Dáil Éireann - Volume 169 - 18 June, 1958

Committee on Finance. - Vote 50—Industry and Commerce (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration—(Deputy Cosgrave).

Dr. Esmonde: When I moved to report progress yesterday evening, I was addressing my remarks to tourism. Many Deputies who have spoken on this Estimate have expressed the opinion that there should be a vast expansion of the tourist trade. There can be no dispute on that point. One of the limiting factors to the extension of tourism in Ireland is that practically all our outside advertising and all the energies of Bord Fáilte, those who conduct tourism here, are directed towards bringing people into the City of Dublin. If one travels about the world and visits the capital cities of other countries, one finds that there is not a great deal of difference between one capital city and another, apart from the difference in language and the customs and habits of the people. If we are to build up an extensive tourist trade, we must cater for people [256] who will return year after year. The difficulty is that people who come to Dublin are the type of people who pay us one visit and go elsewhere the following year. We should base tourism on the idea of having families coming here. That can be done only by encouraging people to visit parts of Ireland outside the city. That state of affairs will not obtain if all our advertising is directed towards bringing people into Dublin.

I would suggest that in our advertising in Britain and other places, we should indicate an area south of a certain line and encourage people to come to that area through the southern ports, such as Cork, Waterford and Rosslare Harbour. People can bring their own cars through those ports. The main ferry into Ireland at the moment is through Rosslare Harbour. When they bring their cars, people can travel to various parts of the country and will be encouraged to come back again. The wealthier classes, who spend a short time in Dublin, are birds of passage and not potential future visitors. There should be more advertising of places outside Dublin and outside, perhaps, Donegal and Kerry, which seem to get the most prominence on the posters that one sees outside this country in British railway stations and other places.

The position with regard to employment and trade here is somewhat peculiar as compared with other countries. The majority of other countries are short of manpower and direct their energies to encouraging manpower to produce more and to get more out of their factories and industries generally. Our difficulty is the opposite. Here there is an excess of manpower which we seem to be unable to absorb and which we lose annually by emigration.

Our external trade returns for 1956 with countries concerned with O.E.E.C. show somewhat alarming figures. If the figures at my disposal are correct, they show an adverse balance of payments with all European countries, with the exception of France. The only reason we had an export trade with France in 1956 was the fact that we exported large quantities of live stock to that country. There is a moral [257] behind that. That was the first year in which we exported cattle to France. The credit for securing that market must go to the previous Government, whether Deputies opposite like that or not. That was the first time that first-class meat was exported to France, and when the French people tasted that meat they realised what fine stuff we had to export and they bought more of it. It was the balance of payments that put them into difficulties so that they could not continue to buy our meat.

The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the most prosperous States in Europe. It has been built up in an almost phenomenal way since the disaster of World War II. In 1956, our adverse balance of payments with the Federal Republic of Germany was in the neighbourhood of £5,000,000. In the streets of Dublin and in practically every part of Ireland, one can see innumerable Volkswagen cars and Mercedes-Benz cars. In fact, even Ministers are driving about in Mercedes-Benz cars now. One can also see numerous German harvesting machines, combine harvesters, and so on, in every part of Ireland. That is because the Germans had something to sell and went out and sold it by good salesmanship.

Admittedly, the Federal Republic of Germany is a big and powerful nation, financially strong and in a position to advertise its wares, whereas we are a small nation whose expenditure on advertising abroad is necessarily restricted.

That brings us to two schools of thought. Are we going to try to get European, British or American industrialists to come in and start industries? We have done everything possible to encourage such people to come here. In fact, we have almost begged them to come. We have offered them magnificent terms, freedom from income-tax if they manufacture for export and even special concessions, such as building factories for them. We have the manpower available. We have the advantage of Imperial preference and we are closer to that great market, the United States of America, than any other country in Europe. Yet, the results appear to be negative. It [258] is very difficult to analyse the reason for that.

Anybody who has been associated as I have been, with the Industrial Association or any of these organisations will know the extraordinary frustration that exists in trying to get those people to come here. Apparently they are all keyed up and ready to come, but for some reason or other they fail to come. I have had that experience with two foreign industrialists. Could it be that we are offering them too much, that we are more or less saying they can have everything they want, so long as they come in here and start a factory, that we will be only too glad to have them?

That brings us to the other school of thought. We are a small country with a limited amount of capital at our disposal. At the same time, I am sure that there is within the confines of the country sufficient money to establish industries of our own, provided we had the know-how. That seems to be one of our great difficulties. First of all, there is the difficulty of inducing those who have money to invest it in an Irish industry with the assurance that they will get a good return. Another great difficulty is that, on account of our political history, and so on, we lack people who have a knowledge of industry and who can give us the technical know-how required to establish industries and put them into production. In addition, there is the outstanding difficulty of marketing.

The Government have at their disposal the sum of £250,000 which has been lying idle since the 1957 Budget, of which, as far as our researches in this House show, they have spent only £80 so far. I suggest to the Minister that that sum could be directed towards encouraging and creating a co-operative system in this country; a co-operative system, to begin with, to set up industries and a co-operative system to assist in marketing. I do not suggest for one moment that a sum of £250,000 would be sufficient to set up these industries themselves, or even to assist financially in the marketing of their products, but it does seem to me that, as we are a small country, if we have something to sell, quite obviously [259] one firm—its capital might be £20,000 or £60,000—cannot compete with American, continental or British industries. Surely we could form a co-operative system amongst such firms. Somehow or other, one can never get anything going in this country, unless you have some sort of quasi-State body behind it.

What the people want to-day is something specialised, something attractive, and things which were attractive 20 years ago are no longer so. People are looking for something which strikes the eye and the Minister could direct his energies in that direction. There is already in existence in this country a small body from which could be built up the co-operative system, that is the Plunket House organisation. In effect, you get, say, the textile group to come together and to advertise outside extensively. If they advertised extensively in Britain, where we have a huge Irish population living, the people could be encouraged to buy Irish goods. The same applies in America and other places, and it would have a snowball effect and we would be able to put our things before the world.

The same probably applies to the whiskey industry. We have some six or seven distilleries, and I believe if they came together as one group they could create considerable sales in the United States, for instance. I am told that there is quite a demand for Irish whiskey in the United States. I am also told that firms over there, who would stock Irish whiskey, do not like to do so because they feel that if they wanted large supplies—after all, Irish whiskey is an acquired taste, over and above the Scotch whisky, and it is quite a different thing—they would not be able to get those supplies because Irish whiskey has to be matured for seven years, or ten, if possible. I am given to understand that apparently, by some chemical process in recent years, it is possible to put out Scotch whisky in a very short time. It is somewhat on the lines of what they have been doing to wines in France. Therefore we are, vis-a-vis the Scotch distillers, at a disadvantage. Were we to [260] get a large order from the United States, we could not supply it all. These are things which ought to be gone into. If any country is going to buy, and buy extensively, they want to make sure that they will be able to get the goods. I do not think the Minister can gainsay that.

The same applies to tweeds. I have often heard very high tributes being paid to Irish tweed by Americans and Europeans, but again, if they want to get large supplies of such materials, they are not available. Two courses lie open to us. The first is that we invite the foreigner in here, and is that going to be a success? I thought so at one time, but I am rather inclined to change my views now. We have Canadians in the mines at Avoca carrying on the work done by the State. When they have been there for a year or so, they come back to the Government and the State has again to find the money. It again poses the question: would it not be better to have an Irish company, with Canadian know-how behind it, running it? We need to have more confidence in ourselves. The Government can do a lot, but the people should not expect the Government to do everything. They should be given the confidence to do it.

There is no use in the Minister standing up here, and, in his opening statement, telling us that Ireland is brimming with confidence in the Government, that confidence has reestablished itself, and so forth. The sorry picture is just the same and the flower of our country are still going away. There is no other country in Europe in which that is happening, and surely it behoves us to try to do in bulk, and in the co-operative system, what individually we have failed to do. There is no reason why we should not, within our own limitations, be able to concentrate on industries, based, if possible, on our major raw material, agricultural produce. We should have confidence in ourselves and not wait for the Government to do it, but the Government should direct all its energies to helping in every way any scheme which will encourage people to come together and fend for themselves.

That is what we lack to-day, that [261] confidence which is so necessary. We should concentrate as far as possible on specialised things and on those things which we have been able to produce at all times as good as anybody else. If we concentrate on those things, our future will be good. If we try to base our industries on letting anybody in here who is prepared to put up a bit of capital and start a chancy sort of venture, we will only create a position of instability which we do not want. We want to try and stabilise our country as much as possible.

I feel that the Minister should, as far as it is possible, direct his energies towards procuring whatever markets are possible in Europe. Whether we like it or not, and particularly now with the possibility of stability in France, it seems likely that the Free Trade Area will soon be coming into being. It is repeatedly stated by the O.E.E.C.—a body to which we belong and which was set up to advise us on our affairs—that we have all our eggs in one basket and that it is not a good thing. It should be a warning to us to look for markets in other countries.

As far as I know, negotiations are going on at the moment—I do not know whether or not they have been finalised yet—between the Federal Republic of Germany and this country. In view of the facilities and heavy trade which they are getting from us, there should be reciprocity and they should buy far more from us than they do. The Germans were always people who could strike a hard bargain and you got nothing by being weak. I would advise the Government that it is in the interests of this State to see that Germany gives us a fair return for what we buy from her. A £5,000,000 trade deficit is not encouraging, and if we stand firm and negotiate through our embassies and consuls abroad, we should be able to build up a nucleus of trade abroad which may be invaluable to us when we have to go into the Free Trade Area. Then at least we will have a certain standing in those countries and will not be in the position of being just another island.

Mr. Cunningham: I would urge that the Undeveloped Areas Act should be overhauled and extended.

[262] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy may not advocate legislation on the Estimate.

Mr. Corish: Can this not be done by Order?

Mr. Cunningham: We have got a rather lopsided economy in which the major part of our unemployment is in the western countries and from there also the major part of our emigration takes place. While all Government Departments should concentrate on providing the remedy for these twin evils, the Minister's Department is one that can help the small industries in the western areas. The Undeveloped Areas Act went a certain distance, but I am afraid the results from that Act are not what we expected. The enticements in the Act are not sufficient to outweigh the other advantages which industrialists have when setting up somewhere in the eastern counties. In view of the heavy unemployment in counties like Dohegal, further action should be taken.

We have provided facilities for people outside the country to come in and in vest here. If special enticements were given to our own people who have emigrated and made money to come back and invest their money in their native country, we would have very good results. It is different when foreigners come in. They come with the express purpose of getting all they can. We cannot blame them for that. When they provide employment here and help our exports, it is good to get them in. But we have a large body of Irish people in England, Scotland and America, and we should, first of all, make available facilities for those people to come here and invest their money in their native country.

It is true to say that the unemployment problem is not as bad as last year, but it still exists in my county and other counties. Lack of work and emigration is causing depression in those areas. We must also bear in mind that should there be a slump in Britain similar to what has happened in America, we would be faced with a yet bigger problem. It is well recognised that if unemployment develops across the water, the Irish people over there [263] will be the first to suffer. We should make sure that we will be prepared for that influx of returned emigrants, if such a slump takes place.

