Seanad Éireann - Volume 58 - 18 November, 1964
Private Business. - Irish Economic Expansion: Motion.
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I move:
In view of the vital necessity to increase the nation's export trade in order to achieve economic expansion and the consequent need to improve our marketing methods and machinery, Seanad Éireann is of opinion that our representatives abroad should increasingly devote their attention and energies to the support of trade and that missions should be directed primarily to those countries where there is a prospect of satisfactory trade relations.
When this motion was put down several months ago, Senator McGuire and others realised that there was an urgent necessity then and, indeed, for a considerable time past to improve the nation's export trade in existing markets and to acquire markets in countries where we had not already got them. We thought that one of the best ways of attaining that object was through the diplomatic service.
Events which have recently happened and certainly happened long after this motion was put down bring home to all of us the necessity for having a wide range of export markets and for making the best possible bargain with every country with whom we have any dealings. We should see to it that there is no one-sided trading, so to speak. Where we buy something from another country, we should use every device at our disposal to ensure that that country will reciprocate and buy an equal amount, if possible, from us.
We have a very unfavourable trading balance with practically every country in the world with whom we deal. We are in deficit with each of the Common Market countries. If we total the deficit with each of these countries for the year 1962, the adverse trade balance there alone comes to  something over £32 million. That is a substantial figure.
It does not take any great knowledge or powers of advocacy to demonstrate that we are not selling as much to other countries as we should. It is only necessary for a person to attend, say, a sporting fixture, in England which is attended by thousands of Irish people and there to try to purchase the minimum quantity of, for instance, Irish whiskey. He will find that at a place so notoriously Irish as Cheltenham he cannot get Irish whiskey. That means that somebody is slipping. Either our manufacturers here are not doing their best to sell their goods abroad or they are not getting the proper assistance from the Government and the appropriate Department.
In the great cities of England where masses of population have to be fed, one can see Danish agricultural produce being pushed and bought while very little is heard of the Irish equivalent. Our adverse trade balance is growing year by year. The alarming part of it is that it is mounting. Were it not for what I will describe as an unnatural inflow of foreign capital to pay for land and other real estate purchased by foreigners here, the balance of payments would be a lot worse than it is and would constitute a major problem. This, temporarily, I hope, inflow of foreign capital will not continue and the only satisfactory way of righting our balance of payments is by securing a favourable trade balance.
The Taoiseach admits and is on record as admitting that in spite of the inflow of capital that I speak of we have here a balance of payments problem. It is clear, therefore, that we have this problem. It is not enough for the Government to say that exports must be stepped up. We have a strong case to make. We can make that case to most countries with which we deal. It is up to the Government, through our diplomatic service, as I hope to show later, to make that case.
I do not propose to launch an attack on our diplomatic service either past or present. Our ambassadors are carrying out the work which they were appointed to do and carrying it out  well. At the risk of being slightly controversial, I cannot help remembering that at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis yesterday our ambassadors were referred to as a bunch of stuffed shirts who could not tell you where to buy a postage stamp. I am not saying that that remark was made by anybody carrying great weight but it was made in the presence of the Taoiseach and, I think, of the Minister. I certainly do not subscribe to that sort of attack on our ambassadors. This motion is not put down to criticise adversely our ambassadors. I hope that the Taoiseach and the Minister have dissociated themselves from that ignorant criticism. I repeat our ambassadors are doing the work which they were appointed to do.
There was, indeed, a time, in the past, when this country found it difficult, if not impossible, to either take their place, or make their case, in the international sphere. It was due to the excellent work of our diplomats abroad that Ireland is now favourably known for what we are and what we believe in. It is appreciated abroad that we are a people with a long tradition of culture, love of freedom and love of people who are playing our part in the United Nations as a peace-loving nation.
This is due to a large extent to the role played by our diplomats since the foundation of the State. I should like to put that on the record lest there should be any misunderstanding as to the reason for putting down this motion. The motion is not designed to be critical of our diplomats. It is intended to suggest that the time has come for a new look and, indeed, a new approach to the duties and responsibilities of our diplomatic missions abroad.
It might also be opportune, perhaps, to consider whether the time has not come when, in future, special educational qualifications should be sought when making appointments because added duties and responsibilities might be expected. I understand that in University College, Dublin, management courses are now being given and a special lecturer is available. I further understand there may be more development  in this direction. I also understand that in Trinity College there is a professor of what I may describe as a course of management as well. Therefore, in future, it should be possible to find people highly educated, highly trained in industry, in commercial matters and in management as well as having the other high qualifications necessary for diplomats.
It is not unreasonable to plead that in future the people appointed should have these qualifications. It is absolutely essential that we should fight for a fair measure of the trade available from other countries from whom we purchase. I believe we are getting a fair crack of the whip. That is admitted. It is not necessary to make the case that our balance of trade is hopelessly imbalanced. It is not necessary, to acquire this desired end, merely to conclude trade agreements although the conclusion of trade agreements is a necessary first step. It must be followed up by a selling and marketing drive by all the forces we can muster.
I heard the Minister for Finance state in this House, since I came into it, when we were discussing agriculture, that everything was all right with agriculture until it came to marketing, then everything seemed to go wrong, or words to that effect. The Second Programme for Economic Expansion relies for the attainment of its objectives on a dramatic increase in industrial and agricultural exports. This must, of course, not only mean an increase in industrial and agricultural production but increased and efficient selling, marketing methods and skills, if it is to be efficient.
Every available resource at our disposal of money and in manpower must, in my opinion, be used to market our exports. As I understand it, our embassies abroad, by and large, concentrate on diplomatic problems. I believe our embassies should put greater emphasis on trade and commercial matters. We have consuls in the USA. We have a trade representative in London. I understand, apart from that, that there are no trained or skilled personnel in matters of trade and commerce attached to our embassies.  There should be attached to every diplomatic mission which we have abroad skilled and specialised personnel in trade and commerce. These trained and skilled personnel should be in a position to advise our exporters at home and to fight their case abroad.
The motion was really put down to make the case that I am making and to get from the Minister some information on the activities of our diplomatic missions abroad and some indication of his views on the future activities of these missions. I should like the Minister to tell us what co-operation exists between our exporters and the Department of Industry and Commerce and between Córas Tráchtála and the Department of External Affairs. The Minister could also tell us, if he agrees, in this day and age, that our diplomatic missions abroad should be equipped to give better services to our export drive. Is anything being done to utilise, in future, the staff of our diplomatic missions in the services of trade and commerce? Other countries seem to be taking a new look at the services which their diplomatic missions can provide.
