Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

I propose to deal with this Bill section by section. The first section is self-explanatory, it simply defines that the expression "the Principal Act" means the Electricity Supply Act 1927 and, according to the Act of 1929, the meaning that is given to it here. The second section includes the expansion of the term "local authority." The usual definition of local authority will be extended to include such bodies as the Commissioners of Merrion Square. They will be given power to levy a rate on the Electricity Supply Board in regard to premises within the jurisdiction of those Commissioners. There is nothing more in it than that.

The third section gives me power and gives me power retrospectively, to execute certain works instead of paying compensation. It is necessary to have this retrospective in order to clear up certain doubts which arise under Section 3 (1) subhead M. of the Act of 1925. There is some doubt in that section as to whether or not the execution of the works that are referred to in this paragraph would be within my power. In order to clear up that doubt we are making this retrospective. The purpose of the section is to enable me instead of paying compensation to certain people to execute works for them to the amount of such compensation, it being presumed that having certain contractors under my control I will be in a position to get the work done more cheaply than if outsiders were brought in. Sub-section (5) ordains that with the consent of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health the exemption from rates which was given under Section 96 of the 1927 Act shall also be applicable to such minor works—and they will be very minor —as I may take in hands under this section. It is simply to meet the position that if in carrying out the main works it is found that certain incidental works like embankments, the provision of water supplies, and the raising of certain docks in Lough Derg, can better be done under my authority with my contractors than outsiders could possibly hope to do these, in order to save them the cost of carrying out these works I ask to be entitled under this Bill to carry out these works within the terms of the compensation which would afterwards have to be paid.

Section 4 is aimed at a particular bargain which has been made by the Electricity Supply Board in relation to the Cork Electricity Company. That is the only thing which we see coming within the scope of this paragraph at the moment. It is to be noted that the new section does not increase the total advances to be made to the Board but the amount which may be advanced in any half year is enlarged, all the while within the control of the Minister for Finance. Deputies will realise that under the old Act a sum of £400,000 in any half year was the limit that might be advanced by the Minister for Finance. If the purchase of an undertaking involves a sum of more than £400,000, and if the bargain made necessitates the payment of more than £400,000 in one sum the Board would find it impossible to carry out the bargain. Such a situation has arisen and it is therefore necessary to enable the Minister for Finance to advance more than £400,000 in a particular half year. The overriding limit of two and a half millions still remains.

Sections 5 and 6 deal with the same point. Up to date when an advance is being made by the Minister for Finance to the Board the rate of interest for purposes of repayment has under the Act to be calculated at the time of the advance. The particular difficulty in which the Minister for Finance finds himself might have been met by so adjusting the interest on the repayments to later advances, as to equalise over charges that might have been made on early advances. In that way the Minister for Finance could adjust the rate at which interest is payable, but the Minister could only adjust it at the time of the last advance. It is only fair that the Board should be allowed to borrow from the State at the rate at which the State can borrow from the community, plus the charges of securing the accommodation that has been given. The Minister for Finance is again the judge of the rate. This is only to enable him to vary the rate, and to secure that it is not necessary for him to establish the rate at the time of the advance.

Section 7 deals with this same point, but having effect more to time relation than to interest charge. Up to date the obligation was that repayments should be made within a period of six months after the Board becomes liable for a repayment. This gives the Minister for Finance—it is still within the Minister for Finance's control—a discretion as to the time subsequent to the transfer of the Shannon works to the Board. It will be realised by Deputies, as there are certain claims outstanding and likely to be outstanding for a long time in relation to land that is being taken for the canal and for the poles, that it may not be possible within a period of six months after the works are handed over to the Board to determine what is the exact liability that falls upon the Board. Hence we want to get rid of this six months' period. It gives a discretion to the Minister for Finance to determine the liability after six months or such longer period as he shall in the particular case direct.

Section 8 carries practically the same definition as is given to a local authority under sub-section (2) of Section 96 of the Act of 1927.

Sections 9, 10 and 11 must be taken together. The net result of Sections 9, 10 and 11 is that while confirming the old exemption from ratesgranted by Section 96 of the Act of 1927, it puts clearly upon the Board liability to pay rates on everything else, but it stereotypes the valuation on which rates are to be paid, as that valuation was at particular dates. Section 9 is similar to the terms of the Financial Resolution moved yesterday in relation to income tax. It declares and enacts that the two reasons which might have operated to exempt the Board from payment of rates do not hold in relation to the Board's property. So far as Section 9 by itself goes it means that the Board is to be liable for rates and has been liable for rates as if there never was any question of the Board's occupation being occupation by the State or a department of State, or occupation of a public nature or for a public purpose, these being the two reasons which would have been relied on to secure the Board against liability to rates.

All rates?

All rates, as far as Section 9 is concerned. Section 10 moves forward another step. Section 10 says in regard to acquired undertakings the position ought to be stereotyped in this way, that local authorities which have up to this looked to the receipt of rates from certain property ought to be able to rely on the receipt of the same amount of rates, or rather ought to be able to rely on the rates that will come from the same valuation as heretofore. But in order to prevent an increase of valuations of a penal type as between, say, the introduction of this Act and the vesting order passed by the Board paragraph B establishes that where the vesting order or conveyance is made after the passing of this Act the valuation shall be the valuation in force for the year beginning on the 1st day of April, 1929.

Where the vesting order is made before the passing of the Act the valuation on which rates are based is stereotyped for all time as the valuation which was in force at the date of the vesting order, and where the vesting order which takes over an undertaking is dated after the passing of the Act the valuation on which the rates will be payable is declared to be the valuation in force for the year beginning on 1st April, 1929.

Even though there has been a valuation over all the district?

Even so, and even though the Board later went out of occupation of the premises on which the valuation was struck. We are assuring for all time to local authorities the payment of rates and basing these rates on the valuations in force either at the date of the vesting order or on April 1st, 1929. The valuation is stereotyped, and stereotyped against the Board for all time, even though the Board goes out of possession of the property. Let me give a case in point. If the Board decided, for instance, not to use the Dublin station but to build a station of its own, it will continue to pay rates on the Dublin station until this legislation is changed, and the valuation will be the same as that in force on the date at which the Board took over the station.

If the Board takes over premises in the country?

It will pay on the valuation in force either when the vesting order was promulgated or on 1st April, 1929, and will continue to pay even though it goes out of possession hereafter.

If that property passes into the possession of somebody else?

The Board still continues to pay. We do not stereotype the rates, as they may vary, but we stereotype the valuation on which the rates are paid and do so against the Board on all property which they acquired.

If the property passes into the hands of a new owner will he be liable to pay the new rates in addition?

Probably. Local authorities are assured until this legislation is changed.

What about the Clare County Council?

They are governed by Section 96 of the original Act. We are not disturbing them. In regard to premises which heretofore paid rates, the local authorities are stereotyped.

An Act of repentance.

No; Section 96 of the original Act continues. In regard to acquired undertakings on which rates have previously been paid we insist that the Board shall pay until this legislation is changed. The only thing we stereotype is valuation. If local authorities up to date had been accustomed to looking forward to rates on property which has been taken over by the Board, they will get for all time the rates coming from that property. Section 11 continues in the main the exemptions given by Section 96 of the 1927 Act.

Mr. Byrne

What are those exemptions?