I wish to refer briefly to transport. Donegal will have a very serious transport problem very soon. At present, the country is served by three transport concerns: the Lough Swilly Railway Company, the County Donegal Railways and the G.N.R.—all catering for the transport of passengers by road and rail within the county. Under the proposed legislation, part of the transport system of the county will be handed over to C.I.E. I take it that the remaining part of the internal transport of the county will be left as it is? It is very unsatisfactory to break up the transport of a county such as ours. It is an isolated county, an entity in itself and special methods will be required to deal with the transport problem arising there. I would prefer either of two things: all the transport handed over to C.I.E. or, alternatively —and I would prefer this—a separate transport organisation for Donegal.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This change would require legislation.

Mr. Cunningham: I am referring to the proposed legislation.

Mr. S. Lemass: That will be debated next week.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy cannot discuss the legislation at this stage. He will get an opportunity very shortly of discussing it. It is out of order on the Estimate.

Mr. Cunningham: I bow to your ruling, Sir. We have this variety of transport organisations in the county at the moment. I think the solution proposed is not the ideal one, and I hope the Minister will bear that in mind.

We have a further problem. It is agreed, I think, that there will be a close down of the Portadown-Derry line. There has been talk of it for some time. That part of the G.N.R. line has got a second life. Its life has been extended for two years. But the [264] position will eventually be that it will close. If that happens it means that there will be no railway service from Dublin and the rest of the country to most parts of Donegal. It will cause very serious problems for traders and everyone in the county.

There is one final point I would ask the Minister to consider and I would ask him, too, to make representations in relation to it to the Minister concerned. I refer to the 2/- which has to be paid on cars and other vehicles crossing the Border before 8 o'clock in the morning and after 9 o'clock at night. That charge is seriously affecting the industrial and commercial life of the county.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not think the Minister for Industry and Commerce has any responsibility for that.

Mr. Cunningham: I know that it is not the Minister's responsibility, but I am pointing out to him that it is seriously affecting the industrial and commercial life of the county. Its abolition by the Minister responsible would make travel to the North, from the North to Dublin, and from one part of the county to another much easier. For example, a business man travelling from the eastern part of the county, from Lifford or Ballybofey, to Carndonagh or Moville must pay 4/-, 2/- each time he passes in and out.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is a matter for another Minister and the Deputy will get an opportunity of raising it on the relevant Estimate.

Mr. Lindsay: In this vast field of industry and commerce, one must approach the difficulties which beast those responsible for the administration of the Department, the formulation of policy and its implementation, with sympathy and understanding. It is on that basis I propose to address myself to this Vote. In the realms of industry and commerce, as has often been stated by the Minister himself, and it is a view with which I agree, success or failure in industrial projects depends in the ultimate on the enthusiasm and initiative of our people through the medium of private enter- [265] prise. It is true that private enterprise, through the various legislative channels available to it, can be helped and, to some degree, sustained in its efforts by the Department of Industry and Commerce and the various advisory bodies subject to it; but not all of that help, advice or sustenance is of avail if the measure of initiative and the degree of home investment is not up to the standard required for the continued success of any project.

It is from that viewpoint that I deplore from time to time, not alone in industry and commerce but in other matters of national import, the undue stress laid on the fact that a certain industry was either mooted, started or brought to completion during the reign of one Government or another, when, in fact, any project can be successful only because of the private enterprise initiative to which I have referred.

The Minister is familiar with the old example in my constituency. It was only to-day that I was looking at a yellow printed pamphlet published by the Minister's Party on the occasion of a by-election in North Mayo: “Good news for the workers of Ballina. Two hundred extra people will be brought into employment.” That project failed through no fault of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, through no fault of any Department of State, through no fault of any Government, but it had the effect of bringing into disrepute the word and the promise of public men. That effect, to my mind— I am sure there are many who will agree with me—is one of the most damaging from the point of view of people interested in the speculative nature of industry and in giving their support by way of financial contribution or assistance to any project.

In this vast field to which I have referred, there are very important national projects, such as C.I.E., the E.S.B., Irish Shipping and Bord na Móna. During recent weeks, there has been prolonged discussion here on C.I.E. It is rather a pity that circumstances arise year after year—they are now guaranted for the next five years —in which the running of C.I.E. becomes a burden on the Exchequer to a very considerable extent. It is [266] true that transport is meeting with difficulty in all countries, particularly nationalised subsidised transport. While I recognise the Minister's reluctance—possibly his lack of power —to interfere in the general or particular policies of a transport board such as C.I.E., nevertheless duplication in the transport system is responsible to-day for a great deal of unnecessary expenditure. I cannot see the point in having duplication of rail and road passenger services, not once a day but in some instances twice and three times a day.

Irish Shipping is something of which we should all be proud. Its advance and continued success is something of which we should not alone be proud, but for which we should all earnestly work. It is a concern now of such magnitude and of such stability in the world of shipping that it should be of the status to command credit from sources other than that of the taxpayer's pocket. That aspect of relieving taxation should very soon be a matter for consideration by the Minister.

There has been considerable discussion here about the procuring of alternative markets. Such markets are very desirable, provided there is some measure of security in newly acquired markets, not for one year but for a period of years, and for a guaranteed measured amount of products. Our principal market is still Great Britain. While that is the position, I find myself in complete agreement with Deputy Booth who advocated, I think, support for the products of the market in which we sell most of our products. There cannot be anything wrong with an attitude of that kind.

The balance of payments trend over the last five months shows, I would say, if not a red certainly an amber light, and the position requires careful watching. In the event of its continuing, I do not know what will happen to rectify it, now that the temporary instruments which were being used to keep matters in their correst spheres have become a permanent feature within our economic structure. If it means that even further temporary hardships will be inflicted on our people, great vigilance is called for.

[267] It is clear, even the Deputy Cunningham, that the questions of unemployment and emigration are still burning questions, particularly in constituencies such as his which resembles in many respects the constituency I represent, North Mayo. It was interesting also to hear him anticipate a slump in Great Britain resulting in our people there having to come home and becoming a further burden here. If that happened, it would cause untold hardship and all we can do is hope and pray that such an eventuality will not take place.

Unemployment stands at a very high level. The reduction between the figures of this year and last year is, in my opinion, explained by emigration. The Government, in spite of all its promises to relieve unemployment, has not contributed anything. It is hard to blame the Minister for coming in here and saying in his opening statement that the country is absolutely teeming with confidence, that we are on the way back, that prosperity is around the corner, and other such phrases. However, the Minister has an answer of considerable importance to give to the people for leading them into the belief shortly before the change of Government, there would be, as adumbrated by him, £100,000,000 invested in the creation of a considerable number of jobs.

That statement had a bad effect. It had the effect of bringing into disrepute public men and their utterances. When the people of any country come to lose faith in their public men—it does not matter what Party they belong to—and in their public institutions, it is then and only then the way is made clear for people less scrupulous in the means they use to achieve power.

I should like to know from the Minister—it is a purely local matter—as to what is happening with regard to an advisory committee of some sort which was set up in relation to the possible continuation of a grassmeal project in my constituency, either at Glenamoy or elsewhere. I did hear some time ago there was a likelihood of such a project starting in the neighbourhood of [268] Tourmakeady, in South Mayo. Whatever happens in relation to that committee and its findings and recommendations, I do hope there will be no interference one way or another with the excellent work being done on that site, which was originally the site of the grassmeal project at Glenamoy, by the new organisation known as Peatlands, Limited.

In the placing of factories and the provision of other means of giving employment, one cannot lose sight of the difficulties facing investors when they are asked to choose a long-distance site such as any place in the West of Ireland, Donegal, Clare or Kerry, as opposed to a more convenient site nearer to Dublin, Cork or the larger shipping bases. Some advantages, probably greater than those in the Undeveloped Areas Act, should be placed at the disposal of people willing to go the long distances into such areas. You will always have that difficulty of placing the necessary against the expedient.

When it comes to a question of that kind, again you are confronted with private enterprise, local initiative and investment. It is always a source of amusement to me to hear people not alone in this House but outside, advocating investment at home, control of our banks, control of our insurance corporations, when an examination of their own personal accounts would reveal a geographical investment wholly inconsistent with their pious utterances here. There is sufficient control of the banks and of insurance corporations. The banks and the insurance corporations which have money to invest are doing their fair share towards the sustaining of the national economy when the time and occasion arise.

I should like to congratulate the Department for the excellent meteorological station they erected near Belmullet in my constituency, and, at the same time, to tell them that when discussing it a short time ago with a local man, he said that since it was put up, we had not had a day's fine weather.

Tourism is a very important question in relation to the whole of the western seaboard. I would urge the Minister to use his good offices in Government [269] to increase the grants for tourist roads.

On the question of hotels, I am inclined to the view that we have enough hotels, having regard to the length of our season. Their improvement is something to be commended over the years. I would ask the Minister to direct the attention of An Bord Fáilte to an aspect of tourism which is very highly developed in Scotland, certainly, to my own knowledge, and probably in other countries also, but not here—that is the smaller guest house or even the private house offering accommodation and meals. It is only in these out-of-the-way places where the bigger hotels, or even hotels of any kind, are lacking, that the real scenery exists. It is also by the tourist visiting our homes as they stand that they get to know the real Ireland and the Irish people.

Permit me to return to the E.S.B. for a moment. Rural electrification is going on very well within the limits of the board's power to provide capital for it. However, the extra service charge for outlying houses is still far too high. I do not think anyone would seriously disagree if it were suggested that even the existing charges for people in the ordinary way could bear some small increase, in order to bring power and light to those remote places which the present service charge makes it impossible to reach.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That would be a matter for the board.

Mr. Lindsay: I understand it would be. All that remains for me to say is that I hope everything will turn out as well as the Minister has told us it will. If it does not, the time will come when judgment will be given and, while the judgment should not be entirely devoid of mercy, it will, nevertheless, be adequately just.

Mr. Larkin: In speaking briefly on this Vote, I should like to quote some figures given by the Minister in his opening statement. They give a guide to the present position and an indication as to whether the present Government's efforts are showing any results. I refer to the figures given in the [270] Official Report for the 11th June, 1958, columns 1517-8, where the Minister is reported as saying:—

“For the December quarter of 1957 the volume of production index (to base 1953=100) of transportable goods industries was 108.8 as compared with 100.1 in the December quarter of 1956; and the number of persons engaged in these industries in December, 1957 was 151,200 as compared with 150,600 in December, 1956.”

I have no doubt that when the Minister introduced his Estimate in 1957 people throughout the country thought that remarkable things would occur in the immediate future. The Minister's figures show that in December, 1957 as against December, 1956, there were 600 more people in employment. The Minister also said he felt we had reached the turning point, that we had reached stability and that things would improve very considerably. It is difficult to accept that any real factual progress has been made, in the light of the figures he has given. The pattern of drift of the rural population to the urban areas has continued and emigration has continued at even a higher rate than in previous years. During the last 12 months and more, our people, especially those engaged in the production of transportable goods and in agriculture, were advised that the problem facing the country was one of greater production, and greater efficiency, in regard to their work in those fields. Productivity has, in fact, gone up, but I would ask the Minister to tell the House in regard to the appeals of himself and his colleagues and the appeals of other public representatives to our citizens to give a greater return, play a greater part in the affairs of the nation and to produce a greater amount of goods, that if this effort is needed and if it is desirable to harness the man-power and the brain-power of our people, some positive steps will be taken to ensure that such efforts will not lead to continued high unemployment and high emigration.

