In Committee on Finance. - Vote 56—Department of Industry and Commerce.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £70,300 chun slánuithe na suime is ga chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na blíana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1930, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifíg an Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála maraon le Coiste Comhairlitheach na Rátai.

That a sum not exceeding £70,300 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1930, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including the Rates Advisory Committee.

I do not propose to go through the sub-heads of the Vote this year in detail as I did on the previous occasion because the changes are indicated by the figures themselves, and the details for which the moneys are voted have either been adequately explained already or where there are changes they are indicated in foot notes. On the details of the items I would draw attention only to one point on page 234 where the estimate under the heading "Census of Population," salaries and allowances for the staff required amounts to £3,858, about the same as last year. I had hoped, and I think I expressed the hope last year, that that particular item would have shown a considerable reduction this year, but, owing to the amount of information requested from time to time from the Statistical Department by committees and individual queries, it has been found quite impossible for that Department to succeed in doing anything like the amount of work put before themselves. They did not and could not hope to keep to their programme for the production of certain materials. It will be understood, with the Census of Population, taken in a particular way and under certain conditions in 1926, and with the Census of Production, which was taken for the first time in this country, that duties have been put upon that Department which it was not easy to measure in advance in any year. We have made up our minds that the staff required last year will be almost to the same extent required in the coming year to complete the Census of Population and everything that arises out of it. I mention the Census of Production because I desired to make the statement I have made in regard to the Statistics Bureau as a whole, namely, that on account of the information required from time to time from Commissions and individual inquiries it has not been able to keep up to the programme outlined. The amount of work this year, even on the Census of Population basis, is very much the same as last year. Outside that, there does not seem to be much that calls for comment as regards detail. I wish to point out that sub-head HH, "Gift to International Labour Office at Geneva," is re-voted as the gift has not yet been given. It may go out this autumn. Certain items have dropped from the Vote in contrast with last year. For instance, the prize offered by the Departmental Committee on Crude Alcohol has been withdrawn. I have indicated already in answer to a question why that was done.

The Committee sat for a long time and a change was made in respect of the money voted to see whether advantage would be taken of it, but we came to the conclusion that no use was being made of the money and therefore it is not being re-voted. Sub-heads H (1) and H (2) show increased expenditure in connection with the International Labour Organisation. That is explained by the fact that this year there is to be a special session held in the autumn. In other words, so far as the Labour Organisation is concerned, this year will see two meetings instead of one. Therefore the Vote itself, and that for travelling expenses, in this respect have to show an increase. Three items have been dropped. So far as the allowance for "Minerals Exploration" is concerned, in any other year it might have been considered advisable to keep up the sum set aside for that purpose, but for the year in which we had it we did not discover that any great use was being made of it. We hope that the necessity there was for it will disappear. In regard to the item "Industrial and Commercial Fairs and Exhibitions," the dropping of that Vote is a commentary on the attitude of manufacturers and industrialists with regard to foreign exhibitions. The only time that industrialists or anybody in this country promise to exhibit— I say this subject to certain reservations—is when the cost of carriage and, in some cases, of the insurance of the articles to be exhibited is borne by the State. We do not consider that that is a proper claim to make.

With regard to the Vote for "Industrial Investigations," it was introduced here to meet a particular emergency. One particular investigation was before us when it was put in. That has since been carried through. It is considered that in future such items as visits by officials of my Department to make investigations into industrial matters abroad can best be borne on the ordinary Vote for travelling expenses. In regard to inducing other people to come to this country, we think that such expense could be provided by coming to the Dáil specially for the money. We will only ask people to come to the country when a case is made for investigation into a matter from which there seems to be a good commercial return or likely business to accrue to the country. On the last occasion when submitting the Estimate, I gave a very detailed account of the different Departments and paid particular attention to the work done in what I call the Trade and Industry Section, and I do not propose to repeat that in detail. I wish to point out that, even though I make no detailed explanation of the activities of the Department in that line, I want to be understood that the activities to which I referred last year continue as before.

That is to say, industrial inspectors and factory inspectors are occupied, not merely in advising as to breaches of the Factories Act or investigating conditions where Trade Boards have been established, but also endeavouring to report to headquarters, whereever they go, as to whether opportunities exist for industrial development, to get in touch with local people who have money or interest in developing industry, and to bring to headquarters such information as would enable us to advise people regarding the ways in which State aid would be got, if required, to get industry going. The same system holds only with much increased activity in regard to frequent consultations with advisory committees, to the number of thirty or forty, in the different groups of industry in order to get their difficulties eased— if Governmental action can ease them —to give them information, to receive inquiries from them and generally to get the whole conditions of industry under review in order to see what action the Government can take that will lead to any increase. I referred on another occasion to the situation which had developed showing that there had been a steady turnover in the old, lopsided situation in which we found ourselves after the Treaty, depending almost entirely on agriculture. That condition of things now shows that the industrial arm is stronger than it was and that its strength is likely to increase in the near future.

That statement of mine was queried, and the point was put to me when I replied that some evidence should be furnished in the returns of the Census of Production, that these figures were useless inasmuch as they neither instituted themselves nor gave any material for instituting a comparison with previous years. I admitted that was so, but I say this: if one takes these figures and compares the figures published with regard to industry and the information previously given in other reports, with regard to agricultural produce produced in the Saorstát in 1926, and if one takes also the number of people engaged in agriculture, using that term in the broadest sense of the word, and in industry, one will get, at any rate, certain illuminating facts. It emerges that the total value of agricultural produce produced in the Saorstát in 1926, either consumed by the farmers and their families or sold by them, amounted to 62 million pounds, and that the materials purchased and used in connection with that output amounted to 8½ millions. The net value, deducting wages, rents, etc., would be 53½ millions. That could be clearly understood with regard to agricultural production, but when one comes to industrial activity and industrial production the term has to be defined a little more. If one took the returns given in the Census of Production reports and simply made an enumeration, a wrong calculation could be made easily because there one would find, at any rate in an implied way, grouped under the heading of industrial activity and industrial production, such things as maintenance of roads, railways and harbours, construction, or anything in the way of new house building, repair of houses, or repair work of any kind. I want to get a figure that will give industrial production in a narrower sense than that.

If one has to take maintenance work, repair work and the building of houses into account the net value of the output under the Census of Production in 1926 would be 31½ millions. That excludes excise duty, but if the production of new transportable goods is taken into account —only this will require a long calculation—from the figures it will be seen that the 31½ millions must be reduced to 20 millions. The deductions really come to this: that one omits gas, electricity, water, excludes excise duties on beer, takes away maintenance work, repair work and building of houses and all the other things that I have spoken of already, and one will then get two figures to put into comparison. The net value of agricultural production in 1926 was 53½ million pounds. In industrial production, in the narrower sense, excluding the things which I have spoken of, the amount will come to about 20 million pounds. Other figures must be taken into consideration such as the number of persons employed. I am not yet speaking at all of comparison.

The Census of Population groups people according to occupation and it will be seen that agriculture gives employment to about nine times as many people as industry. It also shows that the net value of the goods produced from agriculture is less than three times as great as from industry. One concrete figure which I would like to have considered in the course of the debate is this. The amount per person employed in agriculture is about £80 while the amount per person employed in manufacturing industry is about £266. I do not want to quarrel with any statements made here, which will continue to be made and which can be rightly made, that agriculture is the main industry of the country, taking that either from the point of view of numbers employed or the wealth produced, but the figures I have quoted show at any rate the great importance of manufacturing industry as a potential source of wealth in the country. Let me get to my comparison. Industry was carried on under conditions which everybody knows up to 1921, even up to 1923. Since 1923 certain arrangements have been made for fostering industry. They took various forms—tariffs, the Trade Loans Act, moneys put up for certain production, certain big works that were segregated by themselves either to be dealt with specially other than by tariffs or trade loans, such as the sugar beet industry. Certain other matters remain to be dealt with and probably will be dealt with in the same manner. Tariffs have given employment. The increase in employment amounts to something over 12,000 people. The employment given by the operation of the Trade Loans Act, even though only about £400,000 out of the £1,000,000 set aside has been called on, amounts to 2,000 extra people. There are therefore a net 14,000 extra hands in employment.

On that alone, I say the contention can be made that the country has advanced to a certain degree and towards a better balance as between industry and agriculture. That can be fortified by looking at certain other things. The figures in relation to exports and imports, if taken and if properly considered in relation to the increased home consumption that there is for certain tariffed industries and for certain groups of industries helped other than by tariffs, fortify that contention. It will be seen that there is some decrease in imports of manufactured articles if the figures are properly examined. If, however, it will be denied still in face of the 14,000 extra put into employment and the increased activity there is shown in industry—by applications where made, by inquiries made with regard to helping and aiding industry in a variety of ways other than by financial help—if it is stated that, nevertheless, there is no improvement in the situation, will the people who say there is no improvement visible in the situation tell us how improvement is ever going to come about? When previously speaking in the House I took a calculation. The items might be open to argument, but I made my calculation in this way. Taking the imports into the country in a particular year, I calculated that about 50 per cent. of those were not taxable, and I defined what I meant by nontaxable in answer to a question— that they were things that could not be economically produced in this country or could not be easily replaced by other things produced in the country. I calculated that 50 per cent. came under that heading. There can be argumentation afterwards as to the point raised in regard to the articles which I include under the heading of nontaxable at the moment. Of the remainder, when I last made the statement, I said about half had been taxed.

