DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - SHANNON ELECTRICITY BILL, 1925—SECOND STAGE.

This is the third time on which I have had to address the House with regard to the question of the Shannon, and in contra-distinction to the other two occasions, I propose on this occasion, to confine myself to the Bill. The scheme has been already dealt with, and the Bill which I am bringing before you is that Bill which this House, by an unanimous vote some weeks ago, recommended me to introduce. I am leaving the question of the scheme altogether out of any remarks I may make at this moment. If points in the scheme are still considered by Deputies to be a subject for debate and the subject of inquiry to me, I will give whatever answers seem to be required when the points are put. This time also, in contra-distinction to the two previous occasions, I propose to be very brief. The House did, as I say, by a unanimous vote decide that it was expedient to introduce legislation so as to carry into effect the report and the scheme of Messrs. Siemens-Schuckert, as modified by the experts, and on the lines laid down in the White Paper. It was a more detailed resolution than that, but that was the general effect of it.

Now when consideration was given to the legislation required to carry into effect the Siemens-Schuckert scheme we really found ourselves faced with four or five matters which would have to be dealt with under legislation. There was the question of the compulsory acquisition of land, and the question of the ascertainment of the equitable amount to be paid for such land when acquired. Incidental to that was the question of interference with easements, rights of way, way leaves, fishing rights, and other rights. There was also the question of how compensation was to be paid, and what was to be the procedure for arriving at an equitable amount. There was, further, the question of the improvement of the navigation of rivers. When I spoke last upon this I referred to certain alternatives offered in the Siemens-Schuckert report with regard to navigation, and I indicated that in no event was navigation in any worse position than at the moment, and that various alternatives were offered which, requiring certain additional sums, would considerably improve navigation. To carry out whichever of these alternatives was the one finally selected, it was necessary to take certain powers and that was looked after under a certain clause of this Bill. There was a question, further, of drainage, and of certain interference with land, for the purpose of effectually draining those lands that was looked upon as possible, and powers for entering upon those lands and interfering with lands for certain purposes, to put up embankments and do anything else necessary so as to effect a certain amount of drainage have all been looked after in a particular clause.

Now, there is a small point arising out of drainage that I will refer to in a moment. I am segregating it from this general statement because I made a certain statement here the last time, and I want to call attention to the particular clause in relation to that statement. The other general points were interference with fisheries, a possible interference with property belonging to, or under the control of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, and a possible diversion of roads, or interference with roads and bridges.

The clause regarding posts and telegraphs has been arranged in conjunction with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, and it will be found that while general in character, it sufficiently protects the interests both of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and the whole question of the electricity undertaking. The question of fisheries was not so easily settled, and the clause here is general. It provides that, so far as possible, steps shall be taken, precautions and provisions shall be taken, for the protection of, and avoidance of, injury to fisheries during, or in consequence of the construction of any work under this Act; but then there is a limitation to that which is in accordance with the term of the White Paper and in accordance with what I announced the last time:—"Unless after such consultation, as aforesaid, the Minister is satisfied that such protection cannot be afforded or such injury cannot be avoided without substantial detriment to the works, or substantial hindrance to their construction." That very definitely means that in the carrying out of this scheme, although all reasonable precaution will be taken to prevent injury, we do not preclude the possibility of injury being done to the fisheries, and if in a case of conflict between fishery and electricity interests, then electricity is going to have the superiority. The protection of roads and bridges is a small matter, and is dealt with in a general clause.

The finance clause is also, as it necessarily must be, general. It is a clause drafted in conjunction with the Minister for Finance and approved of by the Executive Council. It gives leave to raise money in a variety of ways, and until such money may be raised by loan, payments may be made in a certain way.

As this Bill appears, it will no doubt be criticised as being very general. In so far as it is general, it is necessarily so. It was impossible to set down every detail that any Deputy might think out and suggest for incorporation in the Bill with regard to our possible attitude towards any of the interests that may be involved. It was impossible, for instance, with regard to the acquisition of land, to do more than say that we would set up a certain kind of tribunal, to arrange for the appointment by that tribunal of certain assessors, and that we will give those assessors or arbitrators a certain act in which to find a basis on which they can proceed to assess compensation. Similarly it would be possible to put in tremendous detail, and it would be possible to fix a period of years to discuss the details in this House, if everything had to be so worked out so that when the Bill left the Oireachtas on its way to the Statute Book, everyone concerned would know to the remotest fraction of a penny what his interests when sacrificed were going to bring him in by way of compensation.

It is impossible to do that. It is impossible to do anything else than arrange in general terms that a tribunal of a judicial character shall appoint an arbitrator, and that that arbitrator, on the basis of a particular Act—the Compulsory Acquisition of Lands Act—shall assess and order the amount of compensation to be given. The second and third clauses of this Bill indicate the general powers which are to be accorded to him. It is for the purpose of granting these powers that the latter clauses are necessarily included. If any Minister is to have the power set out in paragraphs 2 and 3, then it follows that on the basis of the Siemens-Schuckert scheme there must be interference with property, acquisition of land, interference with the property of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, and possible injury to fishing interests. These matters are all provided for in the general terms, but the general terms are equitable and meet the necessity that the case demands. There is one clause which I have reserved for special comment—namely, Clause 14. I refer to that simply because I made certain statements with regard to it on the resolution moved on the 2nd April. I spoke of certain criticisms made with regard to the payments to be demanded from riparian owners. I said, "The suggestion is made that a sum of £200,000 is to be taken from the inhabitants along the banks of the Shannon for land which is improved under whatever pumping process there will be.

"I am not at the moment concerned with further developments, their cost and economies, but not one penny piece will be charged to any inhabitant along the banks of the Shannon for what happens in the partial development scheme. There is a sum of £200,000 set down in the further development scheme, but not a single penny piece will have to be paid by anybody, as far as the prevention of flooding and the drainage is concerned, that I have described in the partial development scheme." I amended that when replying on the 3rd April. I then said: "Deputy Egan raised one point in connection with which I must enter a slight warning. I have said that not one penny is being asked from riparian owners for the amelioration of their land. That was indicating an intention which has yet to be accepted by this House. What I should have said was this, that on the income side of the scheme no reliance is put upon getting any money from riparian owners for the amelioration of their land. But when certain Bills come before this House it may seem good to the Oireachtas to decide that these people should pay something, and, if they do, there will be an additional income to the scheme." Clause 14 is brought forward in order to secure the views of the House as to whether or not the farmers are again to be put in a privileged position of getting something for nothing. The terms of that paragraph will, no doubt, be raised with vehemence by the Farmers' Party. The indication of it is that lands benefited by drainage are to be charged with certain payments.

I would like to draw attention to the words in lines 25 and 26 of subsection (1) of section 14. The clause opens with the words "if and whenever the Minister is of opinion" and continues "the Minister may by notice in writing ... requires that such lands or premises to be charged." Now people who say, and the newspapers who quote that phrase do so as if it were incumbent on me and that if that clause were passed payment would be required from the riparian owners of the land benefited. They have not, however, noticed that the word is "may." It is not peremptory. There is a certain discretion left. Apart from the fact that I would like to have the opinion of the House as to whether these people are to benefit and pay nothing for it, I would like to regard this clause in a certain way as really giving me a weapon which I may have to use in certain unlooked-for contingencies. I may almost call this the Portumna clause, because people in that neighbourhood who have been so agitated over the possibility of lands being flooded, when they discovered that lands were not to be flooded, proceeded to get agitated in another direction—was this a prevention of flooding? Up to that point, flooding had been looked upon as the worst calamity that could happen to the inhabitants of Portumna, but when they discovered that flooding might be stopped there arose another agitation to the effect that this also was a calamity. Flooding was something bearable and if they were to be charged anything towards its removal you would have another reaction. I have been told that there is a likelihood of great charges being put upon the scheme from that area.

The matter developed in this way. It was admitted that the land was flooded, and that, therefore, the prevention of that flooding would require considerable embankment to be made, and that that considerable embankment would require the taking away of land now owned by certain people, but useless for all practical purposes, and that would also involve the passing of heavy machinery over that land, even though the eventual purpose was the betterment of that land. Therefore the scheme would have to pay for that and for any land required for the embankment to protect the rest of the land. This clause is a safeguard to me. So far as the economies of the scheme are concerned, I wish to emphasise the fact that no money need be derived under that clause. I regard the clause as a safeguard and as a help to me in withstanding exorbitant or unusual claims for anything I may have to do, even though it be for the eventual betterment of the lands around.

I have taken the case of Portumna, but these claims have come from many other districts. They have arisen mainly however in Portumna through one gentleman, who was previously a land agent, but who is now fiercely agitated over the betterment of the unfortunate tenants around that area. I put that clause forward, not because the scheme depends on it, but because I wish to gather the opinion of the House as to whether people who have certain benefits conferred on them should not be asked to pay for those benefits. Consequently, that clause would, I consider, be a weapon which I could, but would only, use in the event of extravagant claims being put on me in the case of drainage works carried out.

I have drawn attention to my own words used previously because it has been represented to me that the introduction of the clause is contradictory to the view I expressed on the 2nd April. While it is contradictory to what I said on that occasion, it is definitely in accord with what I said on the following day. A certain amount of trouble is likely to be caused, I am informed, owing to the clause regarding the acquisition of lands and the ascertainment of the price of compensation. I am afraid this matter has got rather out of perspective. One would imagine that the Shannon scheme meant the acquisition of hundreds of thousands of acres which were to be taken to enable the water to flow to the power-house. The excavation of the canal will mean that something in the region of 300 acres is to be taken and, when there is any talk in regard to the machinery to be set up with regard to damage done and fixing the price of compensation, I would like Deputies to bear in mind that they are dealing with a comparatively small matter of 300 acres.

I am speaking now with regard to the canal. Other excavations may be necessary under the Bill, and land will be required for embankments and other purposes. We will acquire the land on which embankments are to be built, but so far the biggest block of land that will be acquired is that for the canal excavations. That is about 300 acres. That should be borne in mind when Deputies come to consider the clauses with regard to compensation for injury done, and the price to be paid for it. That is what I have to say on the Bill generally. I have deliberately avoided anything dealing with the scheme for this reason, that certain motions have been tabled which run rather counter to the Second Reading, and as these motions deal completely with the scheme, I presume there will be some debate on the scheme. If the House is inclined to tolerate any further debate on the scheme, if any points are raised that deal with it, I propose to answer them when raised. I move the Second Reading.

I second.

I move:—

To delete all words after the word "that" and substitute the following words:—

"the Second Reading of the Bill be postponed, and that a special Committee of the Dáil to be nominated by the Sessional Committee of Selection and consisting of nine members be appointed to hear such evidence as it shall think fit and necessary, upon the following points:—

(a) whether the finance involved in the Shannon Electricity Scheme is such as the State should incur at the present time, and what in the estimation of the Committee the debt charges will involve until the scheme is able to produce a revenue sufficient to defray those charges;

(b) whether in the judgment of the Committee any other development of the power resources of the Saorstát would be able to meet the present needs of the nation, while leaving a sufficient margin for development, without involving the same degree of debt charge."

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records:

That the quorum of the Committee be five, and that the date for reporting back be not later than May 12th.