It is well known to those engaged in industry—and even better known, I [271] think, to those engaged in agriculture —that greater efficiency, unless accompanied by expanding consumer demand at home and in the countries to which we export goods, inevitably leads to reduced employment. Surely this is one of the lessons learned by the rural community over many years. There has been very little net increase in production on the land, and yet there has been, and there is, a continuing loss of labour, loss of young men and of wives and children from the land and the country. The same factor can operate in industry. We have few large-scale industries, and yet I am sure it is known to the Minister that in some of those firms, employing reasonably large numbers of workers, greater production and efficiency and the adoption of new techniques have the effect of reducing employment.

I ask the Minister to indicate what steps, if any, are visualised to deal with this problem which is a growing one to-day. In the past 12 months, efforts have been made to encourage industrial development here by interests outside the country. I think efforts to get industry going and so provide employment for our people at home have been generally welcomed, but there may be aspects of this encouragement that will give cause for concern in the future. We might return to the position we had here not many years ago, when we had a large number of concerns in the same industry and because there was not sufficient demand for their output, either at home or abroad, the workers in the industry were, for considerable periods, on short time.

I notice that efforts are being made to continue on a larger scale exploration for minerals and that it is hoped to continue exploration with a view to developing further coal seams, particularly in Leinster. I wonder if hand-in-hand with this attempted development of mineral resources some attempt could be made to encourage our industries to use such native fuel as is available. The workers in at least one Irish coal mine have been on short time because the mine has not been able to sell its coal. One wonders [272] whether, in all circumstances, industries that from time to time seek protection from the Government in order that they may compete not only in our own market but outside the country at all times make the utmost efforts to avail of sources of power that are available here at home.

In recent years there has been a very substantial increase in the use of imported fuel in operating heating plants for industries throughout the country. I wonder whether the Minister could indicate that it would surely be more desirable for such industries to obtain their heating requirements from the E.S.B., the Irish coal mines and Bord na Móna before considering bringing in the fuel oil for these purposes.

I think it was Deputy Crotty who was kind enough to refer during the course of this debate to some difficulty that has existed for some little time past in the handling of goods at the Dublin docks. I trust that one day the Deputy in question will take a little time off from his duty in this House and go down and talk to those men who must rely for the wherewithal to feed, clothe and house their families on casual employment obtained in loading and discharging cargoes at our ports.

I do not propose to go into this matter in any detail, but I should like to mention that in the short time I have been a member of this House, I have heard, I suppose, the large majority of Deputies representing the agricultural communities indicate that the farmers are entitled to and should get reasonable prices for the goods they produce. They indicate that they make a contribution to the community and that they should not be permitted to suffer economic hardship because of their contribution. Hardly a week goes by without some mention being made in this House by people who represent rural communities of the necessity for guaranteed prices for wheat, oats and other agricultural products.

For Deputy Crotty's information, the bulk of the Dublin dockers rely for their livelihood on the casual work obtained by them—work obtained as a result of their reporting at least once, possibly twice, each day and taking [273] the chance of whether, on the particular day, there may or may not be a day's work for them. All they are concerned with and all they are looking for is the same type of treatment as Deputies want for the farmers, namely, an opportunity to house, feed and clothe their families.

If Deputy Crotty or any other Deputy says it is unjust of the Minister for Agriculture to fix the price of wheat at a certain level because the Deputy's constituents may decide they will not be able to provide themselves and their families with the ordinary necessaries of life at that price and may decide to concentrate their efforts on some other form of agriculture—the raising of stock of one kind or another —I think we in the city are reasonably entitled to say that workers who have no alternative but to obtain their employment and essentials of life by means of casual work are at least entitled to endeavour to ensure that their livelihood will not be taken away from them.

No interested party, whether in the farming community, who are anxious to ship their goods at a lower cost, the industrial community who also are anxious to do it or the shipping companies, has yet said that the changes they seek to have introduced will not result in early and immediate and large scale unemployment of dockers. If they and their representatives are so seriously concerned in this matter, they might inquire into how the situation was met in Holland some years ago. They might be prepared, having regard to the danger of unemployment and all its hardships, to take a leaf out of the book of the authorities and industrialists in that country. I would be very much obliged if Deputy Crotty would accept my invitation. If he does, I will bring him down where we will discuss in the most friendly way his strictures on the people who have to work hard for their living and who, even when they work hard, get a very miserable living indeed.

As I said in opening my remarks, I do not propose to speak very long on this Estimate, but I feel that it would be impossible to conclude without referring to one or two items of very [274] great importance. One of them is the decision by the Minister to end the life of the Prices Advisory Body and to close up this avenue through which public investigations of changes in the price structure of essential commodities might be held. When it was operating, this body was not free from criticism, but it is impossible for anyone to deny that on an occasion when price increases came into operation, particularly increases in the price of commodities necessary for ordinary citizens and their families, the value of this public tribunal could not be overestimated.

To-day we have been informed that the cost of living has gone up by two points, the increases being mainly in the cost of foodstuffs, and I should like to express the opinion that the Minister made a very serious mistake when he took action to terminate the existence of the Prices Advisory Body. There is no public organisation of any kind now available by which increases in the price of food, and increases in the price of other commodities, can be examined, and a case made both for and against such increases. Consequently, there are interests that welcome, and will continue to welcome, any opportunity they possibly can obtain of passing increased prices on to the general body of consumers, and there is no body now available before which they can be asked to explain their actions and justify their decisions.

This recent increase is one that will affect the ordinary living standards of our whole community, and it is most regrettable, indeed, that at this stage, when it was hoped that prices might have at least become stable, there is an indication again of instability. I remember only too well discussions and expressions of view which took place last year on the question of whether increases in prices would justify the workers seeking wage increases. I think it would not be unfair to say that during the past 12 or 15 months, as a result of the efforts on both sides of industry, the employers and trade unions, and with the assistance of the Minister himself, large scale dislocation of industry was avoided.

[275] Certainly, the year has been relatively free from industrial disputes arising from claims for increased wage rates, and I do not think anyone can begrudge the Minister taking his meed of praise for the success of his efforts in that matter. However, I think the Minister will be in a most unhappy position if there is a possibility of a further increase in the cost of living taking place, particularly when it is realised that there are still many thousands of people who have not received any compensation for the last increase in the cost of living, and many of the people concerned should normally be under the protection of this House.

This year has shown a deplorable development of ineptitude on the part of Bord Fáilte. An Tóstal was instituted for the purpose of attracting tourists from our neighbouring country, from Europe, from America and from Canada, and I am beginning to wonder whether in fact An Tóstal, as it has been carries out under the almost direct control of Bord Fáilte in the City of Dublin, has served any useful purpose whatever.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That would seem to be a matter for Bord Fáilte and not for the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Mr. Larkin: I am raising this matter because the Minister was responsible for setting up this board. I trust I may be permitted to suggest to him, in all seriousness, that he should take an early opportunity of having a heart-to-heart talk with the members of that body.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The administration of Bord Fáilte does not arise on the Estimate.

Mr. Larkin: As usual, Sir, I bow to your correction and accept your direction, but I do think the spirit of carelessness as to whether or not tourists come into the country is a matter for this House. It is a matter of public concern if money provided by this House is spent in such a manner that it results in not only the board responsible [276] but this House and the country being made ridiculous in the eyes of the world. Approval is given one day to a festival and the following day the body that approved the festival withdraws sanction and approval. We no longer live in an island surrounded by high walls. Ideas do percolate into our country occasionally. What happens in our country can be the subject of praise and can also be the subject of blame and ridicule.

As a Deputy, particularly a Deputy representing part of the capital city, I am entitled to ask the Minister to bear these matters in mind and to use whatever machinery he has to ensure that if An Tóstal takes place in 1959 there will not be a repetition of what happened in Dublin in 1958.

I opened my speech by quoting the Minister's figures of employment of workers in transportable goods. I would ask the Minister to indicate, when replying to the debate, whether he or his Government have any plans to deal with the continuing high level of unemployment and, in particular, to deal, not only with the working population but with the problem of creating the 20,000 new jobs which it was estimated would be necessary each year to absorb the boys and girls coming into industry or agriculture for the first time. I stress this matter very definitely. There are many things about which Deputies here will not agree but we will all agree that it is most desirable that in the case of young boys or girls who are not continuing their education in secondary schools or university and who for one reason or another have to go into the labour market no significant period should elapse between the time they finish their studies and the time they take up employment. Therefore, I would be obliged if the Minister would indicate whether he has any proposals in that regard.

While asking the Minister that direct question, I have a suspicion that I may get the same answer as most of us are getting these days when it comes to a question of the continuing problem of unemployment, namely, that it is a matter for private enterprise, for private initiative, a matter mainly [277] for private investment and private finance. May I put this final question to the Minister: At what stage in a country's development does it become the responsibility of the elected Government to concern themselves in a positive way with the question of unemployment, the question of increasing cost of living and the question of a continued high level of emigration? I do not think that the Government here, represented by the Minister for Industry and Commerce or Deputies, can continue for any great length of time to adopt the attitude that it is the responsibility of somebody else to look after the Irish people, that it is the responsibility of somebody assembling motor cars, running a bakery, raising calves or running the E.S.B. That responsibility is vested in this House and in the Government elected by the House.

Perhaps too much attention is given on these occasions to remarks like those made recently by Deputy Lindsay, to the effect that those sections of the community who call out to have some control of the credit in the country vested in the elected organs of the people instead of in the self-appointed custodians of the nation's finance are those who invest their savings and the finances at their disposal outside this country. Deputy Lindsay was ill-informed when he made that statement because the people who are anxious that the elected Government of this country should have at least some say in whether the moneys derived from the efforts of our people are spent outside the country or inside the country in the interest of our people are certainly not those who adopt the line indicated by Deputy Lindsay.

We have almost reached a point now, particularly in view of the decisions taken in the past 12 months—the abandonment of the Prices Advisory Body, the throwing overboard of any control of prices, the withdrawal of food subsidies—at which we might be termed as almost classically laissez faire. I do not know whether any progress will be made in these conditions, but I certainly suggest to the Minister that neither he nor his Government can escape responsibility simply [278] by saying: “Well, now, if there are thousands of unemployed, if there are 40,000 to 50,000 still emigrating, if there is still the very serious problem of the cost of living facing our people, those are matters not for me, or this Government, but for the people outside.”

He will not get away with that attitude for very long. It has not been entirely the Minister's attitude in the past and it certainly will not encourage our Irish people to make the effort which is required of them, if they are told that their future must lie in the hands of those whose interest in industry is mainly to make a profit for themselves.

Mr. Calleary: The Minister's speech introducing the Estimate afforded great pleasure to my constituents in North Mayo, and on last Sunday the people of the district asked me to convey their gratitude and thanks to the Minister for his promises and for his work in giving us the new generating station at Bellacorick. We know the Minister started this work some years ago when he knew that the consumption of electricity would necessitate the erection of this station.

We have had two changes of Government and the people who formed the Government when we were put out of office, deliberately slowed down this work. The work would have been almost completed to-day, but for the advent of the Coalition Government into Irish politics. The Minister has justified his forethought when he set out to start this station in North Mayo. He was not pessimistic as his predecessors in the previous Government were, and he knew that the consumption of electricity would justify this step.