The Plowden Report in England, which dealt with this particular problem, was critical of the British diplomatic service. The same criticism would not be justified here because a different type of person is appointed. But, what they had to say there shows how they are thinking. In England the diplomatic corps has been called the “last entrenched position of privilege” in that country. The emphasis of the Report to which I refer was upon a levelling of the diplomatic service to include all sections of the community. It wants diplomats to concentrate on matters of trade. Too often the commercial attaché has been regarded as unimportant, it says, but in future even the ambassador should have served in a commercial capacity.
That is the sort of thinking that is going on in England at the present time—in a country with a tradition for trade and commerce extending over hundreds of years, a country that has export markets very far afield. If that is necessary in Great Britain, and if  they find it necessary to divert the services of their diplomats into channels of trade and commerce, how much more necessary is it for us to do so, seeing that we are still at a stage of only building up our industrial and export markets?
I understand we had a commercial councillor or attaché in Paris who was doing very good work there and I understand he died some four years ago. Since then, that position has been left vacant. That is my information and I should like to invite the Minister to tell me if it is correct. If so, it seems a pity that position has not been filled because France is one of the countries with which we have an unfavourable balance of trade. Therefore, I would summarise by saying that I think the time has come when our diplomatic missions abroad should, first of all, be equipped with the type of personnel who should be able to further our export drive by advising our exporters at home and, as I have said, fighting their case abroad.
I should like to conclude by referring again to the Plowden Report. It says: “No one can doubt the prime importance of safeguarding peace in the world but the promotion of trade is equally essential to us.” If this applies to Great Britain, how much more does it apply here?
Mr. Quigley Mr. Quigley
Mr. Quigley: I formally second the motion so ably proposed by Senator Fitzpatrick.
Professor Quinlan Professor Quinlan
Professor Quinlan: I have pleasure in supporting this motion, which I think will commend itself to every member of the Seanad, because the general aspirations in it are the aspirations of all of us. It is, in other words, an effort to put a greater thrust and impetus behind the drive for exports. The necessity for this has been brought home to us in an even more dramatic way in the past few weeks by the 15 per cent levy which has so threatened our export trade. We see the necessity for making every effort to diversify our trade. Consequently, I do not think it is necessary to spend much time on the aspirations in the motion. Our representatives abroad should increasingly devote their attention and  energies to support trade, and missions should be directed primarily to those countries where there is a prospect of satisfactory trade relations.
In fact, I believe the Government are doing that in increasing measure as the various trends in the diplomatic service in the past few years show. Are our personnel abroad equipped either by training, physical equipment or by the assistance provided to them to engage on anything as large-scale as suggested here? I believe they are not, because I have had experience in the past few months during a visit to our embassy in Copenhagen and there I was struck by the great work which was being done almost single-handed by the chargé d'affaires. In fact, he seemed to be making a superhuman effort to attend to everything at the one time—the routine calls on his office and at the same time keep in touch with what was happening in the capital in the fields of literature, art, music and trade. At any time he might be called on to meet a group from this country interested primarily in just one aspect. They might be a Commission on University education. Therefore, he would be expected to know who to contact in this regard. A few weeks later he might have to meet a group interested solely in art and again he would be expected to know who was who in art in Copenhagen. The same thing happens in all our embassies.
In short, our resources are very meagre and perhaps are spread a bit too thinly. While there is a great need for increased resources, I think there might be a certain amount of conservation. In other words, I think we should concentrate, as is suggested in the motion here, on those countries where there is a reasonable prospect of satisfactory trade and where there are other reasons why we should establish close relations. As a small country of four million people, it is not possible for us to put a diplomatic service in the field comparable to what larger nations have, even if we mention only Belgium and Holland as nations somewhat comparable to us but with immeasurably greater resources. Consequently, I think we have to conserve and the most vital  task we have here is conservation of the personnel of our Foreign Affairs department. We must make sure that these men who are specially picked are given every opportunity to develop and perform their task. It is absolutely indispensable that there should be a sabbatical leave period from services such as the foreign service. I should like to see a person who had served two years return for a period of six months or a year to study in a university.
It is quite common in the American services where, especially in their defence services—the army, air force and navy—serving officers are constantly going back to the universities taking courses, enlarging their fields of study. For a time they are enabled to sit back from the routine cares of office in an atmosphere where the emphasis is on study and research, where they can get their thoughts together, where they can do some writing and go back again for a further period of service.
I believe that would benefit civil servants in general and, in this case, the personnel of the Department of External Affairs. It would also benefit the universities. The economics departments of the universities, particularly, would benefit greatly from such contacts—from having first-class minds with foreign experience doing a period of study on economics or some related subjects.
One of the biggest obstacles to adequate development along the lines suggested is the natural scarcity of economists. There is an awe about economists, but in point of fact I believe any of our better young men could develop into economists. Unfortunately, recruits to the Department of External Affairs are very often directed into the fields of art and have seldom any contact with economics. I do not see any reason why such young men, if given the opportunity, at any time, even at the age of 28 or 30 years, should not go back for a two-year study period. They could emerge from such a period as really good economists. Having the background of their practical life and experience behind them, they could reach great heights in  economics. In other words, we could envisage in the motion — foreign representatives becoming first-class economists in their own right.
When these representatives abroad return for their sabbatical year to the universities they should have absolute freedom of expression, freedom to write in our journals and freedom to give the public at large the benefit of their experience abroad and their reflections on the strength or weakness of the system at home. Hitherto, people in the Civil Service, and especially in the Department of External Affairs, have not been free to give their views in the public Press or to speak to public gatherings. Their situation has always been conditioned by the fact that they are civil servants and consequently they are precluded from saying anything which might appear in any way to be contrary to or critical of Government policy or anything that might be regarded as not being in line with the policy of their superiors.
That is something that might be broken in this way. When I speak of university study, I do not for a moment confine it to a year in a university here. Every representative abroad should have the experience of at least 12 months in an American university. He is not late for that at the age of 30 or even 35 years and in an American university he will find several kindred spirits who are back again in the classroom after several years out in the world.