The other half have not. That shifts the balance somewhat definitely away from that 50-50 position even with regard to the taxable imports, by reason of the woollen tariff. Omitting it for the moment, because the effect of it is not much and because there are certain other little things that will come in possibly to change that situation the other way, the statement, on the grounds on which I made it, remains as good now as it did that of taxable imports, in the sense of tariffed imports, 50 per cent. are taxed, giving us increased employment for over 12,000 people. If I am told, in fact, that although that has happened there is no improvement in the country in the sense of making it have a better balance of dependence on agriculture and dependence on manufacturing industry, then how can it be assumed that taxing more articles is going to rectify the balance? The other argument was put up to me, that there have been so many things destroyed in the interval. We can have arguments of that kind. I gave a list in answer to a question here one time as to the number of factories—I think we defined them in some manner, employing upwards of a certain number of hands—that have disappeared. I waited to hear any single one of these cases brought forward as an argument that there was a business which disappeared and which in fact could have been and would have been saved under some other treatment, and I failed to hear any such argument brought forward. On another Vote, when I made a statement similar to that, two cases were put up to me, that of the Dundalk Distillery and what were described as the Cotton Mills in Cork. I do not know whether those interjections meant to convey that these were two outstanding cases in which State action could have prevented the disappearance of two concerns or were things that just occurred to the mind of certain Deputies and were thrown out. But I would like to get somebody who has gone into this matter to indicate some concern he thinks might have been preserved by State action and that it was a dereliction of duty not to have taken State action to preserve it. I would welcome an examination of, say, the spinning and weaving concern near Cork, and also an examination of the Dundalk Distillery, because I am not taking these as examples because they have been interjected in this debate in the haphazard sort of comment made the last day. I say there has been an increase in industrial activity; I say there are certain things that show that, and have led me to the conclusion I mentioned here before. I say further, if the statement is denied that there is a better balance now as between industry and agriculture, then the denial of that statement requires some explanation. It may be on the basis that there has been so much disappearance that the things which have come into being are more or less nullified and that we are more or less in the same position. It may be that there is increased agricultural production, and that consequently though industry is increased there is no better balance. That is a much sounder argument. Nevertheless, I say that—again the figure may be queried but it will only result in changing the percentage— if 50 per cent. of articles are tariffed and a million pounds is only availed to the extent of £400,000, if those two things in themselves have not brought about a better situation, then one would be forced to the conclusion that neither tariffs nor the provision of credit for enterprises still running under private control are worth anything. That is lamentable and is a conclusion I would not like to be driven to.

Might it not be that tariffs are not sufficient?

I think one would naturally accept the point of view of the industries themselves rather than the point of view of a layman speaking outside the industry. Advisory committees, in a great many cases, have been asked over and over again as to whether or not they consider tariffs in the tariffed industries to be sufficient. I know of one case in which the people who are considering putting up an application were asked should an increase be made in regard to a section of articles tariffed in one of the Finance Acts. The biggest experiment made in tariffs was the boot experiment. The Advisory Committee, although asked frequently, has not yet intimated, apart from making an application to the Tariff Commission, to my officials that they think that an increase in the tariff would better their situation. The objection does not carry it very far. If the tariffs are not high enough, nevertheless there has been an improvement. There have been 14,000 people put in employment more than before in these particular industries. The only thing in the remark as to the tariff not being high enough is this: If it were high more people would be employed and there would be a better approach, but there is no foundation for the statement that there has not been an improvement in the situation.

An improvement as against when?

As against the time when there were no tariffs in the tariffed industries.

Yes. The Tariff Commission, on different periods which I can give, have required a statement as to the extra employment given in different years. That report is published at different intervals and probably is in the Deputy's hands. The last one made out is some months old. There is one just due. I tried to get it for the debate to-day, but owing to firms not having supplied the information I cannot give the latest figures.

Would the Minister say that there was an improvement as against 1920?

I think I would. That is a bad year to take for the Deputy's purpose. I will take before 1914. I say yes, most decidedly. War figures should not be taken because there was an artificial increase. Things were done out of necessity that would not have been done in the ordinary course. But take the normal year 1914. Is it going to be the contention in any political party in this country which has any belief in protection duties and State assistance to industries of any type that conditions in 1914 were likely to bring about a situation better than it is now? It is not an answer. The only definite answer to the Deputy is to produce figures which are not in existence.

We are not talking of the total volume of production, but of the balance between industry and agriculture.

Even so, there are no figures comparable with these. One would have to admit that conditions are more stable now, but one would say that in 1914 there were certain things which might not have been a national benefit but which were in existence and had industry going here. For instance, there was the connection with Belfast which had a reaction on the Twenty-Six Counties. That has disappeared to a great extent, and to that extent there is an adverse factor operating now. The effect of that has been nullified to some extent. I think for the purpose of a discussion like this the period should be since the establishment of the Free State, the period when any Government action obedient to the wishes of the people of this country was in operation. That is the period which should fall for consideration.

I want to make one point with reference to the Trade Loans Act. I have been speaking of tariffs. I also referred to the Trade Loans Act. The position with regard to the Trade Loans Act is, as I said, in summary there. About £400,000 has been guaranteed, certainly £320,000 actually has been guaranteed. £80,000 fall for settlement almost immediately under two cases. £400,000 with about 2,000 employed.

That does not finish the story from the point of view of the Trade Loans Act, because one must take into consideration that some of these concerns which have been helped under the Trade Loans Act are still struggling; some of them have not yet reached a profit-making stage, but we hope that they will soon. There is another side of the matter to be looked at. What is the relation between the money which eventually may have to be met out of the public purse and the expenditure to date? Leaving out the £80,000 which has to be considered immediately, guaranteed loans have amounted to £320,000, and the total expenditure to date on salaries and wages amounts to about £370,000. I have come to the conclusion that that particular Act, or the series of Acts founded upon the Principal, the Trade Loan Guarantee, Act, have exhausted their utility. Few applications of any importance are now coming forward. There are some remaining to be dealt with, but we hope to get these cleared up in a short time. There are very few new applications coming in, and there is no evidence that the Acts have brought about the position that was hoped for. In one respect this was to enable industries to secure capital at a less rate of interest than they could get in the ordinary way. In some of these cases the employment given has been considerable, but one would need to be a great optimist to consider that the employment given will be anything like permanent. In other words, some of the concerns that have been helped do not show themselves sufficiently strong. In fact they show themselves to be so weak that one can only hope that they will continue in more limited and restricted circumstances than they are operating at the moment. When the more limited and restricted circumstances come into operation the numbers of people employed at the moment will be reduced to a certain degree. Some of the employment will be permanent and more temporary. There also emerges from the history of the Trade Loans Guarantee Acts—this is a fact, and I state it as a fact with some trepidation—that it has not been discovered that banks in this country have been unduly restrictive in financing industry. In a sense, one may say that the Advisory Committee under the Trade Loans Act was an appeal board against the banks. Quite a number of cases came to us where banks had refused to loan money. All these cases went before the Advisory Committee for adjudication. Generally speaking, the composition of the Committee was about half business men and half persons definitely in the financial line of business, a stockbroker or a banker, and in very few cases did the Advisory Committees pass anything which the banks had previously refused to finance.

Did you expect them?

I do not know that I should answer that question. Looking back on my own mind in 1924, I would have expected that the Advisory Committees would have passed a considerable number of cases which banks had turned down, because I then had the view that banks were deliberately, because of some sort of innate conservatism, refusing to help Irish industry. I will say now that I would not expect the Advisory Committees to pass very many of these cases. I have much better faith in the banks now than I had when the Trade Loans Guarantee Act was first introduced.

Is the Minister making a case that a banker on the Advisory Committee would upset his own decision as a banker?

No. The situation that generally arose with regard to applications coming before the Committee, where a banker was on the Committee who had previously been concerned in a refusal from his banking corporation, was that that gentleman withdrew from the Committee and did not adjudicate on the hearing. There were two or three examples of that. There has been quite a good appreciation amongst members of the Committee of that particular type of circumstances. No banker adjudicated on the Advisory Committee where previously his bank turned down an application. We think, at any rate, that there has not been brought forward by means of these cases any evidence of banks being unduly restrictive of the financing of industry in this country. We have seen cases brought forward where banks were rather loth to give loans and turned down applications, but took them up when there was a Government guarantee; but these cases are very few. We have not been able to segregate out finance as the main or anything like the chief thing on which the failure to better industrial conditions in this country rests. We have discovered that it is rather the opposite way. There is any amount of money and any number of people who are sympathetically inclined towards investment in Irish concerns, but we generally find that people who have most sympathy and have put money in them had one, two or three bad experiences, and thereafter they got very conservative and did not move until good cases were presented to them. How we are going to get eventually an investing public to put money at the disposal of industrialists who have good propositions and who are only prevented from starting by the absence of capital is another and more difficult matter. It certainly is not going to be achieved through the Trade Loans Acts. Once or twice we did put it to people who were going to open up in the country that they should see how much of their capital could be provided for them here.