It means a lot to the people of this area, especially when we consider that in North Mayo there is about one-tenth of the whole area of bogs in the Twenty-Six Counties and an unlimited supply of men. That is something which the people in North Mayo realise and we are quite happy that this work is going on. I regret that my colleague from North Mayo who spoke this evening did not seem too pleased. He did not refer to this scheme with smiles as he generally does. I wonder [279] would the Minister be able to do something with the large area of bogs which lie in the Ballycroy area? He might consider starting a briquette factory there, as there is plenty of turf, and, as I said, plenty of men.

We were also delighted to hear that the subsidy for the supply of electricity to the backward areas has been restored, because in my constituency there are a number of areas which were left out and would not be dealt with unless some subsidy was provided. This is a great boom to the backward areas and they will now have a service that is considered an essential service.

I have heard Opposition members speaking about the number of unemployed in the area and they have tried to shift the blame for this unemployment on to Fianna Fáil. We should remember that a few months prior to the general election there was a meeting of the various Parties in the Coalition Government, across in the Engineers' Hall in Dawson Street. Everything was to be grand after that meeting, but what really happened was that, nice and quietly, the Coalition realised, when they got the Estimates for the coming year, that they could not carry on and they folded up their wings and decided that they would go to the country, not to be returned as a Government but to let Fianna Fáil take over the mess which they had got us into. That was the position. Of course, I might as well admit that one good thing happened as a result of that election. We did get rid of the two splinter Parties and now all we have left really, are the Fine Gael and Labour Parties. We are delighted that this is so because the splinter Parties definitely are no use to the progress of the nation.

The return of Fianna Fáil as a Government restored the confidence of the people in the country. It also restored their confidence in our economic and financial situation. Loans and supplementary grants that were held up two years ago are now being paid regularly. The building trade is reviving slowly but surely. Probably it is not reviving as quickly as a lot of us would like, but when we remember the state——

[280] An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy could be more relevant.

Mr. Calleary: I have every confidence in the future of the country. I have every confidence when I realise the price of land is higher than ever it was, and when I realise that our people must be quite happy when they are willing to pay this price for the land. I know that the Minister is doing his best to solve our unemployment problem. He was questioned here to-day about a statement he made. If Fianna Fáil had not come into power our unemployment position would be very bad to-day. As a result of the Minister's activities I hope to see at least 300 extra men employed in North Mayo in a short time. I know the Minister is doing all he can to help us in North Mayo. I know the help he is giving us to start an industry in Ballina. If any attempt made to start an industry did not succeed, the Minister cannot be blamed.

I want to congratulate the Minister on his work as far as North Mayo is concerned. I heard talk of the promises made by Fianna Fáil in the last election. I spoke in North Mayo and my promises were few. One was that things would not be as bad as they were, and another was that if Fianna Fáil were returned, we would get cracking on the generating station at Bellacorick. Fianna Fáil have got cracking on it. My promises to the electorate have been fulfilled. The same promises were made by my colleague, Deputy Doherty. I know the Minister will do all he can to get the country out of the mess it is in. He is doing so at the moment and the country is progressing. On behalf of the people of North Mayo, I thank the Minister very much.

Mr. O'Sullivan: What a contribution.

Mr. Palmer: I do not think the Minister was particularly pleased with Deputy Calleary's contribution. There is no use in the Deputy praising his own Minister. If the Minister did any good, it was his duty to do it. Deputy Calleary led us to believe that if there had not been a change of Government in 1957, there would be no generating station in North Mayo now. Of course [281] there would be. It was in the course of erection. In fact, the generating station near Caherciveen in South Kerry was actually completed when Fianna Fáil came into office in 1957.

It was very doubtful if the E.S.B. would agree to erect these stations at all. It was stated, I think the Minister will agree, that we would have cheaper electricity if they were never erected and would have sufficient supplies. However, they are there now and I am sure every Deputy will wish them success. Perhaps they may help to relieve unemployment and improve the conditions of the people in the areas in which they were erected. The trouble is that there are not sufficient people in those areas to cut and save the turf supplies. I understand that each of these stations requires 30,000 tons of turf per annum. Up to the present, I think, that supply has not been made available.

Deputy Calleary praised other things the Minister had done in North Mayo. I noticed he did not refer at all to the Ballina biscuit factory. I wonder has that been erected yet?

Mr. Calleary: And the ball-bearing factory.

Mr. Palmer: He expressed the hope that there would be 300 men in employment in North Mayo in a short time. Will these 300 be part of the 100,000 who were to get employment within the next ten years with the £100,000,000 the Minister promised in the last election? So far we have not seen any steps taken to put that scheme into operation. We have heard nothing at all about it. There was nothing about it in the Minister's opening statement. In fact, anybody reading that statement would say it was all a piece humbug. We have heard all these statements made down through the years. It is about time there was stocktaking here in connection with industry and, perhaps, agriculture, too.

It was rather humiliating for our people to hear the Minister at the meeting dealing with the Free Trade Area say that Ireland must be regarded as an undeveloped country and must be considered so for the next 25 years at least. We have had a Government of [282] our own since 1922 or 1923. For about 28 of these years Fianna Fáil have been in power. The trouble is that when they came into office in 1932——

Mr. Loughman: I am afraid the Deputy's calculation is not correct.

Mr. Palmer: Twenty-eight years.

Mr. Loughman: I do not think that is correct.

Mr. Palmer: If the Deputy calculates it he will find it is practically correct. If the blame lies anywhere, it must lie with the Party that has been in office for that long period. Agriculture was prosperous when Fianna Fáil came into office in 1932, but they forgot about agriculture and set about destroying it. The Minister, who was Minister for Industry and Commerce during the 28 years Fianna Fáil were in office, set about building up Irish industry. I hold he went about it the wrong way and that is why we are in the mess we are in to-day. Deputy Calleary talked about a mess. Any mess in this country is due to Fianna Fáil——

Mr. Calleary: That is why you retired.

Mr. Palmer: ——not only from the point of view of agriculture but also from the point of view of industry. This country is basically agricultural and if you want to build up industry here, such industry must be connected with agriculture in some way. Purely agricultural countries like Holland, Belgium and Denmark have based their industries on that chief activity. We have to import all the raw materials required for our industries. Everything produced in our factories is produced behind a high tariff wall. If these tariffs were removed, how many of these industries would survive? Recently the Minister stated that if the Free Trade Area comes into being many of these industries will have to become more efficient and will have to produce better goods if they are to compete in the Free Trade Area. He stated further that he feared very much that many of them would disappear. Perhaps it would be just as well if they disappeared now.

[283] With regard to the Free Trade Area, I wonder does anyone know what it means? I wonder does the Minister himself know what it means, or the Minister for Agriculture, who should have been with him in these negotiations? There is no use in our trying to fool ourselves into the belief that Irish industry can ever prove satisfactory when the raw materials for that industry have to be imported. If an emergency arises to prevent the importation of these raw materials, what will happen to our factories? What will become of stability of employment?

How many factories set up by Fianna Fáil over the years have failed? I have one example in my own constituency. I admit the Minister did his best to try to bolster it up. There is something very wrong. A great deal of the taxpayer's money has been spent, or rather misspent, on establishing and maintaining industries here. When a factory established by private enterprise in an undeveloped area fails, the Minister should take some steps to get expert advice as to how to turn that failure into a success.

Up to 1932 there was really no unemployment. There was no emigration. Official statistics will show that there was actually an influx of something like 11,000 people. I know Deputy Loughman will not agree with that, but he will find that it is correct. There was no flight from the land. A Tariff Commission had been set up to examine certain types of industry and to decide whether or not they were deserving of protection. There was a change of Government in 1932 and a policy of industrialisation was embarked upon. As a result of that industrialisation, we were to bring back our exiles; there was to be employment for all. What is the situation to-day? The people are disillusioned. The only time the people got any little bit of encouragement at all both from an agricultural and an industrial point of view was during the short term of office of the inter-Party Government.

Those who know the condition of affairs in Irish industry to-day know full well that all is not well. The Minister knows that. This is an agricultural [284] country and our industries should be built on the produce from the land. The high cost of living is due to a large extent to the protective tariff wall built around industrial production here. It would be a good thing if that wall were removed and industry compelled to stand on its own feet. The cost of living would come down and we would know where we were.

I do not like to refer to elections because I know that many candidates foolishly make promises during election times. The Minister is shameless in that regard. I can give him credit for being a good Minister, but he can get away with anything for the time being. Eventually, of course, he is found out, but he has a way of making people believe that what he states at election times is perfectly true. During the last general election he spoke about an expenditure of £100,000,000 and the 100,000 people to be put into employment. He asked the housewives to “Vote Fianna Fáil” and bring back their husbands and their sons. I wonder how many of them have come back.

While the inter-Party Government were in office only single men and women were emigrating. Now whole families are leaving the country. If this Government continues in office and proceeds in the same way as they have been going down through the years there will be no one left in the country eventually; there will be no 300 to be employed in North Mayo. While there is unemployment there will be emigration. Up to 1932 there was no flight from the land. There was a change of Government and steps were taken to destroy agriculture. There was no employment on the land. That was the beginning of our troubles.

It is a perverted economy to establish industries which depend for their existence on imported raw materials when agriculture is the basic industry. Once the people leave the land it is very difficult to bring them back. Had these industries and factories not been set up—principally, of course, in Dublin and the neighbouring towns— the people would have remained on the land. But these factories were estab- [285] lished and the people left the land to work in them. Some of the factories failed and the people were ashamed to go back to the land. Had the Fianna Fáil Government been wise on first coming into office they would have continued the policy pursued by the Cosgrave Government. I know the Minister for Industry and Commerce tried to do his best. Perhaps he thought things would work out differently. I am sure the situation has given him many headaches down through the years.

I am interested in tourism because I come from an area in which tourism is very important. One good thing done by the previous inter-Party Government was the amalgamation of these two boards set up by the Minister when he was in office prior to 1954. I understand Bord Fáilte gets £500,000 for the improvement of roads and other works. Most main roads are now in good condition, but, in various tourist areas, there are roads which we may call secondary county roads requiring improvement. While I suppose Bord Fáilte has full power to allocate funds for this purpose, it would be no harm for the Minister to ensure that it is done.

Bord Fáilte can also give loans for the improvement of hotels, but it is almost impossible for any hotelier to avail of such loans. The conditions are entirely too strict. The improvements required are such that they could not be carried out in various hotels because of the expense involved. Therefore many hoteliers, when they wanted to make improvements, extensions, and so forth, preferred, where their credit was high, to go to the bank for a loan, and I believe they were wise in doing so. It is also to be deplored that when hoteliers spend vast sums of money on the improvement of their premises, the valuation is enormously increased. I know that is not the responsibility of the Minister's Department, but it is one of the factors preventing hoteliers from improving their premises.

Deputy Calleary, I think, referred to the restoration of the subsidy to the E.S.B. for the extension of rural electrification. Seeing that it was his [286] own Party that withdrew it, the least they might do was to restore it. Perhaps they had reason for withdrawing the subsidy; I suppose financial stress and clearing up the so-called mess...

Mr. S. Lemass: The Deputy's memory is very defective.

Mr. Palmer: It is just as good as Deputy Calleary's.

Mr. S. Lemass: I wonder is it? It was your colleague who withdrew the subsidy.