They are the directions in which we should head. We should endeavour to get away a good deal from a preponderance of arts-type graduates. I believe a graduate in any faculty can be trained to carry out the work envisaged here, and the more diverse the backgrounds the better. I see no reason why a young man with a good engineering training could not successfully enter the diplomatic service and acquire the necessary economic, political and general subjects to equip him for the broader task falling to the lot of a diplomatic representative. It is only by diversity that we shall get the excellence we are seeking.
I submit that the Minister should  make far greater use of extra-service personnel, in other words people drawn from business life or university life. Better still, he should encourage the idea of some study periods for people in jobs so that they would benefit from such tours abroad. Take the case of university lecturers. We should encourage them to go for six month periods to the embassy in Brussels, for instance, to make a special study of some aspects of Belgian life in which we are vitally interested. The ambassador there would be the contact who would ensure that the visitors got the maximum out of their six months.
It is only by building up in that way that we can really reap the benefit of experience combined with learning. Speaking to our diplomats abroad, I have always been impressed by what appears to be their lack of contact with home, with the actual realities of life, with what is happening in politics and business. I understand the frequency of their visits home is very limited, something like once every two years. That is not enough. It is false economy to keep our people abroad for such periods of time. Foreign affairs is very demanding employment on the individual concerned. He has to make his home in a foreign country and yet he is not an emigrant. His periods abroad should be kept short. We should have these men at home to ensure that we make the fullest possible use of their experience when they come home. If we did that we could build up our diplomatic service for the tasks that lie ahead.
I suggest to the Minister that he should look outside his own Department and outside the Civil Service and get the most experienced people to have at the disposal of the country as a whole. The most the ambassador and his staff can do is to act as reconnoitring agent. Trade development can be undertaken by a specialised group who will make full use of the reconnoitring that has been done by the ambassador and his staff. They will know whom to talk to, and what the situation is, and they will know if a mission should be sent out to look into the situation.
There is little else to be said on this  motion. I believe it commends itself very largely to the House and to the Minister. The real question is whether our staffs abroad can do what is asked of them, and how we think they should be equipped for the future.
Professor O'Brien Professor O'Brien
Professor O'Brien: I apologise to the Chair. I was at a Committee meeting and I do not know what has been said in the course of debate. I propose to say very little. I do not propose to go into the correct method of carrying out this motion, but I want to add my voice to the general feeling in the Seanad that it is very important at present to diversify our export trade. This motion was put down several months ago. No doubt it was true then but it has become very much more imperative since the 26th October when our principal export market was temporarily—I will not say closed to us —made much more difficult.
I should like to draw the attention of the House to the general balance of payments problem in this country because we are possibly a little too complacent about it. The position is that we have been running a balance of payments deficit for some years, not a very large one, but we had not had to take active measures to correct it owing to the remarkable inflow of funds which was taking place. I do not want to go into the whole question of the balance of payments problem.
Acting Chairman (Professor Stanford) Acting Chairman (Professor Stanford)
Acting Chairman (Professor Stanford): I hope the Senator will not dwell too long on that matter because it seems to be outside the terms of the motion.
Professor O'Brien Professor O'Brien
Professor O'Brien: If the Chair will allow me to say this: the motion advocates the necessity to increase the nation's export trade, and I was trying to say that that has become a matter of much more urgent importance since the motion was put down on the Order Paper. If I am allowed I would like to say very shortly why that is so. We had an unlimited export market, practically, to a certain country when the motion was put down. It was then considered desirable that we should have more export markets, and we are now in a position of having  been taught a very rude lesson. We have been shown very toughly that we cannot rely on unlimited admission to the British market. I could say a great deal about the balance of payments but if you, Sir, think it is not relevant——
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: On a point of order, surely the balance of payments is very relevant to this motion.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: The Chair does not take that view.
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: May I submit with respect that the object of the motion is to encourage exports and the object of increasing our exports is to correct our adverse balance of payments. Therefore, with respect I submit that it is in order to make the case that our balance of payments is in a very unfavourable position and our trade balance is in a very unfavourable position.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: In the opinion of the Chair a detailed discussion on the balance of payments position would not be in order.
Professor O'Brien Professor O'Brien
Professor O'Brien: I have no intention of going into a detailed discussion. I want to refer to one or two outstanding changes that have taken place since the motion was put down, that increase the urgency of the motion. I want to show that if the motion was correct when it was put down, it is even more urgent today, owing to the changes that have taken place which could not possibly have been foreseen when the motion was put down. If that is out of order I am prepared to sit down.
I should like to say, if I am allowed to say it, that the position has deteriorated owing to the change in the position in relation to Great Britain and still more owing to something else which affects the whole world, and not only Anglo-Irish trade. The reason our balance of payments is allowed to run in deficit without causing alarm is the inward flow of reserves which was very largely a result of our supposed unlimited entry to the British market. An attraction which was held out to  foreign investors to invest in Ireland was that they would have practically the same access to the British market as if they were investing in Great Britain. So long as those reserves were coming in we could take risks in regard to our balance of payments. A great many people nowadays seem to think it is a mistake to cut down growth to put the balance of payments right.
I realise that I am possibly exceeding the limits set by the Chair, but I do not propose to go any further except to say that recent events created a deterioration in our balance of payments position, and they also created a reason why an adverse balance of payments cannot be tolerated with such equanimity as in the past. I apologise if I have exceeded the terms of the motion. I do not want to go into the precise methods for obtaining additional exports. I simply want to say that since the motion was put down the necessity for obtaining additional exports has become very much greater than it was before, and the necessity for obtaining a greater variety of destination has become very much greater. That is why I am in favour of the motion.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: Like Senator O'Brien, I was not here for the debate because we were both at a Committee meeting. I am satisfied the Minister and the Government are very interested in the motion. Our representatives abroad are, in a sense, travellers for the goods of the nation. I read with pleasure that our sales to the US appear to have been making headway. That is very satisfactory, but there are other countries which appear to sell us more goods than they are prepared to take from us. It may be difficult to get them to take the same amount, but that is a point which worries the public. It is, of course, where our sales department is involved. It might be very difficult. Then we find, as outlined by Senator Fitzpatrick, that some of our goods cannot be found on the British market although, for her, we are a very important market and she is our principal market. I wonder where our sales department—ambassadors or however we might term them—  come in and what efforts are being made.
I can think of some firms in this country which have a very good Irish market. The volume of employment they give might not be very great but the commodity they manufacture is very good and the market at home is quite satisfactory. I have yet to learn what efforts we would expect would be made to widen the market for such reliable goods. I sometimes think that if a firm is doing well and has established a satisfactory custom over a long number of years they have no worries and merely manufacture supplies for the home market, feeling that everything is all right. Surely that is where the Minister or the Department comes in?