I was asked, I think last year, to make it a condition of the guaranteeing of moneys that the people concerned should be asked to have a certain amount of money raised from Irish sources. I pointed out in answer to that, from the experience we had, that it was very difficult and particularly difficult in the type of cases coming before the Advisory Committees and the two Ministers concerned under the Trade Loans Guarantee Act. Ordinarily speaking, they are not the type of cases for which one could go to the investing public with any confidence that on the facts being made known there would be a response from them. On two occasions only did we go to the investing public. The response in one case was nil and in the other it was very small. I do not intend, unless there be in the next couple of months an increase in the type of applications that ordinarily would be made under the Trade Loans Guarantee Act, to ask for a renewal of that Act. What I intend to do in the future, and it will be thrown more as a burden on my inspectors and other through the country, is to segregate out cases where industry requires only for starting the provision of capital and by this means and other means at my disposal— friendly conference, etc.—to bring people who have control of moneys into contact with these people. In other words, if again there seems to be a gap which is not being bridged by the ordinary action of the banks, there is one investment corporation obviously, and certain other groups, which may be brought into contact with these people in a friendly way. On the whole, it was the fairly big concern that really did seem to be the proper one for the Trade Loans (Facilities) Act, and if there be any big concern wanting a big amount of money, I propose to deal with that as, say, sugar beet was dealt with, or as kelp may have to be dealt with by coming to the Dáil in that case, getting a particular claim for it, and putting it to the House that there is a case made for a State loan or guarantee, or, in some way, for the provision of public monies or credit, and asking the Dáil to pass its opinion upon the individual case with the facts before it. I think that that will not involve the House in very many discussions with regard to individual cases, if I am to take it from the run of these cases before. Anyway when I say that the big case involving a big amount of capital was the one that seemed best suited to the Trade Loans (Facilities) Act I do not mean to say that the concerns which have only been guaranteed a small amount of money in fact have not been successful. The most successful of the 18 or 20 cases for which moneys were guaranteed are three smaller ones. I do not want any wrong deduction to be taken from that phrase.

On the last occasion on which this Estimate was under consideration the matter of transport occupied a great deal of attention. Since I last spoke, certain things have happened which to my mind put the transport situation in a somewhat better condition, although not by any means satisfactory yet. During the last discussion of this Estimate a variety of complaints were made with regard mainly to the operation of road vehicles, and I divided these complaints into three classes, one of which was that road vehicles were not paying their way; that phrase being interpreted in a variety of meanings, either that they did not pay their way in relation to the damage they did to the roads, or, as some people would have it, they did not pay their way in relation to the services they did to the community compared with the services which railway companies were giving to the community. The second group of complaints were in this manner: that owing to the non-regulation or noneffective regulation of road vehicles there was danger to both life and limb, both to the passengers travelling in these vehicles and to other users of the highway operating at the same time. The third volume of complaints was that there should be some proper connection as between the services run for the transport people. I said in answer to these that as far as taxation was concerned that matter was being gone into and that people could rely upon road vehicles having to meet certain costs. I gave a statement of policy adopted two or three years ago with regard to the moneys spent on roads in this country—the division of the money that the ratepayer, the ordinary farmer, would have to pay, and, secondly, the amount of costs which would have to be contributed from motor taxation. I said I felt that that basis was a sound one on which to build plans for the future but that the incidence of motor taxation as between the different classes of motorists was a matter that might fall hereafter for consideration. That has been considered and fresh taxation has been imposed—not by any means as heavy a taxation as I would have liked to see imposed, and not by any means, to my mind, adequate taxation yet on buses to meet the damage that this type of transport services does to the roads. When I say that I realise the implication of it, that the ordinary ratepayer is being called upon to bear more than he should to my mind for the damage that is being done to the roads by this type of vehicle. However, a particular form of taxation has been introduced and the result of that can be followed out for another year. I am going to make the point again, and I think it should be made, that if in the interval between this and next year we discover that even with the increased taxation these vehicles are not paying their way and subscribing enough through motor taxation to make up for the difference between the 1914 rate, increased by the farmer's sales figures for his produce, then the bus and charabanc taxation will have to be increased until the volume of taxation from motors swells that fund to the amount it should be at.

Is the Minister prepared to justify the increase of 16 per cent. over last year in the amount of money that has to be raised from rates for road maintenance purposes?

No, I am in agreement with the Deputy in that. I think it is wrong. I speak under reservation; I am not accepting the 16 per cent. as the accurate amount, and I do not know whether it should be that amount, but there has been an increase put on the ratepayers which, to my mind, is unfair, and it should have been borne by road motor vehicles rather than by the ratepayers.

I am quoting the Minister for Local Government's figures.

There are variations in these figures. Taking the 16 per cent., there is, at any rate, a certain amount of money which is payable by the ratepayers and which I think ought to have been paid by the proprietors of these road vehicles, and that they in their turn should take that out of the passengers who travel on that type of vehicle. That is with regard to one side. On the second side, regulations have already been introduced for the safeguarding of the lives and limbs of passengers in these vehicles and of other users of the highway. A certain Order has been made setting forth regulations in regard to public service vehicles regarding length, width, height, seating accommodation, laden weight, springs, lighting, ventilation, etc., and that Order will be supplemented by legislation, as the Minister for Local Government promised here not long ago, which is in course of preparation and which ought to make its appearance in the autumn. When the legislation does come, and some enactment will have to be put through this House with regard to the regulation of road vehicles, then I think two points will have been met—the either adequate or inadequate taxation of motor buses or road motor vehicles, and, secondly, the regulation of these vehicles that run along the roads, so that other users of the highway may be protected and the safety of the passengers may be ensured. There remains the third point—what is called the co-ordination of transport.

Is the Minister prepared to take any action which will put all those who wish to use motors for profit-making purposes in the same position, so that they will have equal facilities to go anywhere they like, the same as one section has at present?

The Deputy asks will I take away the restrictions on the railway road vehicles and put them in the same position as the others.

No. Will the Minister say how he can justify giving one section of bus owners the right to run anywhere, at any time, and in any way they like, and charge anything they like, and restrict other sections to running within certain limits and on approved routes?

The only people restricted are the railway companies in regard to the road vehicles they have. It was explained in the House when that measure was being passed that these restrictions were to meet the anxiety felt by Deputies that if the railways were allowed to run buses, and were not restricted by the limitations put upon them in the Act, they would use what was described as their great financial resources to put buses on the roads in numbers, and for short periods, until they had beaten out competitors, and then take them off; and, generally, that that would give them the power which a big corporation has against bus proprietors who may not have very big finances behind them. I think if I were introducing any measure of that sort now there would be less anxiety on the part of the House in regard to the operations of the railway-owned road vehicles, and that there would not be the same desire to have imposed upon the railway companies restrictions of that nature. But I do not think it is desirable at this moment, when the whole matter is in a transitional stage, to withdraw these restrictions; if anything, I think the move is in the other direction, to impose upon other people restrictions somewhat similar to those imposed upon the railway company's vehicles, because I always understood that the demand for co-ordination carried with it a demand for regulation, and regulation was to the extent of the imposition of such restrictions as are on the railway companies themselves with regard to their railway services. I never heard until to-night from people complaining about chaos, that the way out of chaos was to throw more people into chaotic conditions and to increase disorder. I am sure Deputy Davin does not mean that.

I am sure the Minister does not want to misrepresent me. The Minister is not asking for powers to limit a number of non-railway buses on any particular route, and there are certain routes that are overrun by buses, and I say that there should be the same restrictions placed upon those people on those routes.

The position was revealed to me in almost the first application that came forward, when I was asked to approve of a route and had the usual representations made to me against the approval of the route for road railway vehicles that there were enough buses already on the road. That was not counted as a sufficient argument. There is no power under the Act to withhold the licence from the railway company because a lot of other buses are plying along the route. The curious thing is that one of the bus companies plying along the route, and which made the objection that there were enough buses on it, proceeded, immediately the railway company put on buses, themselves to institute a new service; and it did seem to be ridiculous that the one under the control of the railway company should be subject to certain limitations with regard to running times, and not being withdrawn once instituted, and that the other could be put on for a week and then taken off. The difference is that in the one case we were dealing with a big corporation. It was felt that they regarded road interest as hostile to themselves and if they were given unrestricted powers they would simply operate to wipe out the road traffic in various districts, and then they would cease to provide road services themselves.

