Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with Germany. - Apprenticeship Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

I move the Second Reading of this Bill. It has been before the House for a considerable time. It is founded upon the recommendation of the Commission which was set up to deal with the question of technical education and which considered this subject incidental thereto and reported upon it. The Bill is also based largely upon the provisions of the two Acts to which that particular Commission's Report referred. It is based upon the voluntary principle. The scheme of it is this: that where an application is made by either employers or employees in a trade—I am now speaking of trades generally and for the moment leaving out trades which are affected by the Trade Board Acts—then it is within the power of the Minister to declare that trade a designated trade. Once it has been declared a designated trade, certain other things follow as a consequence. Apprenticeship districts have to be scheduled. The country is marked out into certain apprenticeship areas or districts, and for the trade in these areas or districts a committee is set up. The committee will consist, in the main, of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees, with the addition of appointed members, to a maximum of three, who will be appointed by the Minister concerned. That committee then must make certain regulations, and may make certain others.

The important section dealing with this matter is Section 8. Rules which the Apprenticeship Committee must make are: Firstly, that employment "in the designated trade for which such committee is established of any specified class of persons in any specified manner shall constitute employment by way of apprenticeship in such trade"; secondly, rules relating to the period including any probationary period of employment by way of apprenticeship in such trade; thirdly, rules in relation to the minimum rates of wages to be paid during the apprenticeship period; and, fourthly, rules in connection with the hours to be worked by the apprentices. When a trade is scheduled as a designated trade and when the country is divided for the purposes of that trade into apprenticeship areas or districts, apprenticeship committees will be established. These committees then must make rules dealing with these four points: that is, classification with regard to apprenticeship, the period of employment by way of apprenticeship, the hours to be worked and the minimum wages.

In addition, the committee may make rules on the other matters set out in sub-section (2) of Section 8— that is, rules in relation to the educational qualifications of persons entering on employment by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade; in relation to the age limits within which employment by way of apprenticeship may commence; requiring employers carrying on such trade in such districts to train and instruct apprentices employed by them in a specified manner, and rules relating to the number of persons who may be employed by way of apprenticeship in such trade in any particular premises in such district.

The rules when made will come up for confirmation. If they are confirmed, then they apply to a series of sections in the Bill, and a breach of them becomes an offence. These sections run from 8 to 21. Section 22 sets out the additional functions that the apprenticeship committee may have cast upon it. Section 25 ordains that every apprenticeship committee shall cause a register of apprentices to be kept. Section 27 provides that the employers must furnish certain specified particulars in relation either to apprentices generally, or to specified apprentices employed by them. Section 26, for the purpose of the better enforcement of this Bill when it becomes an Act, gives the right of audience at meetings of the apprenticeship committee to authorised officers. They are defined as people who may be authorised by the Minister concerned to exercise the powers conferred under the Act.

At the moment, there are certain trades which are regulated by the Trade Board Acts. Committees have been appointed under these Acts. As these Committees would have certain functions in common with the committees to be set up under this Bill we decided that where an application is made by a particular area in which a committee has been established under the Trade Board Acts, it is that committee which, in the first instance, will make application to the Minister for the designation of that trade. Thereafter that committee will be established as the apprenticeship committee for the purpose of that particular trade.

The scheme is based entirely upon the voluntary principle. A trade will not be designated unless there is an application from a trade board committee, if one be in existence, to have a particular trade designated, or, if such committee be not there already, unless employers or employees in a business make representations to the Minister to have a trade designated. When the Minister accedes to either application and proceeds to designate the trade then the rest follows. There will then be the division of territory, the appointment of the Apprenticeship Committee and the making of the rules by the Apprenticeship Committee in relation to the four matters described in sub-section (1) of Section 8. In addition to that the other matters referred to may be dealt with by the committee. Once the rules have been made and confirmed breaches of them will count as an offence. From that time on all the matters referred to in Section 8, and to which I have referred, are fixed and settled with regard to a trade in a particular area. Once these rules are put forward and confirmed rules may be made by the Apprenticeship Committee regulating the educational qualifications of persons entering on employment by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade, rules relating to the training to be given by the employers to the apprentices as long as the trade remains a designated trade, rules requiring that the employer and the employee shall remain in a particular relationship, as well as rules in regard to the age limit within which the employment may commence. There will be the further point—it will be a ticklish one—to be dealt with, and that is in regard to the number of apprentices allowed in relation to the number of actual workmen engaged. There may be some difficulty experienced in operating this rule. It may appear the rule that will be most likely to cause difficulty because it distinctly ordains that if the rule is made it has to be a rule made in relation to the number of persons employed by way of apprenticeship in a particular premises in such district.

There is not much good in a committee for a particular trade declaring, even in a limited area that the number of apprentices to workmen is to be so many unless power is given to somebody to enforce the regulation and say that the number of apprentices must be divided out even over the particular individuals employed in the business. There again the circumstances of each individual business and individual tradesman will have to be taken into consideration. It is clear that in a big establishment you might employ the full proportion of apprentices allowed under the regulation. Possibly it is not so easy to ensure that the actual proportions can be kept in a very small establishment. There will have to be some discrimination allowed and that will be done by the committee.

Although it is stated that the committee "must" consist of representatives of the employers and the trade, it only says that there "may" be other members. As far as I am concerned, the intention is that the appointed members will be always present. We will give them a chance by allocating a certain number, even up to the maximum of three allowed in each case. In that we have the experience of the Trade Board Acts with which we are in touch where, undoubtedly, appointed members have exercised a considerable influence on deliberations between employer and employee. That Act deals mainly with minimum rates, but there is a special stimulus to both employer and employee to attend the meetings, and to see that the duties thrust upon them are properly carried out. We find that the Act has worked mainly through the efforts of the appointed members. They have been of considerable service, and it would be the intention to have this committee consist not merely of representative members, but also of members to be appointed. As the Bill is drafted, it leaves that position a little less secure than the position as regards actual representative members. Our intention would be to make it pretty definite that, in the ordinary way, the committee will consist of representatives as well as appointees.