Mr. Palmer: Whoever did it, it was right to restore it.

A Deputy: That is more like it.

Mr. Palmer: I do not admit it was done by the previous Minister.

Mr. S. Lemass: It was Deputy Sweetman.

Mr. Palmer: I think it was this Minister when he came into office.

Mr. S. Lemass: That is an historical fact that can be checked.

Mr. Palmer: Rural electrification has been greatly extended and is one of the great amenities for our people, but Deputy Calleary must remember that when the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the first Government since this State was founded, Deputy McGilligan, set out to build the generating station at Ardnacrusha, it was called a white elephant. It is no harm to remind Deputies of that. I am sure they realise now the benefits accruing from it. It would be well if the Minister for Industry and Commerce and other Ministers would realise all the mistakes they have made down the years and try to change their views in many respects.

All down the years since Fianna Fáil came into office, we have had the problems of unemployment, emigration, the cost of living and high taxation. Every year since they came into office, taxation has gone up and up, and the same applies to unemployment and emigration. They were also responsible for increasing the cost of living recently by withdrawing the subsidies [287] on essential foodstuffs, causing a great deal of difficulty in connection with requests for increased wages, causing strikes, and so on. It is a wonder that before doing these things they would not consider the results.

To revert to tourism, this Government has spent a considerable amount of money in the United States trying to bring Americans to Ireland. Our best tourists are the people in the neighbouring island and it is a wonder they come at all when one considers all the silly things being done, such as the Bantry Bay incident. They are the best tourists and the best spenders. Anyone who travels by train or otherwise and hears Americans talking and giving their views on this country, on our hotels and so on, and then hear the English tourists talking, will learn something. When we Irish people, for instance, pay our bill in a hotel, we never consider it any more but the Americans will go minutely into every item in their bill. They are justified in doing so and they are always very welcome, but I cannot see why we should spend so much money trying to induce Americans to come here while neglecting the people nearer home.

Generally speaking, it would be wise and necessary for the Minister to act in an independent way because I am sure he has the ability to do so and to take control of his own Department. When he is speaking on his Estimate or on any other matter, he should speak in a way the people will understand and not try to camouflage the position of Irish industry. Whether we have a Free Trade Area or not, the people deserve the best that can be produced in our factories at the cheapest price. There is no reason why we should tax our people in order to maintain an industry which is not carried on efficiently. It would be better for our people that any industry which has to be bolstered up by subsidies or high tariff walls should not be allowed to exist. In spite of what I have said, of course, it is necessary, it is essential and it is desirable that, as far as possible, all our requirements should be produced in our own factories in the way I have mentioned. Everyone wishes the Minister well in [288] his efforts to improve Irish industry and to improve everything else that would be for the benefit of our people.

Mr. O'Sullivan: The remarks I have to make are brief, in this annual review on the presentation of the Estimate for Industry and Commerce. The most outstanding feature of the past year has been the fact that industry was to such a great extent jeopardised by the very many wage increases which naturally resulted from the Government's deliberate action in increasing the cost of living. That was the predominant feature of the last year and it is reverberating to-day right down through every part of the country and in every item the people have to buy.

The Minister—in so far as we can glean what his policy is in relation to the future—seems to have been the subject of a remarkable conversion. He seems to have jettisoned the old ideas he held for so long and on which he spent so many millions of the people's money, in his efforts to bolster up Irish industry. Nowadays, he is apt to deliver strictures to the people he nursed for so long and one notes a certain petulance at the lack of response on their part to live up to the requirements which the country would expect of them in consequence of the protection which they received over such a long period.

This idea of recruiting foreign capital and foreign know-how, the interest of outsiders, with their advancement in marketing, and so on, was initiated to a great extent by the visit of the last Taoiseach, Deputy J.A. Costello, to America. That visit was used up and down this country, in the last general election, as having been a visit forced upon the then Taoiseach, when he went, it was said, with cap in hand begging for money to assist the then Government in overcoming any difficulties they had to face. To-day we see the Tánaiste in this Government pursuing a similar policy and expressing his belief in a policy which we regard as being one which holds out for our people the greatest possibilities in the future. That is the policy of bringing before the eyes of the world the advantages we have to offer here, in the availability of labour, in the [289] peaceful conditions under which people can embark upon industrialisation, and in the possible advantages which may flow in years to come through Ireland's proximity to the new Free Trade Area of Europe.

These are matters which seemingly the Government have come to appreciate, in consequence of the action of the previous Minister for Finance, Deputy Sweetman, in giving certain encouragement to industries established in this country with the object and aim of participating in the export market. We had a further extension of this encouragement in the Budget of last year.

Can we claim that there are immediate results flowing from those concessions? Is it any assistance, when we put a smoke screen of ballyhoo over the efforts of two successive Governments to attract foreign capital and establish such industries? We find something like this flashed across the page of the Sunday Press on the 16th March, 1958: “Many New Industries Start: Tax plan appeals to traders.” What are the new industries? “Mullingar: a new industry which could be working by Easter”—but was not—“to employ 140 persons, if a suitable site on the old military barracks is secured; no details yet of the type of industry.” Seemingly, the site was procured and now we know the details of the industry. It is an industry which was dismantled in my constituency and transferred holus bolus to Mullingar. That is presented to the gullible readers of the Sunday Press: “Many New Industries”—with emphasis on the “New.” New industries, my foot. A long established industry in Kanturk in my constituency was transferred holus bolus to Mullingar and presented as something flowing directly from the tax concessions of last year's Budget. There is an example of the ballyhoo presented from time to time.

If the Minister was physically assaulted—and this is an incident I regret occurred in the town of Portuma recently—I regret very much, and so does everyone in public life, the successful effort to cloak its occurrence, as it was not alone an assault on the Minister but on everyone in public life. The occurrence—and the perpetrators [290] got away unpunished—arose out of the fact that, even though the Minister was not responsible for the closing down of the factory in Portumna, he and his Party claim to be responsible for the establishment of factories in which they possibly had absolutely no hand whatever. When they do that, they must face up to the unfair blame attached to the Minister and his Party on that occasion.

Further down in this list of “new” industries we have Bandon: a jewellery industry to be established by a Dublin firm which will employ 50 men and women. I am very sorry that no Deputy from South Cork is present now, as they are far more familiar with the efforts to establish the industry, which it was claimed would employ 12 people. They are familiar—and so is the Minister and his Department—with the background to the whole of that attempt to establish an industry. We know what occurred. To present to the people, on the 16th March last, that this was a great industry, which arose directly from the Government's policy in their “Tax Plan which appeals to Traders” is not the way to assist Irish industry.

The Minister and the Government would do well to desist from that kind of carry-on and to realise there is much required of them and expected of them at the moment. Any Government or any Party which would go out with the confidence which they showed some 15 months ago, as to their ability “to get cracking”, which presented, as they did,“a £100,000,000 plan” to bring an absolutely new face lift to the entire country, must have inspired in many people considerable hope that, flowing from that, there would be the creation of the “100,000 jobs” which would to some extent alleviate the serious emigration problem.

Some few minutes ago, Deputy Calleary was congratulating the Minister to a point when it must have been something of an effort to the Minister not to blush, under the wonderful plaudits which emanated from the Deputy for North Mayo, in expressing the heartfelt gratitude of the people of North Mayo that they now have to pay 7/4 a stone for flour, arising out [291] of the Minister's actions in the Budget. It is indeed good to know that 500 will be employed in that constituency directly in consequence of the Minister's efforts, but we shall look to the discussion this time 12 months, if we are here to discuss it, to ascertain how many of those people will be employed in the constituency at that time.

It was notable that in the Deputy's ramblings over a wide field he deliberately refrained from referring to something very dear to his heart and to the heart of all western Deputies not so very long ago but to which he never made even one single reference this evening—the question of emigration. It was a strange omission but it possibly flows from the fact that it is a subject that it would be well for those people sitting behind the Minister to avoid at this particular time.

In conclusion, I should like to refer briefly to one or two other matters. One is that one of the actions of this Government on obtaining office was to relax to some extent the import levies imposed by the last Government to do a particular job of work. Since then the remainder of these levies have been made permanent by legislation which will remain in years to come to show whether dire consequences may not flow from that action. At any rate, certain people were placated on the advent of the Government by the removal of certain import levies. In consequence, there was greater activity in these branches of industry and definitely there was a small improvement in employment, but looking back on it now, we may well ask: did the cost of living benefit from these levies? I would say to the Minister that, in these months which are not so encouraging in relation to our trading position, when there is a definite disimprovement in comparison with this time last year, he would do well to look at our imports and see whether he could not curtail many of them.

To-day there is a rash of petrol stations all over the country and surely the point has been reached when everybody who runs a vehicle can get a petrol supply within a convenient distance. I think it is unfair to those [292] who are in the trade. Because of this competition between oil combines we have these stations being set up as they are, stations which must entail enormous items in our imports every year—the constituent parts of these stations which are not manufactured in this country. If it is possible for the combines to afford these luxurious stations, would it not be far better if this vast outlay could be passed on to the petrol users rather than have them facing the high cost of motoring as it, is now, while, at the same time, these stations are springing up where there is absolutely no necessity for them?

I wonder why the Minister made some Order which precludes motorists from trading in their old car batteries. To-day every garage is choc-o-bloc with old car batteries——

Mr. S. Lemass: I made no such Order.

Mr. O'Sullivan: I am glad of that, but at least the Minister could consider the fact that old car batteries cannot be disposed of and that garage-owners say they cannot give the purchasers of new batteries the allowance they were accustomed to get on old batteries. I was given to understand this was in consequence of an Order, but I accept the Minister's statement that he did not make such an Order. Yet, there is an obligation on him to look into whatever problem has arisen that precludes people obtaining allowances which they previously received.

Those are the only points I have to make on the Estimate, but I should like to join with other Deputies in expressing grave concern at the fact that the Minister in the past 15 months since his reappointment to the Department has seen fit to dispense with whatever price control bodies we had and, in consequence, has given the green light for the abuse of the present situation. The consumers to-day are extremely perturbed by the way in which the cost of living has risen. Quite apart from the great contribution the Government made deliberately to increasing that cost of living, the Government is also guilty of neglect in having abandoned the means which was available to ensure that the consumers [293] were not exploited. That, certainly, has had a very bad effect and it is one reason why many people throughout the country feel that the Government and the Minister have let them down.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. S. Lemass): Most Deputies who have spoken in this debate referred to our acute unemployment and emigration problem. That was to be expected because it is accepted that the test of every policy and plan is its effectiveness in increasing the level of employment here. We are, however, concerned in this debate with only one aspect of the problem, that is, the extent to which it is practicable to increase employment, improve the employment opportunities available in the country, through the development of industry, through the activities for which the Department of Industry and Commerce is responsible.

We know there are many roads to an improved employment situation. I accept that the development of industry is the most important, but there are others. We are not now debating the whole general economic situation, but only that aspect of it which comes within the sphere of operations of my Department. In May of this year, we had 8.7 per cent. unemployed, that is to say, the number of registered unemployed represented 8.7 per cent. of the total number of insured workers in the country. A year ago, it was 9.5 per cent., in May of 1957; in March of 1957, when this Government came into office, it was 10.8 per cent. I am not seeking any consolation from these figures——

Mr. Rooney: What was it in March?