The whole Shannon works, the canal and transmission works. Where the rates have been paid they shall continue to be paid. It means that the Board is involved in future payments to local authorities averaging about four times the amount hitherto derived on those properties.

And the injustice to the Clare ratepayers will continue.

What the Deputy characterises as an injustice to the Clare ratepayers, which was sanctioned by this Dáil in 1927, will continue.

In the case of Pembroke, possibly they were not getting rates on their own undertaking?

They were, and that will be continued. The difficulty from the Board's point of view is that these proposals are based on valuation which have been greatly increased since the Shannon scheme was talked of. Sections 9, 10 and 11 carry out what was previously declared when the 1927 Bill was going through. It was declared that we sought to exempt the new Shannon works, which were not previously rated. They were to be exempted, but it was hinted, and declared in letters to the Board, that they were supposed to be liable for, and it was our intention that they should be liable for rates. We are now enforcing these payments on them.

Sections 12 and 13 deal with compensation to employees. Our desire is to rectify two deficiencies found in the previous Act. Section 12 means that under the Principal Act of 1927 compensation was only payable where the Board had issued a formal order on the closing of a generating station. The scheme of that Act was that the Board would close down a generating station either by order or by taking possession of the station. If they took possession of the undertaking, it was our belief and our intention that the Board would become an authorised undertaker, and would be liable to all the obligations of such an authorised undertaker and also that peculiar responsibilities would flow from that. There is a legal doubt as to that situation, and we want to make it clear. We want to declare that whether the Board issues a formal order or not, the compensation set out in the Schedule of the Act of 1927 shall apply to employees of such generating stations. The net effect is to dispense with the necessity of a formal order before compensation can be claimed.

Would the Minister explain the difference between compensation for those engaged in generating stations and those engaged in other portions of an undertaking?

The previous Act and this Bill only deal with compensation to those engaged in generation. The only field of employment that has been narrowed and restricted by the Shannon scheme is that concerned with generation. A bigger field has been created for those engaged in the distribution end. The line we take is that for people engaged in generating stations compensation should be available. Those who have been employed otherwise have had a bigger field of employment opened up to them, and if they are worth anything they will be employed.

There is the question of the clerical staff.

Clerical staff in relation to electricity ought to have a better chance of employment now than ever before, and therefore we think that compensation ought not to be paid to them. We think that it should be paid in the case of a field of employment which has been narrowed but not in cases where more opportunities will come to people of experience, whether engaged in clerical or any other work.

Mr. Byrne

Does that apply to technical staffs?

The only technical staff which I can consider are those employed in generating stations. Those only experienced in generating will be compensated. If they have technical experience, if they are experienced otherwise in a technical sense, they will find a bigger field of employment open to them.

Will there be steps taken to give preferential treatment to the clerical staff?

No; if they have experience they have a wider field of employment than before. You cannot compensate them because they have been in clerical appointments in connection with an undertaking. They are either good or bad. If they are good they have better prospects of employment, and, if they are bad, they should not be employed.

Does not the Minister realise that the clerical staff attached to the Dublin station consisted of persons who regarded themselves and who were regarded as being in permanent employment? That permanent employment is now being taken from them.

By no means. It never was permanent. Their chances of what amounts to permanent employment under the Board are greater than the chances of anybody else who may seek work under the Board. Why should we compensate that class of person?

Because you deprive him of his employment.

No, we give him a greater field of opportunity. I do not consider that a man who was never permanent should be regarded as a permanent man. We are not destroying opportunity of occupation, but rather are we giving greater scope for a certain type of individual. Why should we compensate that individual?

Section 13 deals with compensation under a different heading. Previously the law was that where an undertaking had not been acquired, but where a generating station was closed because the employer was going to take his supply of electricity in bulk from the Shannon, the employees were not eligible for compensation because no formal closing order had been issued by the Board. Under the old legislation the right to compensation depended on the formal closing order issued by the Board. This section dispenses with the necessity of such order before compensation begins to accrue to such people. If those who are employed in a generating station lose their employment because the people who own the station are not compulsorily closed by the Board, but who closed themselves because they are going to take supplies in bulk, we ordain that compensation shall flow to their employees, just as we previously ordained that it should come to those who were put out of employment because the Board issued a formal order. The net result is that where previously a formal vesting order was a condition precedent to compensation it is now no longer a condition precedent. If the undertaking itself closes down, the closing down being due to the taking of a supply in bulk from the Board, then the ordinary compensation terms apply.

With reference to clerical staff, does the Minister think it fair that those people who, with certain justification, considered themselves in permanent positions, are to have nothing to rely on now but their experience in order to compete with other trained clerks for the vacancies which will arise in the future? They have nothing but that to rely on now in endeavouring to obtain re-employment. Does the Minister think that fair?

It is fair. A person who is not in a permanent situation has to rely on his experience to keep him in occupation. We do not diminish his chances of occupation; rather, we increase them; but we say that he has to rely on his previously-gained experience. We do not think that compensation should be paid to that man. Our view is that compensation should be paid where the field of employment is narrowed or restricted, but that, otherwise, a man must rely on his previous experience.

We are expected to give a Second Reading to this Bill to-day, although it was only circulated yesterday. It is a Bill the full significance of which cannot be grasped by reading it over once. It is a bad example of the type of legislation to which Opposition Parties always object—that is, legislation by reference. The various sections composing this Bill have been under consideration by the Minister and by the Executive Council for some time, as was indicated by statements made here. Deputies, however, have only known of the contents of the Bill since yesterday. On such short notice, they cannot be expected to give a considered opinion concerning the proposals contained in it. There is this to be said in favour of giving the Bill a Second Reading to-day—that, in fact, it contains no principle, each section being distinct in itself. We can discuss the sections in detail on the Committee Stage. There is also a certain amount of urgency in regard to the sections relating to the compensation of employees. We do not intend to hold up the Bill in any way. We shall content ourselves with getting from the Minister the information necessary to make the provisions of the Bill clear to us. So far as the Bill requires discussion, we can discuss it section by section on the Committee Stage.

There are some points on which I desire to obtain further information. My first point is in relation to Section 3. We have always objected, and will object, to retrospective legislation of this kind. This is a section which is unobjectionable in itself but which proposes to declare that a certain thing was, when, in fact, it was not, in effect from the 4th July, 1925. Has the Minister embarked since 1925 upon any construction schemes such as are indicated in the section? If so, how and in what manner did the legality of his actions come to be questioned? Presumably, such construction schemes have been embarked upon. Otherwise, this retrospective clause would not be necessary. If it has happened that the Minister exceeded the powers conferred upon him by the Act of 1925, did he do so knowing that he was exceeding his powers or was he under the impression that the Act of 1925 was not so water-tight as he has since discovered it to be? We have had a number of Bills and motions before the Dáil from time to time to ratify mistakes in legislation for which the Government was responsible. Ministers are generally very eloquent in their sarcasm regarding Bills introduced by members of the Opposition Party. But no Bill introduced by any member of any Opposition Party in this House has had to be so drastically amended as some of the Bills which the Minister himself prepared with the assistance of a hundred officials in his Department and the entire staff of the draftsman's office. This is a Bill of that rectifying type. Practically every section in it is designed to remove doubts which were created by the faulty drafting of the original Acts.