It is not considered that there will be very much expense in connection with the Act. The expense is referred to mainly in Sections 34 and 35. There will be certain officials, such as a secretary, appointed to the Apprenticeship Committee, and it may be that there will be certain sums of money expended in the way of remuneration for the secretary, and also for the payment of travelling expenses. It is not expected that there will be very large expense falling on the State in connection with the Act. An attempt will be made to combine the duty of secretary with other duties, if officials can be got who are already carrying on in a part-time way.

I said that this Bill arises out of the report of the Commission. It does, strictly and accurately, but it follows the terms of reference to the Commission and the Acts referred to. During the course of the proceedings of that Commission a certain scheme was put forward which aimed rather at compulsion than the voluntary principle which is the one here. That proposition was not very much pursued, and the Commission made no recommendation with regard to it. I suggest that, as in other countries, we should start with legislation in this form. To those who think there might be some element of compulsion imported, I put this difficulty: if there be no agreement as between employer and employee in any particular trade as to the number of people that might be employed as apprentices, or as to the age and educational attainments of these people before they enter or leave the apprenticeship stage, I do not see how it would be possible to enforce a regulation which might be established by a superior authority. In the end, it will depend on the employer whether or not the scheme of apprenticeship will make good and how far it will make good. One could not possibly lay down rules of a compulsory type that this or that kind of training should be given. A good spirit is required between employer and employee, coming together and working smoothly, and compulsion would not be effective. There is the further point that unless there is a pretty general agreement between employer and employee there will not be very much hope of getting a number of people taken into establishments. On the one hand, an employer might object to having too many what are called "apprentices" forced upon him, while an organised body of employees might object to a number of people being trained as apprentices in a skilled trade where it did not seem there was any likelihood of these people being absorbed into that skilled occupation.

The aim is to have something that amounts to agreement beforehand; to have an application made showing, at any rate, evidence of a desire on the part of one or other of the two bodies concerned to have the trade designated. When that is done, the two sets will be represented, with this important addition, there will be appointed members who will in fact take the place of the public, in this close association with the representatives of the two bodies concerned, to arbitrate, as it were, between conflicting claims that may be made with regard to the whole apprenticeship business. We have decided to try this on a voluntary basis now. We are not alone. Although certain unfavourable comments were passed in South Africa, and the Act was not received with great enthusiasm at the beginning, although it was prophesied that no number of trades would be designated or apprenticeship committees established, we have had information recently that the Act has worked smoothly. In other words, the employer and the employee, or both, made application, the trade was scheduled, and the rules which were made worked fairly successfully. As well as the report of the Commission, we have the information that the scheme has worked successfully in one country.

Is it the employers or the employees made application for designation in South Africa?

I could not say offhand.

I welcome this Bill, which, of course, is complementary to the Vocational Education Act, to which it gives effect in Section 82. When the Vocational Education Act was introduced, the people closely connected with technical education said it was absolutely essential to get this Bill through as soon as possible. I think employers would be of the same opinion. I suppose this is not the time nor the place to go into the thorny question of the limitation of the number of apprentices and of the allocation of such number as will be admitted, but I hope the Minister's forecast will be justified and that the Bill will work smoothly on a voluntary basis. It is based largely on the South African Apprenticeship Act of 1922 to which it bears a very close resemblance. There are some omissions. I suppose these omissions were designedly made. The Minister referred to the powers given to the Committee in Section 8. I should like to know whether they will have power to make provision where the employer dies or where the firm becomes bankrupt for the apprentices to continue their apprenticeship somewhere else. Then in the South African Act there is a proviso that no bonus or fee be taken with apprentices. That is not in this Bill.

Regarding remuneration, the Minister did give an explanation. I was rather surprised to see the word in Section 34, because in the Vocational Education Act there is no provision for remuneration of that kind, and there are teachers and others giving long hours every week and hard work in getting the Vocational Committees under way. However, we take the Minister's assurance for it that the expenditure under this head will be very low and will be closely watched. Being an administrative Bill largely, there is not very much to be said on it until the Committee Stage, and even then I think we shall have only to wait and see how it works out on the voluntary basis, and have a revision in a year or two, when we find out how things have worked out.

We on this side of the House welcome the Bill. Many of us who have given service on the old Technical Instruction Committees and, at a later period, on the Vocational Education Committees, have frequently envisaged this class of legislation. This measure goes at least some distance to translate into an Act of Parliament some views frequently given expression to by educationists, particularly technical educationists, and, indeed, for that matter any person who takes an interest in the education question. We approve of the general principles of the Bill. In addition to giving expression to many of the things we have envisaged before, it is largely, I think, founded on the report of the Technical Education Commission, and deals with the apprenticeship question, or rather provides the machinery for dealing with that question. We feel that the success or non-success of the measure will depend on the action taken by the Committees to be set up and by the Minister's policy in regard to the whole question.

There are a few points in the Bill which require elucidation by the Minister. I hope on the Committee Stage to put down some amendments myself, but if the Minister will look into the matters I am about to touch upon, he might himself put down these amendments, and thus make the passage of the Bill easier and more expeditious. In the definition section we have it that "the word ‘trade' includes any industry, trade, craft or business." That is a little indefinite, because the Minister must be aware that, for instance, the word "trade" would cover the building trade. Within that trade you would have a number of other trades, such as plumbing, carpentry, plastering, painting, etc. Quite recently in England it was thought to apply some Act to the catering trade. The matter was brought to the High Court, and I understand an appeal is pending with regard to the definition of the word "trade." It was suggested, and with success, that the catering trade was not a trade within the meaning of the Act. A somewhat similar situation might easily arise here, and for that reason I think the Minister, after the word "any," might insert the words "or occupation." It would be less ambiguous and would possibly obviate a good deal of trouble at a later period.

Another point is that included in the Bill is a reference to "trade board trades." Naturally, that inclusion suggests that this Bill is designed to cover factory trades. The Minister will understand that these factory trades are not generally thought of in the same terms as one thinks of crafts. There are, for instance, the cigarette industry, the chocolate industry, the biscuit industry, the clothing industry, and so on. These are not usually associated with the word "trade" or "craft" in this country, and I should like to have some information from the Minister as to whether he envisages that type of labour being included in the word "trade" in connection with trade board trades. Does he intend to bring within the scope of the Bill young persons who enter these factories as learners? That is a rather important point which I should like the Minister to develop later. Is it his intention that these learners should be brought within the category of apprentices? An answer to that query will be appreciated, because since this Bill was mooted there has been a great deal of comment as to whether these learners shall come under the head of apprentices or not.

