Seanad Éireann - Volume 38 - 20 July, 1950
Turf Development Bill, 1949—Second and Subsequent Stages.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave) Liam Cosgrave
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave): The principal objects of the Bill are to provide for the increased cost of carrying out the programme of development which Bord na Móna was authorised to undertake by the Turf Development Act, 1946, and also to authorise Bord na Móna to proceed with a second development programme to increase the annual production to 2,000,000 tons. In addition, the Bill makes provision for housing accommodation for the board's workers and for an increase from £120,000 to £250,000 in the grants for the board's experimental station.
The maximum advances towards the cost of the first development programme authorised by the Turf Development Act, 1946, amounted to £3,750,000. At that time it was estimated that materials would cost about 50 per cent. more than pre-war and for wages the levels of 1943-44 were taken. It has, however, been found that the actual cost of both materials and wages has been much higher than was anticipated. Further, it has been found that the plans originally drawn up might with advantage be revised in certain minor respects. A fresh estimate has now been prepared which shows that  the cost of the first programme will amount to £5,520,000, an increase of £1,770,000. The first development programme contemplates an annual output of approximately 1,000,000 tons of machine turf, 20,000 tons of briquettes and 50,000 bales of peat moss.
It will be understood that the development of a bog to the point of full mechanised production is necessarily a somewhat lengthy process. Moreover, up to recently, the industrial after-affects of the last war rendered it difficult for the board to obtain delivery of the specialised machines for which it was the only customer. These machines had to be specially designed and developed by the board, and during the post-war period a certain difficulty was experienced in securing suitable firms to undertake their manufacture. Progress in the early stages of a pioneer project such as this is necessarily slow, but it has been found that once a certain stage is reached, the rate of progress tends to accelerate progressively. That critical stage has now been reached in the first development programme, and output is expected to expand rapidly on the bogs covered by that programme.
While it may not be possible to complete the first programme in the case of every bog within the period of five years which was originally contemplated, the preparation in the case of all the bogs is generally well advanced and production is in progress at Clonsast, Derryounce, Glenties, Barna, Timahoe South, Turraun, Lyrecrumpane, Blackriver, Ballydermot and Glashabaun. Briquettes are being produced at Lullymore and peat moss at Kilberry. Other bogs would be in production by now were it not for the difficulties in regard to the delivery of turf-cutting machinery to which I have just referred. The drainage of the remainder of the bogs included in the board's programme is proceeding.
The turf-fired electricity generating station at Portarlington, which went into partial production in January, 1950, is designed for two generating  sets of 12,500 kw. each, and is expected to be working to full capacity before the end of the year. This station will have a consumption of 120,000 tons of turf per annum, which is the total estimated annual output from the Clonsast bogs and will be capable of producing 90,000,000 units of electricity per annum. Senators will be interested to hear that the performance of this station since it went into commission has been satisfactory.
In regard to Lullymore, where the present target is 20,000 tons of briquettes per annum, the limiting factor in output has been the availability of milled peat. Additional bog machines, ordered some time ago, have now been delivered and will ensure that, even in unfavourable weather, a sufficient quantity of milled peat can be harvested for the production of 20,000 tons of briquettes per annum; it is hoped that this will be increased within a reasonable time to 30,000 tons. The output of milled peat in 1949 constituted a record for the works.
The production of peat moss at the Kilberry factory commenced during 1947. The output of the factory has increased from 24,130 bales in the year ended 31st March, 1948, to 85,616 in the year ended 31st March, 1950. In the year 1949 peat moss was an important export to the United States, when over £22,000 worth of this product was shipped to that country. Substantial quantities are also being exported to Great Britain and the Channel Islands. Intensive efforts are being made to increase exports, especially to dollar areas.
An important obstacle which the board has experienced is a shortage of labour at many of the bogs, despite all efforts to recruit the required number of men. In its recruitment campaign last year the board maintained a close liaison with the Department of Social Welfare; Press and radio publicity was carried out, exemployees to the number of 2,500 were offered re-employment by way of circular issued to their home address; free travel vouchers were issued to all applicants for employment on bogs to which hostels were attached; and at  some of the works long-distance lorry transport was used to bring the men to work from as far distant as 20 miles. This year the board made a particularly thorough and determined effort to recruit adequate labour. Despite these efforts, the board to-day can offer employment to an additional 1,000 men.
The second development programme approved by the Government contemplates the production of an additional 1,000,000 tons of machine turf per annum in ten years from its inception, or earlier, if this can be achieved. The full capital cost of the second development programme is estimated at £7,000,000, but it is proposed to provide in this Bill only for the cost of the preliminary work of drainage and preparation of the bogs. This work, which is estimated to cost £2,750,000, will be spread over a period of seven years.
The need for providing houses for the workers on the bogs is recognised in the Bill. For a variety of reasons it was not found practicable to have labourers' cottages built for the board by county councils and the problem is at present under examination. It is considered that the necessary expenditure should be defrayed partly by grants and partly by repayable advances. Provision on this basis is made in Section 6 of the Bill. The rents to be charged plus the board's contribution would be applied in the payment of interest and repayment of the capital provided by the repayable advances.
The Bill also provides for an increase in the amount of the free grant towards experimental and research work by the board. Under the Act of 1946 an experimental station was set up by the board at Droichead Nua and has been in operation for over three years. The sum provided in that Act, viz., £120,000, has proved insufficient and it is proposed that it should be increased to £250,000.
It will, I am sure, be accepted that it is essential that the board should be encouraged to develop new methods as well as cheaper and more efficient means of producing turf and turf products; it will also be appreciated  that this cannot properly be accomplished unless the various problems involved are studied on a scientific basis.
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: I welcome this Bill for the further development of a great natural resource of this country. I hope that the lapse of time between the First Stage and this Second Reading, which is exactly 12 months, has not hampered the board in its activities.
It might be well, at the outset, to try to clear some of the mist that has surrounded the activities of the board arising out of the emergency. From time to time one hears very serious comment on the failure of the board to be in a position to handle the production of turf that was imperative during the emergency. That comment is most unfair, because, if we consider the original purpose for the establishment of the board, we find that it was set up as a long-term policy. As the Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out, the development of our bogs, particularly drainage, must inevitably take a long time before actual production takes place.
Many schemes have been tried by Bord na Móna and the Turf Development Board to make turf available as a fuel throughout the country. One of the most successful efforts was the organisation of co-operative societies. However, with the advent of the emergency and the taking over of production of turf for the national pool by county councils, the society seemed to fall away. That was a great pity.
If we are to develop turf as a fuel for consumption by our people, steps must be taken to make it available to the people, to make it available at a cheap price and in such a manner that it will be as convenient to purchase turf as it would be to purchase coal.