On the general question of co-ordination, which is the only point outstanding, a great deal of point used to be made—it is less frequently made now—that because there are three Departments dealing with what are called the transport services there is bound to be a lack of co-ordination. I tried to deal with that at some length last year. I ask people to take one department. What are the functions of the Department of Justice with regard to road transport at the moment? They are very small, but such as they are, they must remain with the Department of Justice unless the House envisages the time when the road services are so important and will be able to bear such increased charge that we will have a new section of traffic police, recruited entirely as a thing apart from the ordinary Gárda Síochána, having only traffic duties and paid for out of some type of rate eventually coming from those who use the roads; until that situation arises the Department of Justice, no matter what other Department has control over transport, must have some part. As long again as the situation remains as it is with regard to the provision of moneys from the rates for the roads, in other words, until the roads are centralised and made a central charge, I think that the Minister for Local Government, on account of his association with local councils, must have a certain control. But the general control is exercised by my own Department. Any advance towards greater control, in so far as it is transport control and not merely traffic control, or some provision with regard to taxation from a particular type of vehicle and ratepayers, must always rest, as Departments are at present constituted, in the Department of Industry and Commerce.

I do not propose at present to bring forward any legislation giving me greater powers with regard to the control of road vehicles than I have at the moment, and that is very small, almost negligible. I do not think the situation calls for it yet. We have regulated the taxation part and in another six months the whole road service will be running under legislation already promised by the Minister for Local Government, but I do not intend to ask for further legislation giving me, or some statutory body set up under the Department, such control over road vehicles as there is over railways. Again I say we have not got the information. Last year I said we were in process of getting it. We are nearer to being able to make good decisions, if decisions are required. I am not sure even that the position is such. If we are going to found a claim for the control of road vehicles on the fact that there are more vehicles on the roads than are necessary for the public service——

On certain roads.

—I think that discrimination would have to be made. There are certain parts of the country not yet provided with transport facilities and that will have to be opened up, and where buses would play a tremendously big part in the whole life of the people and would be able to play a big part in aiding the railway situation. There are certain routes on which there are too many services at the moment, but the situation has not yet reached the point at which control would be necessary. Some people who talk about control do not know what is behind it. If there is going to be control, and control aimed at lessening the number of road vehicles on certain roads, while possibly allowing them to run on other routes, the question of certain services being scrapped would immediately come up. Services cannot be scrapped without compensation being paid to people who used to be employed in them, and without some return being made to people who invested their capital in them and who will be able to complain of anybody coming in on them now when they have not had a chance of recovering whatever was their outlay. A situation might come about, which has been reached in certain other cases—some people think it is close upon us—in which there would have to be some sacrifice on the part of the State, to have the situation righted in the future. I do not think that that time has yet come at all. I think the situation is righting itself. I think with the increased taxation on buses, with the fares having necessarily to be raised, there is going to be a bigger burden in the way of expenses to be faced by any company entering into road services. That is going to lead to amalgamation of the smaller people; they are going to pool their resources to meet the heavier outlay that is required now. The process of amalgamation and consolidation into one or two big groups is under way at present. If and when one finds railway road transport in the same situation that rail transport was in in 1922-23 then there is a much easier situation to be met.

It is only when it gets to that position by itself that there can be any effective solution of this. I ask Deputies who think that there is anything to be gained by State intervention, by State regulation or by State sacrifice in the way of compensation and returns to people for capital already put in and not redeemed, do they really think that in the new conditions there is any call for that? I want the new conditions given a chance—the increased tax on the buses and the effect one can see already operating from that——

And the increase on the ratepayers.

I am not going to argue that with the Deputy because I am in agreement to some extent with him on that. But there should not be any increase on the ratepayers. To some extent they might have to bear an increase, but the whole situation should be the 1914 situation with the conditions I have spoken of, the rest being borne by motor taxation. Let us assume the situation where the motor vehicle is being taxed to meet the increased cost of the roadway which it requires for its passage and, in addition, that there are regulations ensuring the safety of life and limb to passengers and other users of the highway. Let us assume there are going to be regulations with regard to speed, with regard to the conditions under which people get licences, with regard to the insurance of third parties, and with regard to all the varieties of things on which the Commission reported. It is in view of such circumstances that a decision should be formed, and those very circumstances that I have detailed, if not actually present, are very close upon us. I doubt if anybody, viewing the situation as it will then exist, will say that there is reason for involving the State in the cases of certain men who will be thrown out of employment and certain capitalists who may have lost upon their investments.

There were certain things mentioned that I dealt with before and certain things that I mentioned last year I would like to deal with. One of the things I mentioned last year has been dealt with and the other has been partly dealt with. The rest of the things mentioned then are about to be dealt with fully. Deputies should bear in mind what I have said, that until we have more data with regard to what would be a reasonable fare for a particular class of vehicle plying between two points, we cannot come to any definite decision. We have not precise data; we have not the data that we could found a judgement upon as securely as, for instance, we could lay down the maximum and minimum fares that should be allowed for railways. If one were to enter into that sort of control at the moment there would be a somewhat long period of trial in error, simply making a certain amount of guesses at what would be right and then finding out that too much in the way of profit had been allowed or too little had been allowed, and that the services were not getting a chance of showing how they would develop, even under those conditions. Those were the two main matters dealt with last year on this Estimate, and they are the only two to which I wish to refer to-day.

I would like to know if the Minister is in a position to make any further statement with reference to the invention that he drew attention to here some time ago? I would be glad if the Minister would deal with that matter now. I am not pressing it, but if he desires to make a statement I should like him to make it now.

I think it would be well to say that the particular invention is, at the moment, being designed by the inventor with a view to its use on the railways. There is going to be a laboratory test given before certain experts in about six or seven weeks' time. I have got an agreement from certain people that if that laboratory test seems satisfactory to them a test under actual ordinary operating conditions will be carried out. The matter has progressed since I last spoke in this House in reference to it. It has been under examination and is still being further investigated, and there have been still further experimentations in connection with it. It is a very rosy and optimistic view to express, but I do not hesitate to say here that I believe railway electrification at a very, very cheap cost is quite close upon us. I think there will be quite a considerable portion of the railways in this country—the main lines—electrified. I am founding my opinion entirely upon this invention being successful, and on the experiments carried out to date, and judging by what has been proved with regard to this invention, I can give an estimate of the cost in this way: I am told that the electrification of the main line running between Dublin and Cork under the ordinary conditions of an overhead wire or a third rail, would amount to £1,000,000. If this invention works out successfully, giving the best estimate we can make of cost and multiplying it by two, it could be carried out for less than £80,000.

I beg to move my amendment: "That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration." Deputies who heard the statements by the Minister for Industry and Commerce will have no difficulty in understanding that the Department of which he is in control is really one of the most important in the whole machinery of Government because its activities affect our people in every sphere of their national life. It is essential, therefore, that that Department should be animated by the right national spirit and conducted with the ability and skill which would ensure its successful operation. It is because I cannot honestly believe the right national spirit or the necessary ability is present in the conduct of the Department that I have moved to refer this Vote back for reconsideration. There are some 348 officials employed in this Department of whom eight receive salaries of over £1,000 a year and of whom sixteen receive in or about the £1,000 mark. One would expect that we would have very little difficulty in detecting the work done by a Department of that size during the course of a twelvemonth. I think it is to be regretted that the Department does not publish for the information of Deputies and the general public an annual report on the lines of the report published by the Department of Local Government and Public Health.

For various reasons we are very much in the dark as to what the Department of Industry and Commerce is doing. We have to rely almost exclusively upon the statements which are made here by the Minister annually when introducing the Estimate and upon various notes which appear from time to time in the "Irish Trade Journal." As far, however, as an outsider can visualise the work which the Department has been doing during the year, it appears to be almost negligible. It has, of course, certain statutory functions and routine duties to perform which, I have no doubt, are carried out with reasonable efficiency. But, as I pointed out last year, its main function should be one of stimulus to Irish industry, bringing assistance to those anxious to employ themselves here, and to find employment for others amongst us who at present are without work. In its function of stimulating trade and reviving industry I think we must conclude that the Department has failed, if we are to base our conclusions upon the results which we can see for ourselves in the life of the country. The Department, of course, should not be judged by its activity in the Dáil in the matter of introducing legislation or enacting measures to increase its powers to deal with particular situations.

I think in respect to the Department the Minister is open to criticism on the grounds that certain measures which long ago he indicated were necessary and were under consideration by his Department have not yet seen the light of day. The Minerals Bill was one such measure. I think it was over twelve months ago the Minister first indicated it was about to be introduced.

There was also a Bill dealing with industrial marks, which was promised, but which has not yet appeared. If one were to take the speeches of the Minister for the past few years, he would find mentioned in them quite a large number of Acts which the working of his Department requires to have passed, but which we have not yet seen. I do not know why it is that these Bills have not yet appeared. I think it is due to the fact that inertia appears to have overtaken the heads of that Department and that they are, to use a common phrase, lying down on their job. The Minister has gone to great pains to prove to us that Ireland is gradually changing from a predominantly agricultural country to one in which industry and agriculture would be more or less evenly balanced. In support of his contention he quoted figures made available, apparently, by the Census of Production in 1926, showing the net value of agricultural produce and the net value of industrial produce during that year 1926. He pointed out that agriculture, however, gives employment to about nine times as many people as industry, but that the average amount produced per person engaged in agriculture was only £80, as against £266, which is the average production of every person employed in industry. I think these figures alone are sufficient to cause a very strong doubt in the Minister's argument. It is quite obvious that there are more engaged in agriculture in this country than agriculture can support or that work can be found for in agriculture.