Section 4 deals with the constitution of the Apprenticeship Committees. Here again we have two classes introduced, namely, the trade board trades and the other trades which are not covered by the words "trade board trades." Speaking generally, the trade board trades do not cater for craftsmen. They usually cater for trades such as shirt-making, box-making, etc., and have not ever catered for the trades in which the tradition of apprenticeship has grown up. In view of these facts, it is rather questionable whether both of these classes should have "appointed members." The practice usually has been, where skilled tradesmen and craftsmen are concerned, to appoint representatives of employers and employees with a neutral or independent chairman. That has been found to be a very useful practice and one which has been productive of very good results. I am making vocal the opinions of the people engaged in the crafts and trades in the country when I say that we feel it is not necessary to have these "appointed members" where the craftsmen and the other style of tradesmen are concerned. There is no doubt, of course, in so far as the trade board trades are concerned, that a very good case can be made out for having "appointed members," but even here I suggest to the Minister that the practice which has hitherto been followed in the trade board trades should be reviewed or altered. Notwithstanding the Minister's assurance that everything has gone on most satisfactorily, I can say that that is not my experience. I have had complaints from time to time that in many cases these persons were appointed from a class which, to say the least of it, was not quite friendly to the workers engaged in the particular industry, and, therefore, it followed that there was not, and could not possibly be, the same faith or trust in the board.

Another point I would like to impress upon the Minister is that if those appointed members are to be retained the workers organisation and the employers should submit a panel from which the Minister might make his choice. That system is followed fairly well with regard to the appointment of the Court of Referees and in other matters where disputes have arisen and where councils have been set up to deal with these disputes. I suggest that the Minister might introduce some amendment modelled on these lines which would make the Bill more acceptable.

I certainly must congratulate the Minister on one or two sections of this Bill. Section 8 which deals with the maximum number of hours to be worked does not suggest anything with regard to the daily hours to be worked. I would suggest to the Minister that he should make it read: "Maximum number of hours to be worked daily," because it might easily happen that some of these apprentices who have to work 47 or 48 hours per week might have to work 12 or 13 hours one day and perhaps 7 or 8 hours another day. I think it would be well if the Minister would lay down the maximum number of hours to be worked in one day.

Section 21 which deals with the education of apprentices appears to me to be one of the best features of the Bill, but here again I suggest that, where apprentices are compelled to attend technical classes, that attendance should take place in the day-time and the day classes should be the classes set up under the Bill. I think it will be conceded by anybody who has had experience of these classes that when an apprentice has finished his day's work, particularly in the building industry, where possibly he may have to walk four or five miles, get back in the evening and prepare for the school, exhausted both physically and mentally, he is not in a fit condition to absorb the teaching of the technical instructor. It would be far more beneficial to the boy and less trouble to the teacher if the boy was enabled to attend his class during the day-time or during his normal hours of work. There is another provision contained in the schedule to this Bill, paragraph 7, which says: "any officer of the Minister and any persons who appear to the person holding any such enquiry to be persons who, if the special order with the subject of such enquiry was made, would be affected thereby may appear at such enquiry either in person or by counsel or solicitor." I suggest that the Minister might consider the advisability of inserting after the word "solicitor" the words "or agent." We see no reason why any body of workers or others should be compelled to go to the expense of employing counsel or solicitor when they have their own trade union officials who are capable of appearing for them. If the Minister would be good enough to look into and alter the words of the schedule, as I suggest, it would be an improvement. May I ask the Minister to look into it, at any rate?

With regard to the question of premiums, I personally hold very strong views upon that aspect of the question. The South African Act, upon which this Bill is, to some extent, at least modelled, provides that these premiums shall not be accepted or enforced. The establishment, in some trades at any rate, of this premium system, has led to very grave abuses, the chief of which I am sure the Minister himself must have come across from time to time. A certain type of employer, happily not very numerous in this country, engaged apprentices from time to time at very substantial fees. This employer is not always in a position to teach a boy his trade or craft, but he is able to exploit those boys and their parents by obtaining fees or fines from them, and then a number of these lads, at the end of their so-called apprenticeship, are thrown upon the labour market. That abuse has crept into industry in this country, not to a very large extent, but to some extent, and something should be done in this Bill to prohibit the acceptance of fees of that kind. It is preventing many educated and talented boys from entering trades because their parents may not have sufficient money to apprentice them, And we have in this country very often the rather peculiar, if not amazing position, of boys, who have the natural ability for becoming finished artisans, not being able to do so because of the fact that their parents cannot afford to pay the fee necessary. They are driven into some blind alley occupations, for which they are not fitted, and compelled to take up, perhaps, some sort of clerkship.

The observe of this is also true. Many a young lad who, because his parents have money to apprentice him to a particular trade, while he has an aptitude for a clerkship, is dumped into the carpenter's shop instead of being allowed to go to the clerk's desk. That kind of thing has frequently occurred in this country. I do not suggest that everything can be done by legislation, but there should be some mention made in this Bill, even if it were only a gesture, disapproving of the whole system of payment of premiums. Exception, of course, might be made in case of apprentices who may have for a period to live indoor, and where the money, though sometimes called a premium, is in reality an amount to cover the board and lodging of the apprentice.

The Bill, as I have said, is one which we, on this side of the House, welcome, and we hope when it reaches the Committee Stage to be able to amend it in some particulars. It is, on the part of the Minister, a gesture, at any rate, indicating that the apprenticeship system in this country is not all what it should be, and it is, furthermore, a gesture in the direction of better education, which should tend to the upliftment of the boys themselves and of the trades in which they are engaged, and which should react for the prosperity of the country.

