put back. There is no point in continuing to run An Tóstal in May or, if it is like this year, early June, because people who come here once during that period will not be inclined to come again. One thing which, like Deputy Desmond, I did notice about An Tóstal was the hordes of officials who seemed to arise with the declaration of An Tóstal. One thing that annoyed me very much, which I think should not be allowed to recur, is the fact that in many cases those officials, the temporary ones [1132] employed merely for three, four, five or six weeks, were men who were taken out of very good jobs under local authorities and were allowed their leave for the purpose of carrying on work during the Tóstal at a very high rate of pay while in some cases members of their families continued as their deputies in the particular jobs that were being done. I do not think that that is a proper approach to it, and I would ask that if An Tóstal is to be run again, if there are available unemployed people who can do this work, they should get preference for it.

In Meath this year the Patrician pageant made a great impression on many people. I do not believe that the event was planned as it should have been. The start of the pageant in Drogheda was an anti-climax, if you like, but the end in Tara was very, very good. Anybody who did attend there was impressed by what he was shown. I believe this should be made an annual event. I noticed that while all the local people were prepared to spend their time, and money, too, preparing for the pageant there were again hordes of officials who were prepared to do the work apparently on condition that they were well paid for it. If the work is being done by local people and is being done freely, not costing anything, they should be allowed to do it entirely, and somebody should not be wished on them to be look at what they are doing and to be well paid for the job. I wish the Minister the best of good luck in his new job and hope he will not forget the point I have made with regard to rural industries.

Gearóid Mac Phartaláin: Do chuir an ráiteas a rinne an Tánaiste áthas ar chuid againn de bhrí nach bhfuil sé leis an gclár a bhí leagtha amach ag an Aire a bhí in oifig sar a chuaigh sé isteach ann a chur ar ceal. Rud eile de tiubhraidh sé sórt ciúinis agus suaimhnis do dhaoine ar cuimhneach leo ráiteasaí eile an Tánaiste roinnt blianta ó shoin. Beidh Fáilte níos mó de bharr sin roimh an méid a dúirt sé.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht le fear amháin a rinne tagairt do imdháil tionscal ar fud na tuaithe agus ós rud é go bhfuil [1133] spéis faoi leith ag furmhór na gcomhaltaí sa Dáil seo, sa gceist seo, bhí sé sontasach agamsa ar aon chaoí go raibh rud tábhachtach amháin d'fhág an Tánaiste as a ráiteas. Chuir sé síos ar beagnach chuile rud a bhíonn dá phlé faoin. Meastachán seo ach chuir sé ionadh orm nár dhúirt sé oiread agus focal amháin de thagairt don Acht sin ar a dtugtar Acht na Líomatáistí nea-Fhorbartha. Is fíor a rá go bhfuil tús maíth déanta ar an gciest sin—imdháil na dtionscail ar fud na tíre agus go mór-mór ins na líomatáistí ar imeall-bhord an iarthair —ó Thír Chonaill anuas go dtí iarthar Chorcaighe—le tionscail a bhunú agus leis na daoine a imíonn faoi láthair as na ceanntracha san agus go minic thar sáile ag iarraidh slí bheatha a choinneáil sa mbaile. Tá siad bunaithe mar is eól do gach duine le cúnamh a thabhairt de dhaoine príomháideacha. Is féidir le daoine a bhfuil fonn orthu tionscal a chur ar bhun suas go dtí leath an chéad chostais fháil agus níl aon tsrian, níl aon smacht, agus níl aon cur isteach ar aon bhealach ag an Roinn Tionscail agus Tráchtála ar na fir nó ar na dreamanna a chuireann tionscail agus déantúisí ar bun le cabhair an Achta sin. Is leo féin an mhonarcha má cuirtear ar bun í; is orthu féin an caillteanas má bhíonn a leithéad ann agus is leo an brabach má dhéanann siad brabach. Ní dúirt an t-ath-Thánaiste, nuair a bhí sé ag stiúrú an Bhille sin Thríd an Dáil, gurb é an buille deireannach é a buailfí le tionscail a spreagadh ins na ceanntracha sin de bharr an Achta sin ach tá sé ró-luath fós im thuairim-se a rá gur chinn glan air—ba mhaith liomsa é seo a rá ós rud é gur Teachta Dála mé a bhfuil cead cainnte agam thar ceann ceann de na ceanntracha san san Iarthar—agus gur chóir tosaí ar chuile shaghas tionscail a chur ar bun le cabhair iomlán an Stáit agus le chuile smacht ar na tionscail sin a bheith i lámha oifigigh, dá fheabhas iad, na Roinne Tionscail agus Tráchtála. Tá dul chun cinn déanta in áiteanna beaga agus tá áiteanna níos mó ná iad ach ní féidir le haon duine bheith sásta leis an úsáid a baineadh as cúnamh an Achta sin. Tá mé ag ceapadh gur féidir liom a rá thar [1134] ceann an taobh seo den Teach: dá mba ghá é tionscail a chur ar bun faoi lán-chumhacht an Stáit, agus gan baint ar bith a bheith acu le daoine príobháideacha, go mbeadh tacaíocht le fáil ag an Tánaiste ón taobh seo a leithéid sin d'obhair a dhéanamh, dá mba gá é a dhéanamh. Tá dream nua curtha ar bun sa Ghaeltacht — dream ar a dtugtar Muintir na Gaeltachta. Tá siad ag iarraidh saol iomlán na haoise seo a sholáthar ins na ceanntracha iargcúlta —aibhléise, soláthair uisge, tithe nuaaimseara, agus mar sin de. Tá cuid de na sóluistí, mar a thiubhras mé orthu, ar fáil cheanna, ach ní dóigh liomsa gurb é an bealach atá molta acu féin leis an gcuspóir sin a chur i gcrích an bealach is fearr lena dhéanamh, ach ar aon chaoi tá fáilte agamsa roimh an mborradh agus an spreagadh nua seo atá le tabhairt faoi deara i muinntir na Gaeltachta iad fhéin. Ar ndóigh tá obair den tsórt sin á dhéanamh ag Ranna eile den Stát. Déanfaidh an Meastachán a bhí ós comhair na Dála aréir an-leas ins na ceanntracha sin. Obair an Stáit ar fad atá ann. Déanann an Roinn Leasa Shóisialaigh an-leas do na ceanntracha sin freisin. Déanann na comhairlí condae an-leas freisin mar gheall ar bhóithre a dhéanamh agus obair a sholáthar agus páigh a chur ar fáil. Déanann rannóg na foraoiseachta leas freisin. Tá Roinn Seirbhíse na Gaeltachta ag déanamh leas ach níl daoine sásta go dtí seo le hiomlán na hoibre atá dá dhéanamh acu san ar fad.