I desire to take as brief a period as possible in dealing with this amendment. It is definitely an amendment preliminary to the passage of the Second Reading, calling for somewhat fuller information than is before the Dáil. When I spoke here on the previous debate, I spent some time, perhaps too much time, in bringing facts before the Dáil which showed I could make a claim for disinterestedness in this matter in connection with what is called the rival proposal. Time has since made that claim much more fully for me. I only want now to put before the Dáil one or two financial and economic considerations which, I think, ought to be put before the Dáil comes to any decision as to the Second Reading, or on the general principles of this scheme, for I believe that these financial and economic considerations are fundamental, not only to the scheme, but in a very great measure to the future stability of this State. Before I do so I should like to deal briefly with the Bill on the lines that the Minister himself has dealt with it. He has claimed for it, and very accurately claimed for it, that it is a general purposes Bill; that it is very general in its terms and claims. It is a Bill, I suggest, almost without precedent in the entire history of legislation in any legislative assembly in that particular. Supposing, for example, other legislative proposals were to be brought before the Dáil framed on the lines that this Bill has been framed—supposing, for example, the Bill we had recently before us, called the Treasonable and Seditious Offences Bill, had been framed on the lines of this Bill, in which certain general powers unspecified were sought, one would imagine we would hear Deputy Johnson speaking with considerable indignation in regard to a legislative proposal of that kind. I suggest that this proposal regarding the Shannon could have been, and I urge, should have been, dealt with just exactly with that detail and specification required in all other legislative proposals.

In Private Bill procedure, if a Bill of this kind had been brought forward in regard to any proposal of this nature, and were brought into the Private Bill Office, it would be rejected at once by the Examiner as not having given the details required in legislation. I think it is an amazing Bill from that point of view. We have been told by the Minister that subsequent Bills will be introduced dealing with other parts of this scheme, but it is a fact that no subsequent Bill will be necessary, for this Bill will give the Minister all the powers he might require with regard to the erection of engineering works, powers with regard to the sale of electricity, powers with regard to the distribution of electricity, and in regard to the works. This is a more important matter still. I urge the Dáil to consider that we are not merely considering now our legislative proposals—all that I have said would be equally to the point if it were all that we were asked to consider, but in effect we are asked to consider what is a very great deal more. We are not only being asked to pass the principle, and confer large powers on the Minister in respect of legislation, but what we are asked to do, without precedent, is to seal and confirm a contract without specification.

The Minister left on one side all the engineering parts of the Bill. They have been dealt with very fully before, and I do not propose to touch upon them now. I propose to direct myself particularly to the larger financial and economic aspects to which I have referred, but I would like to deal, and I put this forward for the Dáil's consideration, with one aspect of the engineering side that has been emphasised, and that I think cannot be too often emphasised. That is not in respect of civil engineering, but in respect of that other branch that used to be, in the old bad differentiation, distinguished as military engineering.

I think on that head we incur very grave risks for the future. Since the previous debate in this House I remember meeting across the water a certain gentleman who was a military engineer of some name, and he only made one comment in regard to this scheme, and it certainly caused one to think very earnestly. He said: "I wish this scheme had existed in Ireland in working order ten years ago, and if it had, you would never have had the Free State established to-day."

Was it after dinner that he said that to you?

I just put that point forward. It is an important consideration for us to bear in mind. I just touch on that and pass from it. I want to deal particularly and deliberately with a certain contrast that has been made here, and in the country, by Deputies, that I think is not an unreal one. It is in regard particularly to the suggestion made by Deputy Thrift in his very able analysis of the engineering side of this scheme. As a preliminary to that analysis, when he spoke in the Dáil before, he said he accepted the contrast as between the Liffey Bill and the Shannon Bill. Deputy Johnson, speaking in the country, was asked by some persons in the crowd why it was that he, representing a Dublin constituency, was supporting the Shannon scheme as distinct from the Liffey scheme, which was the scheme in his own locality, made the right and proper reply, that he was supporting the Shannon scheme because he believed it to be a national scheme and in the national interests.

I want to deal with that because I want to put before the Dáil the consideration that it is not the Shannon that is the true national scheme, and it is not the Liffey that is the true national scheme. There is no one water-power of Ireland of which it can be said that it embodies a national scheme as distinguished from a local scheme. The proposition I am now asking the Dáil to consider, is that the true national scheme is such a financial and economic lay-out of all the water-power resources of the country, that they will be developed in relation to the economic and financial needs and resources of the country, and when the development has been carried to its ultimate conclusion, there will be no wastage of any one of these water-power resources. That is the true national scheme. That is the scheme that has received very careful attention by bodies, over long periods of time, who have sat to consider this matter. So far from it being true to say that the opposition is between the Liffey and the Shannon, I would ask the Dáil to substitute for the Liffey what would be equally true, say, the opposition as between the Corrib and the Shannon or the Slaney and the Shannon. What has to be considered is whether this country ought to make itself, at the very outset of development, dependent upon a central scheme, or whether it should not work up towards the Shannon by the development of the local water-powers, which are at the present moment quite sufficient to meet the existing demand, and yet leave a sufficient margin for development. That would leave the Shannon for a later stage in accordance with the plans that have been put forward by the two bodies that have had this matter already entrusted to them, and that have considered this proposal from their different points of view, coming fundamentally to the same conclusion, one body being set up by the Republican Dáil in 1919, and the other being set up by the British Government in 1918, or thereabouts, if I remember the date correctly.

The difference I am indicating is practically this: if we undertake the Shannon now it is admitted that there will be, when the works are completed —between the moment when the works have been completed and the moment when the scheme can be said to begin to pay for itself—a margin of time in which the scheme will lie out of its profits. What that margin of time will be is a matter that has been subject to a certain amount of question. It has been put at a very low figure by the Experts and by Messrs. Siemens-Schuckert. There are others who think it will take possibly seven and eight times as long as the time laid out by them. I am not going to enter on that at the moment, although I will touch on it quite briefly in a short time. All I will say is this: it is at least admitted that if the Shannon be developed at once, there will be a margin between the conclusion of the scheme and the moment when the scheme will begin to pay for itself and will be able to stand its own expenses—when the revenue will be equal to the charges on the debt which is incurred. By proceeding from the other point of view, from the development of the smaller powers that exist in various parts of the country and that are sufficient to meet the present economic needs and yet leave a margin for development, it will be possible to obviate that financial burden over that indefinite period of time. In other words, by proceeding in that way, the country will be able to go forward on its road and find solid ground for every step of the journey. The preliminary stage of this scheme has been worked out at £5,200,000. I laid considerations before the Dáil on a previous occasion showing why I and others believe that the cost of £5,200,000 may ultimately prove to be very greatly exceeded indeed. I will not go into this matter at the moment. I will draw the attention of the Dáil to the fact that time will prove that this estimate for the initial stage of development—five and a quarter millions—may prove to be a very great deal short of what will ultimately be necessary if there be any percolation either through the banks that will be made or, what is more likely, underneath those banks, requiring a puddled trench around a great part of those banks.

Let me take that figure of £5,200,000 as being the amount of money that will be required. It is easy for the Dáil to work out what that will cost—what a loan raised at that figure will cost in annual charges. If we take the interest at 5 ½ per cent., and if we take the amortisation at somewhere round the region of 1 per cent., you will get an annual charge of £300,000. The annual charge that this Exchequer will have to meet will be £300,000. How much of that can the revenue of the Shannon at once provide? The scheme, such as has been put forward, answers that question. The £5,200,000 has been computed on an output of 110 million units per annum. The present consumption is about one-third of this. Roughly, therefore, two-thirds of £300,000—that is to say, £200,000—will remain an annual charge until consumption has increased to the point when it can make good that deficiency. In other words, that margin will have to be made good until the consumption has been increased out of taxation. Then it becomes a very important consideration for the Dáil to take into reckoning how long will be the period until the losses in the scheme can be met out of taxation.

Has the Deputy read the Experts' Report?

I am coming to that point next.

Has the Deputy any idea of how much of the £5,200,000 will be required for the actual building up of the scheme?

The Minister has not put before us any of the expenditure in regard to the detailed parts of the scheme, or in regard to the fundamental costs, although we have been asking for them.

Have you seen the remark of the Experts that the sum includes a certain amount to cover loss?

Yes, I saw that.

But you are not quoting from it?

I saw that. I shall quote it if the Minister gives me the reference to the page which I have not at the moment. The important question then for the Dáil to consider is how long it will take this State to build up the consumption of the country to the point at which it can be said to sustain the charges of the scheme, all the initial capital required, whether for engineering works on the site or for the transmission lines.

Money will be required. How much? How long will it be before the charges on the debt will be met out of the increased consumption that the State will have to build up? Deputy Johnson, in speaking to this matter on an earlier occasion, said that he would have gathered from remarks of mine in that debate, that I did not believe in the development of the consumption of electricity in this country. I do very strongly believe in it. I believe that ultimately we will require every unit of electricity that will be produced, but what I do not believe in is that we are going to see a rate of development, a rate of progress unlike anything that has been experienced in any country. I think that it is unwise to embark upon expensive legislation that proceeds upon that assumption. That is the important point. The Experts themselves are fully aware, as they would be from their experience, of the considerations that are proper to this matter. I would ask the Dáil to turn to page 58 of the Experts' Report, which I propose to quote from now. The experts, at the foot of that page, give words which are very humorous and very much to the point: "The electrical engineering department of the Iowa State College at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, has shown that a family of average size spends annually £20 on tobacco, £14 on gasoline, £10 3s. 0d. on ice-cream, £10 on candy, and £5 2s. 0d. on electricity."

They make this comment on these figures "As a family of average size contains about five persons, the annual electrical requirements in Iowa in the United States is estimated at about £1 per inhabitant, per year." I shall, in reading the next sentence, ask the Dáil to attend to these words carefully, because they are very material to the immediate consideration before us. "This comparison also indicates that an increase in the use of electricity is not obstructed so much by the actual cost of the electricity as by the ignorance which still rules as to the economic advantages of the use of electricity. Although it is so often stated that the population cannot pay the price for electricity, that is not true in most cases. When the knowledge of the advantages of a high consumption of electricity has penetrated into the consciousness of the people, then the use of electricity increases systematically and rapidly. Such knowledge can be spread by instruction and development but also the tariff policy undoubtedly plays an important part in the rate of consumption."

The Experts themselves lay the greater part of their stress upon the educational development of the people in the use of electricity rather than upon the matter of costs. I will quote again from pages 91 and 92. In the last paragraph but one on page 91, the experts say: "The electrification is to take place to a great extent in quite verdant soil. The larger and medium sized towns will, of course, themselves arrange for their power distribution, and will be wholesale consumers from the point of view of the State supply." Over the page they say: "The local net works should be planned not only for the present but also for the future demand. Suitable rates of charges should be worked out. The activities of the middle-men, who undertake the local distribution, must also be supervised. It is frequently necessary to teach every newly formed distribution company, not merely how it should build its net work and what prices it should take, but also to arrange its book-keeping, and to give the company practical instruction as to the connection between book-keeping, production costs, rates, receipts and profits. According to all experience a considerable organisation is required for all this, otherwise the development will go wrong and split up."