Some of us can remember the slogan of years ago, "What shall we do with our boys?" That problem is still with us, and it has not been rendered any easier of solution because of the entry of females into competition with males. Difficult, however, as the solution of that problem is to-day for those in the middle class, the difficulty is infinitely greater for for those who are included in the term "working classes." Families among the working classes are large, influence is small, and opportunities for getting employment for the members of those families are thereby rendered more difficult. It was to some extent to meet that difficulty among those poor people that the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Employment was set up in 1911. As some Deputies know, that Department is one of the many branches of the Labour Exchange and, in the School Attendance Act, Deputies will remember, there was a clause embodied making it compulsory on those in charge of our national schools to notify the heads of the Juvenile Department of the Labour Exchange of the names of the boys and girls leaving school in the coming term, so that they might register for employment at the Labour Exchange, and that the Exchange, in return, might see what it could do, by way of advice or otherwise, to guide them into channels of employment.

As I have said, that Committee has been busily engaged since 1911 in discharging that heavy and onerous duty. Only in the last few days we saw in the newspapers the report of the work of that Committee for the past year. I do not want to enter into any details of its work, but I will just mention the fact that during last year 4,454 juveniles who left our schools registered for employment at the Exchange. The sad feature about it is that the Committee was able to find employment only for 686 of that number. That is to say, that out of 4,454 fresh applications in the last year, speaking of Dublin alone, the Committee could only find employment for 686; in other words, only one out of every seven applicants was placed in employment. Even employment in many cases was accepted under duress. That is, many of the channels of employment open to those people were not in any sense advisable channels to enter, because they did not lead to any permanent employment in future. Let me illustrate what I mean. Suppose a messenger is required for employment —a number of juveniles start in that way—when these juveniles reach the age of 16 or 18 they are too old, too big, or too expensive in many cases, and are discharged and thrown among the unemployed. Therefore, when considering the employment of one in seven, we cannot say in all cases that it is of a desirable character.

The difficulty of finding employment for young people of both sexes is to my mind one of the most serious problems which we have to face in this country to-day. Those of us who go about the city see large numbers of young fellows between the ages of 14, 18 and 20 at our street corners. Passing through the different towns of our State we see boys of the same age around the different corners there. Parents will tell you that they see no solution for the problem. Therefore I say that this is one of the most serious problems which we have to face. Let me further stress the fact that the State accepts responsibility for the education of these young people. We spend considerable sums on their education and they are discharged from the national schools when they reach the age of 14. In other words, the State says to them: "We have discharged our responsibility and now you must do the best you can for yourselves." It leaves them at the most critical age of their existence because I think everyone will agree that for young people the most important period is that between 14, 18 and 20 years. It is at that particular period that they are left to themselves to do for themselves.

As one who has been interested in this problem for some years, I have been told by many people that these young persons do not want employment, that they want amusement and recreation. Let me say, as one who has come in contact with a good many of these young people, that that statement is not true. There is anxiety on the part of these young people to make good and, in addition, to take advantage of any opportunity that may offer by way of employment. Let me say, however, on the other hand, that I know nothing more disheartening to young people of either sex than to have to go round day after day to different places of employment and be told that there are no vacancies, no opportunities. There is nothing likely to dishearten young people more when they are anxious to get employment than to have that experience day after day for a couple of years.

The Minister for Education has recognised the importance of this problem. He has started with what in many cases is one of the difficulties. That is that the standard of education possessed by these young people, for one reason or another, is in many cases very low. I will not go into the reasons, but in many cases it is very low. He has tightened up the School Attendance Act very considerably in order that these young people may have a better attendance at school than they have had in the past, and in that way contribute to a higher standard of education. It must be said to his credit that he has also brought in and passed through the House a Vocational Education Bill. That Bill is designed not alone to improve the opportunities for increased technical education for those who desire it, but also to give those who hope to enter industrial occupations some training in connection with industry, so that when they seek employment they may have some knowledge of what work is and may, in that particular way, be more acceptable to employers. He has also under that Bill decided to set up what we may call continuation schools, whereby those whose standard of education is low may have that standard considerably improved, and thereby may be more easily absorbed into industry. Now, with these young people prepared, I hope, as they have never been in the past, we come to the most important step of all. That is to bridge the gulf between education, on the one hand, and industry on the other.

The object of this Bill is to carry out one of the many recommendations of the Commission on Technical Education and to improve the opportunities for these young people, to open up avenues that will lead to employment in the future and which have been closed to them in the past. I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House in referring to the Report of the Commission, but for those who take an interest in this particular question there are many features of interest in that Report.

There is one figure which I would like to give and it is one of importance when we are dealing with this particular Bill. It will be found in the Report of the Commission. The Report dealt with the number of apprentices in the Saorstát, from information supplied to the Commission by the Department of Industry and Commerce. Take the building trades. I take that particular industry because it is one about which I happen to know something. That information supplied by the Department of Industry and Commerce to the Commission shows that there are in the Saorstát 9,282 tradesmen engaged in the building industry and we find that the number of apprentices, again taking the whole Saorstát, is 961. Those who have studied this matter inform us that the number of apprentices in any industry, to keep that industry at what we would regard as a normal level, should be one to every three craftsmen. If you apply that principle to the 9,282 tradesmen engaged in the building industry in the Saorstát you will find that we should have 3,304 apprentices. Yet according to the returns supplied by the Department of Industry and Commerce we had in 1926, 961 apprentices. I do not know any stronger argument which can be used in support of this Bill than that particular figure. We should have 3,304 apprentices in the Saorstát in this particular industry. We have only 961.

The position seems paradoxical. The juvenile department of our Labour Exchange is unable to find avenues of employment for a large number of juveniles. They were only able to place in employment one in every seven of the applicants. In other words, for six in every seven no employment could be found. Here, when we get the number of apprentices, we find that there are only 961, where there should be 3,304. This, as I said, is one of the important features of the Report. It shows the necessity for a Bill of this character and for the need of opening up these channels of apprenticeship. It is recommended in that report that in bringing forward legislation dealing with apprentices, the Apprentice Acts, and they are only recent Acts, of South Africa and of Queensland, should be followed. The Bill we have before us at the moment does not follow very closely all the principles of these particular Acts. I must take exception to one feature of the Bill which we have before us. That is that it is based on what the Minister is pleased to call the voluntary principle. Our apprenticeship system at the moment is a very casual and haphazard one. It is based on the voluntary principle. Does anybody in the House say that it is a satisfactory basis? It may have been satisfactory in the past, but it certainly does not meet the requirements of the present day. I need not go into the reasons for that. Deputies can see many of them in the Report of the Commission.