Cén chéim eile is féidir a thabhairt? Más féidir na gnáth-thionscail a sholáthar nach bhfuíl scaípthe fós ar fud na tíre, ar ndóigh beidh daoine príobháideacha ag teastáil, agus sin díreach an fáth ar riteadh an tAcht Líomatáistí Nea-Fhorbartha. Tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh sé maitheas ins na ceanntracha tuaithe nach bhfuil tionscail iontu cheana féin. Rinneadh rudaí fiúntacha faoi thiar in mo cheantar féin. Rinneadh rudaí maithe taobh istigh de na líomatáistí nea-fhorbartha ach ní leor iad ar fad leis an imirce a stop.

I wish to join with the other [1135] Deputies in welcoming the statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I believe his statement will go a long way to remove certain fears which I myself have heard expressed because of previous statements made by him. It is satisfactory to know that in the main the programme of industrial development is not to be seriously interfered with and that, in fact, the Tánaiste has expressed a desire and an intention to expand it as much as possible. He can be assured of the fullest support from this side of the House in his efforts in that direction.

However, Deputy Desmond reminded me that there was a very noticeable omission from the Minister's statement. It formed the principal subject of Deputy Desmond's remarks, namely, the Undeveloped Areas Act. The Deputy dilated on emigration from the country areas and particularly from the remoter districts such as he and I represent. That has been a running sore for a much longer period than we have had native government, and one of the methods devised by the Tánaiste's predecessor was this method of the aiding of private enterprise to establish industries in the poorer and remoter areas.

The Fianna Fáil Government pinned its faith on private enterprise to ensure that the ordinary industries would find a location in these undeveloped areas. We believed, and we believe still, that, with certain notable exceptions, the State cannot do this work as well as people who operate from the profit motive. A good deal of very useful work has been and is being done in those areas by State and semi-State bodies. Some of them have been referred to by various speakers here to-day. Bord na Móna is an obvious example; the E.S.B. is another which is doing a good deal, through rural electrification, to improve conditions of life in these remote areas. Seirbhísí na Gaeltachta has been operating for a very long time and has done its own share to help in improving the standards of life in those areas also.