In the light of these two quotations I ask the Dáil whether it is likely that development in the use and consumption of electricity in Ireland is going to be quite so rapid as has been frequently suggested here. What are the facts? I was speaking to the engineer of works at Killarney, who informed me that he had offered farmers in that locality electricity at 1d. per unit. They, of course, had to instal their own plant and connect up. He did not get one single customer at that price. That, nevertheless, is a lower price than the Shannon will be able to supply at Killarney, if the price at Mallow is any indication of the price at Killarney, which is not available, and which, so far, I have not been able to discover from the information put before us. The map that has been published in Siemens' scheme shows that power is going to be carried to very great distances, and is going to be brought to places such as Ballyshannon and Killarney, where electricity is already available, and is not proving the success that I believe it will yet prove. I am not in any doubt as to the eventual absorption of all the electricity this country can produce. What I am now asking the Dáil to consider is whether the rate of development is going to be so fast as to justify this country in undertaking, for an indefinite period of years, the very heavy debt charge. That will cost this country a certain sum of money in expenditure for which there will be no adequate revenue, and therefore it will have to be made good out of taxation.

That brings me to the last argument that I want to deal with in speaking here to-day. That is in regard to the economic lay-out of the power resources of the country. I urge it is necessary now when we are starting upon development that we should take the long view. It is obvious that the Shannon or whatever river would be taken—the Corrib, the Liffey, or anywhere else, whichever of these be done first—that it is only the beginning of hydro-electrical development in the Free State. It is necessary, therefore, beginning at the outset with the mistakes of other countries before us to learn from, that we ought so to plan our development that there will be no wastage in the meantime and no wastage in the end.

The Shannon is the first step in the development of the whole country, and must be part of a complete plan if the whole scheme is to be economically laid out and give the best possible advantage.

I ask the Dáil to give consideration to certain figures that I wish to place before it, figures that have not been ordinarily available before and which have been given me on the highest authority. It must be borne in mind that the total hydro-electric power economically available in the Free State, while good, is limited in comparison with the resources of other countries. Thus, the Free State has economically available some 350,000 continuous electrical horse-power, while Switzerland, a country about half the area of Ireland, is estimated to possess some 2,000,000 continuous electrical horse-power. Norway and Sweden together possess some 10,000,000 continuous electrical horse-power. The United States has some 28,000,000, and up to 10 years ago had already harnessed seven millions of them. In the light of these figures, I suggest that the conclusion is obvious to everyone that the power resources of this country will have to be carefully and economically conserved if the country is to take its place ultimately and rightly, as it should, amongst modern industrial nations.

Immediately that consideration is seen, it follows that hydro-electric development in Ireland should proceed by way of development as near as possible to the sources of power. The sources of water-power in Ireland are so evenly distributed throughout the entire country in relation to its present conditions and demands that in no case should a transmission line of more than a limited length be developed. The reason for that is that transmission losses are part of the heaviest wastage of any water-power hydro-electric scheme, whether it be the Shannon or anywhere else. In the scheme we have before us now the transmission losses—and I ask the Dáil to consider this fact attentively— amount to something like 30 per cent. of the whole. Something like two millions have to be sunk in a main transmission system as a result of which 30 per cent. of the whole power generated is wasted, and the annual expenditure is brought up from £280,000 for the cost of generation to £489,000 as generated and transmitted.

What happens? I have already referred to the fact, as seen in the Siemens' scheme, and in the Experts' Report, that electricity is taken in the scheme now before the Dáil to places where local powers already exist that could be put into operation at once and be made economic paying propositions from the outset. For example, there is Galway. Electricity is going to be taken under the Shannon scheme all the way to Galway although water power exists on the Corrib which might almost be said to have been naturally framed for the use of the city of Galway. Electricity is being taken to Wexford where the Slaney is available. Electricity is also being taken to Ballyshannon—

And to Dublin where there is the Liffey.

And to Dublin where there is the Liffey! All these schemes, including Dublin, which is now to be done by the Corporation, are such that no financial risk need be incurred if they be done by the nation, as I think they ought to be done. The result would be that there need be no call upon taxation to make good any deficiencies. That is an aspect of the case that I suggest is all the more important because it is one that was not put to the experts.

It is dealt with by them.

Dealt with by them, but not the proposal put to them. If I may put it this way, the Shannon scheme is virtually the answer to this question: Can you prepare a hydro-electric scheme for the Shannon and arrange that it shall supply the majority of the towns in the Free State with electric power? The real question that was put to the experts was: Is the Shannon scheme as worked out in answer to that question a workable scheme? I suggest some question on these lines: What is the best and most economic way of developing the water-power resources of the Free State and, with a complete economic scheme in view, what is the best way to begin such development? I think if that question had been put to the experts they would have replied that the answer would have required not two or three months' consideration—three months at the outside—but that it would have required a much longer time and much more detailed attention than they could have possibly given it in the time and with the means at their disposal.

That question was put to them.

The Minister is not going to suggest that a question of that kind could be answered by any person after two months' consideration of all the water-power resources of this country.

I do not admit the two months, but the Experts answered that question. The Deputy has the answer before him.

I am putting it forward now that that consideration is the major consideration in the entire matter. I urge both in regard to economics and in regard to the economic lay-out that the long view is the one that would give a sound financial method, such as is not being taken in the scheme now before the Dáil in the present Bill, and that the present Bill will commit us to a method of development, when the water-power resources of Ireland have been fully developed in future years, to very considerable waste. It is evident that waste will occur, because the documents that have already been given us are quite sufficient on their face to show that the wastage in transmission amounts to one-third of the whole. I suggest that that is a wastage of the resources of this country, such as we, with our limited resources in this regard, ought not and need not, incur. I am putting it before the Dáil that the finance and the economics of the question of water-power development in Ireland would suggest a beginning with local powers and a procedure to larger central powers at a later stage for the linking-up of the whole scheme—not to start with the large central scheme that compels you to go in for long transmission lines, heavy wastage, and, at a later stage to find it will be necessary to develop the local powers and to cut down very considerably the transmissions system that was started in the initial stages of a wrong beginning.

It is for that reason I suggest that on these particular matters, which are fundamental matters, because they involve the principle of the Bill, the Dáil ought to have fuller information than is available in the Experts' Report or in the Siemens' scheme, and that it ought to call for documents and information in order to come to a conclusion on those questions. It cannot do so under the Standing Orders without appointing a specific committee for that purpose, and that is why I am suggesting that a committee be appointed to do these things.

I have seen within the last hour an amendment that has been handed in by Deputy Heffernan which is more or less on the lines of mine, except that it does not indicate details, but sticks to the wider general lines. I have no particular commitments as to the form of words, but I do believe that we ought for ourselves, without dependence upon others, to make some further inquiry, in order that fuller information on these financial and economic matters might be put before the Dáil, before we commit ourselves to the principle of this Bill.

I beg to second the amendment. It would be to the advantage of everyone if the Minister would give some consideration to this amendment. It would save a lot of criticism which is being carried on in the country at present.

An amendment has been handed in by Deputy Heffernan which I cannot accept without the leave of the House, as no notice has been given of it. It is an amendment to Deputy Figgis's amendment:—

To delete all after the words "and necessary" in line 4 and to substitute the words: "upon the financial, engineering and economic proposals embodied in the scheme."

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records:

That the quorum of the Committee be five, and that the date for reporting back be not later than 28th July.

Am I to understand that this is to be substituted for Deputy Figgis's amendment?

It is to be substituted for portion of it.

Are we to discuss the second amendment before the first is disposed of, or is Deputy Figgis withdrawing his amendment in favour of Deputy Heffernan's? I submit that it is not possible to discuss them both at the same time, along with the proposal of the Minister.

In answer to the question put by Deputy Johnson, I can hardly say what I may do in regard to Deputy Heffernan's amendment until he has moved it, but it is very probable that when he is moving it I may be moved by his cogent reasoning to accept it.

Is it in order for the second amendment to be put before the House while the first amendment is under discussion?

Is it not usual to dispose of an amendment to an amendment before disposing of the substantive amendment? Surely, Deputy Heffernan's amendment stands in the same relation to Deputy Figgis's, as Deputy Figgis's does to the Bill? If Deputy Heffernan's amendment is defeated, then it will be open to discuss Deputy Figgis's. If Deputy Heffernan's amendment is carried, then that becomes the substantive motion.

Might I suggest that if Deputy Figgis's amendment does not survive, then the occasion for Deputy Heffernan's will not arise. We cannot have one amendment dependent upon another amendment. I put it to you, sir, that Deputy Figgis's amendment should be disposed of first. If it passes, then we can alter it, if necessary.

I maintain that my amendment is not the same as Deputy Figgis's. It is an amendment which is very like his, but I certainly would not be satisfied to have my amendment disposed of on Deputy Figgis's amendment. I maintain that there are essential differences between them. If Deputy Figgis decides to accept my amendment, it has nothing to do with me, but I suggest that my amendment should be taken first and disposed of, and when that is disposed of, that Deputy Figgis's amendment should be taken and disposed of. Then the substantive motion of the Minister could be dealt with.

Following what Deputy Heffernan has said, would you, sir, accept an amendment from me to Deputy Heffernan's amendment and take it first?

Or one from me to that of the Minister for Finance? I suggest it is quite clear that Deputy Heffernan's amendment cannot come before us until Deputy Figgis's amendment becomes a substantive motion before the House for adoption.

There is a liability to confusion owing to the form of Deputy Heffernan's amendment, the substance of which is such that it clearly raises a different issue from Deputy Figgis's. If the House gave Deputy Heffernan leave, and he were permitted to read out his amendment in full, without any relation to Deputy Figgis's amendment, I think it would be seen to be a separate amendment. He has, for shortness and convenience, adopted the initial form of words of Deputy Figgis's amendment, but he follows on with a totally different succession of words. It is only in form that it is really an amendment to Deputy Figgis's amendment. It can only be done by agreement, but if Deputies were content to discuss the general principle—and it is really the general principle that we have to discuss—were content to say what they have to say on that general principle in one speech, then I think the proper form of procedure would be that Deputy Figgis, if he persists in moving his amendment, should move it and we should vote on it; that Deputy Heffernan should then be allowed to move his amendment, beginning with the initial words of Deputy Figgis's, and following with Deputy Heffernan's words, and that that should be immediately voted upon without further speeches from the Deputies.

I insist that some form of words be followed. If we are going to take Deputy Thrift's argument that we are merely discussing the general principle, that I submit has already been put before the House and failed to find one person to vote against it.

I am going to suggest that it is really a different principle that we are going on to-day.

May I remind the Dáil that on Friday the Ceann Comhairle ruled, in consideration of our consenting to take this Bill to-day that notice of amendments need not be given. We only had the First Reading of the Bill on Friday, and I, at any rate, only received the Bill on Saturday morning. Therefore it was impossible to give notice of amendments.

I have not raised, nor do I intend to raise, nor have I heard raised, in any quarter of the House, the idea of notice. This is a question of fitting in one amendment with another.

There is this difficulty about the matter. If the suggestion of the President were followed, and if Deputy Figgis's amendment be put first, and it were defeated, Deputy Heffernan's amendment would go along with it, because it is dependent on Deputy Figgis's amendment.

Would it meet the case, in order to facilitate the House, and to facilitate Deputy Heffernan, if I were to say now that I am perfectly prepared to accept Deputy Heffernan's amendment, and let it be substituted for mine, in order that he may be allowed to speak on it?

Is Deputy Figgis withdrawing his amendment? I would like to know whether he is withdrawing it or not. Otherwise we will have the two things decided at the same time.