The practices of trade, the methods of trade and the principles of trade have changed very materially in the last 25 to 50 years. The introduction of machinery has revolutionised many of these trades. In the face of these changes, to say that the principles of training of apprentices that were in force 50 years ago are still necessary is to say what is not quite correct in connection with trade as one knows it here. Nor can I agree that the underlying principles of the Apprentice Act of South Africa are embodied in this Bill. As I read the South African Act, and anybody can read it because it is set out in the appendix of the report of the Commission, it is a compulsory Act. You will see in every second section of that Act the phrase: "The Minister shall decide." Everything is practically left to the Minister.

If our apprentices are to get the opportunities and training in future that we would like them to get, and that it is essential they should get if they are to make good craftsmen, we will want to make material alterations in our methods of apprenticeship. I think one of the principles that we should try to import into this Bill is that the responsibility for the proper training of apprentices should rest with a Minister of the State. The education of our young people to-day is the responsibility of a Minister of the State. I would like to see that responsibility carried through until those young people have been placed in a position to make good for themselves. If this Bill is to achieve the object that many of us have in mind, it will be necessary to get that principle clearly established. That same principle applies also to the Act passed in Queensland. That Act was passed in 1926. The same provision is embodied in both of them.

We have not, at the moment, any register of apprentices. The whole thing is casual and haphazard. We want to do away with all haphazard systems of that kind. We want to get a systems of control, and a system that we are satisfied will discharge the many responsibilities that we will put on it. Features of these Acts have been referred to. They are not matters of principle, but they are matters of interest. Deputy Anthony referred to some of them. He has referred to the question of bringing all these trades under Trade Boards. I question the wisdom of that method. That is not the method to adopt, and it is not the method adopted in apprenticeship in South Africa. The South African method is different.

The South African Act has a schedule of trades attached to it. All these trades are by that schedule brought within the scope of the Act. That, to my mind, is a very much more desirable method than the method proposed in this Bill. That is the method of bringing them in through the medium of Trade Boards. Trade Boards may create in these particular industries difficulties of another character. I would like to see this obligation of training apprentices more clearly defined.

In the past, one of the difficulties in connection with apprentices was that certain employers are quite willing to discharge their obligations to train them. Other employers are not willing to discharge their obligations in that respect. That is one of the reasons why the number of apprentices is so low. I think there ought to be an obligation placed by the State on employers who employ large numbers of craftsmen in a particular industry to train a number of apprentices—the number to be adjusted by the Minister. I do not know that there are many employers who would object to that obligation, but whether they do or not, I think it is an obligation that should be cast upon them. It is a duty which they owe to the State, and it is a duty which they ought to perform for the State. The proper training of these young people is a very important matter.

In the past, these apprentices have been bound to employers. I do not think that the continuation of that method is desirable at all, because in many cases employers fall ill, pass away, or go out of business, and then the difficulty is: what is to become of the apprentices? The way in which that difficulty has been met in other countries is that the apprentices are bound not to the employers but to a committee. The committee itself decides if the apprentices are being properly trained in their craft. In case of failure in business of any particular employer, then the apprenticeship committee has power to take the apprentice and to place him in another employment, where he can complete his apprenticeship. That, I think it will be agreed, is a very desirable method, but that is a matter of detail, and can be attended to on the Committee Stage.

I would like to impress on the Minister the desirability of getting this whole question of apprenticeship put on a proper basis. The question now to consider is whether we can amend this Bill. If the House is agreed that apprentices should be put on that basis then if we cannot amend the Bill and put them on a proper basis, the best thing would be to ask the Minister to withdraw this Bill and to bring in another Bill embodying that principle. Let us try to do the best we can for the large numbers of young people who at the moment have no employment and who are rapidly becoming unemployable. We must, in their interest as well as in the interest of the State, do all we can to improve their prospects. I hope this Bill will achieve that object.

Mr. Byrne

I hesitate to intervene in this debate, because I do not profess to have any particular knowledge with regard to the handicrafts of this country. There is, however, one section of the Bill that seems to me to be drastic. It is the section that establishes a new principle in this country with regard to apprenticeship to handicrafts. That principle is that a certain educational standard must be reached before any young person can be permitted to become apprenticed to a trade. That prohibition to apprenticeship unless a certain educational standard prescribed has been reached is laid down in Section 17. I have endeavoured to find out what particular standard of education is aimed at. I cannot find any particular standard defined. It seems to me that the only reference to the standard of education is that set out in Section 8 (2), which states that the apprenticeship committee may make all or any of the rules, and one of the rules deals with the educational qualification.

Deputies who have spoken mentioned that this Bill is based on a South African Act. I do not know what the standard of education in South Africa may be, whether it is higher than ours, but we ought to be careful when framing this Bill that we do not do an injustice to a large section of the young people. The question that would naturally strike one when examining this Bill is: what is the standard of education required? Is it to be a uniform standard or a standard that is to vary with every particular trade? If, for instance, the standard of education set down under the Bill is to be the possession of a primary certificate from national schools—and to the ordinary man that would appear to be a reasonable standard—how many of the children leaving the schools would possess the necessary qualification? The Minister for Education, answering a question of mine to-day, mentioned that 44,000 children were qualified to sit for the primary certificate examinations and out of that number something like 10,000 children sat and 5,000 qualified.

The Minister said 7,000.

Mr. Byrne

We are not going to argue that matter at the moment. Let us say 7,000. That means that if the standard under the Bill is to be the possession of a primary certificate, then only 7,000 out of 44,000 children would be entitled to be bound as apprentices in this country. What is the number of children on the registers of the national schools? I think it would run into something over 100,000. That would mean that if the standard of education in order to permit a child to be apprenticed to a trade were the possession of a primary certificate, then only 7,000 children would be entitled to qualify and the remainder of the 100,000 children would be debarred from learning a trade. That seems to me to involve a very serious imposition on the young people. I am the first person who will readily concede to the framers of the Bill the desirability of raising the standard of education, but I do feel that this section may involve very grave injustice to a large proportion of the children.