[1136] But the combined efforts of all these State and semi-State bodies has not succeeded in eliminating the serious emigration from those areas and while public works such as are a very common feature there do mitigate the rigours of life, they are not such as to provide a permanent livelihood and do not provide accommodation on which the young people could possibly settle down and make their homes in their native places.

Therefore, the introduction of ordinary industrial development in those areas was conceived and planned by the Minister's predecessor with a view to establishing ordinary industrial conditions for as large a number as possible in those areas. No one can say, and I agree with Deputy Desmond, that the results of the Act have been a shining success. I do not think that the reason for that state of affairs is mainly the one which he has mentioned. He seems to think that adequate capital has not been forthcoming. I do not think that capital is the cause of the trouble; at least it is not the main cause.

When it comes to establishing industries we all know from our contacts with promoters that the technical side of any industry is the one that seems to give us the greatest difficulty. Many individuals and many groups have been in the position to put up adequate capital but lack of technical knowledge and technological experts has often been the cause of the failure of an idea to materialise.

I do not know exactly whether there is any quick and easy way to a solution of that problem. Nationalism has solved the problem in respect of the large undertakings such as Bord na Móna and the E.S.B. but one would shrink from suggesting nationalisation for the very large range of small industries which can help very materially in the amelioration of the lot of the people to whom I am referring. I think both sides of the House will agree that private enterprise and the proper profit motive can do more in the spreading of these small industries and their cumulative effect would possibly be greater than that of any single large nationalised venture. That is the most [1137] helpful solution and if the Tánaiste can add to the provisions already in existence to induce private enterprise to go into those areas with an increasing number of small industries, his efforts will receive the fullest support of this side of the House and particularly of the Deputies who represent those areas. His efforts will be particularly welcomed by the people whom those industries are intended to benefit.

There is one other matter to which I would like to advert. I think the present occupant of the office of Minister for Industry and Commerce is possibly better circumstanced than even his predecessor was to bring about the change in the condition of affairs to which I am about to refer. There is always a certain amount of fear of loss of employment when new methods of working, labour-saving and time-saving machines are introduced into industry. That fear operated with very ill-effects in the United States of America in the motor industry until eventually the employees discovered that increased production and the application of time-saving methods created new employment instead of causing unemployment. That was the principal agency in the building-up of the enormous motor manufacturing industry in the United States which provided employment beyond the dreams of the most optimistic in the industry prior to the introduction of these new methods.

Cases have come to notice here of the same fears operating amongst employees. Employees cannot refuse to take in machines but they believe that, if they work them as efficiently as they can be worked, their own employment will be in jeopardy. I do not want to refer to specific cases which have been brought to my notice; but the Minister, as I have said, is possibly better fitted than his predecessor was to impress the employees in relation to this matter; his advice will be more readily acceptable possibly than that of Deputy Lemass.

If we are to improve the chances of employment, methods of working will have to be improved. We have a clear case in relation to arterial drainage. [1138] Arterial drainage has now been made possible on a scale hitherto undreamed of because of the very efficient machines made available, chiefly by the Americans. Schemes that have been completed now would have taken generations rather than years had that machinery not been available. If this idea of efficiency, the saving of time and the elimination of drudgery from work as a means of opening up new avenues of employment could be properly evaluated by both present and potential employees, then one of the obstacles to the worthwhile promotion of industry would be removed.

My main contribution to this debate is in reference to the operation of the Undeveloped Areas Act. We agree with what Deputy Desmond said that the concentration of industries near the main markets, while it reduces marketing costs for the producer, has the social ill-effects to which he referred. I am satisfied the Minister will continue to give all the aids and helps he can to remove or eradicate the disadvantages attending the establishment of industry in places remote from the main home markets. I do not know that the potential promoters in these areas are themselves quite satisfied that the Act is a sufficient guarantee. Possibly people who have established thriving industries outside these areas, when they contemplate a further expansion, may be induced by the Minister to locate such further expansion in the areas in which there is crying need for industries.

In relation to the recruitment of personnel for the staffing of these industries, even if the people in those areas lack technical knowledge, I can assure the Minister he will find in these areas young men and women with as quick an aptitude to acquire technical knowledge as will be found in any part of the world. These young men and women in the past have left the most backward areas of this country and found employment very quickly in the United States and elsewhere, in the most highly technical industries; their aptitude, their quickness of mind and natural ability is, to say the least of it, [1139] as good as will be found anywhere. It is only a matter of getting the necessary enterprise to come along and harness their natural qualities and enable them, not alone to find a livelihood for themselves in their own locality but to add considerably, efficiently and competently to the national wealth.