I should like to know to what extent firms have been supervised. I sometimes feel that a firm has no sales department in Britain or anywhere else because, with the home market satisfactory, they feel there is no need for further expansion. That is a very important point. While one does not want to quote firms or commodities I can refer to the commodity mentioned by Senator Fitzpatrick which he could not obtain in England. Even in this country, one can buy Scotch whisky but if one asks for a certain brand of Irish whiskey one finds it is not in stock and that sometimes they have not heard of it. Is a sales department involved here again so that once a market has been extended to a certain size the manufacturers feel there is no need to go further? Perhaps the people who control such an industry are not worrying but we must remember that in every part of this country Britain have their sales department working. Why should we not do likewise?
I should certainly like to know what efforts are being made abroad on behalf of our manufacturers and what methods of supervision are used, from the Minister and his Department down, or whichever Department of State attend to it. I am anxious to know how far they are trying to press the sales of Irish commodities abroad.
We are aware that some firms have sucessfully sold abroad, particularly in Britain, and have expanded their  industry and increased employment here. They have intensive organisation and we are all glad to see it. As I say, I am anxious to know what efforts are being made and how far we can supervise them. Furthermore, would the relevant State Department be looked upon as too inquisitive or as interfering or as examining private business too closely? I do not think they would. This is a very important matter because, in furthering our exports, we increase employment at home and help people to become more alive in their business activities. Even if they already had a good home market, they would nevertheless be under supervision and, as a result, we might be able to expand more all round.
Mr. O'Reilly Mr. O'Reilly
Mr. O'Reilly: I should like to have heard Senator McGuire speak on this motion. I feel he holds strong views on this matter and that is why it is a pity the House has not had an opportunity to hear his views.
While the motion appears to have quite a lot of merit, I am a bit worried as to how it would work in practice. If full effect were given to the motion we should have to have a completely new look at our diplomatic service. It would mean that we should have to change the type of ambassador or consul we are in the habit of appointing. It would mean that we should have to have representatives abroad who would pay very little attention to protocol and to the diplomatic relations which, under the existing system, countries are inclined to cultivate. It would mean that we should have to appoint business executives, in other words, salesmen, and not necessarily economists as suggested by Senator Quinlan.
If full effect were to be given to this motion we should have to educate persons along the lines suggested and it would take so long that it would hardly justify itself because any good that would emerge from such a change would require to be immediate although I agree that it would be a mistake not to have some long-term policy in this matter. We should have to change completely our approach here at home to the appointment of  foreign representatives and adapt it more or less to the American approach.
As far as I know, we appoint people who graduate through the Department of External Affairs, to represent us abroad. Because these people graduated through the Civil Service they would not normally have business experience, commercial experience or experience in salesmanship. Whatever about commodities, they might have some experience in the sale of ideas. If we are to get better value from our representatives we shall have to re-cast completely the present system and appoint representatives abroad not because they have graduated through the Department of External Affairs, not because they are civil servants but because of their commercial activities, their ability as salesmen, and so on.
I have a very open mind as to whether that would be the right way of achieving it. I am prepared to take the view that, as far as possible, more use should and could be made of our representatives abroad. I wonder if we at home—I am referring to our exporters both of agricultural and manufactured goods—make full use of our missions abroad even having regard to the existing limitations. I am afraid we do not. My overall view is if we really want to give effect to the terms of Senator McGuire's motion we should have a survey of the potentialities of marketing in a particular country where we have such missions and have some people there capable of doing that.
It is my firm view that the exploitation of that particular situation should not be a matter for our representatives abroad but should be a matter for our exporters through our sales organisations. I am inclined to take the view that that is where the greatest weakness really is. I could quote possibly Irish whiskey as an example of what I have in mind but I would prefer to quote a different case. I got this information from a friend who worked for some time in the heart of Nigeria. When that man went to work there as a teacher Irish butter was unheard of in that particular place. The sale of butter  there was from four well-known butter exporting countries, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Holland. All their well-known brands of butter were sold there. After the development of An Bord Bainne here a drive was made to increase the sale of our butter abroad. I always felt that drive should have been made before that by the existing creameries or, if they really believed in co-operative firms, that there should be some marketing co-operation with the creameries, to push the sale of butter abroad. It had to be left to the State, unfortunately, and I do not believe there is any particular merit in State boards. It is the last resort when other groups of people fall down on a particular undertaking that the State have to step in to do something. I agree it is necessary in some cases but I would be very annoyed, indeed, if that were to continue to the point where we would ultimately have a cattle board if cattle traders ceased to trade in cattle. That is not the fault of any particular Minister or any particular Government. It is the fault of our people and their attitude towards these matters. They are inclined to suggest that the Government should do something about it.
In the incident I was referring to, after some time, because of the commercial drive and influence behind An Bord Bainne, Irish butter, under the brand of Kerrygold, arrived in that particular place, which is well in the heart of Nigeria. In the beginning the sale was poor but after some time it developed and Kerrygold butter was sold more than any other butter from the other four countries. That is one particular isolated case and I am just using it to prove the point that if we really wanted to succeed in the export drive, while it may be a good thing for our diplomatic missions abroad to carry out surveys and that sort of thing, the exploitation of markets is really a business for salesmen who must get down to it and push their individual product, or co-operate with a number of firms who would push a number of products. That is something which should be followed up.
I am not suggesting there is not  some merit in the motion. The idea is good but I am afraid, because of the reasons I have given, it would not work in practice. I am afraid, because of the present organisation and method of appointment of our diplomatic representatives, that they could not carry out what is required of them in the motion. The best we could hope from them is that they would survey the markets for us. It is more desirable now than when Senator McGuire drafted his motion that there should be promotion of our exports. It is really so important that anything that can be done should be done but the challenge is to our own people at home. I always felt it was too bad that the Oireachtas was called on to pass an Act to deal with the sale of dairy products abroad. That is something which should have been tackled by co-operative creameries to push the sale of those products abroad. It annoys me sometimes when I hear dairy products being advertised on the radio at home. I have always felt that money should be spent in some other country and not in this country. I am probably digressing when I say that.
Unless we want to make sweeping changes in our diplomatic service, I do not believe we could give full effect to the motion but some effect could be given to it by our representatives surveying markets and having them properly exploited by the commercial interests here at home. That is where the greatest weakness is.