There are many difficulties in the way. The first great difficulty is that of marketing. There is no provision for that and, as far as I can see, Bord na Móna has not given consideration to this problem. We know from  experience of the emergency that coal merchants in general were very reluctant to handle turf. The greater part of the difficulty and complaint in regard to bad and wet turf and the necessity for building ricks of turf in the Park was to my mind due to the fact that the coal merchants were not prepared to co-operate as they should in the distribution, handling and storage of turf.
I could never see the purpose of taking turf from the country to the Park, or any place else, and then having the coal merchants acting as distributors. If coal had been made available by the British Mining Company at that time and if the coal merchants had been informed that a certain quantity of it would be landed at the port of Dublin within a reasonable time, I feel sure that the coal merchants would have made an all-out effort to secure storage for it. They made no effort whatsoever to store turf and, as a result, it had to be ricked in the Park, which involved extra handling, which turf, particularly hand-won turf, is not able to stand up to.
That is the first and most essential problem to which Bord na Móna should direct attention, particularly in the event of an emergency. Already we see that there is grave danger that this country will not be in a position to secure supplies of coal at the present rate from the British Mining Board and that steps are being taken to secure that supply abroad. If further difficulties should be created in Europe, it is possible that supplies of coal will not be available at all. In that event, steps should be taken to ensure that we will not be in the same position as we were in during the last emergency.
If coal merchants are not prepared to co-operate in the handling of turf, it is up to Bord na Móna to devise some method of marketing it themselves. The difficulties that arose in the last emergency in Dublin City were experienced in every town and city in the country. While turf was available in the bogs, the merchants were reluctant to purchase and to store it over the winter months as they would purchase coal in the ordinary  way. I do not think that arose from the fact that they had not sufficient profit from turf. I think the margin of profit allowed was reasonable enough. In that connection, another mistake which contributed in no small way to abuse was the purchase of turf by weight. I know that in the greater part of the country before the emergency turf was never purchased by weight but rather by measure and by quality. If that system had been adopted during the emergency I think we would have had less complaints as regards the quality of the turf, even in the City of Dublin. There was an inducement there to lorry owners and to all those taking turf from the country to act unscrupulously. The more weight they had in their lorry the greater advantage it was to themselves and that, I submit, contributed to much of the abuse.
The sudden decision of the Government in 1948 to suspend the hand-won turf scheme was unfortunate and it is having its effects to-day. When the Parliamentary Secretary informs the House of the difficulties which Bord na Móna are experiencing in securing the number of workers which they require, we must remember that one of the contributory causes in that connection was the sudden suspension of the hand-won turf scheme some two and a half years ago.
As the House is aware, provision was made for a special allowance during the winter months to keep those people in this country so that they would be available for the cutting of the supply of turf during the turf season. When, all of a sudden, they were informed that this work was no longer being continued, they had only one alternative. There was no work available to them in their particular districts, and they had to leave the country. If we are now experiencing difficulty in recruiting labour of that type I submit that that sudden suspension of the hand-won turf scheme by the Government is one of the major reasons for it. I realise that it would not be possible to continue in production at the rate that operated during the emergency, but I submit that the change over from hand-won turf to  machine-won turf should have been introduced gradually. An attempt was made in that connection the following year, but it would be unreasonable to expect that workers—and particularly the type of worker who is depending on work in the bog—will wait over to see what will happen in a year or two. That change over took place in many districts. I think that in County Galway alone machinery was put into operation in some 34 bogs and, this year, the whole 34 machines were stopped working. The same applies to Mayo, Limerick and Kerry. At a time when we should be pushing forward as fast as we can with the production of machine-won turf we find that there is an order to suspend the production of machine-won turf. It cannot be said that the reason for that decision was that the workers were not there, because I find that Deputy Patrick Browne, who is a member of the Government Party, speaking on the matter in the Dáil on the Vote for the Office of Public Works, urged the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance to put forward some schemes immediately in the particular areas in County Mayo where the machine-won turf schemes had been suspended, as there is a terrible amount of unemployment there at present. The reason put forward for the suspension of these schemes was that Bord na Móna had a certain amount of turf on its hands but could not find a market for it within a particular radius of the bogs. Here again, that is due to the attitude of the Government, or what was accepted as the attitude of the Government, to turf production as a whole.
Prior to the emergency every encouragement was given to our local authorities—as a matter of fact, one might almost term it compulsion—to use native fuel. That was as it should be. Encouragement and every facility to do so was also given to the ordinary householder. In the White Paper which was issued in 1945 or 1946 it was set out that grants for new houses and so forth would be made available, particularly in the turf areas or in and around the turf counties, only where facilities would be provided for the use  of turf. I have heard many complaints and, in fact, one large merchant here in Dublin has told me that he cannot get a continuous supply of machine-won turf. If he sends his lorries to Clonsast sometimes they come back empty and at other times they have to take their place in a queue and wait a considerable length of time before they can get their supply. That is proof that there is a market, particularly for the machine-won turf. It is suggested that lack of foresight and lack of organisation—particularly lack of some marketing organisation—is responsible for the failure to find a market for the machine-won turf and that operations have, therefore, closed down in so many bogs.
The next difficulty in regard to turf development in general is that the bogs which are suitable for development by machinery are so far removed from the centres of population that it is very difficult—particularly when the work is only of a seasonal nature—to get workers to travel long distances or even to go into hostels or avail of any other provision that may be made for them. As I say, in general the work is only of a seasonal nature and, while it might be possible to carry on the work of making drains and so forth during the winter months, the remuneration for that type of work is not as great as it is for the production of turf itself. It is obvious, therefore, that there are obstacles in that respect.
An attempt was made, I think, in various counties, and in our own county, to get the county council to build labourers' cottages for these workers. Naturally enough, any county council has an objection. They say: “Well, if a particular firm or, particularly, a Government organisation wants to house its workers they should make provision to erect these houses themselves.” I am glad to see that provision is made in this Bill for that purpose. In the meantime, however, some more effective steps will have to be taken if we are going to develop turf production as it should be developed, as it can be developed and as it may be very essential to develop it in the near future.
 Although it has not a direct connection with this Bill, I think we should not altogether overlook the importance of continuing the encouragement of the hand-won turf industry. We should do everything possible to encourage the production of hand-won turf and we should, particularly, encourage those small farmers whose income was greatly increased during the war years as a result of the sale of hand-won turf to remain in production until such time as the various bogs may be taken over and the work done by machinery. I also suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary and the board that it might be a good idea if the machines which the board now have lying idle were either rented or sold to societies or individuals who might be prepared and, perhaps, even in a better position to do so than the board to carry on the production of turf by machinery in some of the smaller bogs. I am sure it would be possible to get a number of people to co-operate and to rent one or more of these machines and continue in production. It might be no harm at all, if, side by side with the Government organisation, some private concern were to take part in the work. That might, possibly, show Bord na Móna how the job can be done more efficiently.