Mr. Casey: We all welcome the statement of the Minister in relation to his approach to the problems confronting him in the Department of which he now has control. We recall that when it was announced by the Taoiseach that Deputy William Norton, Leader of the Labour Party, would be the new Minister for Industry and Commerce, that announcement evoked comment from the Leader of the Opposition, comment which could only have the effect of creating a certain amount of uncertainty and fear in the minds of industrialists and business people generally.

The Minister's statement to-day should go a long way towards dispelling any fear or uncertainty that these people may have. For that reason the Minister's statement is welcome on both sides of the House. This welcome, however, should not be construed in such a fashion as to suggest that the Minister has announced some new precept of Labour Party policy. What the Minister did say, and what we all welcome, is that he is prepared to give adequate and reasonable protection to Irish industry; that he is prepared to give whatever encouragement he can to industrialists who propose to launch out into new industries with the object of providing some solution to our unemployment problem. Surely, that has always been part of the policy of the Labour Party, and the Minister's statement this morning cannot be construed otherwise.

The Minister, in his statement, did make some reference to C.I.E. I should like to make one or two brief comments on that particular subject. I have some knowledge and experience of C.I.E. I have for some time been connected with one of the trade unions catering for the employees of that [1140] board. I do not want to go into detail on several aspects of that concern that I might comment on, but I do want to make one general comment which I feel should be made because it reflects one of the strongest impressions that I have gleaned from our connection as a trade union catering for the employees of the board. The statement is this, that it has been my experience as a person connected with that trade union that there appears to be a deplorable lack of co-operation between the board of C.I.E. and the trade unions catering for its employees. I can assure the House that that lack of co-operation is not the fault of the trade unions concerned.

The board of C.I.E. seems to resent any attempt at all towards any type of joint consultation between the management and the staffs of C.I.E. By virtue of the fact that I am aware of some aspects of the relations that exist between their employees, through the trade unions, and the Ulster Transport Authority, the comparison only goes to show the existence, apparently, of a well-planned scheme by the board of C.I.E. not to invite the assistance of the trade unions concerned towards the direction of policy or on details of the operations of the board. We know that the Ulster Transport Authority at all times invites the trade union leaders to go to them and discuss general policy. They do not at all times accept the advice of the trade unions, the leaders of which do not claim to be Messiahs on the working of transport undertakings, but at least the authority in the North does invite co-operation with its employees through consultation with the trade unions.

I would seriously suggest to the Minister that he might encourage and prompt the board of C.I.E. to take similar steps in regard to the trade unions catering for its employees, because I feel that people who have had practical experience in the working of the transport system are able and willing to make some contribution, at any rate, towards the better running and management of an undertaking such as C.I.E.

In that connection also, I should like [1141] to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that many of the older employees of C.I.E. who have retired on reaching the age of 65 are now living on very low pensions indeed. I know railwaymen who retired from C.I.E. after 40 or 50 years' service, men who had been serving in the conciliation grades, and some of them are getting pensions as low as 6/- a week. Many of them played a prominent and useful part in the national struggle of this country. The older Deputies here will readily concede that these people rendered sterling service during the national struggle. Therefore, it seems unjust that these people who, in the main, were paid inadequately during their long years of service, are now retired on pensions as low as 6/- a week.

I know that perhaps the Minister may not have full functions in this matter and I may say that it is one for the trade unions, but a bird cannot fly on one wing. I know that the trade unions are desirous of putting this matter right. I would ask the Minister for his co-operation. These people in the conciliation grades are not asking for free superannuation schemes. They are quite willing to pay during the years they are serving so that they will have a reasonable pension at the end of their time.

In conclusion, I should like to join with my colleague, Deputy Barry, in urging the Minister to make a quick decision regarding the Cork airport. I think it has been conceded on all sides that there is a need for an airport in Cork. As Deputy Barry has said, the thing seems to be up in the air at the moment. I would urge the Minister to tackle that problem and give a quick decision on it.

Mr. Norton: I would like, at the outset, to express my very sincere thanks to the House for the cordial and non-partisan spirit in which this Estimate has been considered. That has been a matter of considerable consolation to me and I would hope that it is an indication that, in respect of our main economic problems, we are not going to have in the future perhaps [1142] the same heated and acrimonious discussions that we have had sometimes in the past on some of these issues about which we now probably have reached a more mature judgment.