Section 4 is designed, as the Minister has informed us, to meet the special circumstances concerning the acquisition of the Cork Electricity Supply Company but, as the Minister pointed out, it has a wider application than that. If it is merely intended that the Electricity Supply Board should exceed the limitations of the Act of 1927 in respect of the acquisition of the Cork Electricity Supply Company, why is the section not confined to that one case instead of being made applicable to any case that may arise? There is, I notice, in relation to this section a retrospective sub-section also declaring that the section shall have and be deemed always to have had effect as from the 1st day of January, 1930.

Sections 5 and 6 are designed to enable the Minister for Finance to vary the rate of interest charged to the Board on advances from the Central Fund. The Minister enunciated a principle with which it is very hard to disagree. That is, that the Board should be able to borrow from the State at a rate similar to that at which the State borrows from the public. That principle seems to be applied only in the case of the Electricity Supply Board. It has not been applied to the case of local authorities endeavouring to borrow money for housing schemes through the Local Loans Fund. Is it intended that the rate of interest to be charged the Board will be sufficiently high to recoup the State all the expenditure in which the State was involved in the raising of that money. or is it merely intended that the rate of interest shall be the same, say, as the rate of interest on the National Loan, irrespective of flotation and other charges?

The Minister explained at considerable length the effect of the sections dealing with the collection of rates on property controlled or owned by the Electricity Supply Board. He undoubtedly made that clear to Deputies, but he did not give us any clear explanation as to why it is necessary to have the stereotyping of the valuation of acquired property, and he did not state what particular advantage will be gained by the Board or the local authorities as a result of the stereotyping of the valuation. It may be that there is a good case for it, but the Minister has not made the case, and I should be glad if he would do so in replying.

I find it very hard to agree with the Minister's remarks concerning the compensation of clerical officers and other persons of that class engaged at generating stations. The Minister appears to believe that in giving these persons an opportunity of employment he is, in fact, compensating them for the loss of employment. I do not think that a person who has had experience of being unemployed would consider that fair compensation. Whatever the legal position of clerical officers of the Dublin generating station may have been, in fact they were permanent officials of the Dublin Corporation and were so regarded by all concerned. Officials of the Dublin Corporation who passed a qualifying examination were for all purposes regarded as permanent employees except that they were liable to dismissal for neglect of duty or dishonourable conduct. Their positions were, in fact, as permanent as those of civil servants, and to argue that no harm is done to that class when permanent, pensionable employment is taken from them is sheer nonsense. It may be true—in fact, it probably is true—that the majority of them can secure alternative employment without much trouble under the Electricity Supply Board. But if there is even one such official who has had his permanent, pensionable employment taken from him as a result of State action, then the State should provide that employee with compensation sufficient to keep him from hardship until he has had an opportunity of adapting himself to the changed circumstances and until he has got employment elsewhere.

We are glad that the Minister has introduced sections to provide compensation for the technical staff engaged in the Dublin station and similar stations. As Deputies are aware, considerable hardship has been occasioned because of the fact that these employees were rendered idle when the station was closed down, following the bringing of Shannon current to Dublin. In fact, all we have to say concerning these sections of the Bill is to express our regret that they have been delayed so long. We do not think it was necessary to wait until the other sections of the Bill, dealing with the rating of the premises and the alteration of the financial provisions of the original Act, were ready. A short Bill containing these two sections could have been introduced at least a month ago. If that had been done, as we urged at the time, considerable hardship would have been avoided. We think that even as the Bill is now, it will be necessary on Committee Stage to urge the Dáil to extend these sections. We shall, however, wait before coming to a decision until we have had an opportunity of examining the Bill and discussing it amongst ourselves, in conjunction with the Minister's statement in introducing it, and his statement in reply to the queries we have raised.

The Minister has pointed out that sub-section (2) of Section 9 of this Bill maintains the position in relation to rates on the Shannon works. We may have some proposal to make to the Dáil in relation to that matter when we shall have had an opportunity of discussing the question amongst ourselves. It has been stated that considerable injustice has been done to the Clare County Council by reason of the fact that additional burdens have been placed upon it in consequence of the erection of the works, for which no additional revenue has been made available. However, whether or not we will take the opportunity which the introduction of this Bill gives us to ask the Dáil to reconsider its original decision, is a matter which will be determined between this and the next stage. I should like if the Minister would deal with the points I have mentioned.

I should like to ask the Minister if he would explain to some further extent, when replying, the provisions of clause 12. A good deal of discussion has been going on recently regarding the position of the employees at the Pigeon House Fort station. It comprises men who are known as station men, as well as distributors. Members of both these classes have various periods of service and are entitled to pensions under the Corporation. The closing down of the works means that they would be deprived of that pension, and I should like to know whether it is proposed to compensate them in that regard, taking into account their years of service. I should like to know also if those who are temporary hands are to be in any way compensated by way of gratuity or otherwise, or what years are to be fixed for the granting of compensation under the Bill.

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce came before the Dáil some six years ago with a proposition for the development of Shannon power, some of us considered that it was a courageous gesture towards national development. We are still of that opinion. We still believe it is something which will materially benefit the nation. When the nation was asked to spend about six million pounds we naturally expected that those people who were likely to lose as a result of the operations of the Shannon scheme would get consideration, in view of the fact that the scheme was designed for the benefit of the nation. Situated as we are in Clare beside the start and end of the development we concluded that Clare would not be in any worse position with reference to that construction, and yet we do find that the Minister has imposed a good deal of hardship not alone on the administrative county of Clare and the people concerned for the upkeep of all the institutions in that county, but he also has ignored the claims of a certain section of the community in that county in the matter of having their employment destroyed because of the operations of the Shannon scheme. We find that the Minister is making something like an act of repentance in connection with further buildings, offices or constructions that may be made under the Electricity Board. We find there some gesture of repentance in this attitude of his in introducing this Bill. These buildings are going to be subject to rates of the local authorities, and yet we do not find that he extends that same gesture of repentance to the ratepayers of the County Clare who are getting no extra advantage from the presence of all the works that are in their administrative county in connection with the Shannon scheme.

The Minister cannot be unaware that the people who are responsible for the administration of that county feel that an injustice is being done them because representations have been made to his Department on several occasions on this matter and expressions of opinion from public authorities have reached him. One would have thought when he got this opportunity of including these buildings and works which must have a very high valuation in the county that he would make some attempt to relieve that hardship. He has not done it and as far as I can gather he does not intend to do it. Deputy Lemass has indicated that probably they will take some action in the matter and I can only hope that we will have the influence of the Fianna Fáil Party in trying to remove that grievance. There is another matter in connection with land submerged in this district. There are still some people seeking compensation, some twenty or thirty cases still undecided, and to which I have made reference here on several occasions. Surely the Minister at this stage ought to have closed them.

I want to pass to one of the principal faults I have to find with the operations of the Shannon scheme, the failure of the Minister to make provision for those whose employment has been destroyed because of these operations. I refer to the fishermen in Killaloe. The Minister said a few moments ago—I am quoting his exact words—that compensation should be paid where a field of employment is narrowed or restricted. That surely is a perfectly clear statement and surely the field of employment for these fishermen in Killaloe because of the operation of the Shannon scheme is not alone narrowed and restricted but entirely destroyed. The trout and salmon fisheries on the Shannon, I presume to say, are world famous. There are two divisions of them, those which are privately owned— and these include by far the greater part of these fisheries—and those which are free to the public. The Minister spoke this morning about the necessity of compensating people who would even walk the road, if he extended compensation to these people. To fish the Killaloe waters a special kind of boat called a cot is required. These cots are long and flat bottomed; tapering at both ends and some of them run to 28 feet in length. They are difficult to manage and it takes long and arduous apprenticeship to acquire the skill and dexterity necessary to manipuate these craft in the tumbling, racing, rock-strewn, Shannon at Killaloe.