I was glad to see in the annual report, and I was glad also to hear the statement made to-day by the Parliamentary Secretary, that the generating station at Portarlington has been such a success. When the Bill making provision for this experiment was before the House, many Senators were doubtful as to the advisability of going forward with the proposal. It was then suggested by some Senators that the project had not even the approval of the Electricity Supply Board. I do not know how true that suggestion was. However, we are glad to see now that it has been so successful. It will be an encouragement to the board to go ahead with other stations of the kind.
I was glad also to see that the peat moss industry has been such a success and, while it is very important to encourage its export for dollar purposes,  I think the board might also direct some attention towards encouraging its use among our farmers. It would be a very good thing to have a market at home for periods when it may not be possible to export the material for the purpose of getting in dollars.
I think the target set in relation to the production of briquettes is rather small. These briquettes are very useful and they commend themselves, particularly in the towns and cities. The energies of the board should be directed towards a greater production.
The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out the difficulties experienced by the board with respect to securing machinery. On another Bill we drew the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the importance of encouraging the development of the heavy engineering industry. It was regrettable to see, when steps were being taken by the former Board of Córas Iompair Éireann to develop that industry, that the whole scheme was, to use words that are very much in use at the present time, put in abeyance. I would like an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that at the earliest possible moment the heavy engineering industry will be encouraged.
Senators might ask what has this to do with turf production. Well, the Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that it has a considerable amount to do with the non-production of turf, and I think it will be agreed that progress was held up, particularly during the war years, because of lack of machinery. Indeed, were it not for the fact that the engineering works of Córas Iompair Éireann came to the rescue of Bord na Móna at the time, and were in a position to make some of the machinery necessary to carry on the work, the whole scheme would have fallen through. The Parliamentary Secretary has informed us that even at this stage there is great difficulty, on the part of Bord na Móna, in acquiring necessary machines, even on the Continent. Bord na Móna are, of course, the only people concerned in purchases of this sort. If we had the  heavy industry that Córas Iompair Éireann proposed to go ahead with, I am sure they would be now in a position to supply Bord na Móna's requirements.
We would like very much to see the board pushing forward with its schemes, and they should take steps particularly to ensure that our local authorities, our Government institutions and all the people within a reasonable distance of the turf-producing areas are encouraged in every way to utilise the native product. So far as the local authorities are concerned, I would not be prepared to stop at encouraging them; they should be compelled as far as possible to utilise the native fuel rather than import coal. By using the native product we would avoid sending our turf workers over to England to mine coal. Our own people should be encouraged to use the native fuel and so keep our workers in the districts where employment is at the moment most required.
Captain Orpen Captain Orpen
Captain Orpen: I also welcome this Bill. I welcome it because, amongst other things, it sets apart a comparatively small additional sum for experimental work. I have felt all along that, now that we have embarked on large-scale mechanised turf development, we should ensure that we are getting all the valuable products that can be economically got from turf, and not merely getting all the heat units and losing other valuable products in the process of firing.
It is well known that, on the average, turf carries some 1½ to 2 per cent. of nitrogen in relation to its total dry matter. The recovery of this nitrogen is a known process. It is usually not worth doing unless you are working on a large scale. I understand from the Parliamentary Secretary, from the figure he gave for Portarlington, that the quantity of turf used in the year will be in the neighbourhood of 120,000 tons. That would contain about 35 or 40 per cent. of moisture; I am not quite certain of that, so let us say there would be something like 70,000 tons of dry matter. You will get a considerable quantity of recoverable nitrogen out of that.
 I would like to know whether it is contemplated making investigations to ascertain the most economical way to recover nitrogen or to recover tar. I do not know whether that is a feasible process in comparison with the price at which you can import tar extracted from coal in other countries. I am convinced of this, that countries that have not large nitrogen plants have had recourse to the recovery of nitrogen from turf. Some 30 years ago I visited one of these plants in Italy. It was working on a small scale compared with what we are doing at Clonsast and they were satisfied that, under their conditions, gas firing from turf with a nitrogen recovery plant was a feasible process. When you are dealing with turf mechanised on a vast scale, I think it should be looked on as a combined operation. Bord na Móna, the Electricity Supply Board and agriculture all come into it. When you merely get the best turf by hand methods out of the bog, you usually leave the bog in such a position that it never can be converted to agricultural use. When you drain a few square miles and leave a smooth surface when your work is finished, the possibility remains of regenerating the land. I would like to see, when the time comes, that we have acquired the necessary knowledge how best it can be done. We can gather something from the experience they had in the turf bogs in Westphalia in Germany, where they have been using methods of regenerating agricultural land over quite a period of years.
There is another aspect to which I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to draw the attention of his experimental station at Newbridge. That is a process that was tried out—or which, at any rate, we got to hear of —just before the war, in a turf bog in, I think, Czechoslovakia, where, having excavated the bog and preparatory to bringing it back to agricultural use, they inoculated the bog with nitrogen fixing bacteria in some way, at the same time feeding it to keep the bacteria alive. They claimed to have made this comparatively infertile layer under the cut-away bog productive in a very short time. I could not find  any confirmation of that after the war because on making inquiries I found that another régime had got control and I could get no information, but I would like to know whether there is any truth in that claim.
I want to go back to this question of the combined operation—of the combination of large-scale mechanised turf development, making the best use of the by-products by some method, gasification or otherwise, rather than burning dried fuel and raising steam to generate electricity. If you look at the generating station as concerned only in the generating of electricity, it does not necessarily bother itself about the other by-products. Lots of generating stations to-day do not believe that it is the soundest thing to waste heat in the condenser cooling water and thereby get a high vacuum; they adopt a different system to use up the heat. They have initiated work on a co-operative basis in Germany, where they grow tomatoes with the waste heat. Have we made any investigations as to whether it is better to get a little less electricity from the turf, instead of heating the atmosphere with an immense cooling tower as we are doing at Portarlington? Sell heat. I merely throw these suggestions out for consideration.
When the problem is looked at as a whole, from the national point of view —and, after all, it is the nation that is doing the work, it is the nation that is financing Bord na Móna, the Electricity Supply Board and so on—we can look on it as a complete operation from start to finish. We are not tied down necessarily to providing from the ton of turf the greatest amount of electricity; we want to get the greatest amount of national good. I do not say it is feasible here, considering that our bogs are a long way from the centre of population which usually can make use easily of waste heat.