I would like especially to express my appreciation of the helpful and conciliatory speech which was made this morning by Deputy Lemass, my predecessor. The speech made by him, following on the speech which I made in introducing the Estimate this morning will, I think, at least underline this fact, that so far as the industrial targets to be achieved are concerned there is no essential difference between the main Parties in this House. I think that is all to the good, because I do not think you can have a healthy industrial development if we are to have violent changes in our industrial policy and violent changes in the targets to which we set ourselves with each change of Government. For my part, I hope in this respect that I will have the co-operation of my predecessor.

I would like to say to the country that we have now mutually evolved certain industrial objectives. We have now set ourselves certain industrial sights so that, whatever change of Government there may be in the future, there will be no violent change in the industrial objectives to be achieved. I would like, for my part, to give that assurance to the industrial community of this country, and I think my predecessor can do the same. In fact, I think he has done so by the speech which he made this morning. I hope that all that will have a reassuring effect on our industrialists, not merely on those engaged in industrial activities at the moment but on all those who may be contemplating the establishment of industries in the future. I think we have much to gain by stability in the pursuit of our objectives and by constancy in the objects which we are seeking to achieve. I think the discussion this morning will be at once an indication to the country generally that we have settled down now in a spirit of broad agreement as to the objectives to be aimed at, and as to the method and assistance to be [1143] provided for all those who may in any way be able by industrial activity to make a contribution to the economic strengthening of the country.

A number of matters have been raised in connection with the Estimate to which I should like to make reference. Deputy Lemass referred to the review of tariffs. With regard to tariffs, I have always felt, whether in Opposition or in Government, that while our tariff policy was essential from the point of view of assisting in the development of industries here, and while it was also right, and will continue to be right, to use tariffs and quotas as a means of assisting young Irish industries, in learning the lessons of industrial manhood, it was always rather weak from the standpoint of never resorting to adequate supervision of the tariffs imposed or to any detailed periodical survey of the results achieved by the application of tariffs and quotas as weapons in our effort to build up the industrial fabric of the country. However, our industries have now enjoyed tariffs in some instances for nearly 30 years; in other instances for more than 20 years, and I think nobody will misunderstand the attitude of Parliament and of the Government in desiring to assess the benefit of the tariff policy and particularly the application of high rates of tariff to particular industries.

The review which will be undertaken is not in any way to be construed as a reflection on any industry. The desire is to reach the optimum measure of protection necessary to expand development of production for home consumption and for export of the maximum quantity of goods possible. I feel sure that the Industrial Development Authority in planning the national objective as expressed in the speeches made in this House to-day and on previous occasions will approach this review in an understanding and a sympathetic way. There is no reason for any industrial uneasiness. The object of the review is to help industry and to help the nation and I hope it will be so interpreted by all those industries which will come under review, and by many others which will [1144] come under review in the future. Any industry doing its job efficiently need have no fear of any review and any industry doing its job not so efficiently will be guided and helped to reach as high a standard of efficiency as possible. That is the object of the review and that must be the object of our economic and industrial policy.

References have been made in the course of the discussion to tourism and to the tourist boards and to An Tóstal. I think it is not now possible to make the question of tourism an issue in dispute between any two Parties in this House. We all accept the fact that we have unrivalled opportunities in this country for the attraction of tourists—and that applies to tourists not only of foreign nationality but to a wide empire of our own people overseas. We can always benefit economically, socially and in every other way by attracting them home to the motherland, and their home-coming can be made a profitable source of income for the nation generally. Therefore I think we must aim not merely at getting our own people to come back on holidays—those who have emigrated—but we must seek to attract the maximum number from other lands who can be induced to believe that in Ireland they can have a holiday which satisfies their desire for recreation accompanied, as it can be in all circumstances, by reinvigorated minds and bodies. It is because of our potentialities in the matter of tourism that I think we ought to settle and maintain in some stabilised way the objectives to be aimed at and the methods to be employed in securing them. I think therefore that we must assume that on this whole question of tourism there is a fund of goodwill in all parts of the House. The only thing therefore that we have to do if we accept that situation is to settle the basis on which we propose to proceed and the attention which we propose to give to our tourist industry to enable it to develop further.