Mr. S. Lemass: 10.8 per cent.

Mr. Rooney: In March of this year?

Mr. S. Lemass: 10 per cent.

Mr. Rooney: Well, there you are.

Mr. S. Lemass: It is now 8.7 per cent. Let me be clear about that. I am not seeking to console anyone by quoting these figures, notwithstanding the trend which they disclose, because 8.7 per cent. is far too high a level of unemployment [294] and the aim of policy must be to get it down. We shall not get it down, however, by merely passing resolutions deploring it. We shall get it down only by taking practical measures to expand productive activities, activities which will give work to our people, and the only valuable contributions made in this debate came from those who addressed themselves to that aspect of the matter in a constructive way.

Reference was made here to statements which I made prior to the election—two carefully prepared statements which were published as supplements by the Irish Press. My purpose in making these statements was twofold. First, I wanted to stress the magnitude of the economic problem confronting the country, to make it clear, in so far as I could do it as an individual, to the Government then in office, to the trade unions, to the employers' associations and to the public generally that the position developing was far too serious to be capable of being put right by pettifogging, fiddling methods. I wanted to emphasise that only a tremendous effort embracing all sections of our people would be adequate to rectify it.

Secondly, I set out to try to demonstrate that it could be done, to try to deny the pessimism of those who were talking as if the country was finished, to show that by making the effort, given the combination of policies and plans embracing all sections of the people, it could be done.

Deputies have quoted these statements who obviously have not read them or, if they have, they have certainly forgotten their purport. My main object was to emphasise my view that the economic situation of the country, our unemployment and emigration problems, could not be put right by Government action alone; that there was no Bill that could be passed, no resolution that could be adopted in this House that would solve these problems; that there was no slick, easy, solution; that it would be a long, tough job to put the economy of the country right and that we could succeed in doing that only if every section of the people was pulling in the same direction.

[295] Reference has been made to the estimate of £100,000,000 capital investment required, to 100,000 jobs needed to create full employment. Does any Deputy think it possible to work in any intelligent way to the solution of these problems without making some estimate of the magnitude of the problem or of the investment expenditure that would be required in order to deal with it? I was not producing a plan in the sense that some Socialist writers talk of plans. I was trying to set out for the people of this country economic objectives which I believed to be realisable and then tried to estimate what was involved in their realisation. In so far as I put forward practical proposals, I here, in the debate upon the Budget, dealt with them one by one. I demonstrated to the House that they had already been applied or were in course of application or, to the extent that they had not been applied, the reasons why they were found to be impracticable and why alternative methods had to be sought.

Mr. Sweetman: I thought the Minister would have been rather anxious to avoid referring to that Budget speech.

Mr. S. Lemass: On the contrary, I should like to see it published throughout the country. I would urge Opposition Deputies to read it because it might help them to get some sense.

Mr. Sweetman: It was a most disgraceful speech.

Mr. S. Lemass: The main difficulty in achieving a higher level of public investment up to the present has been financial. I believe the long term solution of the country's problem depends on our ability to induce and organise a higher level of private investment. I recognise that it will take some time before the level of private investment has reached the stage where, by itself, it will be adequate to generate enough new activity every year to give us the increase in employment we require and that, in the intermediate period, public investment must carry a large part of the burden.

The necessity to put the finances of [296] the State in order before that higher level of public investment could be arranged was clear. The finances of the State are now in order and that higher level of public investment is now practicable.

Mr. Sweetman: That is why it has been reduced.

Mr. S. Lemass: It is not. Deputies Palmer, Lindsay and Dr. Esmonde criticised me for speaking with confidence. Do they understand the nature of the country's problem? It was due almost entirely to the draining away of confidence in the future of the country. Surely a Minister for Industry and Commerce who was not facing his job with confidence and talking confidence would be a menace to the future of the country instead of a help?

Mr. O'Sullivan: What about the use of a pawnbroker's sign during a National Loan period?

Mr. S. Lemass: It was especially to restore confidence among our people in the future of their country that the statements to which I have referred were publicised and it is to that end that every action of the Government is directed.

Mr. O'Sullivan: The pawnbroker's sign.

Mr. S. Lemass: The Deputy already stole five minutes allowed to me. I would ask him to leave me the rest of it.

Mr. O'Sullivan: There was no such agreement. I stole nobody's time.

Mr. Sweetman: The Minister knows he is chancing his arm on that. It is not true.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister might be allowed to conclude.

Mr. O'Sullivan: The Minister has alleged——

Mr. S. Lemass: Sit down and stay quiet for a few minutes.

Mr. Sweetman: On a point of order. I am responsible for such agreements by the Opposition. There was no such agreement and the Minister knows it.

[297] Mr. S. Lemass: I was informed that it was agreed that I could start at 9.30 p.m. If I was misinformed it is all right.

Mr. Sweetman: If the Minister was informed at all.

Mr. S. Lemass: Deputy Cosgrave said the real barrier to higher external investment in Irish industry is that our taxation is too high. When Deputy Cosgrave was a member of the Government a committee of inquiry was established into taxation in industry. That committee of inquiry reported in June, 1956, as follows:—

“For many years now the standard rates in Ireland have been consistently lower than in Britain. Even with improved depreciation allowances obtaining in Britain, the total income taxation burden on manufacturing companies here is still lower than in Britain.”

Since then we have found it possible to give further substantial reliefs to industry in respect of taxation—the remission of tax on export profits, the additional allowance of 20 per cent. on capital expenditure, machinery and plant; allowances of 10 per cent. of capital expenditure on new industrial buildings and an accelerated depreciation allowance on plant and machinery in the form of an increase of 25 per cent. in the rates of depreciation for tax purposes. It is clear, therefore, that it is undesirable to spread a wrong idea that there is an excessive burden of taxation on industry in this country. It is not true.

So far as any individual concern may be interested in the weight of taxation they would have to meet if they established themselves here, it is well for them to know that under our arrangements their tax burden would be less than it would be in any neighbouring country. I am anxious to get Deputies informed of these facts so that they will talk in a way that will encourage people to participate in Irish industrial development and help towards the realisation of the aims which I will accept we all have in common.

Deputy Crotty spoke about the failure of the banks to reduce their interest [298] charges. He said that the banks in England had recently reduced their rates by 1 per cent. whereas the banks here had reduced only by 1/2 per cent. He should have known that when the banks in England increased their rates the banks here did not follow them the whole way. Before these recent changes in bank rates were made the British bank rate and the discount rate of the Central Bank of Ireland both stood at 5 per cent. Now the Irish rate is 1/2 per cent. below the British rate.

As one who has from time to time exhorted the banks to take a larger part in the business of financing Irish industrial development, may I say that the indications now are, from the most recent published Statistical Bulletin of the Central Bank, that they are so doing. Advances for farming, for mining and for manufacturing were all increased in 1958, up to the end of January which is the date to which the figures relate, as compared with 1957.

Mr. Sweetman: The same period in 1957?

Mr. S. Lemass: Yes.

Mr. Sweetman: I do not think so.

Mr. S. Lemass: Deputies have also spoken as if there were some reason why we should be concerned about the trend of our visible trade. Let us be quite clear on what is really important in that respect. In this country we do not have to secure a balance on visible trade. We have a substantial invisible income which helps us to balance our external payments even when our visible trade is not in balance. We do not have either to seek to balance our trade with each individual country. In so far as it is desirable to reduce the gap in our visible trade statistics, we want to do it by expanding exports wherever export markets are available. But the gap in visible trade is not a matter for concern. Even the balance of payments, the overall balance of payments, although it is a vital consideration, is not of the supreme importance in all circumstances which it has sometimes been assumed to be. If we have a considerable import of capital goods, accompanied by the capital to pay for the goods, then the current [299] balance of payments for that period will show a deficit but the overall effect, as far as the country is concerned, will be good.

The significant figure is that showing the movement of external reserves. If our external reserves begin to diminish that is a red light. It is at that stage that notice has to be taken of what is happening with a view to estimating the magnitude of the danger that may be developing. It may not necessarily be a danger in itself but it could point to the imminence of danger. If our external reserves increased that might also be another red light because it could tend to show that our internal development activities were not proceeding as they should.

Mr. Dillon: What is a green light?

Mr. S. Lemass: We got a green light last year and we will get it this year too.

Mr. Sweetman: Last year our production of capital goods was worse.

Mr. S. Lemass: It was said by the Deputy that the statistics for this year to date were a cause for concern. I do not think so. The May figures in fact show a lower import excess than the figures for May last year and, so far, as there appears to be a slight decline in the volume of capital goods imported, it is explainable by the fact that during the corresponding period last year there was a substantial import of railway equipment. No conclusions can be drawn as to the trend of trade from figures relating only to a few months of a year.

In regard to our whole external trading policy we have always tended to get away from bilateral agreements with other countries, and to establish our trade arrangements on a multilateral basis. In so far as we have been forced into bilateral agreements it has been not our decision but the decision of the other country concerned. I can see no advantage whatever in imposing restrictions on imports from Germany just because Germans will not buy as much as we would like them to buy, or because [300] they do not buy from us as much as we do from them.

The effect of imposing such restrictions would compel Irish people to import goods and raw materials from other countries on more disadvantageous terms. We must assume that Irish importers buy from France, Germany, Britain or elsewhere because it is advantageous to them and there is no reason why we should force them to buy at a disadvantage.

Our international balance of payments last year produced a small surplus. I do not think there is any prospect of a situation developing this year which would be a cause of alarm or which would justify us in departing from the principle of multilateral trade agreements and resorting to bilateral bargaining nor, from our experience, can we come to the conclusion that a system of bilateral bargaining would be to our long-term advantage. I agree with Deputy Cosgrave that there is a necessity to give wider publicity to the tax changes introduced in the last Budget and to our policy as represented by the Encouragement of External Investment Bill.

That Bill has not yet been enacted. It has not yet been passed by the Seanad, and it is possible that, in the Seanad, some further amendments may be effected, and the publicising of our new arrangements relating to external investment in Ireland cannot be begun until the Act becomes law.

Mr. Sweetman: The Minister will not get much further unless he gets the Minister for Finance to change the Finance Bill.

Mr. S. Lemass: Deputy Dillon spoke about the tariff on agricultural machines, and referred to some undertaking, given by the Government of which he was a member, to the National Farmers' Association that that tariff would be a temporary arrangement and might be withdrawn within a year or so following a review.

Mr. Dillon: There was to be a review and a report.

Mr. S. Lemass: A temporary tariff is as useless as a penny balloon with two [301] holes in it. There is no lunatic in the country who would attempt to put a penny into a new machine on the strength of a tariff he was told was temporary. There was no sense in that arrangement and, as far as this Government was concerned, we told the National Farmers' Association before the general election that it was our policy to secure the production in this country of all the agricultural equipment and machinery it was possible to produce here on an economic basis. As far as I have been able to examine the position I find we have engineering factories in this country producing agricultural equipment which is as good as any in the world, and in many cases these factories are able to export their products against competition of much more powerful combines elsewhere.