Is the Deputy taking this opportunity instead of the adjournment to raise this matter?

Mr. Hogan

If I raise it now I will not raise it on the adjournment. I will leave the Minister off earlier. I hope he will appreciate that fact in dealing with it. Consequently the cot fishermen, who fish with rod and line only, are not many, and the art and practice of cot fishing has remained mostly in the hands of the same families for generations. These men have grown up, one might say, in the Shannon. They are certainly as familiar with its currents and pools and variations as are the sea islanders with their coral reefs. Fishing is their, livelihood. They talk fish, eat fish know how every cloud, shade or wind that blows affects their second mother—the Shannon. They have been acknowledged by experts as the most skilled rod and line fishers in the whole world; and it is well known to followers of Izaak Walton that the Killaloe gaff man is without an equal when it comes to gaffing a hooked salmon. Those men view with dismay their position when the Shannon scheme will be completed; for then the fisheries at Killaloe will be wiped out and their occupation will indeed be gone.

I would put to the Minister the position that he has compensated other people who were concerned with the fishing industry on the Shannon. He has given the riparian owners a certain amount of compensation for what he considers their interests or trade losses, and now this morning he stated he would not compensate these fishermen because they were not entitled to compensation. He said they had no more claim than the people who walked the road. I want to put it to the Minister that the Shannon to these men was as the parts of their land were to the people who have been compensated when these lands were submerged. It is their only means of livelihood. For generations past their fathers and forefathers have been fishing on the Shannon. They are peculiarly adapted to that kind of work and no other kind of work. Therefore, from the Minister's statement a few minutes ago that compensation should be paid where the field of employment is narrowed or restricted, he should certainly consider the claims of these people. I put these points to him, and also I put it that he should consider the position of the Clare ratepayers when leaving all the entire Shannon work out of that county. I ask him to consider these matters sympathetically between now and the Committee Stage to avoid further discussion.

As Deputy Lemass has stated, this is a difficult Bill, because it is legislation by reference, but there is one thing that emerges from this Bill for which I think the Minister should be congratulated, and that is, it clarifies the whole issue as far as payment of rates to local authorities is concerned, and also in another important item as far as compensation to redundant men is concerned. These were two injustices which, in the opinion of most people conversant with the Bill, called for a speedy and effective remedy, and I think the Minister has given the remedies most people expected he would give. The failure of the former Acts to enable payment of rates to local authorities was felt in Dublin as a very distinct grievance. I am very glad to see that the Minister has now removed that grievance for all time. His statement on that head is perfectly definite and precise, that local authorities will get for all time the rates they have been accustomed to receive. I presume they will get them at the higher valuation, and there will be no fault with that.

I would like to join with Deputy Doyle in referring to the men employed at the Pigeon House Fort. Some of these men have had service ranging from thirty to forty years. The Minister stated in the course of his remarks that employment under a new scheme should rather be increased than diminished. But with regard to men of that age, in my opinion, a Board like the Shannon Board would be rather chary about taking them on. I would like to ask the Minister if these men will receive fresh employment under the Electricity Supply Board, how they will stand with regard to their pension rights, which have accrued for thirty or forty years, in the service. I think if these men are transferred into the employment of the Board that the Board should be liable for any pension rights that have accrued owing to the past services of these men. I hope the Minister will give that careful consideration when he is replying.

There is also another point with regard to these men. Many of them are employed in what they consider a temporary capacity. They are working for the new board, but they do not know when their employment may cease. They may be knocked off in a week or in a month. They do not know what the nature of their employment at the moment is. I would ask the Minister to endeavour to see that the Board makes some permanent arrangement for these men, either takes them on as permanent employees, or let them know exactly in what capacity they stand before they arrange to become servants of the new Board. I think the first question which should be resolved, as far as they are concerned, is: Do they lose their pensions, or is the new Board liable for these pension rights? I hope the Minister will deal with this sympathetically. Also, as representing the City of Dublin, I hope the Minister will not pay any attention to the eloquent plea of Deputy Hogan from Clare. Since I came into this House I have noticed that the country is always pulling the City of Dublin.

It is the other way about.

Mr. Byrne

I am told it is the other way about, but my experience is the reverse. Deputy Hogan is proof of that. He has pleaded eloquently for the ratepayers and for the Killaloe fishermen. I think the ratepayers of Dublin are in a different position from these people. They made more sacrifices, as far as the Shannon scheme is concerned, than the Killaloe fishermen, although I do not want to say anything detrimental to anyone who is earning his livelihood in that way. I would remind Deputy Hogan that when the Dublin jarveys were superseded there was no one to give them compensation. It was a hardship, but at the same time the ordinary ups and downs must be taken into consideration.

I am glad to see that there is some clarification, at least in one section of what is, I think, the most obscure Act, with the possible exception of the British Employers Liability Act, that was ever produced. I am not saying that in any very critical spirit, because I recognise that when that Act was introduced a good many things were uncertain, and a good many changes were made in the actual process of passing that Act which were not, in fact, properly co-ordinated and which, possibly, could not be co-ordinated. But where we have a Bill of this kind to remove doubts, it ought to be recognised that these are not by any means the only doubts which will eventually have to be removed. I know I spent a very considerable time reading the two Acts and reading the debates on which they were formed, and time after time I came up against things which I certainly, as an ordinary man with the ordinary capacity to read these Bills, could not get a solution of, nor when I went to experts for advice could I get clear information as to what was meant. Certain clauses I read with amazement, and I looked further along for what might be called compensating clauses, or things of that kind, but I did not find them. I found quite a number of things which I will tell you quite frankly I have not up to the present been able to understand, nor do I believe do the Electricity Supply Board themselves understand them. I will take one example before I pass on to the general things, and that is a very fundamental financial point in the Bill: What is a transformer area and what are the obligations in the way of accounting in relation to transformer areas? I have not been able to ascertain what is any particular transformer area in Ireland at the present moment, nor have I been able to ascertain, nor do I think it is known to those responsible, what is the meaning of the regulation that says that line ball accounts shall be produced; in other words, that at a certain date a charge shall be made for the electricity which will cover, and not more than cover, the commitments, nor how this regulation applies to the separate transformer areas. We are told in the Bill that the cost of one transformer area shall not be charged up to another—I am putting it now in rough language—but we do not know what those transformer areas are, nor do we know whether separate line ball accounts will have to be produced for that purpose under the existing Act.

Why I am raising this particular point is that those doubts are acknowledged in the Bill. No one is looking to hold up or to interfere in any way with the passage of the Bill, but those doubts do need to be removed. It looks almost as if the Act would have to be removed in order to remove the doubts. But the sooner the Minister does tackle the fundamental doubts of that Act generally the better. I think that they ought not to be tackled by the method of declaring that what in fact is, is not. Here you had a corporation whose constitution is in doubt set up to administer one of the largest financial enterprises in this State, and a financial enterprise which will increase in size. Whatever money we have voted up to the present for the Shannon scheme will not be the limit. I have no doubt whatever that an increasing amount year by year will have to be voted, and I am not in any way complaining of it.