Deputy Lemass said that he thought there was a place for two tourist boards. Maybe there is. I am not too sure, however, that the second tourist board—from the information available [1145] to me—arose out of a conviction that there was a necessity for a second, separate tourist board. I think, possibly, in other circumstances Deputy Lemass would have preferred one board. If, however, the atmosphere and the climate generally did not at that time facilitate the establishment of one board and necessitated two, I think that should be regretted. But I do not want to approach this problem from the point of view of preconceived antagonism to anything done before I came into office. If a change has to be made, then it should be made on the basis of conviction that such a change is desirable. I think it would be highly undesirable in this or any other Department—or indeed in any other walk of life—to make a change merely for the sake of making it, and my approach to tourism and to any other organisations in my Department will be not to make changes for the sake of making changes but only when convinced that change is desirable. In a small country like this I think it would take some time to convince me or any reasonable person that it is desirable to establish two tourist boards such as we have here in An Bord Fáilte and Fógra Fáilte. It seems to me that they ought to be married; it seems to me that they should pull together in their marriage, that each should engage in its various national activities, but that they should be welded together and should be efficiently led and that the whole organisation should be concerned with the work of tourist development in an efficient, lively and vibrant way. I think it would be a mistake if they continue as two separate organisations—rival firms competing with each other and without that amalgamation or integration. Personally I think it is essential if the board is to do its job properly and I propose to consider the question of amalgamating both boards. I do not want to do it in a spirit of hostility, in a spirit of discord but in the most conciliatory way possible. Here it might be well to say I hope in that respect to get the co-operation of both boards and it may be possible to do it without legislation. If that can be done, well and good: a marriage of that kind based on goodwill [1146] might be better than a marriage or an amalgamation by legislation. I hope I will get the goodwill of those boards to carry out amalgamation if that is decided on, but if we cannot get goodwill from them it may be necessary to resort to legislation. Quite frankly at this stage, at all events, I would sooner be able to amalgamate or consolidate with the goodwill of both boards concerned.

An Tóstal has been mentioned and has been the subject of quite heated discussions at meetings throughout the country and in the public Press. I want to approach the problem of An Tóstal with an open mind and not with any preconceived views as to what should be done. Firstly, I should like the views of all those who are intimately associated with the work of that body. Whether it is right or wrong to start An Tóstal does not matter; what does matter is that it has been started. It has been functioning two years and it ought not to be dropped without getting a fair chance of succeeding. Whether it can be made a success ultimately is a matter which only the future can determine but at all events, my own personal view—without, as I say, having got advice from any of the bodies associated with An Tóstal—is that we ought to give it a fair chance. I think probably some of the comments and some of the disputations which have arisen around An Tóstal have in a large measure possibly arisen out of the fact that an effort was made to hold it early in the year when the peculiarities of our climate are such as to seriously impair its prospects of success. Even the arrangement by which An Tóstal was held at a later date in the second year probably did not result in sufficiently insulating the festival against the vagaries of the weather. The project is now being examined from the standpoint of seeing whether any further movement towards a period when better weather might be expected or towards the recognised holiday period is desirable.

I do not think anybody will object to one test which I think should be applied to An Tóstal; I think it is a reasonable test. Are we getting value for money by holding this festival each year? I do not think we should necessarily [1147] look for a profit on the national balance sheet in the first, second, third or fourth year but we should at the same time make sure that if we continue to invest money in An Tóstal, we are going to see a profit of some kind. By that, I do not mean monetary profit but a profit to the national advantage from the activities connected with An Tóstal. If it is going to be continued, I think it should not be regarded merely as an occasion for spending money lightly or thoughtlessly, for dissipating money because Ireland is at home—as an occasion when everybody should throw ordinary caution to the winds. I think if An Tóstal is to be continued, it should be continued on the basis that every £ spent on An Tóstal yields 20/- worth of advantage to the nation. However, for the present we can keep an open mind on the matter with a desire to give it every possible chance of succeeding in future years and, I should like to say, with no desire to make a change for the sake of change.

The question of the activities of Córas Tráchtála has been raised in the course of the debate. I think it is a very valuable organisation with quite considerable potentialities. No industrialist could do the work which that body does; no group of industrialists have the resources for doing that work nor have they the access to the bodies and organisations which Córas Tráchtála enjoys. It was originally intended that this body should confine its activities to dollar markets because probably at that time the dollar problem was more acute than it now is and it was tending to become more acute. I think at this stage, however, with the development of this body's activities, we should look further afield. Frankly I should like to see its activities extended into other areas. For instance if it extended its activities in a more permanent way into the London market, it might there have access not merely to dollar resources but to sources of export to other hard currency countries. I should like to see—this is my personal view—the activities of that body extended to other fields in which they could usefully [1148] be employed. I am glad that Deputy Lemass agrees that the time has arrived—in fact it may well be overdue—for the extension of the activities of Córas Tráchtála into these other fields.