Deputy Crotty said the procedure for procuring trade loans is far too complicated and I accept that. It is obvious that it is and, because the procedure is so complicated and cannot be made uncomplicated, we decided to get away from the trade loan arrangements and to widen the powers of the Industrial Credit Corporation. We decided to give to that company the function of guaranteeing loans for industrial developments if that, on examination, proves to be the best way of financing them, or alternatively giving companies the finance they need in some more suitable form. I wish to make it clear that, in future, when Deputies are approached by firms which need finance for the extension of their activities they should advise them to place their problems before the Industrial Credit Company and to forget about the trade loans. Indeed, the statutory limit of guarantees under the Trade Loans Acts has almost been reached and unless an exceptional case arises which would justify resort to these Acts, instead of to the Industrial Credit Company. I do not intend introducing legislation to raise that limit. The intention is to transfer to the Industrial Credit Company the task of assisting industry to find capital and money for development purposes.

Several Deputies spoke about the Undeveloped Areas Act and I do not intend to refer to it at length. These [302] Deputies, however, seem to be under a misunderstanding about this Act when they ask that An Foras Tionscal should be more active in securing the establishment of industries in the undeveloped areas. That is not the function of An Foras Tionscal; they have not got a promotional function at all. Their task is to allocate from funds available to them grants for particular projects placed before them by groups in undeveloped areas, or for projects otherwise brought to their attention. In our present organisational arrangements, the task of industrial promotion, the organisation of new industries conceived to be possible of economic establishment here, has been delegated to the Industrial Development Authority. While obviously there is a very close link between the Industrial Development Authority and an Foras Tionscal nevertheless their separate functions are clearly defined in that regard.

Some Deputies appear to be under the impression that the tax concessions which have been arranged in the Budget, and the grants available through An Foras Tionscal and the Industrial Development Authority, or the financial assistance which can be given for industrial enterprises by the Industrial Credit Company, are confined to external concerns. That is a complete misconception. It is true that the main publicity effort has been directed towards publicising these advantages and arrangements abroad and that may have led to the misconception.

We assumed, perhaps too readily, that knowledge of all these arrangements was widespread at home and it may be necessary to do some publicity here also. But, specifically, I want to make it clear that there is no facility, no advantage, no grant, aid or tax relief available for an externally-owned concern which is not equally available to Irish-owned concerns. Indeed, I have always held the view that, in the main, our industrial development is far more likely to come through the initiative and enterprise of Irish citizens rather than by the fortuitous advent of industrialists from abroad.

[303] The effective publicity which has been given to the changes which have been recently introduced, the tax changes and other advantages that have been brought about, has undoubtedly aroused interest in America, Britain, Germany, Belgium and Holland and there have been many discussions with representatives of firms there who are talking about industrial enterprises in this country. I shall not put it any farther.

Reference was made here to the Ballina biscuit factory. For that project all the necessary formalities had been completed; a grant had been decided upon by An Foras Tionscal; the necessary licence under the Control of Manufactures Act has been issued; the site had been acquired. Yet, the project did not proceed because the foreign promoting company withdrew. Now I am criticised by Deputy Barry because, in relation to a rumour he has heard about an important project in County Cork, I will not tell him about it and he says that there is bungling. I have no intention of mentioning a word about that project or any other project until I see the buildings rising from the ground or the private interests themselves decide to publicise their intentions.

I am a politician. I would like to get all the favourable publicity that politicians want. I would love to be able to go out and say that this is happening and that that is going to happen. Even though I am sure that it is going to be so, nevertheless, rather than take the risk that by an incautious word I could deprive the country of some worth-while industry, I shall not do it. Deputies may take it as a decided policy that there will be no publicity given to new industrial enterprises promoted by private interests until the private interests themselves decide to release the news. I am fortified in that decision, not merely by the realisation that advance publicity here before the interest concerned had finalised their plans might cause them to withdraw, but also by the knowledge that private industrial undertakings which get a political label attached to them are [304] often handicapped in their development.

Mr. Coogan: What about the chewing gum factories of Deputy Briscoe?

Mr. S. Lemass: Perhaps if the Deputy would chew some gum now, I would be able to finish my speech. Deputy Kyne asked if local development associations could ascertain what industries might be suitable for various districts through the services of the Department of Industry and Commerce. The services of the Department are available to these local development committees to give them all the advice that can be given but it must be understood that we just cannot designate particular industries suitable for particular localities much less give a particular industrial development committee an option on any new industry. Indeed, during the course of the past year I had to change the regulations of the Department in one respect.

Deputy O'Sullivan read from some Irish Press article a reference to a new industry that was to be established somewhere. The Irish Press was no more misled than any other newspaper. That particular industry was one which was hawked around the country by a promoting group. They were able to do so because, having approached the Department and asked for a list of the local industrial development committees whom they wanted to contact in connection with a new industry, they were handed the roneod list in the ordinary way. They then proceeded to offer this industry all round the place and I think may have succeeded in collecting some money by that method in some districts, despite my efforts, as soon as I saw the first report in the newspapers, to contact the people concerned and warn them to be careful. I followed up immediately with a circular to all these local development councils warning them that, while we would put in touch with them anyone who approached the Department who wanted to make the contact, we were not necessarily vouching for their bona fides much less for the soundness of the project which they were likely to submit to them and [305] that the soundness of the project could not be judged until it had been fully examined in the Department.

There were many references to prices. I do not want to enter into a protracted debate upon the action taken last year. Deputy Larkin was critical of the abolition of the Prices Advisory Council. He is the first person I have heard say a word in sorrow at its demise but, so far as I am concerned, I want my position to be quite clear. I believe that, in circumstances of full supply, and subject to the elimination of restrictive trade practices, the most effective price regulator which human wit has devised is free competition and my concern is to promote that freedom of competition in the sale of all goods and to minimise official regulation of prices. Our experience has been that price control kept prices up and there is ample evidence that since price control has been withdrawn the margin between the production cost and the retail price of many goods, has tended to contract rather than to expand.

There was an increase in prices, according to the general price index number, between May of last year and May of this year, of slightly less than 6 per cent. There was an increase in two points in the index between May and February. That was explained by the Statistics Office as due in the main to three causes—a seasonal rise in the price of potatoes and rises in the prices of milk and meat, attributable, I think, almost entirely to increased wages paid to milk roundsmen and to the butchers. Against that 6 per cent. increase in the cost of living, the index of industrial earnings shows that between March last year and March this year industrial earnings on the average increased by slightly over 7 per cent.

As I pointed out in my introductory speech on the Estimate, there was an increase in productivity in industry which had the effect of offsetting completely the effect upon the labour costs of production in Irish factories of the increase in wages that were negotiated and brought into operation under the national wage agreement. I think, therefore, that we can say that, taking into account the increase in the [306] cost of living which followed upon the withdrawal of subsidies, the increase in wages which has, for industrial workers at least, fully compensated for that increase in prices, and the successful efforts of employers and trade unions in combination to prevent that increase in wages pushing up the cost of industrial production in this country, we have got out of a difficult period of adjustment in a very satisfactory manner indeed.

Many Deputies have referred to their interest in the tourist trade and I am particularly interested personally because I have always believed and have advocated that it could be a source of income to this country of very great importance. Indeed, I was, I think, a voice crying in the wilderness at one time in support of that viewpoint. Our tourist trade is developing but there is still a great deal we can do to expand it further. There have been criticisms of An Tóstal. I am prepared to join in that criticism. The Tóstal was an effort to do something which, if it could be done, would be of tremendous advantage, namely to lengthen our tourist season, to develop a series of attractions in the form of sporting and other events in this country in the month of May, which would bring visitors to our country in the month of May who might normally not come until June, July or August. As Deputies know, the bottleneck limiting our tourist development is the amount of hotel accommodation and if we could make greater use of hotel accommodation by spreading out the season, by some such activity as the Tóstal at the beginning of it or by the development of the fishing rivers and lakes at the other end or throughout the year as a whole, then we would be getting a very considerable expansion of tourist income without any corresponding investment of new capital in hotel accommodation.

I think, however, that An Tóstal has tended to become a rather piecemeal operation. It was, so far as I can see, enormously successful in places like Cork City, where there was an energetic organiser with an enthusiastic committee behind him and indeed, Cork Deputies who spoke here deplored the idea that any change should be made in regard to either the time of it or [307] its main features. Other Deputies, like Deputy Russell of Limerick, said it was no good and certainly it never was taken up in Limerick with the same enthusiasm as in Cork. In some places, it was not taken up at all after the first year.

There have emerged, however, from the original idea, some very useful projects which have developed from local initiative and been supported by local enterprise. My aim is to try to get all those who participate in the Tóstal, hotel proprietors, transport service operators or anybody else associated with it, to come together to reexamine the whole position and see what is best to do, to salvage what is good and to discard what is useless and to achieve the aim which we had when we started, of expanding the tourist income by spreading out the tourist season.

Some Deputies appear to be under some misapprehension regarding the extent of the facilities which we are giving for the hotel development, and I should like to remove any misunderstanding in that regard. I think it was Deputy Sweetman who said that we often take it for granted that people know the facilities available to them when that is not so and, from speeches made here, it would seem that some Deputies do not quite know the magnitude of the aids available to hotel proprietors and resort development companies to expand their facilities.

In the case of hotels, there can be long-term State-guaranteed loans for hotel improvement, and Bord Fáilte can make grants in respect of interest charges on these loans for the first five years. Some Deputies said that it is as hard to get a Bord Fáilte loan as it is to get a trade loan. That is undoubtedly true because where the State is guaranteeing money, there are bound to be unavoidable delays, but I have tried to cut through these as much as possible. I have organised a system by which inter-departmental communications are cut down. Nevertheless, there are delays in examinations of the security and other formalities of that kind.

[308] One Deputy said that hotel proprietors would sooner go to a bank to get a loan. We encourage them to do that, and, if they get a loan from a bank, Bord Failte will pay the interest on that loan free for the first five years, so that facility means that hotel proprietors who want to expand their premises have every encouragement and aid. Over and above these loans and grants for the payment of interest on loans, there is this new scheme of grants for additional hotel bedroom accommodation. Any proprietor who wants to add to the bedroom accommodation in an hotel, in a unit of not less than five bedrooms, can get quite a substantial grant towards the cost. In addition, 10 per cent. of the capital expenditure incurred by hotel proprietors in any year is allowed as a deduction when computing profits for the purpose of income-tax. There is also an initial allowance of 20 per cent. on hotel equipment of a permanent and durable nature. The annual depreciation allowance has been increased by 25 per cent. and there is also the remission of rates in respect of an hotel building erected, or reconstructed, before 31st March 1960.

So Deputies can advise their hotel proprietor friends to get cracking before that date, if they want to avail of these facilities. I am most anxious to see them going ahead. Not merely will it give a fillip to the tourist trade, but it is work which must necessarily be done in the off-season, when tourists are not normally coming to the country, and in a period when building activity normally tends to decline, so that a considerable extension of hotel building then would make it doubly valuable by giving a great deal of employment to building workers throughout the whole country during the period when building work usually tends to taper off.

Mr. Dillon: What is the rate remission?

Mr. S. Lemass: I think it is seven years. I agree fully with Deputies who say we should take note of the fact that the most satisfactory and profitable tourist who comes here in the British workingman on his annual holiday. Indeed, all the time I have preached this to our [309] hotel interests and tourist promoting businesses and underlined the importance of catering for that trade. It was with that in mind that we gave permission to British coach tour companies to organise tours in Ireland, which had previously been prohibited. Most of them are organised by workingmen's clubs and trade unions. Indeed, the restrictions imposed confine them to persons of that class because we still keep the more expensive tours for C.I.E. operation. I hope to see the scale of these tours extended in future years.