There is a clause in the Bill which, in my opinion, nullifies a good deal of what is in the Bill. Under the resolution which we passed yesterday we made the Electricity Supply Board, which was not up to this liable for income tax, liable to income tax, and under this Bill we make the Electricity Supply Board which up to now was not liable for rates, liable to rates. Both of these charges will have to be added to the price of electricity. Those are definite calls and commitments upon that Board, and yet Section 5 says:

"The Minister for Finance may from time to time vary the rate at which interest payable under this section is to be paid." There is a clear authority, as far as I under it, to give with one hand, if any particular Minister for Finance chooses or if the policy of a particular Minister requires it, what is taken away with the other. Personally I think that that clause nullifies effectively any real strength that there is in the other two clauses.

As to the question of rates I have a very open mind, because I go on the principle that all these charges have to be put on to the goods. For instance, if the electricity-consuming population of Dublin was coextensive with the ratepayers it would be a matter of complete indifference whether you put rates on the Electricity Supply Board or not. To the extent to which the consumers of electricity become coextensive with the population the argument for putting a specific charge upon electricity in the form of rates weakens. Similarly, the extent to which the total population of the country come to consume electricity, and I hope they will, weakens the argument for putting a specific charge on to the price of electricity for income tax. So that, in my opinion, there is no very great principle involved in that case. The popular and the big argument, the argument which, of course, appealed very much so far as rates were concerned, was upon the very much smaller element—such things as the offices that the Board has in Mount Street and the administration and sale rooms they have in Stephen's Green. Everybody can see that there seems to be some relative injustice in their immunity from rates. But in my personal opinion there is no difference in principle between their immunity from rates there and their immunity from rates in the stations themselves. Under this Bill, the rateable value is stereotyped. I am not at all as sure that in so doing they are acting fairly to the Electricity Supply Board.

I look at it in this way: The Electricity Supply Board was set up to be, as nearly as possible, an independent corporation and organisation for the purpose of carrying on the business of electrification, and the more extremely that policy of keeping it separate and independent is carried out the more I personally approve of it and the more hope I have of its success. That Board was handed over a certain responsibility under a certain charter, which was the Act of 1927. Here we are deliberately taking out of the possession of the Board—a so-called separate organisation with that responsibility—certain immunities which were given to it under the Act. For instance, if the Shannon scheme had been sold, as it is suggested it might have been sold, to some separate company, it would have been sold under that charter, with the powers contained in that charter and with the responsibilities of that charter. It is a matter for consideration whether, when we are altering that charter, which we would not have been able to alter in the same way in relation to a board which was a purely commercial board, or in relation to this scheme if it had been handed over to a commercial board, we have not very definite responsibilities to that Board to see that something even more than strict fairness is given to them.

As far as I understand the position the Electricity Supply Board will be liable—to take two specific cases—in Dublin and in Cork to pay on valuations which will mulct them in Cork of £10,000 a year and in Dublin of about £30,000. But the history of that £10,000 and that £30,000 is certainly a matter for investigation. Just before the Electricity Board took over there was a complaint of the valuation of the electricity supply undertaking in Cork, and acting upon some very recent decision of the English courts as to the liability for rates the amount of rates which they were due to pay was raised from £1,000 to £9,000. I am not at all clear that in picking £9,000 to-day to stereotype it we are acting fairly to the Board. Why should it not be £1,000 instead of £9,000? I am not now suggesting a figure——

Of course the rates could not be raised unless the valuation was raised.

Not the actual rates. Their valuation was raised and their rates came to about £9,000 a year.

But the valuation was raised by an independent authority.

I quite agree. The point I am putting to you is whether that valuation, which has been raised, in the last year or so, 1,000 per cent. is a valuation which ought to be stereotyped. Dublin was reasonably content to receive from the Electricity Supply Board, and therefore to add to the cost of electricity, about £7,000 a year in rates. That is being raised to somewhere about £30,000.

It is not being raised without justification—that is my point.

The question is whether that is the point at which it should be stereotyped. I am not saying anything one way or the other. What I am saying is that I am not at all clear that the mere accident that this Bill is introduced this year instead of eighteen months ago is a reason why electricity in Dublin should be taxed with the total amount of that rate. If this Bill had been introduced earlier, or if this thing had been included in the 1927 Act—that the valuation should be as it was then and should be stereotyped at that-then something like £24,000 or so less in the year would have to be put on to the cost of electricity in Dublin. When we come to deal with this Bill in more detail that is a question that we will have to investigate carefully. The reason put forward for putting the rate on to the electricity as distinct merely from the occupation of a building is that they are in competition with other commercial enterprises selling light, power and heat. I would be glad to know later whether the same thing that occurred in relation to the electricity supply has already happened in relation to the Gas Company. If, for instance, the Gas Company have had their valuation multiplied by ten, then on the grounds of not allowing the Electricity Supply Board to compete unfairly there does seem to be a case for charging the Electricity Supply Board at the rate of a higher valuation, though the question still remains as to whether you should put that extra charge upon power and lighting.

I listened to the argument of the Minister, and I think there is something in part of that argument. He gave a reason why he should distinguish between the people actually engaged in generating stations and the people who are engaged in other portions of the work. I think it is quite possible that cases could be given in relation to individual units which have been taken over which would show that there are distinct hardships in particular cases. Whether it is popular or unpopular, I am not in favour of compensating everybody for everything; but where there shall be shown, outside the area of generating station employment, actual hardship resulting from this thing, I think obviously it ought to be considered. You will find there are men who have had very long service in particular places whose local knowledge of the system there and the people using it is really their value in employment, whose actual employment will undoubtedly cease because the particular method of supplying in their area has been changed. I hope when we reach the Committee Stage that some clause will be put in which, without being in any sense an omnibus clause in relation to things of this kind, will provide some method of appeals to a tribunal or something of that kind which will enable specific cases of hardship outside the area of generating station employees to be investigated. I think it is quite possible to do that, and it would be wise to do it.

I think one of Deputy Flinn's colleagues referred to men who were in permanent pensionable employment. Surely if they are in permanent pensionable employment, as suggested by Deputy Doyle, their employers are responsible for the pensions.

In a station which may not be a generating station. a station such as they have in Bray, men with over 26 years' service have been dismissed, and they have received no compensation or gratuity. Will they be entitled to any under the Bill? If the electricity station there were allowed to remain, the men would receive 30s. a week pension under a resolution of the Urban District Council. During the last fifteen months several of the men with long service were dismissed, and they never received a penny. Will they be entitled to any compensation?

I would like to ask the Minister whether the word "effect" in sub-section (2) of Section 9 is a misprint. The context would seem to suggest that the word should be "affect."

It should be "affect."

The principle which the Minister enunciated with regard to compensation is a very new one. I hope he will be able to explain it a little more convincingly than when he was introducing the Bill. Does he hold that if nationally the scope for employment of persons disemployed by the closing down of a generating station is extended, the local claim will not count? Does he hold, if a person who may be disemployed in Bray or Portarlington or some such place as that, has a likelihood of getting employment in Dublin, that consequently such a person has no claim to compensation? As the principle was enunciated it is to me entirely an unconvincing one because I think it leaves the person affected entirely to chance. He can simply say he has got certain experience in connection with the distribution of electricity; but he has got to go through all the difficulties of establishing his claim with a new employer. Personal disadvantages that he may have been able to overcome when he first obtained employment are now again staring him in the face. He has to be tested by new people. I am not, for one, inclined to vote for this principle. If the principle of compensation is at all admitted I think in justice that it will have to be extended to people who are put out of permanent employment through the operations of the Shannon Board.