Anyone who has seen St. Petersburg will remember that it is heated from waste heat from “bleeder” turbines. However, that is beside the point. I strongly press the Parliamentary Secretary to get the experimental station  at Newbridge to look most carefully into the question of 2 per cent. nitrogen. We want nitrogen. We have got a sale for a very considerable quantity of nitrogen. Nitrogen even to-day in the form of sulphate of ammonia is, roughly speaking, worth about £18 a ton—say about £100 a ton in terms of nitrogen. With that 2 per cent.—probably 75 per cent. of it is recoverable, if you are working on an adequate scale—from 120,000 tons of 35 per cent. wet peat, there is quite a lot of nitrogen going up the chimney. I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary get after it.
Dr. McCartan Dr. McCartan
Dr. McCartan: The Parliamentary Secretary has talked about the increase for the experimental station and has also referred to turf products; and Senator Orpen's suggestion about nitrogen has something in it. I think a gentleman named Turner presented to the Department of Industry and Commerce some time ago his scheme for extracting petrol from turf. I would like to know if the experimental station has done anything on those lines. I do not know how much information Mr. Turner gave the Department, but I think he gave the details of the scheme in a lecture to the Economic Institute in London.
A great deal has been said here about preparing for war. Petrol is one of the things very essential for agriculture and transport. If this experimental station has found that there is anything in the Turner scheme for extracting petrol, I think we should be told something about it. If they have not already experimented on those lines, I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the sooner they begin the better. We are paying dollars for petrol at the present time and if we could produce it at home I suppose that, apart from the dollar question, it would be a very important economic asset. If anything has been done on those lines, or if they contemplate doing anything in the immediate future about the Turner scheme for extracting petrol from turf, I would like some information about it.
Mr. McCrea Mr. McCrea
Mr. McCrea: The Parliamentary Secretary stressed the difficulty in procuring  sufficient labour. Senator Hawkins has given his view on that point. I want to mention my recent experience in this matter. Recently, as a result of the easing off of work under the Local Authorities (Works) Act, a number of young men became unemployed in Wicklow. They went to the labour exchange to register and to qualify for unemployment benefit. That was refused but they were offered work on the turf schemes. Some of them took the employment offered and went away to the bogs. They were only there a few days when they wrote to their people asking them to send them on some money since they would only be paid every fortnight and they would then only get a week's wages. Some of these boys came to me inquiring about the possibility of obtaining work. I asked them why they would not take up employment under Bord na Móna and they told me that those boys who had already gone away had to wait a fortnight for their wages and that they would then only receive a week's wages. Naturally, they were not prepared to go away knowing that. If that is true, I think something should be done to remedy the matter. These young men are almost penniless when they go away to these works schemes. They would at least require something for cigarettes, possibly a drink and an occasional picture. At any rate, that was the reason given to me as to why these lads would not go away; they could not afford to be a fortnight without wages. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would make inquiries to find out if that statement is correct and perhaps he could let us know what the true position is to-day. A number of these young lads have been deterred from taking work on the bogs as a result of the letters sent home by those who have gone away before them.
Senator Hawkins referred to the handling of turf by the fuel merchants and he said that they did not make provision for sufficient storage and so on. I have had experience of the merchants in my own town. We are about 50 miles from the nearest machine-produced turf. I do not know what the price is on the bog, but I think it is in or around £3 per ton; to that one must add another pound  for freightage and another pound for the handling of the turf which has to be weighed out in stone, two stone, half cwt. or cwt. lots. I do not know if Senator Hawkins is married. If he is, I wonder would his wife be prepared to pay 6/- a cwt. for turf when she can get reasonably good coal at 6/6 to 7/- a cwt. I think freight costs are killing the turf so far as price is concerned.
We have a number of bogs in South Wicklow that have always been worked. People want a bit of turf, and those who own the bogs cut a certain amount and offer it for sale. The local people buy it because it is a convenient fuel for them and the cost of freight is not prohibitive. If we had to travel 50 miles with a lorry and a couple of men—a double journey of 100 miles—the price would be prohibitive. I tried to get our county council interested in taking turf for their institutions during last spring. Both the members of the council and the officials were very sympathetic, but the county manager informed us that when they switched over from turf to coal there was a saving of 6d. in the £ on the rates. However, they decided to take some quantity of turf. I followed the matter up and I asked the county manager how many tons he was prepared to take and what price he would be prepared to pay. He told me that he would only be prepared to pay £2 per ton for turf delivered to the institutions. He was basing his price, I think, on the fact that one ton of coal was equal to three tons of turf and they were paying in or about £6 per ton for coal.
The only solution I can see is to have similar plants to that used in Galway spread over the turf districts throughout the country. In County Wicklow there are a number of bogs and if this machine-won turf could be produced there in sufficient quantity and at a reasonable price there would be a market for it.
I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to clear up the first matter to which I referred with regard to the payment of wages in the turf camps.
Mr. Anthony Mr. Anthony
 Mr. Anthony: I think it is generally conceded that this question of turf is a very important one. It has come before both the Dáil and Seanad on various occasions in the past. I have the feeling that it is of such importance to the country as a whole in so far as it is related to its industrial development that at least one day should be set aside, either here or in the other Chamber, in order to discuss the entire matter.
Senator Hawkins made a very valuable suggestion. It is because of that that I got up to speak. He said in the course of his speech that he thought turf should be sold by measure and not by weight. Those Senators who have any experience of city life, such as I have had, must remember what the position was like during the scarcity of coal and the continued turf drive. It was then that the people of Cork City, and other cities, began to realise that the selling of turf by weight was a fraud and a deception on the people. The water content of the turf sold in Cork City over a long period was a positive disgrace. One could not decide who was the culprit. Turf certainly arrived in Cork and as far as weight was concerned there was sufficient to supply half Munster. It was pitiable to see during the winter months the poorer children of the city taking home this turf in improvised wheelbarrows made out of old biscuit boxes mounted on wheels. Some of them had to take this so-called turf over relatively long distances to their homes, sodden, wet turf. If the suggestion made by Senator Hawkins receives serious consideration and if the time comes when we may again have to depend in whole or in part—and God forbid that we should have—on turf, I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should give very careful consideration indeed to having turf in future sold by measure and not by weight.