I think it will not be denied that our agricultural population as a whole is under-worked, in so far as it cannot possibly find employment in the production of agricultural produce for all those who are endeavouring to find a living out of that industry. It is for that reason that we have such a large number engaged in agriculture, in comparison with the number engaged in industry, and it is for that reason that we have a relatively small amount produced per person.

If there was anything like a revival of industry in this country, or if there was any attraction to those engaged in agricultural industry to seek employment elsewhere, we would, I think, find that the situation in the agricultural industry would show a change. The fact is, however, that the amount produced per person in agriculture is decreasing instead of increasing, and the number of persons endeavouring to find employment in that industry is not diminishing. On the contrary, the numbers have increased within the past few years. We are in this matter very largely speculating. There are no figures available for the purpose of comparison, and we have only got to place the figures made available by the Census of 1926 against certain information which was not very reliable, but which is available concerning the position that existed in the years before that.

It is, perhaps, I think necessary at this stage to express very considerable disappointment with the manner in which the information ascertained by that Census of 1926 is being made available. I think we can again censure the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he did not make adequate provision to ensure that that information would be made available to the people while it would be of some use to them. I have already on two or three occasions pointed out here that we have not yet got the important information ascertained in that year relating to the industrial or to the unemployment position here. We are now informed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that even the schedule which he hoped would be followed in relation to the publication of that information will now have to be departed from, and that even that information will not be made available for us until a longer time has passed.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce may believe that the statistics relating to the volume of unemployment in 1926 will be of use in 1929 and 1930. Personally, I cannot see what value that information is going to be. The situation in this country is changing up and down every year and there is nothing upon which we can base any conclusion relating to the year 1929 upon information gathered in the year 1926. I think that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should have made more adequate provision, whether by employing extra officials or not, in order to ensure the speedy publication of that information. I think if he had done so he would have, in fact, effected an economy, because the continuous employment of a large staff on this work will probably prove more wasteful than the employment of a larger staff for a shorter period would have been. I think a matter which we have all cause to regret is that none of us, not even the Minister in charge of the Department, is in a position to say definitely what the trend of events in this country is in relation to Irish industry. We can speculate, and the speculation which the Minister has made certainly does not coincide with the speculation that I and others of my acquaintances have indulged in.

The Minister has informed us that the Government has taken certain action with a view to fostering industry here. He even proceeded to indicate what the results of that action were. I think the efforts of the Government to help industry were by him grouped under three main heads: first, tariffs, secondly, the operation of the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act, and, thirdly, special steps taken in particular cases by giving money grants such as in the case of the sugar beet factory. He stated that tariffs had given employment to some 12,000 additional hands in the Saorstát, and that fact in itself is something upon which we can congratulate ourselves, and it helps to constitute the signposts which indicate the direction we must go if we wish to see a real improvement of the situation here that we all profess to desire. When we say that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is unduly optimistic in his belief that the trend of events in this country is towards a better balance in industry, we do not wish to be taken as deploring the possibility of any such development.

An Ceann Comhairle took the Chair.

We sincerely hope that the Minister is right and that we are wrong. We sincerely hope that there is that upward development of which he spoke, but he did not give us any data to-day which would indicate that it is taking place, nor do we think that such data are available to be given. Undoubtedly 12,000 additional hands have been employed in tariffed industries, but I think we will find that a very large number of those additional hands found their way into the tariffed industries from other industries which have declined since the Government's policy was inaugurated. I want to ask the Minister if that development of which he spoke has taken place in comparison with the pre-war period, or merely in comparison with the period that has existed since the establishment of the Free State Government. The Minister mentioned the year 1924. That year was probably the best year that this State has had since its establishment. It was a year in which our exports were, I think, higher than they have ever been since, and when trade generally was better. It was a year in which, I think, the yield from the various taxes imposed was higher than it has ever been since. We have not since, I think, succeeded in attaining to the same position that was attained in that particular period. But if we take the state of affairs in this country in relation to the last normal period, the period that existed before the war, I do not think that we can congratulate ourselves upon any visible improvement. There may have been, and possibly has been, an increase in the value of certain agricultural products, but it has been very largely at the expense of population.

We cannot close our eyes to the fact that all the ill-effects which we saw flowing from British rule in this country are still evident as a result of the rule of the present Government. When members on the benches opposite were endeavouring to rouse the people here to overthrow British rule in this country, they will remember that they pointed to the depressing effects which that rule had upon industry here, to the large volume of unemployment, and generally to the bad economic conditions in the country which resulted from it. We have all those evils to-day accentuated as a result of the action which the present Government has been taking.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce can undoubtedly point with pride to the 12,000 persons who would be unemployed if the tariffs imposed in 1925 and since had not been imposed. But I think he cannot be congratulated upon not having taken the cue which those figures give him, and of endeavouring to work out a sounder and a better programme along the lines upon which the Government appeared to be about to embark in that year. I think it is obvious that the machinery of the Tariff Commission has broken down. The Government were acting vigorously and freely in dealing with the situation, in some degree in the manner in which it should be dealt with, before they established the Tariff Commission in the year 1926. Since then they have been stagnant. I think it was stated here that, in the year 1926, some thirteen groups of industries sought to have their applications for tariffs considered by that Commission. As I pointed out yesterday, only four of them have succeeded in having their applications considered up to this, and it will probably be another ten years, at the present rate of progress, before the last of them will be dealt with. That is not fair to those who have sunk their money in Irish industries. I believe that in the majority of cases the Tariff Commission will be compelled to bring in favourable recommendations.

I instanced the case of the coach-building industry here yesterday. That industry applied for protection in 1926. It based its application on a situation existing in relation to itself in that year. It pointed out in its application that the coach-building capacity of the country was up to a certain standard. It has since declined because of the peculiar method upon which the Government then decided and which has resulted in this amazing delay. We have the fact that the most efficient and the largest of the coach-building factories which were concerned in that application in the year 1926 are now actually closing down, or are about to close down, and it will probably be another twelve months before the Tariff Commission will think fit to report upon that application. When they do report, they will have no alternative but to produce a favourable report, but they will then find that the industry they are seeking to foster will have disappeared in the interval that has elapsed since the application for a tariff was made.

If the Government is irrevocably committed to the method of a Tariff Commission, can they not at least appoint two Tariff Commissions or three Tariff Commissions to deal with the rush of applications which occurred when the device of setting up a Tariff Commission was first decided upon? It is not likely that while that method continues there will ever again be thirteen or fourteen applications awaiting consideration at the same time. The Government should have taken steps to deal with the special circumstances that existed in 1926, and that still exist. They could have appointed two Tariff Commissions or even three Tariff Commissions to deal with all the applications which were then made and which are still pending. I do not think, as I have said, that it is fair to expect much confidence in Irish industrialists, or to expect the owners of capital in the country to invest their money in Irish enterprise, when the Government, by merely doing nothing, have driven into a state of bankruptcy almost many of the most important industries that we have.

I remember asking the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House, shortly after we came into it, if he would consider placing restrictions upon the importation of motor buses while the Tariff Commission were considering the application from the coach-building industry that had been in for more than a year at that time. Deputies will remember that there was a tremendous influx of that particular class of vehicle into this country at that time. The motor bus boom had started just then, and everyone that could get a few hundred pounds together was investing in an omnibus. English firms were giving special facilities in the matter of deferred payments in order to increase their output of those buses and their importation into this country. At that period, the Government should at least have held the balance in favour of Irish industry, but they declined to do so. To-day we have the position that the country is flooded with omnibuses and the demand for them has practically died away. Such few orders as there are for buses are going mainly across the water because of the desire of people anxious to purchase a bus to get the whole thing together, body and chassis, instead of having to import the chassis separately and of getting the body made here.

That is the case in the coach-building industry, but it is only one case. There are other industries similarly situated. We think that the Government is deserving of very severe criticism because of the dilatory tacties which they have adopted in relation to these matters. Whatever the Minister may believe as to the possibility of a change-over in the balance between industry and agriculture in the country, there is no doubt whatever but that such a change could be effected if there was a Government in office that had the right attitude and the right mentality in this matter. The attitude of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce and the officials of his Department towards Irish industrialists appears to be one of hostility and suspicion. The representatives of industrial groups who go before them seeking to have action taken to aid them are treated, very largely, as if they were prospective crooks. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, I think, never fails to take advantage of any opportunity afforded him in this Dáil to level criticism, which is very seldom constructive criticism, against those engaged in industry in this country.

The Minister has asked us how an improvement in the situation is to come about if the steps that have been taken have not brought it about. There has been an improvement in relation to industries already protected. I do not accept the Minister's calculation that 50 per cent. of the goods coming into this country are non-taxable. I think that calculation is 100 per cent. out. Not more than 25 per cent. of the goods imported into this country cannot be produced here, or substituted for by goods produced here.

Economically.