The question of the position of C.I.E. has been raised and reference has been made to its development programme. C.I.E. is the creation of this Parliament. It is the national transport authority in this country. I think here again we can, if we look for it, find a measure of agreement as to public policy towards C.I.E. Here, again, there should be no violent changes after a general election. C.I.E. is charged with the responsibility of providing us with the main body of our transport services. I agree with Deputy Lemass when he says that, in our circumstances and indeed in world circumstances, railways must continue to be the main source of transport in the country. I think in any case it would be national shortsightedness to think of any abandonment of railways, with all the capital assets which have gone into the building up of these railways and with all the economic interests that now revolve around the railways in the circumstances which exist in this country. So far as I am concerned, I certainly wish to see C.I.E. made a success.

I should like to aid, and I will aid, C.I.E. in its development programme. It will get from me every possible encouragement, firstly encouragement to be as efficient as it can, secondly, encouragement to balance its budget as soon as it can and, thirdly, encouragement to engage in the development of its activities in a way calculated to give us a better transport service and an efficient transport organisation which will not require constant drafts on the national Exchequer.

The question of the decentralisation of industry has been raised by a number of Deputies. I think here again we can all agree that the decentralisation of industry is highly desirable but, in a free economy, it is not easy to get that decentralisation of industry that one can get in a regimented economy. The promoters of [1149] industry have the right to decide where they will go. If they ask for special facilities from the Department, the Department may endeavour to induce them to go to particular places. If they require a new manufacturing licence, the Department may even try to push them into broad areas or specific areas but there is little that can be done unless you can take the potential industrialist along the road with you. There is no real means of compelling him to go to any particular place against his wishes. The industrialist may say if you try to send him into a particular area: “These terms are too onerous; I do not propose to go ahead with the establishment of the industry.” In that situation, we achieve nothing by attempting to put on pressure which is stubbornly resisted.

Subject to all these difficulties, I think the Department of Industry and Commerce can help to encourage industrialists to move out from the large cities and towns and spread themselves over other areas in the country. It is not an easy job; it is not a thing that can be operated automatically to ensure that what you wish will happen but, subject to the well-known difficulties which operate in a free economy, I think it can be taken that the policy of the Department, and my policy, will be to try to decentralise industry as far as possible. The establishment of Fóras Tionscal was an effort to move industry into places which had been entirely denuded of industry and to provide other sources of employment in these areas.

The activities of that board have not, I think, produced excitingly spectacular results to date but it was not to be expected, having regard to the difficult task set the board, that it could produce spectacular or instantaneous results. I said when that Bill was going through the House that while I supported it I was highly doubtful about the ability to induce the establishment of new industries in these undeveloped areas because of the natural preference of industrialists for where the lights are and the natural desire of industrialists to be near the main streams of population [1150] but I wished the Bill well on that occasion. I still wish it well and, so far as I am concerned, I am willing to give the board every possible assistance to justify itself and I hope that once it can get over the growing pains of infancy it will in time fulfil a very useful function in assisting in the development of industries in areas which, as I said, have been starved of industries. These are the areas from which we are losing the greatest number of our people in emigration and where the problem of unemployment is most acute, bringing with it all the hardships which are inseparable from acute unemployment. Deputy Desmond, Deputy Mrs. Crowley and Deputy Bartley can, therefore, be assured of my utmost goodwill in assisting this board in every possible way.

The question of Aer Lingus has been raised, mainly, I think, in relation to the financial position of the company. Aer Lingus originally said that they would carry forward their losses and meet them later from whatever profits they hoped to make, but recently they have got away from that approach to their financial problems and have asked the Exchequer for financial assistance.

Nobody wants to subsidise Aer Lingus if that can be avoided but if they were to go on losing money they must get money from somewhere and I am not too sure that they will get it easily from the banks, if at all from the banks and, in circumstances of that kind, it would be necessary for the Government to ask Parliament for a draft in order to assist Aer Lingus to maintain itself in activity.