Mr. McDonald Mr. McDonald
Mr. McDonald: I should like to support this motion because I believe there is quite a lot in it. I believe the time has come for us to make sweeping changes, as Senator O'Reilly said, in the Department of External Affairs. I believe the work already done by An Bord Bainne, the Pigs and Bacon Commission and, latterly, by Erin Foods, in selling Irish agricultural products abroad has made a tremendous impact and I should like to congratulate all concerned on their very successful efforts in this particular sphere.
It should not be necessary to set up a new board for each particular product. It would be much better if they  could be combined and if those three boards took on all the additional lines when the need arises, rather than have a duplication of their services. That is why I believe an extension of the three existing agencies should be housed in our embassies abroad. We do not need embassies as they exist. That does not mean that they should not be the headquarters in foreign countries of an Irish marketing drive in those foreign countries. I should like to support this motion in the fullest possible way.
Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Aiken) Frank Aiken
Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Aiken): I am in general agreement with this motion in so far as it emphasises the importance of our export trade and that our representatives abroad should devote attention to the promotion of trade. My Department are fully conscious of the need to do everything possible to expand not alone our export of goods but all our sources of foreign earnings, including tourism, in order to realise the aims of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion.
It may be useful to recall here increases in our representation in areas of commercial and economic interest to the country which have taken place since the beginning of 1961. We opened a new embassy in Copenhagen in 1962 and its work is mainly of an economic character. A new Consulate General was established at Hamburg in 1962 primarily to develop further our earnings from the northern part of the Federal Republic of Germany. The staffs of our embassies at Brussels and in Rome were strengthened by the appointment of an additional officer in each case who devotes his time to problems of foreign earnings and to economic matters generally. Last year an agricultural counsellor was appointed at Washington to deal with the many problems arising from our exports of agricultural produce to the United States of America and to explore new market possibilities in that country. In the past few years also honorary consuls have been appointed at Bremen, Hanover, Luxembourg, Rio de Janeiro and St. John, New Brunswick. While the amount of activity which can be expected from an honorary consul is limited, their responsibilities,  of course, include work in the sphere of foreign earnings.
It is, perhaps, not always adequately appreciated that in order to keep down expenses, the staffing of the majority of our missions is small and that the demands on the time of our diplomatic officers are many and varied. Many of our missions comprise only the head of mission and one diplomatic officer.
Our missions are directly concerned with a wide range of commercial problems involving Governments abroad. These arise principally in connection with the negotiation and operation of trade agreements and other similar arrangements and involve frequent representations to Governments in regard to the modification of official import restrictions. Our missions are called upon to deal with a sizeable volume of inquiries from State-sponsored organisations and from private trade, and to arrange contacts in the commercial and foreign earnings fields for visiting Irish interests. In addition, the missions have to keep in touch with market developments generally in the countries of their accredition and to explore market opportunities of interest to Ireland. Our missions are as a matter of course required to report on the economic policies of the Governments to which they are accredited and on reactions in their countries of accredition to developments in the main international economic organisations whose activities are of particular interest to our own economy. It will, I am sure, be appreciated that the duties I have outlined represent a heavy and varied volume of responsibility, especially in view of the size of missions and the other demands on the time of the staff. Our representatives abroad can assist Irish exporters by advice on the trade possibilities for particular products and can also assist them in relation to governmental import restrictions, in the selection of suitable agents, and in the making of contacts, but in the ultimate analysis it is the exporter who must sell his own product on the basis of quality, price and delivery. This can seldom be done nowadays from a desk in Ireland but may necessitate  salesmen with an intimate knowledge of their business visiting the overseas markets. As the farmer's foot is the best manure for the land, the exporter's personal call on his potential customers abroad is the most fruitful method of selling his goods. It is encouraging to note than an increasing number of our exporters have explored markets on the spot themselves and with a good measure of success. The State is already generous in the assistance it gives to exporters e.g., through Córas Tráchtála and the other Statesponsored bodies, and through relief on profits arising from increased exports.
While my Department and our missions abroad are anxious to help our exporters in every way possible within the limit of the scope of their functions and their available resources, the successful achievement of our objectives in the economic field requires the fullest co-operation of all concerned, namely, the Government services, the State-sponsored bodies and private trade. It is my earnest desire and, indeed, that of my Department, that this co-operation should exist in the greatest possible measure. The need for such co-operation and for more intensive effort by all concerned in the trade promotion sphere is high-lighted by the difficulties created for our trade by the recent temporary surcharge on industrial goods introduced by the British Government.
The exploitation of foreign trade and foreign earnings opportunities is no simple operation. It is, indeed, so full of complexities and change nowadays that no person or organisation can claim a monopoly of intelligence or expertise on the subject. The co-operation of all interests involved, business and State, is the best way of ensuring that our limited resources are applied to the greatest national advantage.
My Department keeps under constant review the question of improved liaison arrangements between it and the State-sponsored bodies operating in the foreign earnings field. On the question of co-operation between the Department and private trade, I am glad to have this opportunity of saying once  more that any suggestions for rendering more effective our service to exporters will be given speedy and sympathetic consideration. I should also like to repeat that our exporters when calling to our offices abroad for advice should give adequate prior notice of their visit and its purpose, so that the maximum of preparatory work can be done. It would also be helpful if they would later give some indication to the mission of what measure of success they had met with in the market concerned or of any special problems encountered.
There has recently been a certain amount of public criticism about the imbalance of trade which exists between Ireland and certain other countries. The Restriction of Imports Act, 1961, was introduced expressly to deal with this situation in relation to the State-trading countries and I am happy to be able to say that some improvement in the balance of trade with these countries has resulted. In the case of countries where trade is in private hands, no opportunity is lost of keeping our concern on the trade imbalance question before official notice. While the imbalance of trade with a particular country is an argument which can be used in looking for increased access for our products to that country, what ultimately matters to us is that our total exports should balance our total imports and not just our balance of payments with individual countries. When our over-all payments are in reasonable equilibrium we can afford to let our importers have the liberty of importing what they need on the basis of the best quality at the best price. It is generally recognised that the over-all level of international trade can reach a higher level if approached on a multilateral basis rather than on the basis of strict bilateral balancing.
Looking at our export trade as a whole, I feel the over-all trend in recent years is by no means unfavourable. The value of our total commodity exports in 1963 increased by £63m. or 50 per cent as compared with 1957. In 1963 alone, our exports to every single country of the EEC increased and the over-all increase for the Common Market area was 40 per  cent in value terms as compared with 1962.