Anybody with a knowledge of the educational standard existing in the country is aware of the lamentable fact that quite a large number of children on the national school registers leave school after reaching the third or fourth standards. Are you going to debar large numbers of children who reach only those standards from learning a trade? I have been associated with tradesmen practically all my life and I know that some of the finest men possessing the greatest amount of technical skill and efficiency in their own trades would be unable to qualify under this Bill to be bound as apprentices. I am not criticising the Bill. I am only endeavouring to point out where a grave injustice may possibly be imposed on large sections of young people. That is one of the great difficulties the framers of the Bill are up against. It would be almost impossible to set a uniform standard. It seems to me the standard required by the plumber, the plasterer or the cooper should not be as high as that laid down for the engineering trade.

I ask the Minister to reconsider this section dealing with educational qualifications, and to consider the possibility of giving discretionary powers to the Committee to permit apprentices who may not possess a certain standard of education to enter the various trades. I ask him to give certain discretionary powers at least for some years. The section is a mandatory one as it stands. If the apprentice does not possess the necessary standard of education specified he shall not be admitted to the trade. I speak in no spirit of hostility. I realise that if the section is passed as it stands the greater proportion of children leaving the national schools cannot be bound as apprentices to trades. If that is the position of affairs, to what are you going to turn those children? Are you going to turn them on the swollen market of the unskilled? If it is possible to give the Committee some discretionary power with reference to the standard of education I, for one, will consider that the Minister has done an excellent day's work for the country, and particularly for the young people.

In my opinion, those interested in the subject of apprenticeship cannot really be satisfied with this Bill. The Minister's hesitation to make the provisions compulsory can be appreciated, but the anomalies created will hardly convince one that he took the right course in deciding not to put Section 2 in a more mandatory form. You have the position that in several of the most important trades it is very likely there will be no demand whatever from the employers to have their trades designated. At present they may be getting very big fees for apprentices, and they are able to treat their apprentices as they like. They are able to get the utmost value from them in regard to the hours they work and the other conditions of service. On the other hand, you may have employees with no organisation whatever amongst them who may possibly never hear of this Bill. They may be the people for whom this Bill would have the most important message if it were made compulsory, or if there were a likelihood that a demand for designation would arise. The Minister has to answer the question: what is the inducement put to either party to demand designation? As I have said, in many trades there will be no inducement to the employer, and employees in many cases are too unorganised to prepare the demand for designation, while in other cases they will possibly be afraid of antagonising their employers. That is a lamentable defect in the Bill.

Further, I suppose that a number of the most important trades and businesses of the country will not come under this Bill because there is no demand for designation. Is the Minister satisfied that the present conditions in such trades should be continued or encouraged? Obviously, he is not. You have certain trades that are very important from the point of view of public safety. For instance, in some of the engineering trades, there is no general system of apprenticeship. You have young fellows getting attached, say, to garage premises, running in and out, partly attached to the firm, but subject to no definite undertakings. They are learning nothing substantial and at the end of two or three years, if they ask their employers for a certificate or letter to show that they have worked in those premises, he is, in many cases, quite prepared to give them such a letter because there is no untruth in it. He has never bound himself in a documentary way to teach them a trade; consequently he has no responsibility with regard to them. You have boys who have got such a poor training as that undertaking very serious work from the point of view of public safety, work for which training should be under the most careful discipline and guidance. That is one big defect in the Bill to my mind, and I think that the Minister should reconsider the Bill on account of that defect. He should, at all events, consider the amendment of the clause. I am surprised that, even if he decided not to make it mandatory at the start, he did not put in a provision that after a certain period, if there was no demand for designation, he would be empowered to take action.

With regard to the general framework of the Bill, it creates a rather curious picture in this way, that you might have all sorts of different areas with all sorts of different conditions regarding apprenticeship. You have no co-ordinating authority at the top. You may have a number of committees making quite different rules with regard to apprentices, as to the hours they will work, as to the fees which should be paid, and as to the length of time they have got to serve and so on. No one, apparently, has a right to veto any of their decisions or to say that it is unreasonable. The Minister has the right, but I take it that it is not his intention to use it, that his intention is that these committees should have more or less the final word on the subject.

At all events, it is not indicated in the Bill that he is going to insist upon anything like uniform conditions throughout the country. One would think it would be a reasonable proposal that there should be some council of these committees that would meet to consider the different recommendations of the committees and to co-ordinate them, as far as possible, so that there might be uniform conditions throughout the country. As it is, it is quite possible that you would have a trade union vetoing the decisions of some of these committees with regard to hours, wages or other considerations. Section 28 (d) in the Bill gives authorised officers altogether too much power. In fact, one wonders if it is seriously intended to give an authorised officer the power "to examine either alone or in the presence of any other person, as he thinks fit, with respect to matters under this Act, every person whom he finds in any premises upon which he is entitled under this section to enter." I think there is plenty of room for abuse there. "Every person whom he finds." The person may not be working on the premises at all; he may be a visitor. Yet, if the authorised officer thinks he can give him any information, he has the power to challenge him and demand replies to any questions he may put to him relating to the Act. It is observed that while the authorised officer can examine books and require the employer to produce wage sheets, time sheets, and other records of wages, there is no question of his being bound to confidence. That is a very big power to give to any officer but to give him such power and not require from him a pledge not to give away that information, is unreasonable.

With regard to Section 30, the committees are not empowered to go into the question of the wholesomeness of the premises or the living-in conditions. These are important matters, relating to apprentices in certain businesses, and it is quite possible that in committee that clause will have to be examined with a view to betterment.

What section is the Deputy speaking about?

I may have quoted the wrong section. The fundamental objection to the Bill, however, is that it does not fix the period for beginning the work of regulating apprenticeship. It leaves it still possible, in very many trades and in very big branches of business, for the apprenticeship not to be subject to any public regulation or control, which is a very regrettable omission from the Bill. I think it wants to be examined very carefully from that point of view.

There are two points arising out of this discussion to which I should like to refer. The first is that mentioned by Deputy Anthony. I think the necessity for examination of that point by the Minister was emphasised by references of Deputy Good to his definition of the word "trade.""Trade" includes any industry. The building industry was referred to more than once by Deputy Good. He spoke of the building trade as if it were one trade. The building industry includes several individual trades. I think it is just possible that confusion may arise in regard to that definition and I think the Minister should examine the matter further to see if any possible confusion that may arise could be obviated. In this connection, I was wondering why the Minister did not adopt the suggestion contained in the Report of the Commission and carried out in the case of the South African and of the Queensland Acts—that is, scheduling the trades to which the Act would apply, and putting them into the Bill. That is not done. It would seem to me, in any case, as one who does not pretend to know very much about the matter, that that would be clearer than the plan adopted here.