Quite economically. It would be a very unprofitable business, I think, to take a copy of the import statistics and go through each item and explain which could be manufactured here and which substituted for by other articles manufactured here. The Minister gave the impression he was not very deeply convinced as to the accuracy of his figures. He informed us that 50 per cent. of the goods coming in were taxable; in other words, to use his own definition, that were capable of being produced here, or substituted for by goods produced here, and of that 50 per cent. only 25 per cent. were taxed. What about the other 25 per cent.? We will not fall out with the Government if they get under their pins and get busy in relation to that 25 per cent. We can do a tremendous amount of good for our people and reduce the statistics in relation to unemployment and emigration if the 25 per cent. which the Minister admits can be dealt with is attended to. The Minister, of course, has got this rationalisation bug very badly. The idea of big business has taken hold of him very strongly. He appears to think that it is generally a good thing to see some existing industry disappear if, as a result of its disappearance, some other concern would take its place.

Those of us who have been thinking about this matter often feel inclined to congratulate ourselves that Ireland did not become largely industrial before an Irish Government was established, because, if it had we would have had reproduced here the situation that exists in industrial areas in England. I do not think any of us would like to see that situation produced in this country. We believe it is possible to have efficient industry in this country decentralised; in other words, not grouped into towns, with attendant slums and other evils. The electric power from the Shannon should help in the decentralisation of industry. The erection of small efficient plants supplying local needs, wherever possible, is preferable to the concentration of production in the hands of one firm situated in some of the larger towns. The Minister made particular reference to two industries referred to by Deputy Moore which have closed down, the Dundalk Distillery and the Cork Spinning and Weaving Company. I do not think he was representing Deputy Moore correctly in relation to these two concerns.

Deputy Moore spoke of only one of them. Deputy Coburn raised the Dundalk one.

The Minister will recollect that what he was saying was that certain industries that were disappearing were no loss. He was asked to state whether these particular industries were a loss or not. I think the Minister should help us to understand what he means when he tells us the disappearance of certain industries in the country do not represent a loss.

I did not say that about the two.

I can see that, and it is because the Minister did not say that in relation to any particular industry that I asked whether his statement refers to these two or not. Does the Minister consider that the disappearance of an industry is a loss if that loss is not substituted for by another and more efficient concern giving increased employment or producing at a cheaper rate?

And if the loss can be prevented.

I take it that when any industry existing in the country disappears that represents a loss unless that loss is made up by some greater good in some other quarter. We have the fact that there are industries disappearing day by day or week by week in this country—in the flour-milling and coachbuilding industries—and these have not yet been substituted by more efficient concerns, or any concerns. The fact that these and other industries are going means that the prospects of producing industrial revival are diminishing. The vitality of the nation is a limited force, and it is being wasted because the Government is not taking the necessary steps to preserve it. I can see that steps can be taken to protect it other than by the actual imposition of tariffs. The Minister on this matter of tariffs has a peculiar outlook. He appears to think it is his duty to act merely when the representatives of some industrial group have put up to him a case sufficiently forcible to make it compulsory for him to act. For instance, Deputy Moore questioned him with reference to the possibility of the present tariffs not being sufficient. He stated that he would on that point accept the opinion of those engaged in an industry concerned.

Rather than the opinion of a layman.

Undoubtedly; personally I would not.

Even as a layman?

In regard to certain industries I would not accept the opinion of the people in an industry as against that of people outside it who are able to judge the situation from the national viewpoint. The Minister knows that there are in this country a number of industries which would benefit by protection but in respect of which no application would be made by those engaged in them, for those engaged in them fear the effect of protection would be to bring in foreign concerns with greater capital resources and that would put the original persons engaged in the industry out of business.

I was not here, but I take it the Minister dealt with tariffs in his opening speech?

The proper time to deal with that subject would be on the Budget or the Finance Bill. With regard to the Tariff Commission with which Deputy Lemass has been dealing, I presume the Minister also dealt with that?

There is an Estimate for the Tariff Commission, and on that can be raised the question as to whether the Tariff Commission goes too slowly or too quickly. On the Estimate for the office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce we should not discuss questions of tariff generally. Deputy Lemass, of course, realises that if he goes into the question of tariffs like this somebody else will also go into it. This debate must only deal with the manner in which the Minister spends the money he is asking for in this Estimate, and not with what the Minister thinks about tariffs. The Minister may possibly prefer to do that, but it is not the idea.

I will not go further into that.

Except that the Deputy will give me one example of the case of which he speaks.

I am prepared to give a number of examples. There were representatives of the packing case industry, there were firms engaged in the manufacture of shovels, pick handles and things of that kind; and firms engaged in the manufacture of silver ware and agricultural machinery—quite a number of firms.

Who were afraid to ask for a tariff, because if they got the tariff they would be wiped out of existence?

Those engaged in these industries with whom I have been in consultation have expressed the view that they believe the imposition of tariffs would result in the development of their particular industries here, but it would not suit their personal interest to make application. The Minister knows that the terms of the Act make it impossible for any person to apply for a tariff who is not engaged in industry or about to engage in it. The persons who approached me in reference to these industries were the people employed in them, the representatives of the trade unions in which these men were enrolled. I wrote to the Minister for Finance asking if he would be prepared to refer to the Tariff Commission an application for a tariff supported only by those employed in the industry, and he replied that he could not interpret the Tariff Commission Act in a manner which would allow him to do that, and that the application would have to be made by persons representative of the owners and workers. The owners, however, were not prepared to support an application; the workers who wanted the development of the industries were, and as a result no applications in respect of these industries were made. I am sure if I waited to think I could mention at least ten different groups of industries in respect of which that applies and in respect of which representations were made to me by those engaged in them.

In respect of agricultural machinery I had an application for a tariff myself.

Has that been referred to the Tariff Commission?

No. What was the reason? Am I to bring in outside industries to crush the present people, who have not applied to the Tariff Commission?

I am only giving you the explanation that was offered to me. With respect to the operation of the Trade Loans Acts, I agree with the Minister that these Acts have exhausted their utility, and I would have been pleased at his statement that it is not intended to continue them beyond next June if he has any better alternative to offer us. It is quite obvious, however, from what he said that he has no alternative to offer us. Of course he told us—it has not been discovered by him alone—that banks in this country have been unduly restrictive in the matter of assisting industry, and that finance is not the main thing, or even one of the chief things, upon which the development of Irish industries depends.

I did not say that.

Well, the note I took of what you said——

I am not going to lie under the imputation of having said such a foolish thing as that finance is not one of the chief things upon which industry depends, but it is not the absence of finance only that prevents its development.

That is what I said —that finance is not one of the chief things on which the revival of Irish industry depends.

Take it that way if you like, but take it as I have explained it.

However, I cannot see that the Minister is doing any more than attempting to cover up his inability to get a better scheme than that embodied in the Trade Loans Acts. He will not deny, I think, that there exists among those who control capital in this country a certain timidity about the investment of money in Irish industries which is detrimental to our national interest. He will not deny that the bulk of the capital created in this country every year goes abroad for investment, except wherever State securities are available, and even when State or semi-State securities are available money cannot be got for them. But we have, probably, a much higher proportion of our capital invested abroad than have most other countries in the world. I think that the Minister himself has estimated it at something like £220,000,000. Certainly it must be in or about that figure if his estimate of the income which is derived from it, and which he takes into consideration when tabulating the invisible exports, is accurate.

The Trade Loans Acts were first introduced into this House because the Government believed, at that time at any rate, that the provision of capital was necessary if those with good industrial propositions were to be enabled to get going, and, secondly, because the Government, as the Minister admitted at that date, believed that the banks were not giving the assistance to Irish industry which the banks in other countries gave to industries in those countries. The Minister may have changed his views in relation to the banks, and I do not think it is an extraordinary thing that he should, but I think he has changed them for the worse. If he had held his attitude of 1924 a little more firmly and had awaited more definite proofs before abandoning it I think he would have come to the conclusion which a very large number of industrialists in this country have arrived at, that the banks here could do a great deal more and should do more to provide the capital which Irish industrialists require. If we compare the attitude of the banks here to industry with the attitude of the banks in Germany, for example, we will notice a tremendous difference; if we compare the attitude of the banks here with the attitude of the banks in America we will notice that there is a tremendous difference. There is no doubt whatever that there is available for investment a very large volume of capital which is exported, very largely through the medium of the Irish banks. These banks exercise a very considerable influence on the owners of that capital, and it is that influence which is used, and probably will for a long time continue to be used, against the interests of an industrial revival here.

I hoped that the Department of Industry and Commerce, when they decided to abandon the trade loans scheme, would have devised a better scheme which would enable them to take an active instead of a passive part in the development of industry. The criticism of the trade loans scheme which we enunciated here on two or three occasions was that it left the Government playing a purely passive role in relation to Irish in dustry. The man who had got a good idea, the man who had some natural resources or some particular project to develop, had to overcome a very large number of obstacles before he could avail of that scheme, and the attitude of the Government in relation to him was: "Well, you must overcome all these obstacles that we are putting in your way, and if you succeed in doing so, then we may help you." It was our view that in the peculiar circumstances that exist in this country the Government should take steps to seek possibilities of development, instead of taking the purely passive attitude that they have adopted. I believe that if the Government did act in that manner and took such steps, they would have found that there are many avenues of development possible that have not yet been even adequately explored.