I should have imagined that it would be pretty obvious to the Minister for Defence exactly what I was doing. Deputy Heffernan has suggested that what I have proposed should be amended in its wording. I have said that I am prepared to let it be amended in its wording, and that we let my amendment be now considered as being changed by his.

I think, sir, we will have to bow to that.

If that is a withdrawal, then call it a withdrawal.

Is the House agreed to have the amended amendment now taken?

Agreed.

In proposing the amendment which stands in my name, I would like to say that I am not opposing the Shannon scheme. We, on the Farmers' Benches, have never taken up the line of opposition to the Shannon scheme. We believe that a comprehensive electric scheme is necessary and advisable for this country. We believe, also, contrary to Deputy Figgis's ideas, that the Shannon scheme is the best scheme. We believe that instead of having many electric schemes in the State, that by far the better idea is to deal with one large comprehensive scheme, covering the whole country, and that instead of being wasteful it would have the effect, eventually, of saving a considerable amount of money to the State. But the line that I take is, that at no stage since the introduction of this scheme, have we had a proper opportunity of examining into the details of the scheme. At no time have we had the chance to recognise whether the scheme is sound or whether it is not.

We are simply told that a scheme has been promulgated by a famous firm of German engineers, that that scheme has been submitted to four famous European experts, and then we are asked to accept the finding of the experts blindly, and to vote in favour of that scheme, and to give, as this Bill does give, a general commission to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to go ahead with that scheme. I am not satisfied that I should vote in favour of a scheme which I do not understand and which I believe by far the greater number of the Deputies do not understand, and which the people of the country do not understand. The scheme may be sound —I sincerely hope it is—but there are possibilities that it is not. The mode of procedure adopted in regard to this Bill and in regard to the whole matter is one which I believe there never has been a precedent for in any other State or Parliament. Our contention is, and my amendment, as originally drafted, covered that contention, that the scheme should have been placed before a committee, based on the committees which sit on Private Bills, and that some opportunity should be given to everybody interested to employ counsel, to bring forward witnesses, to cross-examine experts, and to endeavour to thrash out this scheme, from all points of view, to endeavour to find out the weak points, if there are any weak points in the scheme, and to endeavour to bring forward the strong points, as there are, I am sure, some very strong points in the scheme. That has not been done. We have to accept the scheme as it is placed before us, and as placed before us it is not the full scheme, as submitted to the Minister by the Siemens-Schuckert firm, nor do I know that it is the complete report of the Experts—I presume it is.

Great as the reputation of Siemens-Schuckert may be, I maintain that the time they spent in examination of this project was not sufficiently long to take cognisance of all the facts and all the matters connected with it, which would be necessary in order to say finally and definitely that the scheme that they were putting forward was absolutely the best, was absolutely water-tight and without any loopholes of any kind.

There are many complicated matters connected with the geology and the water-power of a country which cannot be, in my opinion, discovered within six months. I do know that certain enquiries were made and that the results of certain studies that had taken place previously were placed at their disposal. But it is my belief that the time which they spent in the examination of the country, the examination of the rivers, the water-shed and other matters which are connected with such a scheme, was not sufficiently long, and, on that account, I believe that their report cannot be regarded as thoroughly and absolutely reliable. We have had a financial statement before us. The whole scheme is based on that financial statement. The cost to the country is based on that financial statement. The estimate of the cost to the consumer is based on that financial statement. It may happen that there has been some flaw which may not be discovered until the scheme is well under way, and when that flaw is discovered the cost of the scheme may increase enormously, with the result that the cost to the State becomes greatly increased and the cost to the consumer of electricity is also increased. Needless to say, if the cost to the consumer is so increased that it is no longer economic—that is, that he could get power from the present power stations at the same, or a lower price, or that he could get power, of any kind, at the same or a lower price he will not use the power supplied by the Shannon scheme, with the result that it would become bankrupt or have to be supported from State funds.

I maintain that we are asking nothing unusual or anything that is not reasonable in asking that this scheme be examined in all its detail, and I cannot see how it can possibly be examined in detail, unless it is placed before a committee. I would suggest, and I have suggested in my amendment, that that committee should have power to bring forward witnesses and to examine, if necessary, these experts who have already passed their opinion on this scheme, if they can be induced to come back to the country again to give their evidence, and to go through the whole thing from every aspect, from the financial, the engineering and the economic side, and that when they have examined it from all points of view, that they should place their report before the Dáil, and that the Dáil should then, and not now, give the power to the Minister to go ahead. I think it is not right and it is not fair to the intelligence of the Dáil, that it should be asked to accept blindly the reports of certain experts, no matter how eminent these men might be.

Now, I have had some experience on the Private Bill Committee that dealt with the Liffey schemes. We had many experts of European fame examined there, and I might say many experts of Irish fame also, and one of the things that struck me with regard to their examination was the fact, that many times they contradicted each other on what would seem to be essential points. That may seem to the Minister to be a point against my argument, that if you carry on with this Committee you will have the experts coming forward and contradicting each other, and that you will be no wiser in the end than at the beginning. But I maintain that the Committee are in the position of judges, they hear these men giving their evidence, they pay attention to the demeanour of the experts, to their manner of giving their evidence, they listen to the cross-examination, they notice whether these experts give way on points and become weak on others or not, and eventually they find themselves placed in the position of judges, and they have to decide on the bulk of the evidence which they have heard, which of the experts were correct and which scheme, if followed, would be the proper one to pass. They would have to decide on this occasion if the present scheme as put forward was such as would meet with the approval of the ordinary man when he gets a chance of examining it, and judging it in every detail and from every point of view.

I cannot pretend to deal with this either from an engineering or from a financial aspect, but I suggest to the Dáil and to the Minister that there are certain very obvious things which may easily be wrong. There are certain very obvious estimates which may easily not work out as they are given. We have, I believe, in this partial scheme up to 100 miles of embankments to the River Shannon from O'Brien's Bridge to Killaloe, the embankment at Lough Derg, and we will have the embankments of the canal, which are to be made the head-race, which carries the water to the power station. These embankments, as I gather, are largely to be composed of material dredged from the bottom of the river, and from the canals made to take away the water. The experts state that they believe the substance to be taken from the bottom of the river and from these canals will be suitable to make these embankments. But I notice that they only "believe," they cannot be absolutely sure, that the substance will be suitable for that use. I do not believe that with the limited number of borings made by the experts that it is possible for them to see what type of material will be brought forward. They said in certain cases that that material was sand, gravel and clay. That was the material that was found, and they acknowledge that the sand in itself is too fine to make an embankment, and they said it must be mixed with clay before it would prove successful. Take it that in this dredging the amount of sand exceeds the quantity of clay—what does that mean? It means that the embankments are made largely of sand without a sufficient mixture of clay, and that they will be inferior and will be likely to break away.

Is there any evidence that they will be made of sand? Does anybody assume that these embankments will be made of sand?

My reading of the report is that the sand taken from the dredgings of the river and from the cutting of the canals is the substance that will be used.

Mixed with clay; but, I say, suppose the sand exceeds the proportion of clay?

Mixed with brains.

We are not talking about brains. There are some people who think they have a monopoly of brains.

Yes, a surplus of brains.

I am not talking of a surplus of brains, but of a surplus of sand. I am only saying that it is one of the possible problems. I say it is one of the problems that must be examined. Before we can favourably vote on this scheme we should be satisfied that these problems have been thoroughly examined into, and that not the slightest possible doubt exists as to the possibility of the scheme both from a financial and from its engineering aspect.

Another point which I am myself not doubtful about, but which I am uncertain about, is the question of the demand—that is the energy demand which is calculated will arise. I believe that the calculation of the possible demand has been altogether excessive. We are told that the demand will be for 150,000,000 units by the time the scheme is carried through. I believe that that demand is necessary in order that the scheme may be financially sound.

That is not so.

Well, I will put it in another way. The present partial scheme will produce 150,000,000 units, and the calculation is that the demand for 110,000,000 units will make it financially possible——

The sale of 110,000,000 units.

Even taking it at that smaller figure, the actual production of electricity in the State at the present moment is, I believe, something like 46,000,000 units, and I am rather inclined to think, and I think the general opinion of the people who have considered the matter, is that the possibility of that demand rising to 110,000,000 units in three years, is altogether beyond reasonable consideration. It has been stated by the Minister that the increase in Dublin has been calculated at the rate of 15 per cent. per annum, and it has been stated that that is the evidence of the Dublin Electrical Engineer. He denies that he made such a statement, I believe. I think it is very unlikely that such an increase will take place in the Dublin demand.

took the Chair.

Can the Deputy say whether Mr. Kettle denied that he ever made that statement?

Mr. Kettle wrote a letter to the papers in which he stated that, as far as that part of the quotation which the Minister made in regard to his estimate was concerned, it was not correct, and was not in accordance with the statement that he has made.

Would the Deputy say if Mr. Kettle attempted to state that he had not, in fact, said what I quoted?

I have not got Mr. Kettle's letter here. Mr. Kettle went to the trouble of writing a long letter to the newspapers. The letter occupied about a column of the newspapers and was written to prove that what the Minister said did not represent what Mr. Kettle stated. If Mr. Kettle did not succeed in proving that in the column letter that he wrote, he certainly made a very brave effort to do so.

A very long effort I should say.

With regard to the possibilities of a demand for electricity, the people of this country are unfortunately very conservative with regard to new ideas. They do not take to them as the people in other countries do. I suggest that there is very little use in making a comparison with countries such as America and Canada. The people in these countries are usually the very first to grasp new ideas and to carry them into effect, but we are an essentially conservative people and are slow to avail of opportunities of that kind. It appears to me that it will take a considerable amount of education, and I should say of propaganda, to prove to the people of this country that a saving is likely to come to them from the use of electricity as well as an improvement in their present living conditions. I think, too, that it would take a much longer time than the time allowed by the experts in order to build up the demand which they estimate will take place if this scheme is carried out. I do not maintain that the demand may not arise if the scheme is accepted. I hope it will, but what I do say is that it is doubtful, and while the doubt remains the matter should be subjected to further examination by Irishmen who are cognisant of Irish conditions, and who are in a better position than experts from foreign countries to form an opinion on such a matter.

There is another point I wish to deal with. From what I have been able to find out, the experts who reported on this are, I understand, electrical engineers rather than civil engineers. They were all, I understand, more or less connected with electrical undertakings. Therefore, I say on the question of drainage, which is really a matter for civil engineers, these experts, from their previous training, could not be expected to know a great deal about it. It appears from their report that this question of drainage came on them rather as a surprise, and that they were not aware that it was a question of such importance to the country as they found subsequently it was. They found, too, that an electrical scheme could not be dealt with apart from the question of drainage.

Before I would be willing to give my support to this Bill I would like to be sure that the question of drainage would be dealt with by Irish engineers who have studied it in all its aspects. They should be asked to give their opinion as to whether, in their view, the scheme embodied in the experts' report is a feasible one for this country. It would be important to ascertain from them whether the scheme outlined in the experts' report is a workable one, whether the system of canals suggested, the syphoning of water from the land and the pumping of water into these canals can be relied on and whether it may not fail at some essential time. This system of draining land by pumping large quantities of water out of it is a new one to us. I know that it can be done and that, as a matter of fact, it has been done in other countries, but it is new to us and the question is—can it be made a success here?