It is most desirable that we should continue to produce turf in increasing quantities. There are advertisements in the Press, day after day, calling for workers on the bogs and offering these workers fairly good employment with relatively good wages and conditions, particularly when one takes into  consideration that cross-Channel, where many of our workers have gone, conditions of employment seem to be very bad indeed. No later than last week, the Press informed the public that many of these workers were returning from cross-Channel because of the filthy dirty conditions under which they were required to live. That is a very serious position. I think the time has come for some pretty straight talking and straight dealing as far as that element is concerned that persistently refuses to accept work when it is offered. We have the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary that there are vacancies for 1,000 workers on the bogs. Let us be frank and honest about this matter. It is all very fine to say that conditions are not good on the bogs. Those of us who have any knowledge of the agricultural position here over a long period of years, such as I have had, and of conditions obtaining on the bogs and mountainside know that many of these workers who are refusing work to-day in the labour exchanges are themselves the sons of men who worked on farms. Indeed, some of these young men have worked on farms, too, and surely it is not a proper economy to continue carrying a load of people who refuse work when it is offered to them.
I would certainly say that, if they were offered starvation wages or bad conditions, the position would be entirely different, but when the conditions and wages are relatively good, the position which these people have taken up must be seriously considered. I would suggest that a parliamentary committee, composed of members of the Dáil and Seanad, should be asked to go carefully into this matter, and give us a report. I do not want a commission or a committee that would take two or three years over it. I think that a committee, such as I suggest, could, after two or three days' sitting, arrive at some conclusion, and could give us some indication in a report as to what future policy should be in relation to people who are offered work, who refuse to take it and then draw the dole.
Let us be quite frank on this question and let us have no hedging about  it. You may have people who will play up to the gallery and who will tell you that you are at the wrong end of the stick. I am prepared to take that chance, and I hope every member of the House will take the same position. This is a big national question. It is one that goes to the roots of our national and industrial development, and so I sincerely hope the members of this House, at least, will take a lead on it, if the members in the other House do not, and will do what I have suggested, namely, call for the setting up of a joint committee of both Houses to inquire into the whole position of turf production, in view of the fact that work is available for more than 1,000 people, and that there are men who refuse to take it. Those people are well enough, they are strong enough and healthy enough to work, but they will not take the work, and then they apply at the labour exchanges for the dole. That is a rotten bad position in any country. No country that has any aspirations as to manliness, freedom or patriotism would stand for it, and yet we are in the position that we are putting up with it.
Mr. Clarkin Mr. Clarkin
Mr. Clarkin: I was delighted to hear Senator Hawkins' contribution in connection with turf consumers in the City of Dublin and the coal merchants of Dublin. I agree 100 per cent. with what my friend on the right has said about malingering. I want to put one or two points to the Parliamentary Secretary. I shall be very brief because I think that the honest to goodness contribution that was made by Senator Hawkins covers most of what the people of Dublin require. For some time past there has been practically no turf available in Dublin. As a matter of fact, the Clonsast bog has been open only for a short period from last Monday to enable Dublin merchants to fulfil orders which they already hold. That is the truth with regard to the position, and it is a very peculiar one. I consider that a very bad policy because it more or less compels turf-minded persons in the City of Dublin to change over to coal. I should like to inquire what provision is being made to meet the requirements  of consumers during the coming winter, because, according to all indications, there is likely to be a fuel crisis. From the coal point of view— I think I know what I am talking about on this—there is no doubt whatever that the people of Dublin will not be able to procure a ton of coal next October unless something extraordinary—a miracle—happens. The coal merchants of Dublin to-day have not got 100,000 tons of coal in their yards. That has to be considered in relation to the population of Dublin, which is about 560,000.
As I have said, there is likely to be, according to all indications, a fuel crisis. It seems a strange thing in a country which has vast bog areas, that there is not sufficient fuel available to fulfil requirements. I would like to have an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that he will keep in view the policy of making the ordinary citizens turf-minded, by having supplies of turf available for them. In that connection, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary not to forget that next winter supplies of turf will be available for old age pensioners and for people in receipt of home assistance, so that we will not have a repetition of what happened in Dublin in connection with turf in 1949.
Mr. Tunney Mr. Tunney
Mr. Tunney: I should like to say, in reply to Senator Clarkin, that I am afraid there are a great many people in Dublin who, for reasons other than those mentioned by the Senator, feel that they should not burn turf. That was the position before this year or before the coming into power of the inter-Party Government. I am well aware that many people who did use turf in ordinary times, even before there was any crisis, got such a heartbreak from the way the turf position was handled by the previous Government, that they would not like anybody to speak to them now about using turf. Personally I would like to see the turf position taken seriously. As a native of Connacht, I think it is a tragedy that coal should go into that province at all. I do not think coal should be allowed in there except for industrial  purposes, and that the price of it should be regulated. It might even be possible to get coal in Connacht that would meet the requirements there. But, as I have said, except where coal is required for industrial purposes, it should not be allowed into Connacht. You have in that part of the country vast areas of bog, so that the cost of transport should not cause any increase in the price of turf. Turf, as an economic proposition, is difficult in Dublin at any time, because of the charges involved in handling it, and of transport. There is also a difficulty in regard to storage.
I do want to support the request that has been made by Senator Clarkin to the Parliamentary Secretary to make it possible for people in Dublin who want turf and are prepared to give a reasonable price for it, to have it available for them. I take a different view, however, in regard to towns which are adjacent to areas where turf is produced. That would apply, for example, to Wicklow, where you have bogs available. It is certainly not sound national economics to bring coal from a foreign country and to send it to places like Westport and Connemara. I think that is altogether wrong and should not continue.
I should like also to say a word on the question that was raised by Senator Anthony. I am sure every member of the House read in the newspapers last week about the men from Roscommon who went to work in England. They found the conditions there so bad that they were forced to come home. As far as I am concerned, I would not be greatly worried if the conditions were even worse for them, when we take into account that we have men who will refuse decent employment at home and take up employment in another country. Some of them are prepared to take up any cursed type of employment rather than work in their own country. As a trade unionist and as a Labour man, I sincerely hope the Government will seriously consider that position—that men who were offered reasonable employment, under reasonable conditions and at fair wages in the bogs of this country, should refuse  to take the work. In the case of people who would do that, I would not only stop the dole from them at this particular time, but I would put at least a 10 years' penalty on them. I would certainly take drastic steps. We do not want that type of slacker. We want men who will be prepared to do their duty to the people and to the country. I am quite certain that the fathers of those who did that were men who worked hard on the land in order that they might be able to rear their families, but now we find that some of the young people are too grand to work at turf. That certainly is a very serious matter. I do not think that any action which the Government might take in regard to this could be too drastic. I certainly would be with them in that because I believe that every right-minded citizen would also be behind the Government.
On the question of wages, it might be possible to make them a little bit more attractive. I am not going into that side of the question because I do not know what the trade union point of view on the matter is. If we have in this country healthy people, registered as unemployed and in receipt of the dole, who refused to work in their own country producing something which the nation requires, then, so far as I am concerned, I would be prepared to take the dole off them.