I want to approach the problem from the standpoint of doing everything possible to get Aer Lingus to face up to the fact that it must cut its losses so that it may not be necessary to ask the Government for any subsidy in order to assist the company in its activities. It is only right to say that Aer Lingus will be expected to cut its losses and avoid the State having to give substantial subsidies for the operation of a company of this kind. Aer Lingus has a monopoly of the main air service between this country and Britain. That is a very valuable right [1151] which it has at the moment and it is not being unreasonable to say to Aer Lingus that Parliament will expect Aer Lingus so to organise its business that Parliament will not have to meet deficits of approximately £250,000 per year because that is what Aer Lingus is heading for at the moment and that situation could very well become worse, if there was any change in the operation of Aer Lingus as a result of the revision of the intergovernmental agreement.

I think I speak for the whole House, not merely for the Government, in this matter of saying that it would be disquieting if we had to contemplate facing an annual loss of £250,000 or more on the operation of Aer Lingus services and, so far as I am concerned. I will put it strongly to the board that it has a duty of getting down that deficit quickly and putting itself on an even keel with the minimum of delay.

The question of Cork Airport has been raised. The position is that a survey of the site is being carried out there by officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce in consultation with officials of the Department of Defence and Aer Lingus. The survey will not cost very much and as soon as we get the report, which ought to be presented with reasonable expedition, the whole situation will be considered.

Mr. A. Barry: Is this a second survey?

Mr. Norton: It is the only survey on this basis. There was, I think, a previous examination of the situation.

Mr. Lemass: Of alternative sites.

Mr. Norton: Of alternative sites and estimates of the cost of operating from Cork were being submitted.

Mr. A. Barry: The Minister will remember that an announcement was made by the previous Administration that plans had been finally O-kayed.

Mr. Lemass: No—that the site had been finally selected.

[1152] Mr. Norton: The position is that, so far, the stage that has been reached is that the site has been selected but there are no commitments so far as this Government is concerned.

Mr. A. Barry: A figure of £1,000,000 was used.

Mr. Norton: I am not responsible for the use of a figure of £1,000,000. In fact, the survey may well show that that figure would even be exceeded. At this stage and in the absence of the report on the survey which is now being carried out it would be better not to discuss the matter further. We can discuss it when we get the full facts of the situation. At this stage it would be profitless to do it and it might be all to the good of Cork if it were not made a subject of discussion at this stage.

The question of the Holidays Act was raised by Deputy Lemass. In passing our previous holidays legislation we broke very valuable ground. The setting down in statute form of a worker's right to certain minimum annual holidays was a progressive step. I said so at the time and I have never believed otherwise since but, in a moving society and an ever-changing world, unless you keep moving you inevitably fall backwards because all those with whom you have been associated have gone on, and I think the time has come to review our approach to our holidays legislation. It is true, of course, that trade unions, particularly trade unions who have got quite considerable economic strength and are in key positions and are operating in relatively prosperous industries, can manage to get for their members more than the minimum period of holidays provided in the Act but, if we agree that what they do in that respect is good and nationally desirable, they are getting nothing more than what they are entitled to, and if employers on the one hand and trade unions on the other hand negotiate agreements conceding these holidays, I do not think we should penalise, by allowing them to lag behind, those persons employed in industries [1153] where trade union organisation is not as strong as it is in other industries. There is greater need for putting a floor in respect of holidays into our social legislation for the relatively poorly organised worker than there is for the highly organised worker whose trade union will probably get the holidays for him in any case. It is the unorganised or the badly organised class of worker that we need to beam our protection on.

Mr. Lemass: The Minister will remember it becomes a point of honour for the trade unions to get better than the minimum.

Mr. Norton: I know that terrain as the Deputy knows it too, but I still do not think that even whatever sense of honour they have in these matters should operate to intimidate us from doing what we think is right on the problem generally. However, I hope the House will, in due course, have an opportunity of examining this whole problem and I hope it will examine it with an open mind and with a desire just to build up reasonable standards here because our whole progress and co-operation here must be on the basis that we give to our people a fair deal whether they are workers or employers. The greatest measure of co-operation that we can produce between them would spell for us in the long run the greatest measure of progress we can achieve.

I think these were the main issues raised in the course of the debate. As I said at the outset, I should like to express my very sincere thanks to the House for the co-operative way in which the Estimate has been discussed, for the kindly remarks which have been made about myself as Minister and again to extend to Deputy Lemass my appreciation of the broad-minded and understanding way in which he has approached this Estimate which might have been the subject of a contentious debate. I think it is in the national interest that it has been discussed so helpfully and so cooperatively.

Vote put and agreed to.