There was a point dealt with by Deputy Figgis which I wish to refer to. He was dealing with the financial aspects of the scheme, and suggested that if the scheme were established it would still not be in a position to pay interest on the capital outlay and that the returns from it would not be sufficient to pay the working expenses. He said that for several years, until the energy demand rose sufficiently to pay the ordinary working expenses, as well as the interest on the capital outlay, that certain allowances should be made for interest on capital and for the amount required to produce a sinking fund. In conclusion, I desire to say that I am not opposed to the Bill, and the Farmers' Party is not opposed to it. They want to see the electrical possibilities of the country exploited to the fullest extent, and I believe that the Shannon scheme as a basis for the electrical development of Ireland is the right one. But I am not satisfied that the Dáil has yet had a sufficient opportunity for examining the scheme, nor am I fully satisfied that Deputies can be fully satisfied that the scheme is a sound one from every aspect, and that there is no possible loop-hole which may lead the country into a quagmire of serious financial or economic losses. Unless it is proved to me that such possibilities do not exist, that the scheme is feasible, economically and financially, and is sound as an engineering project, I am not prepared to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill.

I propose to give, in a few words, my reasons for seconding the amendment moved by Deputy Heffernan. I take it that the question before us is whether we are satisfied to support, in principle, the Bill, the Second Reading of which has been moved by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and that we are satisfied that we know enough about the whole project to agree with the Minister; or whether, on the other hand, that we do not know enough and are not satisfied with the knowledge we have, and therefore ask that further consideration be given to the problem. I think it would be fairly stating the position with regard to the whole project for the electrification of the Shannon to say that no matter what could come up before this House to be the subject of legislation could be less understood by the country and by Deputies than the problem we are debating. It is a new problem for the country, and it is new, with very few exceptions, to every Deputy in this House. The exceptions perhaps might be Deputy Figgis and two or three of the intellectuals on the Government back benches, but to the great majority of Deputies it is true that their knowledge of electrical development is very new. If we have doubts about giving enthusiastic support to the Minister in his motion, it is not because we stand against electrical development in the country, but rather because we feel that it is not sound, in the interests of the State at the present time, to give what I might call a blind vote in support of the Minister's motion.

Now, to put it fairly, that is exactly the position that so many Deputies on every side of this House stand in. There is no use pretending that we know and understand the Siemens-Schuckert report or that we understand the report of the experts. We do not, and I want to hear some of the people who declare it is not right for Deputy Heffernan to move this amendment, saying they thoroughly understand the reports and are satisfied with them. The Minister's question is: "What is to be gained by submitting this report to a Committee? Is anything to be gained? What will be the abilities of the men who will be appointed or nominated to this committee to receive evidence and consider it, and pass judgement upon it?" It is true that no body of men nominated from this House or from the two Houses, could at once pretend that they understood the whole problem of electricity at their first sitting. It would be true, also, to say that after a time, after the evidence for and against is submitted to them, after a series of cross-examinations, after the submission by the other side of their case, and after hearing all these things a committee of commonsense men would be able to pass judgment, and, I would say, learned judgment, upon these reports and upon the points of view that may be expressed by others in this country who are not satisfied with the reports before us, or that the scheme before us is as sound as it might be. That is really, I think, the main point we have to decide in this amendment. The Minister, I have no doubt, will be able to secure sufficient backing to declare that he has a right to go on with the scheme on the reports that we have before us.

I have already got that authority.

Well, the Minister is asking us now for authority to go on with the work.

The scheme having been decided upon.

If the scheme had been decided upon I would not be in order now, and the Minister should have raised that matter before the amendment was moved. The suggestion in Deputy Heffernan's amendment, that a committee might sit and bring in a report before the 28th July, is not an unreasonable one. It would be quite sufficient time for the pros. and cons. of the problem to be debated, and under conditions not afforded to Deputies here and to the people in the country so far. The Minister, with his technical advisers, I have no doubt, is perfectly well satisfied, and I will go further and say that he has very good reason to be satisfied. He, in turn, is capable of satisfying his colleagues, but we have not all these technical advisers that the Minister has. Now, if Deputies and the House accept the Minister's Bill, the position we will be in is that we will accept the Bill with a certain amount of knowledge that we may say is rather a dangerous thing. I believe and feel the Minister will not lose anything, or the scheme lose anything of its worth by the setting up of a committee, or by giving opportunities to other people who say that these reports in certain important details are not sound, to endeavour to support their reasons for saying they are not sound, and giving the experts an opportunity of proving to those people the falsity of the points of view that they hold.

People feel it is incumbent upon them to demand this, because, on the other hand, we have taken upon ourselves to support the Minister in his action upon this very important matter of policy that is involving the State financially for a number of years to come. If, as Deputy Heffernan points out, certain things did not materialise in the manner that the promoters of the scheme and the experts suggest, we would all be equally guilty if the precautions that might have been taken were not taken, and if we did not urge that they should be taken. I say the Minister will have more support than ever, in pushing forward the scheme, if he sets up an impartial committee to weigh the arguments that can be advanced upon the other side. Not alone that, but he would satisfy every Deputy in this House that the scheme is as sound as he says it is and he would satisfy the country, as a whole, and whatever the consequences might be after a committee like that had gone into the matter, he would have the country behind him. I doubt if he will satisfy the taxpayers and many Deputies in this House by any other course of action.

Deputy Heffernan's speech consisted practically of a prologue and an epilogue, and generally a poem. The prologue and the epilogue were the same: "We are in favour of the Shannon scheme," but the Deputy's speech was, so far as it went, a root-and-branch attack upon the Shannon scheme in every detail of it. Deputy Baxter pointed out that the Second Reading is to decide—and he is right in that—the question of accepting the principle of the scheme or not. If, as Deputy Heffernan said, the Farmers' Party are convinced that the Shannon scheme is the scheme, I think that would commit them to the principle of the Bill.

A Shannon scheme I said, not the Shannon Scheme.

Then the mover of the first amendment, and the mover of the substitute amendment, were both very strong upon the point that the four very well-qualified experts of European fame had not enough time to examine this scheme. Deputy Heffernan says six months is not enough for them, and Deputy Figgis says two months is not enough for them.

I said nothing of the sort. I did say that they had no time to consider the general water-power resources of the country in relation to the economic needs; not on the Shannon, which I might also have said, but did not happen to say.

But matters which the experts did not consider and could not have considered in two months, this House is to do within six days or practically six days, according to Deputy Figgis in his amendment. In the case of Deputy Heffernan things are not so bad; he expects a Committee of this House first to do in a couple of months what the experts could not do in the six months at their disposal.

That is the value which these two Deputies set on the amendment they have put down and the arguments they have put forward. Deputy Heffernan also made great play with the conservative character of the Irish people. Again and again he stressed the position of the people of this country in comparison with other countries, Canada and elsewhere—that they were opposed to anything that was new. I could understand that attitude if he had not put in the word "unfortunately." What does he do to help them out of that conservatism? He plays into the hands of that conservatism by pandering to it in asking us to delay the scheme. He will not consent to any scheme unless every detail of it is examined and unless everything about it is investigated by a committee of laymen. Personally I should not like to be committed to a policy of that kind, that we cannot adopt a hydro-electrical scheme of this kind until we, as laymen, are capable of examining it, pronouncing on every point in it, and of discovering whether it has any flaw. If that is to be the work of such a committee, I may say that I do not possess sufficient knowledge or training to come to any verdict on such a scheme.

Not only apparently is that to be done, though not in any way opposed to this scheme, nor probably desirous of holding it up, but the committee is also to decide on the important question as to the materials of which the embankments are to be made, and to say whether or not these materials are proper. The experts point out that in some places there may be sand, that sand alone would not be sufficient, and they give warning that not sand but proper material shall be used.

That will be the business of the engineers appointed by the Government to look into. All this is proposed, as if there was not sufficient time to go into it in the months that have elapsed, and it is to be gone into by the Committee before the 28th July, when, incidentally, the report will be given. Whether the House will be sitting, or forced to sit, all that time I do not know, but the general hope of Deputies who attend the House regularly is that we shall not be sitting at that time. It is therefore proposed to shelve the action of this House on this Bill until the winter. That, in itself, might not be an objectionable thing if any sound reason had been brought forward for a policy of postponement of that kind, but when we are told that a body of laymen of this House can examine this scheme in detail, a scheme to which the best experts in Europe have given their best attention, I say, as I have said before, that this scheme was examined as no other scheme was examined.

The experts appointed by the Government were not appointed to back up the scheme, but to test it, to approach it with distrust, and to see where it was weak. That was their function, and that function they performed. They were not experts chosen and told to say what they could in favour of the scheme, and to give what is known in the courts as expert evidence on its behalf. That is not what they were asked to do. They were asked to do what Deputy Heffernan wants this committee to do, namely, to examine its details. I cannot see how there could be any prospect of a committee of laymen of this House arriving at a more satisfactory decision upon it than these experts have arrived at. According to Deputy Heffernan, the experts appointed were unfortunately all electrical experts. I do not know where he got his information from.

Herr Meyer-Peter is an expert in hydraulic and not electrical engineering, and because he was an expert in that branch of engineering he was appointed. There were electrical engineering experts appointed, experts in the economy of electrical distribution, but there was also the hydraulic engineer whom I have just mentioned. Deputy Figgis, I think, made the suggestion that the Dáil is being asked to sanction a contract without getting any specifications. The Dáil is being asked to do nothing of the kind. It is not the Dáil that is entering into the contract, and it is not the Dáil that is to get the specifications. It is the Government. Less than a week ago the Dáil passed a vote of £400,000 for new works. Does that mean that the Dáil passed these contracts without specifications?

Does it mean that the contracts would be carried out without specifications? Nothing of the kind. There is a department of the Government to receive the contracts and to get the specifications and to see that they are carried out. It is the same so far as this is concerned. The details of this contract are not put before the Dáil, as the Dáil does not enter into the contract. The Dáil will give permission to the Government to do it if this Bill is carried through. It is not the business of the Dáil to carry out or enter into contracts. I never yet heard of the Dáil entering into a contract even, for instance, as regards the seating accommodation of the Dáil itself.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary admit that in regard to Private Bill legislation where the allocation of national resources is concerned these particulars are required as being necessary?

First of all, as Deputy Johnson pointed out in what I may call the first Second Reading debate, this is not at all on a par with Private Bill legislation, nor with a private company or individual interfering with the property of another company or individual or commandeering the resources of the country for private purposes. It is a proposal by the Government to utilise the national resources for national purposes. We have passed drainage legislation of this kind. Deputy Figgis says that it is unprecedented. Let him look up the ordinary legislation which gives rights to interfere with the property of private individuals, not for the benefit of the whole nation, as in the case of this scheme, but for the benefit of private individuals living along the same river. Still, general legislation of that kind was passed. Another point to which I would like to draw attention is a point made by Deputy Figgis in referring to what he called the true national development. If, after his speech, he does not get the votes of Deputy O'Connell and the various other Galway Deputies, and the votes of Deputies from Kerry as well, that schemes should be started practically in every county, then they have no proper political sense.