I should like to see people living in towns adjacent to bogs compelled to use turf, but there is another side to that question, that certain producers take advantage of the monopoly which they have in these areas. I think that a charge of 17/6 for a little crib of turf which will not last more than a week is altogether exorbitant. Consumers, many of whom are poor people, should get some protection because, while they may have low rents, they have very heavy outgoings in other ways. It is not fair to charge exorbitant prices for turf to the working class living in these towns.
Mr. Ruane Mr. Ruane
Mr. Ruane: I intend to be very brief. I thoroughly agree with Senator Anthony that the condition of much of the turf which came into the cities  during the emergency is likely to act as a deterrent to people who otherwise would enthusiastically accept turf as a serviceable fuel. In justice, however, to the producers of this turf—I know several of them and I know the areas where they work very hard and very honestly in trying to produce the genuine dried article—I think I should say that any deterioration that occurred in the condition of the turf subsequent to its being saved, was mainly due to delayed transport and lack of adequate storage. Turf from the West of Ireland, for instance, conveyed in open wagons and unloaded in huge piles without having any covering, is bound to absorb any moisture that falls on it. It is because that happened in many cases that turf which was produced honestly, that was fit to burn and that would readily recommend itself to anybody who got it in the condition in which it was produced, deteriorated. It deteriorated because of the circumstances to which I refer—delayed transport and faulty storage. It is only fair to the producers that that should be known.
In so far as the allegation is concerned that certain people refuse employment on the bogs while they are prepared to go to England, I should like Senators to look at the matter from this standpoint. I know several people who farm uneconomic holdings, the valuation of which would be anything from £2 to £3 10s. 0d. If these people are offered employment in Kildare or in the Midlands, they cannot afford to accept it. They are not the type of people who go to England, as a matter of fact. They like to get employment within three or four miles of their homesteads, so that after their day's work is over they will be able to give the meagre attention their scanty farms at home need. They are not migratory labourers in the strict sense of the word, as they do not go to England. I believe that a number of people who were on the dole and who refused work in Kildare and the Midlands belong to the category of which I have spoken.
Mrs. Concannon Mrs. Concannon
Mrs. Concannon: I join with other Senators in congratulating the Parliamentary  Secretary on introducing this Bill, which is of such importance to our economic and industrial development. I also want to praise him for approaching it in a large way. The figures mentioned in the Bill are impressive. For turf development alone there is an aggregate of £8,270,000. That shows that the Government is not fiddling with the project and that it realises, as did the previous Government, that we have in these bogs a great source of potential wealth which, owing to circumstances over which we had no control, remained for a long period undeveloped. Present circumstances in the world make it more imperative than ever that this development should be undertaken on the largest scale possible. It is heartening to find that the development has been approached in a scientific way. We hope that, with this liberal expenditure of money, we shall be provided not only with a source of power, heat and light but that with other changes which may be brought about, we shall reap a rich profit and invaluable new technical experience. All these are matters of immense interest and, whatever the condition of the world, this development opens up a road upon which the country should gladly enter and continue.
We were all somewhat frightened when Senator Clarkin, who is intimately acquainted with the position, spoke about the danger of a fuel crisis. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give special attention to that matter. It would, I think, be a very good idea if the Government had a consultation with the fuel merchants of Dublin to learn what the actual position is and how far it can be improved. I read in the paper to-day that it is practically hopeless to expect any improvement in the supplies from England and that arrangements have been made to obtain supplies from other countries on the Continent. We are doing all our planning in the shadow of a possible war and, if supplies are cut off, we shall have to depend exclusively on our own resources. Therefore, anything we can do to promote development in the  production not alone of machine-won turf, but also of hand-won turf, should be gladly undertaken. In Galway we depend practically solely on turf for our fuel supplies. I myself, since I ever started housekeeping, used nothing but hand-won turf. I am glad to say that the advice which I gave in the early days that a good deal more attention should be devoted by inventors to the production of suitable stoves and firegrates for the use of turf has been acted upon. A good deal has been done in that way, but much still remains to be done. It is a line that would repay investigation. I am glad also that provision is being made in this Bill for the housing of the turf workers. I hope that these houses will be planned in the form of villages with all the amenities one expects in villages. It is well that some thought is being given to this matter and I hope that it will bear fruition before very long. Senator Hawkins and others spoke about other purposes for which turf could be used.
I was talking recently to a very clever engineer who had some experience abroad, and he told me that experiments are being conducted in Scotland with a view to the use of turf as material for house-building. I do not know whether that experiment has been a success, or how far it has gone, but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to commend it to his advisers with the other suggestions that have been made, so as to ascertain if there is any possibility of producing materials from turf that can be used in house construction. We are at the beginning of a new world, and we would like to think that our young engineers, or young chemists and research workers, would be in the van of progress. For all these reasons I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary, who is himself a young man, is in charge of this Bill, and I hope that he will take a great interest in the development of turf.
I would also ask the Parliamentary Secretary to pay attention to the suggestion of Senator Anthony that it would be well worth while to have a full time discussion on the whole turf problem. That was an excellent suggestion  of Senator Anthony, and I hope that it will bear fruit.
Mr. Dockrell Mr. Dockrell
Mr. Dockrell: I am merely speaking as an ordinary consumer of turf. During the emergency I got my share of turf, which I am afraid got too much of the atmosphere if it had not got something much more concrete. That has been the experience of a whole lot of people who had to use turf during the emergency. I do not know to what extent we are going to get a better product. My object in rising was to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a straight question that in the interests of the turf industry will have to be answered. There is no question but that we all ought to use turf if we can do so economically, but there is a prevailing impression that in the fire grates installed in most modern houses, using as they do narrow fire-clay lined flues, a deposit is caused by turf in the chimney, and people will tell you that there is an enormous increase in chimney fires as a result. That is either true or it is false, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, in the interests of the turf industry, to deny it if he can because there is no doubt that there is a very wide impression throughout the cities: “Oh well, that is another chimney fire, and it was caused by a deposit of turf in the chimney.”
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
Mr. Quinn: I too wish to join with other Senators in welcoming the introduction of this Bill. I happen to be one of those people who were born near the bogs and I can also claim to be a pioneer of turf production in this State. I am very sorry that Bord na Móna had to close down the small machine-won turf-producing plants. We in County Galway provided in our institutions boilers for the burning of turf and we can hardly get enough turf in County Galway to supply us. For Ballinasloe Mental Hospital, for instance, where we installed a special turf-burning plant we have to go outside our own county and outside County Roscommon in order to get turf.