To the EFTA area, including Great Britain, our exports increased from £125 million to £140 million, an increase of 12 per cent in the same period. The same level of expansion, namely 12 per cent, is apparent in our export trade to the dollar area for 1963 as against 1962. I believe that our missions abroad, who have worked hard and intelligently to achieve the aims of the Expansion Programme, can claim some of the credit for this growth in our export earnings.
I am glad to be able to say that tourism is becoming a rapidly increasing element in our external earnings. This is no doubt to some extent due to the efforts which have been made to build up goodwill abroad for Ireland. A general atmosphere of goodwill is important for the maximum success of Bord Fáilte's development programme. Apart from this, our missions are, of course, always ready to assist in specific activities in the tourist promotion field.
As Senators are aware, the Government are always ready to welcome the holding of international conferences in Ireland, not only in the interests of international co-operation, but also to make Ireland better known to foreigners. Between 1957 and 1963 our total income from tourism increased by £21m. or 63 per cent. Tourist earnings from the dollar area alone increased by 18 per cent between 1962 and 1963. There is every indication that the favourable trend of the tourist industry will continue.
While the Government are equally concerned with the sponsors of the motion in securing the maximum increase in the country's export trade, trade is not the only thing that matters in the life of a nation. While my Department will do all in their power to help trade, it is not the only thing with which my Department must concern itself. We are also much concerned with making whatever contribution we can to securing peace in the world. My Department must concern themselves with securing a sympathetic understanding in other countries of our  outstanding national problem of the division of our country. They must concern themselves with promoting a knowledge abroad of Irish culture and with the protection of our citizens. They must make whatever contribution they can to securing the establishment and recognition of fundamental human rights and freedoms where these may at present be denied. They must also do what they can to assist the emerging nations.
I mention these matters lest the concluding part of the motion “that missions should be directed primarily to those countries where there is a prospect of satisfactory trade relations” should be taken too literally. I am sure that no one who considers the matter carefully would suggest that any of the country's embassies should be closed. Subject to this qualification on the final phrase of the motion, I welcome it.
I should like to reply to some of the points made by the various speakers. It is true, as Senator Fitzpatrick has said, that we have a very high adverse trade balance with certain countries but we have power under a recent Act to bring pressure on countries with which we have a high adverse trade situation if it is felt to be in the general interest. Normally the reason our importers buy goods is not because they like the blue eyes of the people from whom they buy but because they can get them at a better price and of better quality than elsewhere.
Therefore, we should be hesitant to impose sanctions on our importers for selecting the cheapest and best products they can get in world markets if our overall balance of payments is in reasonable equilibrium. During recent years our overall balance of trade has been reasonable. It has had its slight ups and downs and at the moment we are in one of our down periods. During the past five or six years our export trade has gone up enormously. I have given the figures for the past few years. Countries that sold a lot to us and bought nothing are now coming along to buy more and more from us.
We could, if we so desired, go back  to the old rigid bilateral trade system that existed before the European Payment Union was developed in 1950 or thereabouts, but that is a very cumbersome, expensive piece of machinery. Payments have got to be cleared bilaterally on all outward and inward transactions. It adds to the expense of importing and exporting goods and is a system to be avoided if at all possible. Indeed, there are too many such obstacles in world trading, and we should not add another one unnecessarily. I use the word “unnecessarily” in reference to whether or not we can support reasonable freedom of external trade without running too gravely into the red in our balance of payments.
Senator Fitzpatrick was disappointed when he, or perhaps some of his friends, could not buy a bottle of Irish whiskey at an English race meeting. I wish we had as good a balance of trade with other countries in the world as we have with Britain because while there may not have been Irish whiskey at the races on that particular day, taking one year with another, we sell £1 worth of Irish goods for every £1 worth of English goods we import. That is in reasonable balance. As the Senator knows, in our dealings with some other countries we do not sell £1 worth for every £1 worth we buy, but in the case of Britain for several years past, taken on the average, we sell £1 worth of our goods for every £1 worth of British goods we import. Although it is disappointing to go to a place and not find Irish whiskey there, we need not take it as too grave a matter, because if enough people knock on a counter and call for Irish whiskey in any spot it will soon be forthcoming.
Seán Ó Donnabháin Seán Ó Donnabháin
Seán Ó Donnabháin: Drink more at home.
Mr. Aiken Mr. Aiken
Mr. Aiken: Senator Fitzpatrick commented that Ireland was favourably known abroad, and that was due to the role played by our diplomats. I agree the young men who represent Ireland abroad are doing a very good job, with rather limited resources compared to those with whom they have to compete. I was amused when he  compared them with the “last entrenched position of privilege” at the British Foreign Office. In our case the young men who join the Department of External Affairs are of the people. They are not, as has been said of the British Foreign Office, from a class who have no experience of the ordinary life of the country. They are not stuffed shirts. Anyway, even if they were stuffed shirts to a small extent, it would be better than having swelled heads, as some people have.
There was a reference to our diplomats by a gentleman yesterday and I tried to find out exactly what were his grounds for complaint——
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Did you find out he had a swelled head?
Mr. Aiken Mr. Aiken
Mr. Aiken: I am not saying anything about swelled heads. I have said it all. In this case the man had sold £7,000 worth of wool. He complained that he did not get a grant from Córas Tráchtála, and he told me that when he went to a certain office he did not find the Irish representative there. I asked him: “Did you let him know? Did you let the office here in Dublin know? Did you let the office where you called know?” He said: “No; I never do that.” I said: “What other complaint have you?” He mentioned another office and said he was kept a quarter of an hour, and could not see the man he wanted to see but had to see someone else. I said: “Did you let them know before you went?” He said: “No; I never do that.” The third complaint he had—and he admitted that perhaps it was not too grave—was that he arrived in an office and wanted to see the ambassador on the first day the ambassador had arrived at his office after he had come a couple of thousand miles. He seemed to think that diplomats do not know how to buy a postage stamp. The sooner some Irish industrialists learn how to buy postage stamps and let us know what they want the better.
Mr. Fitzgerald Mr. Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald: They are too dear.