Could the Minister tell us what is the actual amount of rates which the E. S. B. will be liable to under this Bill?

Roughly about £60,000 or £70,000.

The attitude of the Minister towards the Killaloe fishermen seems to be altogether unjustifiable. He talks about a general principle and says that they have no special right because anybody may come in and fish where they were fishing. The real fact is that there are 20 or 30 people who have been fishing there and they have followed this particular occupation as their source of livelihood. Now, by public action, this livelihood is going to be taken away. It is by the action of this State that is being done. Whatever general principles may be adduced in favour of neglecting them, the fact is that these 20 or 30 individuals are now going to be deprived of their livelihood on the River Shannon by State action. I do not know whether this Bill is such that we could propose to it an amendment dealing with compensation. I think the opinion of the House should be tested upon this matter. I would like to have the ruling of the Chair as to whether an amendment along the lines of giving compensation to these men could be brought forward on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

It would be difficult to say that until the amendment is submitted. It would not be ruled out on the grounds of being an imposition on public funds: it would be really a question of relevancy. The amendment, when submitted, would be examined to see whether it could be made relevant to any particular section.

We will test the sense of justice of the members of the House in this matter. I, for one, believe that if there is not justification for compensation in a case like this there is no justification for compensation in any case.

Most of the points raised on this Bill were in the nature of Committee points, but I will deal with some of them briefly. Reference has been made to retrospective legislation, and in relation to Section 3 I have been asked if I have embarked since 1925 upon any construction schemes such as are indicated in the section. I have also been asked generally if I have acted in any way contrary to the 1925 Act. I said that the retrospective effect of Section 3 was introduced because of some doubts that there were with regard to Section 3 (1) (m) of the Act of 1925. What is that section? After giving myself powers in the paragraphs that run from (a) to (1), I wound up in the 1925 Act by saying that the Minister was empowered to "do any act or thing which may be necessary for or incidental to the doing of anything which he is by this sub-section authorised to do." I am prepared to stand on that in connection with anything that I have done, but there is a second party to the proposal and that party may want to be assured. I am prepared to take my stand that what I am doing is something which may be necessary for or incidental to the doing of anything that I am authorised to do. I do not believe I have broken the law, but there are two parties to the contract, and the second party wants to be assured. I am prepared to take the risk, but sometimes you do not get the other party equally prepared. Deputy Lemass said that this Bill was drafted by over 100 officials and draftsmen. There never was anything like that number.

I said the Minister, with the assistance of at least 100 officials.

There never were anything like 100 officials and draftsmen. The difference between this Bill and the amendment of a Bill which a certain Deputy brought in and in connection with which he was much affected by criticism, is that the Deputy set out to raise the age of consent, but he did not do it, while ——

Your Bill set out to remove the rates and, in fact, did not do it.

We did, and I will come to that point. The Deputy asked me on Section 4 if there is only the matter of the Cork Electricity Supply Company why not confine Section 4 to it? The Deputy must know that there is under consideration by the Board the question of agreements with all the unauthorised undertakings up and down the country. They may be dealt with in one block, and, again, there may be a necessity for the Minister for Finance to grant them in a particular half year more than the £400,000 which, under the old legislation, he might have to grant. These agreements may come to a head before the year is out. It is necessary to have this clause so enlarged as to enable the Minister for Finance in any half year in which the necessity arises to grant more than the £400,000. The main thing to observe is that the total of £2,500,000 cannot be increased, and that it is not now a question of extra payment. If the Deputy thinks that the Minister for Finance is going to loosen up and give money to the Electricity Supply Board earlier than they would be entitled to receive it, then he has little experience of the Minister for Finance and his Department. It is retrospective for the reason that there might be a legal effect upon the agreement for sale, which has already been concluded, but which has not actually been effected if the Board were not always able, and were not now retrospectively enabled to get more advanced than £400,000 in the half year in which the agreement for sale was concluded. That was the reason for making this somewhat retrospective.

As to Section 5, the Deputy referred to a principle which I enunciated, but left out portion of the statement I made when enunciating that principle. I said that the loans to the Board should be more or less at the rate at which it cost the Central Fund to borrow, plus the cost of accommodation. That would include all the charges incurred in gathering in the money.

I do not at all agree, and I do not see myself ever agreeing, that there has been any injustice done to the Clare County Council by reason of the charges that have been put upon it owing to the Shannon scheme. What I see mainly arising out of the Shannon scheme is this big fact, that one and three-quarter million pounds in three years was expended in the vicinity of Clare and Limerick in wages, and the benefits that have accrued to these areas over a particular short period have been far more than would compensate them for any small deficits there may be in rates by reason of the small amount of agricultural land, rated in that way, being taken from them for the purpose of the canal.

Mr. Hogan

That is absurd.

At any rate, this Bill is not perpetual. Hereafter it may be decided to make a better adjustment as between the electricity consumer, the taxpayer, and the ratepayer. At the moment the Board is having imposed on it all the liabilities of an independent business concern in the matter of income tax, nearly all the liabilities of an independent commercial concern in the matter of rating, and has, in addition, imposed upon it repayment charges because it is financed from the Central Fund, which no commercial undertaking has imposed upon it. It is bearing a bigger burden— at least the scheme is that it will bear, in 1932, a bigger burden than any commercial undertaking has to bear. I think it is necessary that hereafter there must be a better adjustment as between the electricity consumer, who will be paying for the scheme through his rates; the taxpayer, who might have to foot the bill if income tax is not paid, and the ratepayer, who might have, not to foot the bill, because that does not arise, but might be deprived of a lowering of rates which would otherwise accrue to him.

Mr. Hogan

Why should the Clare ratepayer have to pay for some of Deputy Byrne's electricity?

The Clare ratepayer is not paying for any of Deputy Byrne's electricity, but Deputy Byrne's present and future electricity rates capitalised have helped to raise a fund of 1¾ million pounds expended for the last two or three years in wages mainly in and around Clare, and partly in Limerick.

Mr. Hogan

Which went to natives of other areas.

The money might have been given to natives of other areas——

Mr. Hogan

Sent home to keep their families.

A certain amount was expended in these areas.

Mr. Hogan

That is an absurd argument.

I am relying upon it, and if it is absurd it will be found out.

It is not a case of the future.

That has a retrospective effect also.

Deputy Lemass said that if even one permanent employee has been found to have lost his employment then there should be compensation terms. I do not think that any permanent employee can lose his employment except with compensation. If the Deputy means by permanent employee a man who was entitled to regard his employment as more or less permanent and if he loses his employment, then I take it that man loses his employment because he is not considered sufficiently good in competition with new entrants in electrical work. If he is not considered sufficiently good, we should not compensate him. That may seem hard and ruthless, but you cannot take up the position that simply because a man finds himself in a particular line of work, not guaranteed as an occupation in perpetuity, he must be compensated because other people come into the same field of employment when the field is considerably enlarged and he is dismissed. That is a case equal to that of the man who is in employment who is dismissed for incompetence or because his employer thinks he can get a better man. Nobody has security of tenure except on the consideration of being equal to what the employer can get at the same rate in competition.