The proposal which the Minister now puts before us is that the officials of his Department will endeavour to segregate the industries in need of capital and having segregated them, will endeavour to interest in such industries those controlling the capital, with the second string that in the case of big propositions he will come to the Dáil and seek to get a subsidy, as in the case of the Carlow beet sugar scheme. The enunciation of that proposal conveyed to my mind the idea that nothing more is going to be done. I think that, at any rate, that portion of the Minister's speech indicates very clearly the bankruptcy in initiative of the Department in this matter. I have no doubt whatever that it should be possible to hammer out a scheme which would place at the disposal of the Government a considerable portion of the capital available for investment and owned by Irishmen, which they could utilise, if they were prepared to do it, in the development of industry here.

The cynical indifference of the Minister, and of his Department, to the problem of unemployment has continued unchanged during the year. I spoke briefly upon this matter on the Finance Bill yesterday, when I asked Deputies to endeavour to realise what their attitude would be if, as a result of some great catastrophe—a flood or an earthquake, or something of that kind—some 75,000 or 80,000 people were deprived of employment. They would admit that a national emergency existed which should be dealt with as an emergency, and that very special steps should be taken to provide that those people would not suffer hardship. We are glad that there has been no such earthquake or flood as I imagined, but we have 75,000 or 80,000 people without work and suffering that hardship, and we have the Government taking the attitude of pure, absolute indifference towards them. Their one anxiety appears to be to conceal from Deputies and from the people the magnitude of the problem. In the course of the by-election in Dublin some months ago the Government Party issued a leaflet in which it endeavoured to prove that there were, in fact, only 6,000 people in Dublin without work. I do not know if any Deputies in the Cumann na nGaedheal ranks believe that such is the case. Certainly those who are engaged in the administration of charitable institutions in the city, the officials of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and kindred societies, do not believe it. A number of these officials have given estimates as to the volume of unemployment, which in some cases exceeds 100,000.

Mr. Byrne

One-third of the whole city of Dublin!

That is not my estimate. It has been made in the public Press by high officials of one of the charitable organisations.

And you give it publicity here.

Personally, I am not prepared to hazard a guess at all, and I think it is extraordinary that neither has the Minister for Industry and Commerce——

I have often given statements, but not definitely.

Statements which were mere waste of breath, because they were based upon no information. If the Minister will consult his Director of Statistics and publish the figures ascertained in the Census of 1926 we might place some credence in him, but until he has done that we are not prepared to take his statement on the subject.

Will you take the 100,000 unemployed in Dublin?

I believe that is probably an excessive figure. I do not believe that there are that many unemployed, but I believe that there are that number unemployed and dependents of unemployed. I have no hesitation in saying that in my constituency one-third of the people are unemployed, or are dependents of unemployed people, and any Deputy who has taken the trouble to examine the conditions that exist here will, I think, have to arrive at the same conclusion. I know that I am informed by the people when I visit particular parts of my constituency, that the situation is worse now than ever they knew it before, and that it is practically impossible for an able-bodied man to get employment of any kind outside the Corporation and on some of the housing schemes.

However, it is the policy of the Government in the matter of transport that I wish to deal with specially. We have a certain transport situation existing which was produced as a result of the legislation which was introduced here in 1924 and since, by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and duly passed. They have recently imposed an additional tax on omnibuses. I think they are open to criticism on the ground that the action which they have taken has been spasmodic and inadequate, and I do not think the Minister feels proud of his handiwork. Certainly he did not give us that impression in the course of his remarks, as he stated there is a general belief that chaos exists in transport, and the blessed word "co-ordination" is on everyone's lips. The Minister has assured us that the situation is somewhat better, but is not yet satisfactory. The attitude of the Government appears to be that the chaos must become more chaotic before they will attempt to intervene. As the Minister put it, the situation is righting itself, and there does not appear to be any indication that now is the time he should interfere. I think it can be shown that if the Government are contemplating interference in the transport situation at any time, they should act now. It is my belief that instead of the difficulties becoming less with time, they are likely to become greater, and that the Government will yet have occasion to regret the fact that they have not acted at this period— that is, of course, if they last long enough to regret anything.

Let us take the railway situation which the Minister dealt with only very casually. The Railways Amalgamation Act of 1924 was based, I think, on the principle that a standard revenue should be fixed and a schedule of standard charges drawn up from which the Railways Company could hope to secure standard revenue with economical and efficient management. That Act has been in operation for almost five years. During that period the net revenue of the Railways Company has undoubtedly increased, but it is still a very considerable way short of the standard revenue which was fixed by the Railway Tribunal. In 1925 the net receipts of the Railways Company were 40 per cent. of the standard revenue; in 1926 they were 46 per cent; in 1927 they were 64 per cent. and in 1928 74 per cent. Despite the substantial increase indicated by these figures I think it is extremely doubtful if the 26 per cent. remaining to be secured will ever be obtained. An examination of the railway returns shows that during the same period, 1925 to 1928, the gross receipts have been continuously declining and that the increase in net revenue is due to the fact that reductions effected in expenditure have been more substantial than the reductions in gross receipts. Taking 1925 as the basis year we find the gross receipts decreased by 1.4 per cent. in 1926; 7 per cent. in 1927, and 3.6 per cent in 1928. During the same period expenditure fell by 3.8 per cent. in 1926; 7.9 per cent. in 1927, and 13.5 per cent. in 1928.

I do not think that the Railways Company can continue indefinitely to meet decreased revenue by decreased expenditure. I know that they are attempting to do so and there is now a situation existing in the Inchicore works which may result in a stoppage, as a result of a further effort made to meet the falling revenue by cutting down the cost of the service. The Company has in fact already curtailed expenditure to an extent which, I think, seriously interferes with the efficiency of the concern. At the annual meeting of the proprietors of the Company held on March 8th, the chairman, Sir Walter Nugent, indicated that certain necessary works for the economical working of the concern could not be proceeded with, for lack of funds. The works indicated by him are, the reconstruction of the erecting shops at Inchicore, the standardisation of locomotives, the re-arrangement and grouping of terminals, road transport and hotels.

He said, of course, that the economies which had already been put into operation had not impaired the efficiency of the service nor imperilled the safety of the line. The accuracy of that statement is, I think, open to serious doubt. It would be only expected that a considerable reduction in expenditure would follow amalgamation, but one would naturally look for that reduction in overhead charges, management, supervisory grades, etc., and only to a much lesser extent in the charges for maintenance and renewal of the permanent way and rolling stock, running expenses and similar charges. In the year 1926-27 the total reduction in expenditure was 4.35 per cent. Of this total reduction, 31.1 per cent. was achieved on maintenance and renewal work alone. The reduction in maintenance work between 1925-26 was 98.6 of the total reduction. In the pre-amalgamation years about 40 per cent. of the total annual expenditure went in the maintenance of the way and stock. It is worthy of note that when the Great Northern Company was forced to reorganise its system during the same period the reduction in maintenance and renewal was a much smaller percentage of the total reduction. It was only 19.8 per cent. These figures show that the reduction in the expenditure of the Great Southern Railways has been secured by what one might describe as the failure to make proper provision for depreciation.

When we examine the figures relating to the reduction of staff we get very much the same result. Since 1925 the total staff of the Great Southern Railways has been decreased by just 2,500. As I pointed out, one would expect that the bulk of that reduction would be effected in the supervisory grades. On the contrary, we find that since 1923 the clerical supervisory staff was only reduced by 1.3 per cent. as against a reduction of 26.4 per cent. in the shop and artisan staff. The total reduction in the same period was 14.4 per cent. While it would not be possible to state with accuracy how far the uneconomic manner in which railway expenditure has been reduced has affected the efficiency of the concern, it is, nevertheless, apparent that the management have been cutting their costs, not primarily to eliminate waste, but to increase the net receipts by any means for their own immediate benefit. The management of the Great Southern Railways at present is not such as to inspire confidence that the essential public service which they control is in safe hands. I do not want it to be thought that that is a point of view which I alone hold. I think I am upheld in that contention by an article contributed by Deputy P.S. Doyle to the "Star"—the Star of Eve.

A great source of information.

It is a great source of information. One gets most extraordinary views from Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies. When asked what, in his opinion, was the main cause which contributed to the decrease in Irish railway receipts Deputy Doyle unhesitatingly replied, "The Irish railway management." The Deputy also proceeded to deal with the matter of the importation of rolling stock material and its effect on employment at Inchicore. As he pointed out, these works are equipped with the most up-to-date machinery for the building of locomotives. Before 1900 all the requirements of the Great Southern Railways in the matter of rolling stock were met at Inchicore. Since then, particularly in recent years, the rolling stock material which could and should be made there has been imported from Britain with very serious effects on the amount of employment given in the works in Dublin. I think I can say that from no point of view does the Irish railway management seem all that might be desired. It will be said that, good or bad, they represent the owners of the railway companies, but I think that the Government has already taken the view that, because of the nature of the service they control, they cannot be allowed to do what they like with their own property. They have given practical effect to that view by establishing the Railway Tribunal. If the property is badly managed the effects on our trade, industry, and national well-being generally might easily be disastrous. Whatever steps the Government can take to ensure that the working of the railways will be conducive to Irish prosperity, the line they have been following heretofore does not appear to be the right one.