The Deputy's suggestion amounts to this: First you start the Liffey scheme. It can supply Dublin and the neighbourhood. Then start the Flesk scheme and it can supply Killarney. Then start the Corrib scheme to supply Galway. Get a small river in Limerick, if you can, and that would supply Limerick. So on with every other portion of the country. Then take the Slaney for the benefit of Deputy Corish, and for the benefit of Deputy Gorey start the Barrow electrical scheme in Graigue-na-managh, where you have the only real fall in the River Barrow. It is the only place where you get what is called a head, I mean a head of water for electrical purposes. That is to be the situation, and then, perhaps, you may go on to the Shannon; that is, you can go on to the Shannon, having carefully shut out every market which it can supply. One half of the speeches against this Bill was to the effect that this scheme cannot possibly pay, that there would not be a demand in the whole country, even taking Dublin in. The other half of the speeches was to the effect that we should first develop local resources and afterwards come to the Shannon. If you first develop the Liffey, do you think that you will ever get to the Shannon?

There will be ten times as much argument against the Shannon scheme on the economic side if you take out the principal customer, which is Dublin, and if you take out not only Dublin but all the other districts, you can never get to the Shannon, for there will be nothing left for it. As Deputy Figgis pointed out, the total amount of hydraulic power for electrical purposes in this country is limited. That is what the experts have insisted on, and that is why they pointed out that you must be careful and not queer the whole pitch by starting small schemes. You can go from the big scheme to the small schemes, but if you start with the small schemes you create chaos, and would never get to the big scheme, and would throw away half the electrical energy you have at your disposal in in that way. That is the whole burden of their report, where they come to deal with the necessity of the proper economising of the very limited resources that this country possesses. That is why, in places like Switzerland, where you have many rivers with heads of water, that each can supply a big amount of electrical power, and you can safely go and develop each of them separately. That is what you cannot do in this country, and it is the Swiss experts who pointed that out, men who have examined our scheme, and are acquainted with the conditions in Switzerland, that the real development, if people are satisfied that hydraulic power must be developed, must be through the Shannon, to the small schemes and not in the opposite direction. Deputy Figgis also mentioned that there would be a loss of 30 per cent. on transmission.

I do not know where he got the figure; and there was a certain amount of innuendo that there would not be the same loss, or any loss practically, if you had those local schemes working. It was the Shannon that was to provide us with a loss of 30 per cent. I suggest that idea of a loss of 30 per cent. at the beginning is deceptive. What we have to consider at the beginning is the price of electricity per unit. There is the economic consideration at the start. Afterwards, when all the Shannon electric supply is taken up, and there is a demand for more, then is the time to start your local supply to supplement the local needs. I did not intend to detain the House so long, but I wished to deal with some of the arguments in favour of what, to my mind, is a merely postponing motion.

I hope I shall be in order in saying that I am in favour of the Shannon as against the Liffey, and in favour of a big scheme as against a little scheme. I agree with the Minister that in the resolution passed about a month ago the Dáil expressed its approval of the Shannon scheme, but it did not express approval of the methods by which the Shannon scheme was to be carried out. That is what we are considering and discussing now. I do not propose to discuss the financial and engineering details. I am anticipating Deputy Magennis's criticism by admitting that I am quite incompetent to do so. What I want to discuss is the methods by which this Bill proposes to deal with the private individual. I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan that this is a public Bill, but in some respects it resembles a Private Bill, in that it proposes to deal arbitrarily with the property of private individuals, and not with all private individuals, but a select number of them. It leaves my water power in Loch Arron untouched, but the Minister takes from my neighbour, in a lough five miles away, extensive powers. Therefore, it does not follow the precedent of the Land Act, which deals with all land owners.

Does the Licensing Act interfere with the property of all licence holders?

To the best of my recollection it did. It laid down rules for all publichouses. The clause for the acquisition of the lands of a private individual is a general clause in a public Bill. Section 3, giving the Minister power over riparian owners, is similar to a clause in a Private Bill. My view is that persons affected by this Bill have a right to be heard by some tribunal of this House or of the Oireachtas, and it is for that reason I am supporting Deputy Heffernan's amendment. I do not know whether we shall gain much light or leading from the committee he proposes. Probably the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance was justified in some of his criticisms, but one thing to be remembered is, that although his experts were experts in hydraulic and electric engineering, they were not experts in local conditions. In some passages of their report they betrayed a certain ignorance of local conditions. That is my impression. At any rate they were not fully acquainted with the conditions in this country, and were dependent on such information as they could pick up here. A committee of the Dáil would not be ignorant of local conditions.

The amendment would give people the right to apply and have the scheme modified to meet their objections— when I say "people" I include corporations and other bodies who are the people likely to come before a Committee if set up. In the first place, there are existing electricity companies, and they appear to be very much overlooked. It is assumed they would be content to get their current at a cheaper rate, but what is to happen if any electricity company in Cork or Dublin hoist the Sinn Fein flag and say: "We will make our own electricity, we do not want the Shannon electricity?" The effect of this Bill is to set up a competitor to existing interests subsidised by the State. That is not an unfair way of putting it. It is only a hypothetical contingency. Other bodies may wish to appear to make objections, such as trade unions. This Bill is not going to create unemployment, but it will create the displacement of labour. Less labour, for instance, may be required at the Pigeon House and more at O'Brien's Bridge. The claim might be made on the Minister that persons displaced in consequence of this scheme should have first claim for employment under the scheme. They may do so because they are well represented in this House, but assuming that they were not, and that the Labour Party had gone under, and that Labour was not represented here, I think it would be only fair to have a committee to whom they might present their case. That applies also to the riparian owners. I would like to call attention to the absence in this scheme of the usual safeguards given in Private Bill legislation.

I think it would be generally accepted that any property owner from whom the State propose to take property, or from whom the State, the municipality, the private owner, or the company propose to take property, or propose to affect his property in one way or another, has the right to know what is going to be done. In the case of Private Bills that is achieved by the Promoters of the Bill having to deposit copies of that portion of their Bill which affects the area with the clerk of the county council or, as in the past, with the clerk of the rural district council. What is the Minister's procedure? For all that part of the area south of Portumna plans shall be deposited at Limerick, and for all that part of the Shannon and its tributaries north of Portumna plans will be deposited at Portumna. When he is depositing plans at Portumna, I suppose he wants to deal with Portumna by creating a possible tourist traffic there. Just imagine the position of the Leitrim man at Lough Allen, or the Roscommon man at Lough Ree, who might probably have to travel to Dublin in connection with all the maps, plans and books of reference.

For what purpose?

I am merely quoting Section 10, sub-section (4).

Why should any person living at Lough Allen or Lough Ree have to go to Dublin, Portumna or Limerick for anything under a partial development scheme?

The words in the section are: "The maps, plans and books of reference to be deposited under this section shall be deposited at some office of the Minister in the City of Dublin and also in the case of maps, plans and books of reference relating to works or property south of the bridge crossing the River Shannon at the northern end of Lough Derg, and known as Portumna Bridge, at a convenient place in the City of Limerick, and... north of the said bridge at a convenient place in the town of Portumna." There is no statement there that they are going to be deposited anywhere else.

Perhaps I might explain that. The Deputy was not here on 3rd April. It was then stated, and the House understood, that no portion of the Shannon north of Portumna was being affected by any part of the partial development scheme. We are doing something which affects the river in a corrective way up to Banagher.

This Bill does not only apply to the partial development scheme; it applies to the whole scheme.

No. The Bill is definitely limited with regard to a specific sum of money.

Then I apologise to the Minister. At the same time, I think it would be much better if that were specifically stated in the Bill. I withdraw that argument. At the same time, as the Minister probably knows, and as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Works certainly knows, people on the river may be very much affected by things that will happen lower down or higher up on the river from their location. Therefore, I think information should be more readily available. I turn from individuals to the public as a whole, and to the Dáil as a whole. If this Bill were considered by a Private Bill Committee, that Committee would have before it reports from the various public Departments affected. We have not the advantage of any such reports to-day. That Committee would have a report from the Minister for Local Government and Public Health as to the effect of the proposals in the Bill on his Department; and would have a report from the Minister for Fisheries as to the effect on his Department.

We have clauses in the Bill dealing with local government, dealing with the Post Office and dealing with fisheries. My impression is that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs made a good bargain with the Minister: that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health made a bad bargain, and that the Minister for Fisheries made no bargain at all. None of those Ministers is an Executive Minister. Those Ministers are not responsible for the Bill, and we have no guidance from them.

The Bill affects local government to a certain extent by the demolition or the diversion of bridges; it affects fisheries very seriously indeed. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Finance was, some months ago, speaking in regard to Deputies from Kerry. The Deputy from Kerry that I want to hear on this scheme is the Minister for Fisheries. He was here when the Minister for Industry and Commerce began his statement, and when the Minister for Industry and Commerce said he did not intend to subordinate electrical power to fisheries, the Minister for Fisheries went out, I presume, in despair. We have no guidance on these matters whatever; we have not the guidance that a Private Bill Committee would have. The Ministers to whom I have referred are not Executive Ministers. We do not know how far they have been consulted, or whether they are in agreement with the Bill.

Seriously, I ask the Dáil to consider the desirability of setting up some Committee which will go into this question of fisheries. It is admitted that fisheries will be affected, and, doubtless, there will be some scheme of compensation. It is desirable that we should limit injury as far as we possibly can. Presently we may find ourselves in the position of destroying one of the industries that we have in order to create another. Before I conclude I would like to deal with a possible argument that may be put forward by the Minister. I know very well how dangerous it is to anticipate the Minister. He may deprecate delay in this matter. What I want to know is what is the great urgency in regard to the scheme. As far as I know—I have read the Minister's speeches with some care, including those he delivered when I was absent from the Dáil—he has never made, up to the present, any case on the ground of urgency. The scheme is only a little more than a year old. It will take at least three years to complete it.

I venture to think that unless there is some reason that we have not yet heard, we shall be doing no harm in delaying the scheme somewhat in order to educate better the public mind and remove apprehensions that are now felt. There may be some reason that we have not heard of. It may be possible that money will be available now that will not be available later. That is the only reason I can think of at the moment. The work contemplated is bound to take three years to complete, and that refers only to part of the scheme. It may not be completed in that time; it may take longer. I think it would be advisable that we should have a more detailed examination than we have had up to the present. I do not accept Deputy O'Sullivan's contention that the State has the right to over-rule the rights of private individuals, whenever it thinks it expedient to do so, without allowing them to be heard. I think we are in danger of aggrandising and magnifying the functions of the State too much. It is because this amendment of Deputy Figgis and Deputy Heffernan will give the private individual some power of putting his case against the State—that great leviathan, the State, which Hobbes foresaw will swallow all private rights—that I support them. I congratulate the Labour Party on their silence. They are having a most admirable model for a future measure of State Socialism.

"All the lands and waters, mines and minerals within the territory of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) hitherto vested in the State or any Department thereof, or held for the public use or benefit, and also all the natural resources of the same territory (including the air and all forms of potential energy), and also all royalties and franchises within that territory shall from and after the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution, belong to the Irish Free State subject to any trusts, grants, leases or concessions then existing in respect thereof." That satisfies me in respect to the point Deputy Bryan Cooper has just made. The argument he has used, of course, is not an argument for the amendment. It is an argument that might well follow the passing of the Second Reading of the Bill. It certainly is not an argument for refusing to give a Second Reading to the Bill until you have the Committee Stage of the Bill. Deputy Cooper suggests that the Second Reading should be acceded to and then that you should call a committee together and allow all the private interests that would, or that might think they would, be affected, to come and give evidence before that Committee of the House. I think the argument was carried entirely too far. I hope it will not be made a precedent that in respect to public Bills, individuals who believe themselves to be aggrieved, are to have the right of audience of the Dáil or a Committee of the Dáil which is discussing public Bills. If you make that precedent on this occasion, I can foresee the abolition of the Dáil and the setting up by the Ministry for the time being of a tribunal which will hear citizens directly on every subject that is put forward and representative Government will, of course, by that fact be abolished. Deputy Cooper would deny that he was a Bolshevick, but he is going in that way rapidly.