I am in thorough agreement with the opening remarks of Deputy Good, and with his remarks in regard to employment and industry generally, but on one statement he made I do not exactly see eye to eye with him. He spoke of the number of apprentices in the building industry and pointed out that there should be something like three times as many apprentices in that industry as there are. He made a more or less dogmatic statement at the beginning on which he based his whole argument. He said that everyone knows that the number of apprentices should be one to three. As I said, his whole argument was based on that. He did not show at all why that should be the case or on what basis that proportion was founded. That appears to me to be an essential factor. I do not pretend to know why that is so. I might equally say that it should be one to five or one to nine but I do not say it. I take what appears to be a commonsense view, that the number of apprentices taken into a trade should have regard to the possibility of those apprentices being absorbed in the industry later on. That is the principle which should guide us in fixing the number of apprentices in any particular trade.

Surely Deputy Good knows better than any of us that, if we were to take that basis, there are some trades in which there should be no apprentices appointed at the present time, inasmuch as there are a number of men idle in these particular trades. Where is the use of putting in apprentices if they cannot be absorbed in the industry? He knows, too, that there are some trades that are, as it were, disappearing altogether. Take, for example, the brick-laying trade. I will not say that it is disappearing altogether, but we know that concrete work is displacing the brick-laying trade to a great extent at the present time, and surely he could not hold that the number of apprentices in that trade ought to be as great as it was twenty or thirty years ago. There would not be the same openings for these people afterwards in the trade. I, therefore, think that starting off by saying one to three is the rule, and that, therefore, on that calculation we have not enough apprentices in the trade, is not getting us very far, because we must go back to the beginning and find out how we arrived at this one to three.

That particular point is settled in the South African Act by the Minister.

Mr. O'Connell

On the point about the Minister taking full responsibility rather than having the plan that is adopted here of acting on a voluntary basis, I might be inclined to agree with the Deputy if he went a little further. I do not believe he is quite prepared to go the whole way with me in this. If the Minister begins by taking responsibility for the control of entry into the industry, then I think he will logically have to go further and control the industry, or have a very big measure of control in it, and I suppose Deputy Good will not agree with that. If the Minister was to say that so many apprentices must be appointed, I do not see how the industry could claim to be independent of Government control.

Who is to settle the point?

Mr. O'Connell

We will have to settle it in the future, I expect. I am prepared, in any case, to give this voluntary system a trial. Then, perhaps, Deputy Good and I may come together and see what we can do towards taking control of the whole business.

I do not think Deputy Byrne read the Bill. If he did, I do not think he quite followed the implication of it, because my complaint is exactly the opposite to that of Deputy Byrne. Deputy Byrne said that educational qualifications are mandatory. I am complaining, and objecting to the Bill, because they are not. If he will read Section 8 of the Bill he will find that sub-section (1) sets out the rules the apprenticeship committees "must make," and sub-section (2) sets out the rules that it "may make" about educational qualifications.

Mr. Byrne

That is governed by Section 17.

Mr. O'Connell

Exactly, but will you read Section 17 where the rules made by the apprenticeship committees are enforced? It is provided in Section 8 that they may only set up—they are not bound to set up—standards. That is my complaint. I will move later, if necessary, that sub-section (2) (a) ought to be put into the rules that must be made by the committee. I think there ought to be at least some standard of educational qualification adopted by the apprenticeship committees. It does not necessarily follow that they must be of a uniform standard for every trade, but each apprenticeship committee ought to be bound, as it were, to say that the people entering into their trade must have some standard of education. I will press very strongly that sub-section (2) (a) be included in sub-section (1).

I do not want to go into the points raised by Deputy Byrne in regard to the number of people who would possibly be excluded. I might explain that the number of people who sit for this examination does not necessarily mean that that is the number of people who are qualified to pass the examination. As a matter of fact, 70 per cent. of those who did sit last year for that examination qualified, but he seems to stress the point of possession of the primary certificate. I do not think that in the present circumstances of our educational administration any apprenticeship committee would simply say that candidates must possess the primary certificate. They may say they must have a primary certificate standard, and take such steps as they think necessary to see that that standard is attained, but I think the mere possession of a particular document would hardly be laid down in the present circumstances when the examination for this certificate has only been established for a year, when at the present time it is running on a voluntary basis, and when there is no regulation compelling every child to sit for this examination.

You must have some standard.

Mr. O'Connell

I have said that, but the mere possession of a certificate seems to be the only standard which is envisaged by the Deputy, and I think that in the circumstances that is not exactly reasonable. I was rather surprised by Deputy Good's remarks in view of the fact that this Bill seems to follow the recommendations made by the Commission of which he was a member. I even read the Deputy's reservation to the Report of the Commission to see if he had made any objection to the plan set out in this Bill. Perhaps the Deputy is coming nearer to the idea of State control in industry generally, and that that is his reason for arguing that the Minister should have taken to himself the powers which he suggests he should take in regard to the regulation of apprentices.

Anything except tariffs.

Mr. O'Connell

I am prepared to give this Bill a trial. A measure of a similar kind has worked fairly satisfactorily, I understand, in other countries. I have faith in the good sense of employers and employees, when they get together on a committee of the kind proposed to be set up under this Bill. I believe that both are interested in the success and welfare of the industries in which they are concerned. There may be exceptions to that rule. Of course you will always get exceptions, but I believe that when both classes get together they will give of their best in the interests of the industry in which they are engaged. They will do their best, I believe, to put these apprenticeship schemes on a sound basis.