I am very glad to see that there is provision for the housing of turf workers. If we take any of the bogs  which produce a great deal, in 20 or 25 years' time a very large amount of bog will be cut away. The Turf Board should develop this bog over the years so that they would be in a position to hand over this reclaimed bog to the people who are in the houses when they are finishing up. They will finish up as these bogs will not last indefinitely. In 25 or 30 years' time there will be large tracts of cut-away bog and if these were developed and if there was even a hope of the developed bog being given to the turf workers when the place would be closing down a lot more people with families would be more energetic in going to work on the bogs and the scarcity of labour would not be so great as it is at the present time. If there were the inducement to the people that they could acquire it either by free gift from the board when it would be leaving the bog or that it would be sold to them they would have something to look forward to. The Parliamentary Secretary should keep that in mind. With the rehabilitation scheme in this country and with technical knowledge gained outside the country I am sure that the used bog after the turf has been cut away can probably be made into as prolific land as there is in this State.
I differ slightly from Senator Mrs. Concannon when she said that the houses should be built in villages. They should be built further apart, with a view to giving the people this developed or reclaimed bog when the scheme would come to an end. Definitely it cannot go on for ever, because there will not be enough bog.
Mr. S. Hayes Mr. S. Hayes
Mr. S. Hayes: I intend to be very brief, but I think that the least that could be claimed by anybody from rural Ireland is that one of the best sources of our industry is turf. In any future war, as in the past war, the country must rely upon it mainly for fuel and power. It employed during the emergency thousands of our young people and is, therefore, one of the best barriers against emigration and against British control of our economics. Great development work was done by the Turf Development Board; we had big drainage schemes; bog roads were built on a very  large scale and tremendous employment was given. There was a barrier against emigration in so far as turf workers and agricultural workers were not allowed to leave the country and this was very essential during that period.
I think it would be reasonable to say that there are a lot of people in rural Ireland, as well as in the cities, who are cursed with an inferiority complex as far as native Irish industries are concerned. The development of any type of industry meets with opposition at every stage. Self-sufficiency or economic independence does not suit these people, no matter how loudly some of them may cry at the moment: “Up the Republic”. That is the attitude of mind with which rural Ireland is cursed to-day.
Great credit is due to a number of people, particularly those who composed the Turf Board at the time when all the development took place. Great work was put into it, but there were many of the kid-glove merchants down the country, people whose spiritual home was in England, who had very little regard for anything produced in this country, except merely the salaries and good living which they were extracting from the people of the country. Now, when it comes to a question of British exports, London gets them much cheaper even than Dublin. Some, indeed, are subsidised there; but, when it is a matter of a native Irish industry, which perhaps may be a very essential industry in the near future, we have this type of thing going on.
From the point of view of the conservation of our currency and the circulation of money amongst our people, there was no greater industry than the turf industry, but, although the amount put before us to-day does appear rather extraordinary, it is my view that, instead of investing our money in British securities, there should be a greater effort on the part of the people responsible to invest the money here in the production of turf.
Senator Hawkins has pointed out that turf production is seasonal, and  talking about spending money for 1950 at this period of the year is merely playing with the position. A number of very valuable bogs in Tipperary were closed down this year, and Senator Hawkins has told us that upwards of 20 bogs were closed down in Galway during the year. Everybody knows that the turf season is over and the fact that these bogs were closed down during all the good weather of the earlier part of the year meant a tremendous loss to the country.
Like other Senators, I welcome this measure, which should get the support of every thinking Irishman in the House, particularly in the light of present circumstances. I should like to remind the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to what he said about the difficulty in getting workers for turf production, that there were a great many anomalies which could have been removed. There was great reluctance, so far as I could see, on the part of the hostels in Tipperary to take in workers and there is also the difficulty that persons going to work on turf production for the first time have to wait three weeks before getting any wages from the board. That is a very serious hardship from the point of view of the workers which ought to be attended to. If it is not, there will be a tremendous hold up every year when the turf campaign starts. It is a purely seasonal industry, and, having regard to its value, should be treated in an entirely different way. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will bring to the notice of the turf board the suggestions that have been put to him to-day.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Two points have been stressed by Senators on both sides which require to be dealt with. One is the problem of disposing of the hand-won turf and the other the question of the stoppage of the hand-won turf schemes. At the outset, I think I should say that the schemes operated by Bord na Móna were stopped because of a decision taken by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on 12th February, 1948. When that decision was taken, further consideration was given to the county  council hand-won turf schemes. Since then, Bord na Móna has produced a considerable quantity of turf and I have here particulars for the year 1948-49 in respect of a number of counties of the quantity of turf produced under these schemes, which are described as special turf production schemes but are generally referred to as the hand-won schemes. From these figures, Senators will see that not merely is there difficulty in getting a market for hand-won turf but the turf produced by Bord na Móna has not been disposed of and that, in addition, in almost every county, and certainly in every county with any large number of schemes, the employment available has not been taken up. In County Mayo, in the year 1948-49, Bord na Móna produced 28,581 tons and sold 10,081 tons, leaving a balance of 18,500 tons. Employment on these schemes was available for 802 men and 611 were employed. In County Sligo, 3,195 tons were produced, of which 595 tons were sold, leaving a balance of 2,600 tons. Employment was available for 85 men and 62 were employed.
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: Only 62 could be found?
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Sixty-two were employed on a scheme on which work was available for 85. In County Roscommon, 35,500 tons were produced and 16,500 tons sold, leaving a balance of 18,970. Employment was available for 740 men and 534 were employed. In County Westmeath, on the smaller schemes, 11,300 tons were produced, of which 7,300 tons were sold, leaving a balance of 4,000 tons. Employment was available for 321 workers on these schemes and 181 were employed. On other schemes in County Westmeath, 5,000 tons were produced, of which 3,600 tons were sold, leaving a balance in February of this year of 1,500 tons. Employment was available for 90 persons and 80 were employed.
In Offaly, 9,600 tons were produced and 6,900 tons sold, leaving a balance of 2,700 tons. Employment was available for 187 workers and 170 were employed. In County Galway, on a number of schemes, 26,600 tons were produced and 11,000 tons sold, leaving a balance, at the middle of February  this year, of 15,600 tons. Employment was available for 518 workers and 431 were employed. In Tipperary, which Senator Hayes mentioned, 15,000 tons were produced and 10,000 tons sold, leaving a balance of 5,000 tons. Employment was available for 264 and 264 were employed. I could give figures for a number of other counties —some of the schemes were smaller— but the pattern is roughly the same.
The best prospect of making people, as somebody described it, turf-minded is to produce and market—and the two do not always coincide, because, as Senator Ruane remarked, turf which is properly saved is often damaged subsequently in handling or through exposure to the weather—turf at a reasonable price. There is no doubt that a good deal of the turf sold during the emergency was of deplorable quality and that it was sold at scandalously high prices. It may be that a number of problems contributed to that, such as the transport problem, etc., but it is quite illusory to think that merely restricting coal or producing as much turf as possible on every available bog will help to make the people turf-minded if the turf is not of good quality and sold at a fair price.