I have excellent tutors.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary when he insisted that we have not got to consider this general question on a parallel with Private Bill legislation. I rather think we should deal with this matter as Parliaments have done almost universally when dealing with matters of public concern. They had the general principles approved, and then accepted responsibility for executive action. I think it was Deputy Heffernan who said that there was never a precedent for this kind of procedure. I have not any information regarding the action of governments in respect to electrical supply, but I rather anticipated that he would have produced evidence to show, in the various countries where the State had taken up the business of providing electrical supplies from water power, what their procedure was. I think I would be right in saying that in such businesses as the Assouan Dam, or the Panama Canal, or even what was Kingstown Harbour, the State did not submit the details or the plans, or the method of construction, or the material of which they were to be constructed, for the consideration of the Parliament which approved of the spending of the money. I do not think that when the British Government, for instance, decided to construct a base at Singapore, they submitted the detailed plan, not from points of secrecy, but from the point of view of practical working. They got approval in a general way of the principle, and when the public had discussed that principle the Government accepted responsibility for the proper working out of that principle and the carrying through of it to an economic and social success.

A suggestion was made by Deputy Heffernan that there was a parallel between the discussion of the Liffey Power Scheme and what he would like in respect to this scheme. I would venture to say that, notwithstanding the fact that the Joint Committee sat for many weeks hearing evidence on both sides, in coming to their conclusion they were guided rather by the general principles than by the technical merits of one or other of the schemes, whether the thickness of the wall, the depth of the fall, or the quality of the material. I do not think for a moment that these factors weighed with the committee to any degree at all. As a matter of fact, the decision was on the general principle, the merits in a general way of the rival schemes. That is all that a committee that might be set up by the House could do. It might be possible that a committee of that kind would hear evidence from rival engineers. Is it suggested that the supporters and the opponents of a particular scheme would have counsel to crossexamine the various witnesses. Is it intended that there should be expert cross-examining expert, or is it intended that the several witnesses to be called would make their statements and be examined by the laymen who would constitute the committee? In such a case I am inclined to think that the only result would be that the committee would have to decide as between expert and expert. I do not think we will be any nearer satisfaction by such a method than we are to-day.

I have tried to imagine the position that would have arisen had this scheme been proposed by a committee of Irish engineers, the details worked out and presented to the public as this scheme has been presented, and that the Government had said: "Well, Irish engineers have proposed this scheme, have worked it out in detail, but we are not satisfied to take that as sufficient evidence of its practicability or its soundness. We will call in European experts, who will examine the scheme and pronounce upon it." When they have proven that, then the Dáil would require to bring in Continental experts. I cannot imagine that, and yet it is a fair parallel to what has happened in this case. If we could dissociate the nationality, or the external origin of Siemens-Schuckert, in proposing the scheme, I think we would agree that the publicity and the examination that the scheme has had is more than would normally be given to work of the kind.

I think Deputy Baxter rather hinted at the truth, that it is because this scheme is novel, because it is the exercise of a new power, a new authority, that we should be very cautious; we must not do anything until we are absolutely satisfied that it is going to be a perfect success and we cannot accept the testimony of any firm such as Siemens-Schuckert, even though it is backed by unprejudiced experts. Until all the engineers in Ireland, or the great majority of them, the great majority of business men, the great majority of farmers, are all satisfied that it is a perfectly competent scheme, we should not touch it! I think that that is a sign of faithlessness and unwillingness to accept responsibilities that we ought not to exhibit.

Deputy Figgis touched upon a point which has been frequently referred to in public, or at least similar points have been raised in opposition in public— that is, the risk from a military and engineering point of view. For fear there may be some notice taken of that, I would remind the Dáil that so far as Dublin is concerned the risk would have been equally great in respect to the Liffey scheme; it would be equally great for Ballyshannon and district from a Ballyshannon scheme; it would be equally ominous and horrible to Wexford, Waterford, or Kilkenny, if there were local schemes applicable to those areas. We are not to be frightened by suggestions that there are military risks in having a centralised scheme. The Parliamentary Secretary has dealt effectively and satisfactorily with the arguments in favour of centralisation—centralisation from the beginning, rather than a combination of local schemes which may eventually be co-ordinated and brought under one management. There may be losses in transmission, but from what I can read and understand of the report, those are more than compensated for by the saving in capital expenditure.

Deputy Figgis's strongest point, I think, was the argument of cost—the delay that would be entailed between the finishing of the scheme and the consumption of the whole produce of electrical energy—and that there would be a possible charge of £300,000 a year. Supposing there were! It is a large sum, but if Deputy Figgis's faith in the utilisation of electrical energy for the country is justified, if it is to be of value, 2/- per head of the population per annum is not a big price to pay for it.

Is not that rather neglecting my argument? My point was that the development will come, but such development has always proved in other countries to be very slow and, therefore, the method to be chosen should be one that would not place that financial burden. It is not that there will not be development; it is the rate at which that development will come.

I understand the argument, but I am taking it as proved that the rate of development will be faster with the lower price of power. The bigger and the more national in its character this scheme is, the greater the impulse for the utilisation of electricity. The fashion, if I may say so, the habit, of using electricity will grow very much more rapidly under a big national scheme than it will by a number of smaller local schemes—a succession of local schemes.

That is the point at issue.

That is a point of view—it is a question of faith, perhaps a question of experience. We are surely going to take some benefit from the experience of other people. Utilisation of electrical power in domestic affairs, even in industrial affairs, is very modern—comparatively new. I think that we are justified in saying that the rate of increase is not going to be as slow in future anywhere as it has been in the past. The demand for electrical power in Dublin to-day is growing faster than it did ten years ago, and with every increase in the number of users for a long time to come there will be a still greater proportionate increase.

The desire for electricity, as the experts pointed out, has still to catch up with the desire for sugar candy.

The desire even for electricity to-day is greater in Ireland than the desire for sugar candy. While it may be true that people are still more desirous of luxuries of a personal character than luxuries of a wider and social character, I nevertheless believe that we ought to set our minds upon the development of the use of electrical energy for as many purposes as possible; to strain our efforts to bring electrical energy to the people at as low a price as possible, and that it is easily worth the £300,000 that Deputy Figgis speaks of as a sum that the country cannot afford. I maintain that it would be very well worth while for the country to take that upon itself even as a perpetual charge, for the social benefit as well as the industrial benefit that would be derived.

In respect to the Bill, the proposal is in a general way to authorise the Minister to acquire such property, to do such things as he deems to be necessary within certain conditions, to generate electrical power and to supply that electrical power to the public. I am prepared to support that proposition. Having had before me in much more detail than I ever expect to get again in any other scheme of the kind, the methods whereby the Minister proposes to carry on this work which he asks for authorisation to do, I think the Bill should have a Second Reading.

The Minister suggested some question regarding Section 14, and defended the section as one that he wanted to have as a stand-by in case he were overcharged—in case there were excessive demands made upon him. But I want to support that section specifically and heartily, because it does clearly introduce what is an essential clause in any such Bill. That is to say, that where by State action, by communal action, by the action of the Government or the people in their corporate capacity— where the State or a municipality improves the value of lands or property, then there is something due by the owners of these lands and property to the community. That is to say, the principle of betterment is rightly embodied in this Bill. I do not think the Minister has any occasion to apologise, or to deal gingerly, shall I say, in justifying the introduction of this section. It is an essential section in any such measure. I think the Acquisition of Land Act, which is at present the law of this State, embodies such a general clause in respect to lands taken by public bodies.

I would ask the Dáil to agree to the Second Reading of the Bill. Any question such as that Deputy Cooper raised as to representation from interests that feel themselves aggrieved will naturally come forward on the Committee Stage of the Bill. I do not know what the Minister proposes in regard to the Committee Stage, whether he intends that the Bill should be discussed in Committee of the whole House, or submitted to a Special Committee. I have no doubt that all the interests Deputy Cooper mentioned as possibly feeling aggrieved will be able to find spokesmen amongst the various Deputies. I have no doubt that when these spokesmen are heard, and when a case is made, it will receive proper attention, and that no injustice will be done. I hope the House will pass the Bill, and that it will become law long before, if possible, the Dáil adjourns, and that the 28th July will not find us waiting to report a Bill of this kind, which has then to go to the Seanad, and then, perhaps, be referred back to the Dáil, only to become law some time next year. I would hope that the public interests would be served so well that interest in the electrification of the country would be rapidly generated long before this time next year; that the work will be set on foot, and that we shall see before this summer is through something in the way of the beginnings of the work preparatory to the electrification of the Irish Free State.

I do not intend to detain the House very long, because I agree very much with the view taken by the Minister, that, on the general principle of the Shannon scheme, we had our Second Reading debate on the 2nd and 3rd April. That, perhaps, might be put a little further—that, on the general principle of the Siemens-Schuckert scheme, the Minister might be justified in saying we had our Second Reading debate on those dates. But I think if that were said it would be true on the understanding that the House then believed it would have its Committee Stage of debate on that scheme. I do not propose at all to go over the same ground, or even similar ground, which I tried to cover on the 3rd April, but I wish to spend a few moments in pleading for more time in the consideration of this measure. I tried then to show that I did not think all the difficulties in the Siemens-Schuckert scheme had been fully considered. I am of the same opinion still. I think I am correctly quoting the Minister when, after he was good enough to express appreciation of remarks I had made, he said he hoped that such criticism would receive the fullest attention of the best engineering experts that he could get during the next month. I had hoped that he would have prefaced his remarks to-night by giving the result of that investigation.

Instead of that I drew the attention of the Dáil to the fact that he made his speech in introducing the Second Reading of the Bill this evening practically without any reference whatever to the Siemens-Schuckert scheme. I ask the Dáil to consider, in viewing this Bill, that that was more or less inevitable from his point of view.

It is, no doubt, true—I am sure the Minister would say so—that the Bill is based on the assumption that the Government are going to put into operation the Siemens-Schuckert scheme. But all that the Bill does—and this is what the Dáil ought to consider—is to empower the Government to put into operation a scheme, or schemes if you like, for operating the power of the Shannon. It does not say so in so many words that it is the Siemens-Schuckert scheme. They might, when this Bill is passed, it seems to me, enter into a contract with Siemens-Schuckert the next day, they might decide to have further inquiry into it if they thought the responsibilities on their shoulders were too much to proceed immediately, or they might proceed to get other schemes. But the Bill simply empowers them to use the Shannon scheme, and I suggest to the Dáil, in going through that Bill in Committee, it will hardly be possible at any stage to go into details of the Siemens-Schuckert scheme itself. We will simply have to consider section after section, the question as to whether we should or should not empower the Minister to carry out certain works, not a particular scheme at all. If we give this Bill a Second Reading immediately we shall not have any time or opportunity of giving, on the Committee Stage, that consideration to the Siemens-Schuckert scheme that I think we were looking forward to on the 2nd and 3rd April, and in the expectation of which some of us simply held our hands.