The decline in the railway receipts has, of course, been due mainly to the decline in the number of passengers carried and even a more substantial reduction in the receipts from passenger traffic, due to the reduction in fares. With the exception of one item, namely, coal, in 1926—due to the general strike in England—all classes of traffic have shown a steady increase, although the latest figures would seem to indicate that that increase has been arrested. In 1925 the passenger receipts amounted to 34.8 per cent. of the total receipts; in 1926 to 34 per cent., and in 1927 to 30.5 per cent. That decline is directly due to the great increase which has taken place in that period in road motor vehicles and in the competition from buses. It is that competition which has very largely created the transport problem, as it is called, and as we know it. If that competition cannot be arrested I think that there is very little prospect that the railways will, for a long time to come, get on to a sound footing, and by that I mean be able to earn the standard revenue fixed by the Railway Tribunal. If passenger receipts and miscellaneous receipts remain stationary and do not decline further, as they probably will, the goods traffic receipts would have to increase by about 75 per cent. in order to enable the company to earn the standard revenue. If the passenger receipts continue to fall, a still larger increase in goods receipts will be necessary.

That is based on the assumption that the company has reached the limit in its policy of reducing expenditure. It appears evident from the Chairman's statement at the annual meeting of the company that some increase in expenditure may be looked for. If the railways are to be maintained as an economic proposition, some regulation in regard to road transport is required to ensure that it will be directed with a view to helping, rather than injuring, that essential service. The present motor bus position has been allowed to develop by the Government, either by deliberate design or through lack of foresight. Their only positive reaction to it was to introduce legislation permitting the railway companies to own and operate motor omnibuses under certain restrictions and to impose the additional tax which was mentioned in the recent Budget statement. There are now some 140 companies, or individual proprietors, operating omnibuses in the Twenty-six Counties. They carry something like 3½ million passengers per month, and their gross monthly receipts are about £50,000.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce rightly said that it has probably not yet reached the limit of its development in respect of the area which it serves. There are still large areas in the country which would be greatly benefited by the extension of the bus services to them. The service which they are giving in large areas in the country is a very great boon to people. The railway system of the country was not constructed primarily for the development of Irish trade or the convenience of the Irish people. Anyone who looks at a railway map of the country will notice that a number of lines radiate from Dublin to different centres and that there is no adequate provision made for tapping important districts or for inter-communication in the country. The deficiency in the railway service is, however, being made up by the motor omnibuses and, in so far as they are doing that, they are of very great use to the people. The fact that the people appreciate the service given to them is indicated by the available statistics relating to the bus traffic. The fact that they are carrying 3½ million passengers per month indicates that the omnibuses are not altogether the unmixed evil that Deputy Davin and others appear to think they are. The Government, however, appear to be very definitely engaged on a ramp to drive these omnibuses off the roads. We had the Minister telling us to-day that the tax imposed by the Resolution passed here some weeks ago was not nearly heavy enough, and that the matter of taxation will have to be still further gone into. The Minister, however, did not give us anything to indicate on what he based that conclusion. He was just as vague in that respect as the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government were when dealing with the matter during the discussion on the Resolution imposing the tax.

If the buses are doing more damage to the roads than they are capable of paying for, they are an uneconomic service, and the sooner they are removed the better. It has not yet been demonstrated that they are an uneconomic service, or that they are not paying for all the damage they do. I, personally, do not believe they are, and I would like to see the problem approached in some scientific way, and that we would not be dependent on the guesses of Ministers when they have no data to support them in conclusions which they announce to the House. The Government, of course, appear to think that it is desirable that the only omnibuses left to ply on the roads should be those owned and controlled by the railways. So far as they can operate the machinery under their control, they appear to be loading the dice in favour of the railway omnibuses. While the co-ordination of rail and road service is undoubtedly most desirable and, in fact, almost essential for development here, it is by no means certain that that co-ordination can best be secured by giving more complete control over these services to the existing railway management.

The position is, therefore, that we have the railways apparently inefficiently managed, with continuously declining receipts, and meeting that decline by cutting expenditure in what appears to an outsider to be an uneconomic manner. We have 140 companies or individual proprietors operating omnibuses engaged in cut-throat and wasteful competition, rendering some service undoubtedly to the travelling public, but at a cost, by way of damage which they do to the roads, which the taxpayers have to meet. We have the Government without any declared policy, but apparently prepared to operate the legislative machinery in the interests of the railway companies whenever special difficulties arise, and simply hoping that economic forces, which they cannot comprehend, or merely blind chance, will result in the simplification of the problem before public opinion forces them to interfere. We have also the fact which, to me at any rate, is obvious, that the situation if it develops along the lines which the Government themselves believe it will develop, will become more difficult rather than easier of solution.

The Minister will, no doubt, say that this criticism of the Government and of the railway companies is all very fine in its way but that it should be supported by concrete proposals for the improvement of the situation. I do not know what the present position with respect to the Economic Committee is. It ceased operations after the publication of the report upon flour and wheat and has not yet reassembled. I do not know if it is intended that it should ever reassemble. If it does meet and whenever it comes to attempt the almost impossible task of completing its terms of reference, by considering this transport situation, there are certain proposals which we would put before it and which we could put forward there in much greater detail than they could be put forward here. Briefly, we think that the time has come when the State should purchase Irish railways—and I include the Northern Railway—purchase all the railways which have their headquarters in the Twenty-six Counties and exclude those which have headquarters outside the Twenty-six Counties. The machinery by which they should be purchased is a matter of detail which could be worked out. That would involve the setting up of some sort of tribunal for the purpose of ascertaining the cash value of the stock in each undertaking, and the payment of stockholders in railway bonds issued by the State for the railway stock held by them and cancelled by the purchaser. The Oireachtas would have to make provision for a sinking fund for the redemption of railway bonds thus issued. We believe that there should be established, following the purchase of the railway lines within the country, a national transport board that would be representative of the various interests using the railways and the Government, but that the Government representation on the board should possess certain powers that would prevent a decision being arrived at which would place an undue burden upon the State. That board would, of course, have the absolute control and management of the lines acquired. The profits from the working of these lines in any year could be paid into a special fund under the control of the Minister for Finance and out of that fund would be paid the interest on the railway bonds issued, the balance of course, going into the Central Fund for the relief of taxation. It would be necessary to maintain in existence the Railway Tribunal, in something like its present form, for the purpose of fixing standard charges, and on receipt of representations from users of the railway, to order the maintenance of adequate services with respect to particular portions of the line, or the conveyance of goods to and from certain districts.

That transport board should also have control of the running of bus services on the roads. The Minister appeared to think that the big difficulty in that connection is the necessity of paying compensation to those who have sunk their money in omnibuses. In fact, he said the Government could not interfere until the omnibus situation had reached a stage when it resembled the railway situation of 1923. I think there is very little comparison between the two. The railways have fixed assets. They have the lines, the stations, etc., whereas the omnibus companies own only omnibuses. These have a limited life, and I believe very little hardship would be imposed on anybody if it were enacted that after a particular date, let it be one year or eighteen months ahead, the sole right of running public services on the roads would be vested in that transport board, the establishment of which we suggest. The board would, of course, have to pay compensation or superannuation allowances to railway employees or, to a much lesser extent, to bus company employees who would be rendered redundant by the adoption of these proposals. The State should also acquire and transfer to the control of the board the interest of the shareholders in the Grand Canal Company. We believe that there should be that unified control of transport by some institution established by the State, that the transport resources of the country should be owned by the State, and that it should not be left to private enterprise to develop them.

I think that we in this country need an efficient transport system more than most other countries in the world, because of the fact that we have a very serious industrial problem to face, in order that we may eventually reach that better balance between industry and agriculture that the Minister for Industry and Commerce seems to hope has already been attained. We cannot possibly get efficient industries established here, and the balance between industry and agriculture properly adjusted without an efficient transport system. We have not got it yet. There does not appear to be any indication that we are to get it, or any hope that the lines on which the Government are now going will get it for us. I think the Government were contemplating the adoption of some such proposal as I have mentioned some time ago themselves. As far back as 1922 there was a railway commission established by the Provisional Government. It submitted certain recommendations along these lines, and most bodies that have come to the consideration of this problem have, in the meantime, arrived at almost identical conclusions. I believe if the Government seriously tackle the problem with the idea that they should take an active instead of a passive part, they themselves would arrive at the same conclusions also.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.

The trouble with the Department of Industry and Commerce is that it has been afflicted with inertia. The Minister is quite ingenious in the methods he devises to excuse his doing nothing. The excuses he offers for his inactivity in the Dáil are really classical and would earn the adulation of any school-boy who had to explain to his master why his homework was not done. The attitude of the Minister is well known. He has put a good case before the Dáil for not having done his work, but I submit, in view of the importance of the Department, he is inflicting an injury on the nation by adopting that attitude. I ask the Dáil to come to that conclusion by adopting the amendment and referring back the Estimate for reconsideration.

Ordered, that progress be reported.
The Dáil went out of Committee of Finance.
Progress reported.
The Dáil went into Committee.