In connection with the difficulties which fuel merchants have at the moment in getting turf, it may be that there is a seasonal shortage; but I think the real reason is that there has been a much more extensive purchase of coal this year than in any other summer period, certainly in recent years. I suppose world events have contributed to that. I hope that no panic statements made will make the people unduly apprehensive and consequently force them to store up excessive quantities. But, even if people do purchase considerable quantities of coal at the moment, there is available in the fuel dumps over 300,000 tons of coal which Fuel Importers, Limited, are prepared to sell to the merchants or to the public, if they want to buy it.
The other question raised which I think is important, is that of the wages paid on the Bord na Móna schemes. Senator McCrea mentioned a point  about men working for a fortnight and then only getting a week's wages, or only being paid every fortnight. I will have that matter inquired into. I have received no complaints about it, but the wages paid on the schemes are, I think, good wages. The average wage for unskilled workers is 1/4 per hour or £3 4s. for a 48-hour week. Wherever possible, operations are carried out on piece rates designed to enable workers to earn 25 per cent. in addition. That means that for a 48-hour week workers can earn £4, and good workers can earn and do earn £5 and over. At the same time, at the board's hostels accommodation is provided for the very reasonable charge of £1 per week. On the Bord na Móna schemes at present work is available for 1,000 persons at a minimum of £3 4s. per week, and the schemes are designed to enable workers to earn up to £4 per week by reason of the piece rates, which means a 25 per cent. increase, or even up to £5 per week if a worker wants to earn it, and possibly more. I do not know whether the headline of the maximum should be taken, but certainly the minimum is £3 4s., and the work is so designed that it is possible in a 48-hour week to increase it by 25 per cent. At the hostels, free medical services and a number of other amenities are provided. There are drying rooms and shower baths. Dry and wet canteens are provided where the hostels are three miles or more from the nearest town. Conciliation committees have been established to discuss any problems which arise between the workers and the management, so that if any complaints require to be investigated ample machinery is available. Generally, the relations between Bord na Móna and the employees are satisfactory.
A number of Senators referred to the technical experiments which are taking place in the use of turf, particularly Senator Orpen and Senator McCartan. I understand that the experimental station at Newbridge is investigating some of the problems to which Senator Orpen referred. I will draw the attention of the board  to the speech which he made and the suggestions contained in it. The Electricity Supply Board and Bord na Móna, jointly, are investigating some of these matters. The question of inoculating a bog, which I understood from the Senator was carried out prewar on the Continent, will be referred to the board for investigation. Senator McCartan referred to a scheme for producing petrol from turf. I understand that that scheme has been the subject of some investigation, but that it is considered it would be highly expensive. I am not sure that the board regard the expense as justified on the basis of the information available. Senator Dockrell referred to the problem of fires in chimneys where turf is burned. It is the experience of a number of people that where turf and timber are burned, particularly together, there is a deposit left in the chimney which, if the chimney is not swept frequently, is likely to lead to chimney fires. The remedy there is to sweep the chimney more frequently. I do not think there is any other matter which Senators raised that requires attention, but any of the individual matters which Senators referred to will be brought to the attention of Bord na Móna for investigation.
Mr. Clarkin Mr. Clarkin
Mr. Clarkin: In regard to the statement that there are 300,000 tons of coal in the dumps, will the Parliamentary Secretary help the Coal Merchants' Association to get double screened coal? It is impossible to sell to domestic consumers 50 per cent. slack and 50 per cent. coal. That is one of our difficulties. If what I suggest were done, I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that the coal merchants of Dublin and other places would be very pleased. I understand that the Electricity Supply Board, Córas Iompair Eireann, and other organisations are using coal from the dumps for industrial purposes. It is very suitable for that purpose but, from the point of view of domestic use, if Fuel Importers, Limited, are not prepared to double screen the coal it would be iniquitous to ask the people of Dublin to take coal and slack which it is impossible to burn, especially at the prices charged.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
 Mr. Cosgrave: Some of these organisations which the Senator referred to are using this coal, but the quantity they use is limited. There are over 200,000 tons in the Park and, with the other dumps, there are over 300,000 tons available. I will have the matters which the Senator referred to examined by Fuel Importers, Limited. I should say, however, that any processing or screening which Fuel Importers, Limited, carry out would necessarily involve an increased charge, and the coal is being offered now at a very reasonable price. However, I will have the matter examined, but any work of that nature will certainly increase the cost.
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: I should like to have more information in relation to the figures the Parliamentary Secretary gave as to the amount of turf left on the hands of Bord na Móna in the various counties last year. He gave figures as to production, the amount sold, the number of people for whom employment could be found and the number that turned up. I would like to have some more information as to what steps the board took to dispose of the turf in each case. Were their activities confined to selling turf within a particular radius of the bog? I fear that they were not very active in attempting to dispose of this turf.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: The board sell turf from these schemes in local towns cr, in a province where there is a city, to the city. I did not read out the individual bogs, but there is a long list in some counties. The position varied. On some bogs they disposed of all the turf, but the over-all picture was that in each of these counties there was a very substantial balance of unsold turf in February last. The board has endeavoured to dispose of it by sale to institutions and other large users and even to small users in towns or cities in proximity to the bogs.
Mr. S. Hayes Mr. S. Hayes
Mr. S. Hayes: I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question in relation to surplus turf. There would appear to be great reluctance on the part of the board to dispose of any turf. The Parliamentary Secretary  has indicated that there are over 5,000 tons of surplus turf in Tipperary district. I know of many people in Tipperary who were dealing in turf during the emergency and who have on various occasions since that time gone to the Turf Board. For example, there is one bog near Birr. So far, these persons have not been supplied. There is definite reluctance on the part of the Turf Board to supply these people. In the districts of Borrisoleigh and Thurles there is no turf available. People who have been supplying turf in those areas cannot get it. It has been pointed out to me that these dealers could distribute up to 1,000 tons of turf in a year and have done so. These people have gone to expense in buying lorries. Householders converted their fireplaces so that they would burn turf and they are now severly handicapped by not being able to get turf. They are depending on timber which is also very scarce.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill considered in Committee.
Section 1 agreed to.
Question proposed: “That Section 2 stand part of the Bill.”
Mrs. Concannon Mrs. Concannon
Mrs. Concannon: Why is “the board” not defined? Is the definition in the Principal Act sufficient? Would it not be better to put in “Bord na Móna”?
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: That is covered in the Principal Act.
Question agreed to.
Sections 3 to 8, inclusive, and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.
Seanad Éireann 38 Turf Development Bill, 1949—Second and Subsequent Stages.