Might I ask the Minister if he would state definitely that employees of electricity undertakings in places like Loughrea and Tuam who will lose their employment will be examined and given employment if they are suitable?

Will the Minister guarantee that those who will now have the giving of employment will enrol their staff on the basis of absolute merit? I do not think the Minister is in a position to do that. If the Board is an independent Board they will have been appointed presumably because of their business ability, not because they are known to be the most just men in the country, or that they are guaranteed to treat everybody who comes before them absolutely on his merits.

I shall answer the last point first. The Board is appointed as a business board. The Deputy makes a distinction between their appointment being made on the basis of justice and on the basis of merit. Merit to me means the best men for the best positions. It is a good line for the Board to go on, and a business board will go on it. If we find that they do not, there is a clause in the old Act which allows the Board to avail of the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission for all their appointments. If there are appointments which Deputies might like to raise I should rather that they would raise them privately with me than by open questions in the House. But we might get to the point that we will have to impose on the Board the necessity of making appointments through the machinery of the Local Appointments Commission. As to Deputy Fahy's point, I should like to have it go from this House, and I take it as an expression of their opinion which I should put to the Board after debate in this House, that it is the desire of the House that people who are now engaged by undertakers in electricity work should be the first considered, but nothing more than that; not that they should be given preference, but that they should be first considered. If they are considered on their merits not to be equal to others, they will not be appointed. That is a perfectly sound position to reach, and a perfectly sound proposition to put to the Board.

Deputies Doyle and Byrne raised a point as to the pension rights. The situation under this Bill is that the compensation terms set out under the Act of 1927 are now being secured to certain individuals who were always intended to have security, but it so happens that the compensation terms did not flow to them. The whole effect of the 1927 Act was that people who were in the pensionable employment of an undertaking taken over by the Board should go into the pensionable employment on the same terms of the new undertakers. If they are dismissed the pension counts as part of the emoluments. The word "emoluments" was used in order to cover that, and in assessing the amount of compensation which ought to be paid to people not taken over by the Board, but dismissed from their service, the pension rights must be capitalised and taken into consideration when compensation terms are being given. Section 39 (9) of the 1927 Act has a certain reference to the point, in addition to the schedule which deals with compensation.

As to Deputy Hogan's remarks, there is no question of repentance in this Bill whatsoever. There is a question of avoiding legal action, which, I think, would have only one result, but which, while it would secure the results I desire, would pile up costs which would go to lawyers and would have to be paid for by the consumers of electricity. I want to save the consumers of electricity these costs, and we are going to make the position clear. There is no question of repentance, no question of a new situation having developed; of something new being imposed on the Board which was not heretofore imposed. We are keeping the same exemption which was always clearly spoken of.

Mr. Hogan

That is what it amounts to.

There is no repentance and therefore I do not see why the Deputy spoke of repentance in this context. The Deputy made an analogy between these cot fishermen and people who had land-The difference, of course, is that the people whose lands were taken from them were paid compensation in respect of the land because they owned the land. These fishermen were only members of the public who exercised the right that any of the public had a right to exercise.

Mr. Hogan

From time immemorial.

Bounded always by the life of the people. Any member of the public had a right to go there. Where would I stop if I undertook to pay compensation? Why should I pay compensation to some man who had put out a boat on the river, and, incidentally, managed to put out a boat in preserved waters where the owner did not care to exercise his right to prohibit, and refuse compensation to the innumerable carters all over the country who will not be deprived of employment, but will have their chance of employment lessened by reason of the fact that coal supplies will be diminished owing to the Shannon scheme?

Mr. Hogan

That is very farfetched.

It may be farfetched, but it is an analogy.

Mr. Hogan

Is that the best you can do?

This is a right which is enjoyed by every member of the public. Incidentally, these men if another scheme that is envisaged at present goes through, will most certainly have their field of employment enlarged by reason of further activities in the fisheries unless they are rooted to a particular spot in that river. These people are merely exercising the right that any one of the three millions in this community can exercise, and there is no reason why they should get compensation more than any others of the three millions. Let us have it discussed on an amendment, but as far as the general principle is concerned the case is against them.

Mr. Hogan

They are not entitled to live!

Does not the Minister admit that the skill which they have developed as fishermen constitutes a sort of vested interest?

The skill certainly ought to get them employment on the river. Undoubtedly they have achieved that.

Mr. Hogan

Is the Minister aware that only four salmon were caught between Clonderlaw Bay and Shannon Harbour this year?

Under the scheme that we are bringing forward, there is going to be more fishing on the river, more salmon caught than ever before.

Mr. Hogan

The Minister has not studied the matter.

At present the Deputy is in a peculiarly bad position, because he does not know what is coming.

Mr. Hogan

I do not. They have been waiting for a long time.

As far as compensation is concerned, I hope the Deputy is going to wait for many years. Deputy Byrne raised the same point as Deputy Doyle and talked of the matter of pensions accrued. Pensions accrued are a charge. Pensions which might accrue if people remained in their employment for a certain number of years longer will come for consideration under the question of emoluments and conditions of service.

I cannot admit that either the Act of 1925 or the Act of 1927 was obscure. The only doubts removed by this Bill are doubts which, if they were not removed by this simple process of legislation, will have to be removed by a court action. It is better to save the costs to the community and to the electricity consumer, than to have these costs imposed on them by reason of the expenses of a court action.

As to what Deputy Flinn said about certain difficulties in the interpretation of the Act, I have not yet found these difficulties presenting themselves to my Department, although I am in touch with the whole working of the Act. As far as accounts are concerned, he talked of "line-ball" accounts. The accounts which will have to be produced will have to be produced as and when the Minister for Finance and myself ordain, and when they are produced in a particular way then a discussion may arise upon them as to whether or not charges and expenses in connection with them and profits accruing from them could be measured within the compartments of a particular account.

Will the Minister say whether or not they have to be done in that way under the Act at present?

I will have to have a particular point put to me. I certainly hold that I have the right to segregate into certain items, and that the accounts should be balanced within particular Departments.

Apart from compartments, has the Minister the right to segregate into particular areas and insist on line-ball matters within those areas?

I will answer that in this way: There is a prohibition against charging the expenses of a particular area against another area. That is sufficiently good for the purpose of allowing a discrimination between accounts. I do not think it would be fair to the Board to ask them to segregate their accounts for such things as sales and house wiring as between different areas. The area of distinction should not operate there, but there should be departmental accounts for such items as departmental sales of apparatus, generating costs, house wiring, distribution, and so on. It is the law that accounts may be divided from the point of view of area, and if people are sufficiently interested to demand to see that no area is charged distribution expenses of another area, the Act is sufficiently clear on that.

Apart from what the Minister thinks, what does the Act prescribe? Take, for instance, the Cork transformer area, which would be a line-ball proposition. Have you the right to know what the charge is for electricity, what they get for installing houses, and what they get for selling plant? I simply want to know whether it is clear in the law.

I think I have the right to ordain that the accounts should be presented, so that the Cork area will meet its own expenses, and not meet the expenses of any other area.

Have you the right not to do so?

I think I am bound not to do that.

They must be separate areas?