I have been asked to make it clear that the facilities given this year will be continued next year. I want to make it quite clear that the facilities available next year for external coach tours will be no less than those operating this year, so that hotel proprietors, the tour organising companies and all others concerned, can make their plans now in the certainty that the facilities available to them will be no less than those available this year and may, perhaps, be greater, when we get the opportunity of reviewing the situation at the end of the season.

Deputy Corry referred to the harbour facilities in Cobh. I am not interested in his main idea because I do not think there is the slightest prospect of getting companies operating transatlantic liner services to berth their ships at Cobh. Their desire is to drop anchor within the harbour and have their passengers taken to and from their liners by tender. I am most concerned, however, to see the passenger handling facilities there improved. Everybody knows that the harbour authorities have to get a new tender and negotiations are proceeding to help them in that regard. Over and above the improvement of the tender service, there is need to look at all the facilities available for the handling of passengers and I have asked An Bord Fáilte to arrange a conference with the local urban council, the harbour authorities, C.I.E. and the shipping companies, with a view to seeing what improvements can be effected. An Bord Fáilte with its resources, cannot give a great deal of money towards the substantial improvement of the facilities there. They can give some money and perhaps [310] they may be able to get contributions from other interested parties as well. I certainly would like it to be understood that we attach as much interest to the tourist who comes in by ship at Cobh as to the tourist who comes by aeroplane into Shannon, and that our aim is to ensure there will be no deficiency in the facilities at Cobh of which the incoming tourist might complain.

Deputy Griffin spoke about resort development, and, while he referred particularly to the seaside areas of County Meath, there are in that county other tourist attractions besides the magnificent beaches at Laytown and Bettystown. Indeed, as Deputies know, it is one of the most popular areas for the touring bus, particularly the Boyne Valley tour, one of the most popular tours run by C.I.E.

This matter of resort development has been giving me concern for a long time. I want to see our holiday resorts improved in every way with better accommodation and better facilities for the entertainment of those who come of them. To that end we considered the idea of encouraging the establishment of local resort development companies in every district. Bord Fáilte will pay the legal and other expenses associated with the establishment of these companies and can guarantee loans raised by them for the improvement of the resorts. The trouble has been that, since the finance is provided by way of loan, the particular scheme of development which the company prepares must itself be profit-earning. There must be a prospect of their being able to repay the loan by the revenue earned from the facilities provided.

Bord Fáilte cannot give very substantial grants in addition to loans, although they have done so in some instances. However, if there is a local resort development company established in any district which can work out schemes for the improvement of the resort which have some revenue-earning aspect, they can hope to get, through the local authority, for instance, the road works to open up the resort; and from Bord Fáilte not merely technical advice but some little financial aid as well. The only really [311] successful undertaking of that kind yet attempted was at Arklow and I think I am entitled to invite the members of the House to attend the official opening there next Sunday week.

Mr. Sweetman: And it resulted in the closing of a private enterprise concern.

Mr. S. Lemass: Deputy Coogan quite incorrectly said that nothing had been done to improve cross-Channel shipping services during the holiday period. Everybody in the House knows that the provision of adequate travelling facilities for cross-Channel passengers is a matter for the shipping companies, but we have been pressing them for a long time for the improvement of these facilities. Bord Fáilte has been very active in that regard. I have been assured that this year the sailings of boats on cross-Channel services will be augmented in sufficient degree to cater for the extra traffic anticipated. Indications are that there will be quite a substantial increase in the tourist traffic from Britain this year.

It is true, however, that a very large number of the passengers who come from Britain to spend their holidays here want to come on the same day and go back on the same night. That is an impossible problem for any shipping organisation. In order to minimise the difficulties associated with these occasional periods of peak congestion very considerable improvements and extensions have been carried out at Dún Laoghaire and further works are now in progress. I invite Deputy Coogan on some evening he has off to go out and look at what is being done in Dún Laoghaire to facilitate the prompt clearance of passengers during rush periods and to provide for their comfort while they are there.

Mr. Coogan: Is that for the emigrants?

Mr. S. Lemass: I want to say one brief word about this project for a free port at Shannon. I have no desire to discourage people considering any proposal or development, no matter how novel it may be or no matter what [312] difficulties I see associated with it. Any project that is likely to be beneficial for any area will, I assure those connected with it, receive my very sympathetic consideration.

The people talking about a free port should, however, make up their minds what exactly they are aiming to achieve. If they are thinking of establishing factories, into which materials can come free of duty and from which they can be freely re-exported after processing, they should remember that in that sense the whole country is a free port area. That facility is available to any factory in Ireland. Any raw materials they want to import for processing can be imported free of duty, subject to the manufactured goods being re-exported. If they are thinking of a bonded warehouse into which goods can be brought in large vessels and from which they can be taken out for coastwise distribution in smaller vessels, that facility also exists in every port in which there is a bonded warehouse. If they are thinking of merely creating trade by providing modern port facilities, then I do not know of any place in the world where it can be said that the mere establishment of a port created trade. Indeed, in every place where there is a port free or otherwise, it was brought into being to meet a trade need that already existed in the locality.

I should like also to add that I had many discussions with Major Waller, the engineer who has been associated with this matter. He had a plan whereby he thought it might be practicable to get these very large oil tankers into Shannon where their cargoes could be distributed into smaller tankers and brought to refineries throughout Europe. I offered to organise a special flight by Aer Lingus from London to Shannon to bring over the people interested, with accommodation at Shannon and every opportunity of inspecting the estuary. I asked him to contact the principal people concerned in the big oil companies who might be interested. I am sorry to say his efforts did not succeed.

I had discussions myself with some of the principal people concerned in the oil companies. They did not see [313] how it could be a practical proposition unless there was a very large refinery in the area. The companies establishing very large refineries and building 100,000 ton tankers are being financed by their Governments, and the prospects of getting them to transfer operations to locations in this country are, in my view, not very bright. If anybody can produce in relation to this free port idea a single commercial enterprise that will be interested enough in the undertaking to ensure that some use will be made of the port after it is created, then I am prepared to give the matter further consideration.

Deputy Sweetman made reference to a speech made by the chairman of Aer Linte on the occasion of the inaugural flight. He described it as a political speech. I do not accept that. I believe it was only childish petulance that prompted the Deputy to make his remarks. He raised what he regarded as a point of principle. He said that an ex-civil servant was in some way bound not to make political references. We know that some ex-civil servants have gone up for and secured election to the Dáil and have been very active in politics.

As reference was made to the obligations of a chairman of a State company let me say this. I invited Mr. Leydon to act as Chairman of Aer Linte because of his previous association with air line development in this country. I was tremendously relieved when he agreed to do so. Nobody else could have brought to the problems involved the experience and knowledge he has. He agreed to act without remuneration and is acting without remuneration. As far as I am concerned I am not going to impose any restrictions whatever on him. I do not think one could make a general rule in regard to the chairmen of State companies which would be applicable to the circumstances in his case. Mr. Leydon agreed to act for a temporary period. As Deputies know, he has a number of other duties and responsibilities. Some other arrangement will have to be made when he elects to withdraw.

Mr. Sweetman: No matter what his [314] capabilities, it was a scandalous speech.

Mr. S. Lemass: I disagree entirely with the Deputy. I think the Deputy's references were scandalous. I should conclude at this stage but I had intended to make some reference to the container traffic at Dublin Port. Deputy Cosgrave detailed the advantages which this country has for industrial development purposes. We have a number of advantages but we have one disadvantage in that we are an island.

Mr. Cosgrave: I mentioned that.

Mr. S. Lemass: Raw materials must be imported by sea and the finished products exported by sea. That disadvantage is there. It is obviously good national policy that we should seek to minimise it and we can only do that provided we have the highest achievable standards of efficiency, both in our internal transport organisation and in our port handling facilities. I know that the trade unions accept that principle and that they realise the problem in Dublin is a practical one capable of being solved by practical arrangement. But the aim of everybody, particularly those who are dependent for their livelihood on port employment, must be to assist the development of the country by ensuring that our ports are operating with the maximum efficiency, and at the minimum cost so that the disadvantage of our island location will be overcome.

I was pleased at the tribute paid by a number of employers recently to the Dublin dockers and the statement that the productivity of the Dublin dockers was considerably higher than the dockers in some British ports. It indicates that the right spirit exists amongst them which limits the problem to how best to overcome the practical difficulties affecting the position there at present.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is the motion to refer back withdrawn?

Mr. Cosgrave: No.

Question—“That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration”— put.

[315] [316] The Committee divided: Tá, 38; Níl, 59.

Barrett, Stephen D.

Barry, Richard.

Burke, James.

Byrne, Tom.

Carew, John.

Casey, Seán.

Coburn, George.

Coogan, Fintan.

Corish, Brendan.

Cosgrave, Liam.

Costello, Declan D.

Costello, John A.

Crotty, Patrick J.

Desmond, Daniel.

Dillon, James M.

Esmonde, Anthony C.

Fagan, Charles.

Giles, Patrick.

Hogan, Bridget.

Jones, Denis F.

Kenny, Henry.

Kyne, Thomas A.

Larkin, Denis.

Lindsay, Patrick.

Mulcahy, Richard.

Murphy, Michael P.

Murphy, William.

O'Donnell, Patrick.

O'Higgins, Michael J.

O'Higgins, Thomas F.

O'Reilly, Patrick.

O'Sullivan, Denis J.

Palmer, Patrick W.

Reynolds, Mary.

Rooney, Eamonn.

Russell, George E.

Sweetman, Gerard.

Tierney, Patrick.


Aiken, Frank.

Allen, Denis.

Bartley, Gerald.

Blaney, Neal T.

Boland, Gerald.

Boland, Kevin.

Booth, Lionel.

Brady, Seán.

Brennan, Joseph.

Brennan, Paudge.

Breslin, Cormac.

Briscoe, Robert.

Browne, Seán.

Burke, Patrick.

Calleary, Phelim A.

Carty, Michael.

Childers, Erskine.

Clohessy, Patrick.

Collins, James J.

Crowley, Honor M.

Cunningham, Liam.

Davern, Mick.

de Valera, Eamon.

Doherty, Seán.

Donegan, Batt.

Dooley, Patrick.

Egan, Kieran P.

Fanning, John.

Faulkner, Pádraig.

Flynn, Stephen.

Galvin, John.

Geoghegan, John.

Gilbride, Eugene.

Griffin, James.

Healy, Augustine A.

Hillery, Patrick J.

Hilliard, Michael.

Humphreys, Francis.

Kenneally, William.

Kennedy, Michael J.

Killilea, Mark.

Lemass, Noel T.

Lemass, Seán.

Loughman, Frank.

Lynch, Celia.

Lynch, Jack.

MacCarthy, Seán.

McEllistrim, Thomas.

MacEntee, Seán.

Medlar, Martin.

Millar, Anthony.

Moher, John W.

Ó Briain, Donnchadh.

O'Malley, Donogh.

O'Toole, James.

Ryan, James.

Ryan, Mary B.

Smith, Patrick.

Traynor, Oscar.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies O'Sullivan and Kyne; Níl: Deputies Ó Briain and Loughman.

Question declared lost.

Original motion put and agreed to.