Mr. Aiken Mr. Aiken
Mr. Aiken: In fact, they would not have to buy postage stamps because  they could write to the Department, to the Minister or the Secretary without stamping the letter. I am using this case to emphasise what I said earlier, that if there is to be a good sales programme, and if the manufacturers here want the co-operation of the Department, they will have to go to the trouble of letting us know where they are going, what time they will arrive, who they want to meet, and what products they have to sell. If that is done they will get complete co-operation.
I said to that gentleman: “Did you ever write to me with your complaint?” He said: “No”. I said: “If you had written to me I would have replied. You should have let us know what you had to sell and where you were going. If you had done that, and if you did not get reasonable treatment in any office under my Department, I would have taken action to rectify the position.” If our businessmen want to sell their exports, they must behave in a really business-like fashion. They must make appointments. They must give prior warning of what they want us to do. If they do that we will do our utmost to do it. In this case it did not really matter because the gentleman was selling £7,000 worth of wool and we sold £5,300,000 worth of wool last year without very much trouble. Wool is something you can sell at present simply by sending a post-card and saying you have wool for sale.
I think it was Senator Fitzpatrick who referred to the office in Paris and said that we had at one time a commercial councillor but that the position had been vacant for four years. The position is that the commercial councillor was part-time. Unfortunately, he died, greatly to our regret. He was substituted by a first secretary who has been specialising in trade promotion. He succeeded in interesting some department stores in Paris in the sale of Irish goods. Quite recently we had two very large displays of Irish goods in two of the biggest department stores in Paris, and sales went extremely well, according to all reports. The two stores concerned were the Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps.
Every country has the same complaint  in regard to exports. They cannot sell all they want to sell and their balance of payments is sometimes in difficulties. We have one problem that some other countries have not got, that is, the small volume of any particular type of goods we have for export. When you have a small volume, you cannot afford to spend too much in sales costs. I know of one commodity that Córas Tráchtála really put very big money behind, in a sales promotion programme. The programme was wonderfully well done but the actual increase in exports hardly paid for the cost of the advertising campaign. Therefore, to have exports of a single commodity, you must have a great volume going to a single market, that is, if you are going to spend very much in the extension of sales.
Up to now, our exporters in related commodities have seldom got together as a group, a co-operative, a consortium, whatever you like to call it, to sell their goods abroad. If they set up an organisation and put salesmen on the road to sell all their products it would be cheaper on all of them. Human nature being what it is, it is difficult sometimes to get producers of the same or near-related commodities to co-operate in order to sell their total output. But that is what is necessary in order that a salesman may have quite a big volume of goods to sell to justify his expenses. If that type of operation were undertaken, it would at least have a good chance of success. Córas Tráchtála have been using funds to do exactly that and similar work. I am sure I may say that any proposition along such a line from a group of exporters manufacturing related products would be very favourably considered by them.
On the whole, I do not think our exporters can complain about the help the State is giving them, one way and another, to sell their exports. First of all, our manufacturers have better help from the State to set up their factories. Not only do they get—if they are extending their factories—a grant for the building but they also get it for the machinery and they  get it for the training of the employees. I do not know how much further the State could go to help. In fact, the State here goes further because we have the relief of income tax on earnings from additional exports, which is a very big concession and is not given in other countries. In addition, we have Córas Tráchtála.
The Foreign Affairs Department in many countries have a trade officer or several trade officers in every diplomatic office or attached or, if they have not, they have consular offices in which they have trade officers. Here there is a division.
Córas Tráchtála have representatives in various cities abroad with which we have a big export trade, and there they co-operate with their local Diplomatic Service to sell Irish goods. In other countries where there is no representative of Córas Tráchtála, our Diplomatic Service does its utmost to report back to Ireland on opportunities for selling products. They introduce exporters, if they come selling, to likely prospects for the sale of their commodities. They interest industrialists to extend their activities to Ireland—but there is that division. In our circumstances, I think our system has worked well. It requires co-operation between a State Department and a semi-independent Department such as Córas Tráchtála but, by and large, it works all right. It is different from some other countries where they have not a separate and distinct trade department. In those countries export trade comes under the Department of Foreign Affairs.
As far as the staffing of the Department of External Affairs is concerned, we have no prejudices against accepting people who have scientific degrees: rather the contrary. By and large, the young men who come forward with the qualifications that are essential do an Arts or a History course but if they are architects, engineers or lawyers, or whatever they might be, and have the languages we should be very glad to see them apply for the vacancies for third secretaries that occur every year.  As a matter of fact, too few of the young men who have an honours degree or who are likely to get an honours degree turn their minds to the opportunity available in the Department of External Affairs. We find difficulty in getting people of the very high standard that is demanded for the Diplomatic Service. The people with scientific degrees would be welcomed rather than rejected.
On the question of a sabbatical year, every few years, I think it would be a very good idea not only for civil servants but for politicians as well but that is not the sort of world in which we live. Senator Quinlan will have to be satisfied with what we are trying to do in the Department of External Affairs to give our young men not a sabbatical year but a sabbatical month occasionally with the Institute of Public Administration. We release some of our officers from time to time to go to the Institute and there they meet civil servants from other Departments and also officials of State and semi-State bodies and they study there the economic problems of the country as a whole. There is a good deal of cross-fertilisation of ideas between purely economic departments and the Department of External Affairs, which is not primarily economic.
I agree thoroughly that the officers of the Department of External Affairs should have a good grasp of economics and I believe they have it, by and large. I do not know how they could avoid it because our young men have to deal with economic problems of one sort or another, particularly with trade questions. Even though they have not got an economics degree, they learn economics in the university of life, particularly life in the Department of External Affairs, as far as the first years they serve in it are concerned.
However, I should very much like if we could extend in service training very much more than we have done. Apart altogether from the training we give in the service a great number of the recruits to the diplomatic staff have economics degrees to begin with and the young men who have no economics degrees coming into the service often  work with people who took an economics degree before they joined.
I shall conclude by welcoming the resolution and particularly the opportunity it has given for this discussion. We can say, by and large, that the Department of External Affairs is doing all that can be expected of it to co-operate with other State organisations, like Córas Tráchtála, Bord Fáilte and the Industrial Development Authority to promote the acquisition of foreign earnings, either by the sale of goods abroad, tourism or by the encouragement of foreign industrialists to invest capital in Ireland.