I think I am bound to see such accounts as will show me that no area is being charged with the expenses of distribution in any other area. I am not going to allocate accounts for house wiring, installation, sales of apparatus as between areas. These will be kept sectionalised. The costs of distribution within an area ought to be made on such a scale as will show that a particular area is not being charged with the distribution costs of any other area. The Deputy said that increased amounts will have to be voted annually. I think they will. I hope to come before the House within twelve months with plans for the enlargement of the Shannon scheme, because so far as I can see consumption has got to the point when a new storage scheme at least will be necessary. The Shannon scheme is so definitely a success that we must go on to get further power. We must go on to get further generating power or to get such extra storage as will give us the necessary power. Undoubtedly, we will have to come along for extra amounts We will get to the point where moneys will have to be voted yearly for Shannon development just as they are voted at the moment on the Telephone Capital Account. Nobody is going to object to any money being voted as long as it can be shown that the first moneys voted were remunerative to the State and that there is every prospect that the new moneys voted are going to be also remunerative.

In regard to what Deputy Flinn has said in regard to Section 5, that we are taking back with one hand what we are pretending to give with the other, the Minister for Finance is given power under Section 5 to vary the rate at which interest is to be paid. The Minister for Finance may so vary the rate of interest as to leave himself unremunerated, that he himself would be paying more for the money than he was charging the Electricity Supply Board, but if he did so it would have to come out of the Central Fund and there would arise criticism. The line which we propose to follow is that having granted the Board certain moneys to meet arrears of interest during the unremunerative early years, previously estimated about three and now cut down to about one and a half, the Board should be charged a rate of interest which is comparable with the rate at which the State borrows plus the cost of securing that money. The Deputy has also spoken about changing the Charter of the Electricity Supply Board, and he raised the analogy of a sale to an outside corporation. The analogy is unsound. No corporation would have taken over on the terms of the 1927 Act. There is no corporation living that would have taken over under a clause which says that the charges shall be such as just to meet the annual expenses. There is no corporation in the world that I have ever heard of that would be willing to take over on the basis simply that they are to meet their expenses. The analogy of a commercial concern is stymied right at the start by that consideration. Under the 1927 Act the Board are prohibited from making profits.

There are the expenses of the interest and sinking fund on capital. They can undoubtedly be worked in under the 1927 Act.

Before the calculations of the Shannon scheme were finally agreed it was certainly understood that the Board should be liable for income tax, and secondly, for rates, excepting always the exemption conferred by Section 96. So that so far from taking away immunities which were granted there never were immunities granted.

Why this Bill?

Because the Board has got legal opinion to the contrary. It would be a strange thing to insist on the Board paying where they were legally advised that they were not bound to pay. If they were to do that, then they might indulge in all sorts of fancy payments. The Board must be tied up. It is rather a good thing to see the Board sticking to the legal opinions given to them, even though they know that these legal opinions cut across the expressed wishes of the Oireachtas.

Why not do the same thing in relation to the land annuities?

Why did you vote against it?

We are not voting here to repudiate a debt which the Board has to pay.

Hold the money until the doubts are removed.

The Deputy has asked why stereotype the valuations on which rates will be paid. The Deputy is looking on this Board as an undertaking in competition with other undertakings of a similar type. That is not the principle upon which this Bill is based. The very idea of that principle is gone. When you have a gas company whose main endeavour in life is to secure profits, and an Electricity Supply Board who are prohibited from making profits, the analogy goes.

They are not prohibited. An ordinary gas company has to provide the interest upon its capital, and this particular corporation has to pay the interest and sinking fund on its capital. It is only a difference in terms.

The difference is that the interest on capital is fixed. The principle at any rate here is not that we are looking on the Electricity Supply Board as in competition with other undertakings. The principle is, that we are giving the local authorities what hitherto they had the right to expect from a certain type of undertaking in their area. There is no proper way of assessing the valuation of a concern which is, to the extent this is prohibited from any profit-making. It is necessary to allow local authorities to understand what in any year they should look forward to and what amount they should budget for. If it is said that it is stereotyped, I will answer that by saying that this legislation is going to last only until it is changed. We have stated that if what the Electricity Supply Board has to pay is too heavy a burden to put upon electricity consumers then that can be changed. It will have to be changed in time when certain other re-adjustments come, but until notice is given some time ahead local authorities ought to be in a position to know what they are entitled to receive from their undertaking and on what basis their budgets are going to be prepared.

With regard to Deputy Everett's comments, every person employed in a generating station must get compensation. If the Deputy answers me by saying that they have not got it so far I say it is because of the legal doubt arising out of the old Act. This means that they will be retrospectively compensated.

With regard to Deputy Moore's question, I can only answer by saying that I do not see why men who are put out of employment which is not permanent should be compensated. They are to be put out under conditions of enlarged opportunities of employment in the trade in which they were. They either are expert and efficient or they are not. If they are not, they never had the right to be kept. They are now being thrown into an enlarged field of effort. They have some experience. They are up against newcomers. The odds are in their favour. If they fail, it is simply because they are not worth taking on. In those circumstances, they should not be compensated.

Even though it may mean that they have to transfer their homes.

There they come under consideration by reason of the Schedule applied to them. For everyone of them employed heretofore, ten will now be employed, so that they have at least ten times the opportunity of getting employment, and if they fail to find it the defect is in themselves. They are not being put out of employment by State action. State action in this case has considerably enlarged the field of opportunity. I do not see why we should consider these men as suitable people to whom to give compensation.

Mr. O'Connell

May I ask the Minister whether under Section 3 he would be empowered to compensate the school teacher whose residence was destroyed under the Shannon works and about which I raised a question?

I think I will have to consider that. The damage to which the Deputy has referred we were advised that we were not legally entitled to compensate for.

Mr. O'Connell

As you are mending your hand now you should make them legally entitled to compensation. You said that it was a just thing to do.

Mr. O'Connell

You offered him £100.

That offer was open for a long time.

Mr. O'Connell

But you did not give it to him. Is it still open?

Can the Minister indicate how long we will have to wait for this development on the Shannon, and will he say, in view of the peculiar knowledge which these fishermen have acquired through their progenitors, whether preference will be given to them in the matter of employment?

I could not say.

You cannot say how long we will have to wait?

Did I understand the Minister to state that the appointments made by the Board, who are a body of independent business men, were made on merit?

I said that I thought that that was the method. I do not know.

May I ask whether it is within his knowledge that a Director or, perhaps, the Chairman of the Board was ever called to his office or to the office of one of the Minister's colleagues to say why they appointed people to certain positions?

I did not say that it was never done; I do not know.

You, as a Minister, never called the Chairman to your office?

That is right, no.

You are not aware of any member of the Cabinet, the President or any other Minister, calling on the Chairman to explain certain appointments?

I do not believe that it was done.

If I were told that by a responsible person would you say that he was telling a lie?

I would question his responsibility.

You would also question his veracity?

Most decidedly.

Will the Minister say whether at any time pressure was brought to bear by a member of the Board to ensure the dismissal of an employee of that Board?

That is a different thing.

Is the admission that such pressure was brought to bear on members of the Board to dismiss people?

On what grounds?

On the ground that they were anarchists.

In other words, political opponents of the Government?

No. Political opponents of Fianna Fáil; on that ground.

Are the employees at the Dundalk generating station entitled to compensation?

I cannot take areas by themselves. If they are generating station employees they will, I suppose, come under the conditions in the schedule. A gratuity is given for less than five years' service, and compensation to such employees is given when the service is over five years.

Might I ask whether the anarchists referred to are supporters of the Labour Party?

I do not think so. Question put and agreed to.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11th June.
[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair]
The Dáil went into Committee on Finance.