I find myself rather in a difficult position to explain, and I am not sure that I shall explain my exact position. I do not follow Deputy Figgis in his attempt to raise again the question of a partial scheme versus a national scheme. I think that was settled by the decision on the 3rd of April. I do not even follow Deputy Heffernan to the full in his claim to have this scheme considered by a committee, because I recognise the truth of what has been urged, that none of us is really capable of going into the details of this scheme in a proper way.

I do not to that extent go with the other Deputies, but I do feel that in many ways, in discussions outside and in the Press by engineers, difficulties and even dangers in this scheme have been pointed to which require investigation on our part as the Dáil before we can give our assent to this scheme. We should not be doing our duty to the nation as a Dáil if we were to hand over this responsibility to the Government saying "Let the blood be on your own heads; you are to take responsibility." I do not think we have given sufficient time to the consideration of those difficulties and dangers to pass this scheme in all its completeness without a little further debate, because, as I have said, we shall really not be considering this matter when we come to go into this Bill in Committee. I do not think the stage is yet reached when we should go so far. I do not go completely with Deputy Heffernan, because I do not claim that we can satisfy ourselves on all the details. I think Deputy O'Sullivan was perfectly right in that. But still we cannot lose sight of the perspective; we have responsibilities and duties, and the question to my mind is, have we done so far our full part? I cannot persuade myself at this stage that we have inquired into this scheme sufficiently from the point of view of a representative assembly of the nation. I cannot satisfy myself of that. I feel if we agree to-night to this Second Reading we shall be putting too much responsibility upon the shoulders of the Government in this matter. Difficulties have been put forward, urged and argued; I do not know yet that these difficulties have ever been put up to the experts for their answer. No doubt the Government may say "We will do that before we actually put this scheme in hands." But after this Bill passes, the Minister for Industry and Commerce may sign the contract with Siemens-Schuckert and then it will be too late. I hope he will correct me if I am wrong in that assumption. That is what the Bill actually empowers him to do.

The assumption is perfectly sound, but I am afraid that there is an implication that is perfectly unsound, that is that I would sign a contract leaving amateurs to carry out this scheme, which really must be carried out by engineers.

I did not wish to insinuate in any way the question of amateurs, or that they would be brought in. My point was this, that when the contract came to be carried out, the fullest inquiry must be made on special points as they arise. Then it may turn out that there were many real engineering dificulties which had been merely foreshadowed in the discussion that has taken place up to the present, and that these might turn out to be real difficulties which might make the scheme impossible, and that then it would be too late after the contract had been signed to make such additional enquiries as might be made at the present time. As I said, I do not think that personally I have got to the stage at which I could vote for the Second Reading. I want to make my position clear. I think more time ought to be given, and that the time given now into a full inquiry into the scheme from its engineering point of view and its economic point of view will be well spent time, and will tend in the end to the real success of the scheme. I am not opposing it; I am asking for a fuller inquiry of some kind and a fuller investigation. I leave it to the Government to settle in what way they will have that investigation carried out. I will leave it to them to satisfy the engineers in the difficulties they have raised.

I am not content myself to brush aside those difficulties and to say that they are difficulties they have been raised from interested or other motives. I do not think many of them are. I think many of them are put forward in perfect good faith and I ask the Government to have those difficulties considered and answered, and even submitted to the experts who have made their report and get their reply, and have a discussion of those difficulties before they really ask us to pledge ourselves to this scheme, and to give them carte blanche to go ahead.

We have now, as I believe. a composite amendment, phrased either as Deputy Figgis phrased it, or, in the alternative, as Deputy Heffernan slightly amended it. Deputy Figgis was wise enough not to attempt to advance any argument as to why his special type of committee should be considered; he simply went on the which he afterwards admitted, that this whole thing is a question of delay. "Let us have delay." Deputy Baxter put a further addition which Deputy Figgis was sincere enough not to put in—an appeal for further consideration. Deputy Figgis left out "for further consideration."

I asked Deputy Figgis a question, in interruption, about one matter about which I am specially concerned. He alluded to the sum of £5,200,000, and to the amount of the annual charge the State might have to meet by reason of the deficiency in the revenue-producing power of the plant after a certain period. I asked him did he realise that the £5,200,000 included the amount estimated by the experts to cover the loss during the period in which it would not be revenue producing. He made an evasive answer to that.

As far back as the 19th December last I made a preliminary statement on the Shannon scheme. That night I circulated to Deputies, and Deputies had in their possession, a certain typescript. Deputy Figgis had that. One phrase in that typescript is this: "At the end of about five years a profit will be obtainable after full interest has been paid on the capital. Fifteen per cent. addition to the cost is included in the above-mentioned capital of £5,200,000 and £7,870,000 respectively to cover the interest during the period of construction, as also the insufficiency in interest in the first four working years." I emphasise the words "fifteen per cent. addition to the cost is included." for on the 28th of the month the following appeared in a letter to the "Sunday Times":—

Let us come down to the simple issue of practicability—in other words, to the very mundane consideration of finance. The Siemens proposal, one learns, is to begin with a development costing, with transmission lines over the whole country, some £5,200,000... In addition, a matter of fifteen per cent. is to be added to these prime costs to cover the period during which the demand is being built up to sustain the available supply.

Nine days after Deputy Figgis, as Deputy of the Dáil, received that typescript saying that this fifteen per cent. to which he refers is included in the £5,200,000, he writes anonymously, as Special Correspondent, to the "Sunday Times," in which he makes that glaring error. He now for the first time comes into the full light of day with something that approaches very nearly to that. I allude to that article in the "Sunday Times" for that reason. It was written anonymously, and it was written in England, and even if Deputy Figgis signed the article in England, where he is not so well known as he is here, there might be some reliance placed on what he says.

He said here to-night, however—and he has the disadvantage of saying it here as from himself—much the same thing, showing a complete disregard of what the experts have definitely stated, that there is an admission that through three years' building period and some years afterwards, the plant could not be estimated to be fully productive so as to pay its way, and to the sum they had estimated as the proper cost of building they added fifteen per cent. to cover the loss. The conclusion that anybody must draw from reading their account, if one accepts their figures as to consumption as reliable, is that this when built out will effect the great change that the whole Shannon Supply scheme must effect in this country without the cost of a single penny to the Exchequer. Instead of that we have Deputy Figgis and his statement, as I said, made personally here in the House, and as coming from Deputy Figgis openly it is of less harm than made anonymously through the columns of the English Press.

Is the Minister suggesting that the loss between revenue and the charge on the debt is going to be met actually out of the debt itself for an indefinite period of years until the revenue comes up to meet the expenditure?

The Deputy has said that he read the experts' report fully: if he has not received so much information from it he has read it badly. I do stand over that statement he puts to me in query.

For how long a period of time?

They indicate a certain period of time.

I am contesting that.

Does the Deputy contend that to the £5,200,000 they are to add a matter of fifteen per cent. to the prime costs to cover the period during which the demand is being built up? Was that a fair statement of what is in the experts' report?

I agree that that was not a fair statement; that was written from my notes during his speech. As it is now, I am putting the case on a different basis altogether. It is as to the length of time—

The Deputy is not going to change his ground; the Deputy had in his hand on the 19th December a typescript which stated that in the sum of £5,200,000 was included the fifteen per cent. On the 28th of that month he wrote to the English Press that, in addition to the £5,200,000, a matter of fifteen per cent. would be added. That shows the reliability of the Deputy. Note that that statement of his, which he now confesses to be erroneous, has remained uncontradicted in the Sunday Press. I wonder has he just discovered this evening that the £5,200,000 includes that, and that there has not to be added to that fifteen per cent.? I think I can leave that matter there. The Deputy refers to an anonymous military engineer who said something to him in London. I do not know what the Deputy poses as in London. He may be the military engineer himself for all we know. He read out a further anonymous statement, and I am going to suggest to him where that statement came from. I made a suggestion, and I lead up to it in this way, that people who have observed the Deputy in this House will know his ordinary method of debate—that he has the habit of re-issuing in the garb of a personal philosophic discovery or with some sort of exegetical gloss the most casual remark that a Deputy will have made before him; and this is very much on the same lines. The experts have stated all that he read out of that document.

They were asked to report on the Siemens-Schuckert scheme as compared with any alternative of providing power in the Free State. The experts were asked to examine the proposals in the light of the White Paper, and they did so, and they say—and I would like this to be compared with the recollection of what Deputies may have of what Deputy Figgis read out—"The experts are aware that the Free State has not a very large quantity of water power which can be developed. Accordingly, in setting out a plan for energy, a pre-eminently suitable line of power development must be followed. Above all, no partial exploitation of a water power ought to be carried out which makes a full development later impossible from an economic viewpoint. On the other hand, for the start, no plant should be built which cannot be adapted to growing demands."

Another portion of the report states: "The experts have already emphasised the fact that the Irish Free State does not contain any considerable quantity of water power, as the fall conditions in the country are comparatively unfavourable. Accordingly, it is necessary to work out the plan for the supply of energy in the most conscientious manner, so that it will be possible to exploit, to the full, the economic water power available in proportion as the demand for it develops." I could read further; that shows the judgment by the experts, a judgment passed upon certain things which was very much in line with what Deputy Figgis read out from his anonymous statement. I said here that I would suggest who wrote it. I am going to suggest a composite name that will represent the ambition of one of the authors—with the engineering experience of the other. I would suggest that it was written by —I will put it in this way—Deputy Sir John Purser Figgis.

It was written by Dr. Jeffcott.

I am answered on that point. Let me continue on this matter of the further alternative of providing power. Even so long ago as the 19th December, I definitely read out a second statement in addition to the statement which was put in typescript into the Deputy's hands. That was to the effect that the experts had examined the proposals put before them for the exploitation of the water power of the country, and that they had definitely and positively come down in favour of the Shannon scheme which is now to be developed. The Deputy hints, as a counter to that, that they had not time to examine this question. They should have been the best judges as to the time they required for the solution of any problem put before them, and I heard no complaint from them with regard to time. Perhaps there may have been one thing, and that was the question of the time that was occupied in the translation of the document. In deference to their wishes, I brought before this Dáil on the 19th December merely a fragment of their report. I had the report in full in my hands at the time, but it was not revised to the last item.

Did the Minister read page 102 of the report? "From the impression gained during the time at the disposal of the experts, it appears evident that it will be possible to effect reductions in price in comparison with the present prices ruling in the Free State." If that does not imply a complaint as to time, what else does it mean?

I will leave the Deputy the value of that pharse. During the time at their disposal they had gathered something. I say definitely, I put it to them time and again as to when they could produce a report for me, and as to how far they wanted the period lengthened. I really suggested no period to them, and, as a matter of fact, the period they had arranged to produce their document in the first instance was lengthened owing to the proceedings of the Private Bill Committee, so that they had ample time at their disposal, if I am to judge by the absence of any complaint from them. Deputy Heffernan thinks this report is not thoroughly reliable. That is the statement from a Deputy who said at the beginning that he did not thoroughly understand the report. But he understands it sufficiently to pass the scathing comment that it is not thoroughly reliable.

That it may not be thoroughly reliable. I did not say definitely that it is not; I say I have no means of judging.

I propose the adjournment of the debate until Friday next.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m.