There is no officer in the Department of External Affairs who is not fully conscious of his duty to use every opportunity to promote Irish trade, tourism and other foreign exchange earning activities. In 1961, in order to emphasise that much was required of our diplomatic service in this regard, I summoned every ambassador and every diplomatic representative home to Ireland. We gave them a full week of discussions, talks and lectures on the various opportunities that existed and told them that they should be followed up to increase our foreign earnings. They were addressed, not only by the Taoiseach, myself, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the secretaries of the various economic departments but they had discussions with organisations like the Irish Exporters, Córas Tráchtála, Bord Fáilte and the Industrial Development Authority. All the people concerned, who wanted to sell and promote trade, felt it was a very useful thing to have those kind of discussions.
It is too expensive to take all our foreign representatives home every year but every time ambassadors come home on holidays—most of them do that at least twice in their term of office in any particular country—they are expected to see the economic departments, the semi-State boards and all those other organisations I have referred to—Bord Fáilte, the Industrial Development Authority and Córas Tráchtála. They go to see all these  people, discuss their problems and find out if there is anything that should be done about the development of trade in the country to which they are accredited.
As I say, this is expected of our foreign representatives but we must realise with the best will in the world the Department of External Affairs cannot undertake to do as good a job in selling 1,000 pairs of shoes as the man who makes them and the man who has an interest in selling them. As I said in my opening statement “as the farmer's foot is the best manure for the land, the exporter's personal call on his potential customers abroad is the most fruitful method of selling his goods”. The best way of selling shoes abroad is for the man who wants to sell them to have a representative abroad who will promote their sale. If it is too expensive on any single exporter to send a man to interview the prospects in the various countries a group of exporters could get together and send a man who would promote the sale of all their products with some help from the Department of External Affairs and Córas Tráchtála. The shoe trade could do that if they combined and did the sale of their goods through a consortium of boot manufacturers.
I remember opening an exhibition of Irish shoes in Chicago. There were several manufacturers with a small volume of exports, who, under Córas Tráchtála organisation, displayed them in a Chicago hotel. I was in New York and I went to Chicago to open the exhibition. I thought it was a very good idea and I think it will have to be put on a permanent basis. Where there is a small volume of goods made by a number of producers here, they should get together and combine in order to pay the expenses of a sales operation in some country which they pick out.
After all, that was done in the case of butter. I remember 30 years ago every creamery was highly jealous of its market in Manchester, London or some place else. Everything was done to induce them to come together and have a central marketing organisation.  We are lucky we have such an organisation now because, with the very highly competitive world market conditions we have at the present time, it would be very difficult to see a creamery with a production of a few hundred tons of butter putting an officer on the road to sell its produce. We would not have the story of the Kerrygold sales in Nigeria if it had been left to some small creamery in Kerry to export the butter there. Co-operation, big volume sales and an economic sales staff got that success. It indicates the popular line as far as I can see. As an individual, I have no responsibility for setting up such an organisation. It is the Minister for Industry and Commerce who would have to organise it. If we could organise co-operatives of producers of industrial products and encourage them to go out and sell their products abroad, they would all reap the benefit. All I can say is, wherever co-operatives are formed, or where individuals themselves try to sell their goods abroad, anything the Department of External Affairs can do to help will be done.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Cole) Acting Chairman (Mr. Cole)
Acting Chairman (Mr. Cole): Before the next Senator speaks perhaps we might have an indication as to the wishes of the House regarding the remainder of the agenda.
Tomás Ó Maoláin Tomás Ó Maoláin
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I think the House will have no objection if we conclude. The other items will not take long.
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: I wish to thank the Minister for the welcome he has extended to this motion standing in the name of Senator McGuire and myself and for his apparent acceptance of it.
The object of the motion is to suggest that our diplomatic service should increasingly devote their attention and energies to the support of trade. While I thank the Minister for the manner in which he has accepted the motion, I am a little disappointed that he did not tell us in what specific way our diplomatic representatives would implement the terms of the motion.
 The Minister spoke in general terms of what our diplomats were doing abroad to help trade and I gathered, as far as I could follow, that they are acting in a general, advisory capacity by keeping our Government informed of the general conditions prevailing in the country in which they serve. The Minister really asked what further good the Government, or our foreign missions, do to help trade. We have these diplomatic missions abroad and we suggest in this motion that they should be used to further trade. I suggest that there should be attached to each embassy a person skilled in trade and commerce. I am not clear that there is such a person. I do not believe there is. Such a person should fight our case for more trade in the country to which he is attached.
The Minister says we cannot be expected to impose sanctions on our importers and force them to buy goods that are not as good or that are dearer, simply because they can buy them in a country trading with us. I do not suggest we should do that, but I suggest our representative in a country from which we are buying large quantities of goods should make this case to that country: “We are doing big business with you, here is such and such, you can buy from us and we think it only reasonable that you should do so.” If we had a trained and skilled representative attached to each embassy he could do that.
Mr. Aiken Mr. Aiken
Mr. Aiken: That is being done as far as we can and where we have officers, naturally.
Mr. Fitzpatrick Mr. Fitzpatrick
Mr. Fitzpatrick: The Minister says trade is not the only thing that matters in the life of a nation. He went on to say that it was our duty to assist the undeveloped countries, to assist in the preservation of peace and to spread our culture. I agree, but I do say money is necessary for all that. Export trade is the only way of providing foreign capital so necessary to enable us as a nation to do all these things. I am sure the Minister will agree with me on that.
I do not think, as the Minister said  —and I agree with him—that our diplomatic establishments abroad cost too much. They are run, as he says, with a head of delegation and one other executive officer and some staff. I think we possibly could get better returns from them in the line of trade results if they cost a little more. It would be worthwhile appointing the type of expert I have in mind so that we could get the sort of service I ask for and which I think the industrialists of this country expect.
I was a little disappointed to hear the Minister appear satisfied with our balance of trade figures. They are not favourable and, as I understand it, they are deteriorating at the moment. They are satisfactory, he tells us, with Great Britain and I am glad to hear that, but surely if there is one country with which we should be on more than par it is Great Britain. The Minister says we are selling pound for pound. I cannot help thinking that is due to the good old bullock we send over there in such quantities and which is paying so well.
May I conclude on a lighter note? I am glad the Minister disowned the general report in the Irish Times as referring to stuffed shirt diplomats at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis. I think the Minister made an excellent case for an improvement in the degelates at the Árd Fheis and I hope he succeeds.
Mr. Aiken Mr. Aiken
 Mr. Aiken: Everybody is entitled to speak his mind.
Question put and agreed to.
Seanad Éireann 58 Private Business. Irish Economic Expansion: Motion.