It seems to me, after listening to the debate that has taken place, that the only speakers who really dealt with the principle of the Bill were the Minister on the one hand and Deputy Moore on the other. I take it the principle of the Bill is that the conditions of apprenticeship shall be regulated only in such trades as apply to the Minister to have the Act put into operation in respect of them. There is no guarantee, and no sound reason for believing, that on the passage of this Bill the conditions of apprenticeship will, in fact, be regulated in any trade, and it is extremely likely that in those trades in which regulation is most urgently needed the Act will not apply at all. The issue which the Dáil has to face, and which most of the Deputies have not dealt with at all, is whether this voluntary arrangement should stand or whether power should be given to the Minister to compel the application of the relevant sections of this Bill to such industries where he is satisfied that the existing conditions so require it. I am sure that most Deputies, and certainly the Minister, know of trades where the length of the apprenticeship period, the normal hours of employment for apprentices, the remuneration given to them and the classification of persons as apprentices are all so unsatisfactory that the State should have power to interfere and put them right.

Deputy Moore gave an example of the garage business. It is, I think, generally admitted that in some cases the number of apprentices taken on in particular garages is in excess of the number which it would be possible for the proprietor of the garage properly to instruct in their business. Frequently these apprentices have to pay substantial premiums or fines in order to get engaged. It is, in fact, that premium or fine which is the main reason why they are indentured as apprentices at all. There are other industries as well. I am not at all convinced that the division of trades into Trade Board and non-Trade Board trades is wise. There is no such division in the South African Act, which the Technical Commission appears to have taken as its standard. Trade Boards have been established in relation to a number of occupations for the sole purpose of fixing minimum rates of wages. These occupations were, generally speaking, those in which labour was not organised. The Committees or Boards set up for that purpose are not necessarily the most suitable Boards to arrange apprenticeship conditions. It seems to me that it would be much better if the reference to Trade Boards were left out of the Bill altogether, and that all trades coming in under the Bill were brought under the section which is designed to deal with the case of non-Trade Board trades.

It is, I think, a common experience amongst Deputies that the number of young people offering themselves for apprenticeship in all industries is declining. That is due to two main causes. The first is, I believe, the existence of these fines or premiums. When the Minister was drafting this Bill he had no doubt the South African Act before him. In that Act there is a clause definitely prohibiting anybody from requiring or receiving such premium as a condition of apprenticeship. No doubt the Minister considered it, and deliberately decided to leave it out of this Bill. I would like if he would tell us the reason for that.

Deputy Fahy, I think, suggested that apprenticeship committees should be given power to make regulations in respect of those fines or premiums. I think the Dáil should go further and insist on the insertion of a section in the Bill prohibiting them altogether, except as suggested in the South African Act—to deal with special cases on the written consent of the Minister. Another reason why the number of apprentices offering themselves to industries is limited is that the remuneration received is frequently exceedingly low. In many cases it is necessarily so because the employers are not in a position to give more. The suggestion has been made that the State should come to the aid of employers in that matter by subsidising them, to a certain extent, to enable them to give bigger remuneration to their apprentices, or else in some other way to increase the remuneration of these apprentices. I am sure that most Deputies will admit that it is of considerable importance to the country that the proportion of skilled workers to the total should be increased, and that anything the State does to bring that about will be a national benefit. If, by the expenditure of a comparatively small amount of money, we could increase the inducements to young people to apprentice themselves to skilled trades rather than to seek casual employment or semi-skilled employment it would be a long step in the right direction.

These are the main points which, I think, arise out of the Bill. Most of the other points mentioned by Deputies were Committee points and in some cases, as Deputy O'Connell pointed out, they were based on a misunderstanding of the Bill. We can go through these matters again on the Committee Stage. What I am particularly concerned with now is that the Minister should justify the voluntary principle of the Bill, the division of trades into two classes and the failure to deal with the financial restriction upon the number of apprentices which exists at present and to which I have referred.

There are certain small points that I would like to deal with firstly. Deputy Fahy raised a point about the apprenticeship contract entered into where the proprietor of a business dies. Section 12 gives power to vary the apprenticeship contract. That section is definitely designed to meet that point and I think does meet it. Points have been raised, particularly by Deputy Anthony and by Deputy O'Connell, on the definition of "trade." I am prepared to consider any definitions put down on the Committee Stage. I am not oppressed by the difficulties spoken of by these Deputies. The word "trade" includes any industry, trade, craft or business. I was not sure, when Deputy Anthony was speaking, whether or not he was afraid that the Bill was not comprehensive enough, and did not take in trades under the Trade Boards. It clearly does. If on the other hand, his complaint is that it is too comprehensive, that it might be extended to any particular business he mentioned, then I am afraid I must agree that it is capable of comprehensive application. That is the most that can be said of it. I cannot undertake to make any addendum until I find out what the difficulty is.

In case it is thought that there would be any difficulty of the type referred to by Deputy O'Connell, who spoke of the building trade, and who thought that it might be scheduled and that thereafter you could only have apprenticeship conditions attaching to the big group of trades included under that heading, if the Deputy looks at the Report of the Commission, he will see an example given on page 77 of the trades scheduled in Queensland. Under that, you get an enormous number of things under building—bricklaying, carpentry, stone masonry, plumbing. I think it is possible—and if not we can make it absolutely certain—to have apprenticeship rules made with regard to bricklaying, carpentry and joinery apart from the building trade as a whole. It is a matter for the Committee Stage. There might be a little confusion through having the word "trade" applied in connection with a particular operation.

Mr. O'Connell

That is the point.

There might be some confusion, but I am afraid there will be worse confusion if there is any limitation such as Deputy Anthony wanted.

Mr. O'Connell

There might be a committee of carpenters alone, and they would not have a right to lay down conditions for plumbing and bricklaying. Could they set up conditions? The lesser might be taken to include the greater. The carpenters might apply for an apprenticeship committee in the building trade.

I think the word "craft" will cover that point.

When we turn to the Schedule in the South African Act, it will be found that it includes the building industry. The building industry embraces all the trades the Minister has referred to.

Mr. O'Connell

If we had a Schedule there would be no difficulty.

That is a different matter. I think the Deputy has not appreciated the exact scheme on which the South African Act is moulded. The reference on page 77 is not to the South African Act, but to the Queensland Act. That is a matter we will deal with by way of an amendment, which I hope the Deputy will put up. Deputy Anthony alluded to a certain difficulty experienced in England. I think he will find that the difficulty is not so much on the application of the word "trade," but rather where a particular item was challenged in court, and challenged successfully. The word "catering" was the difficulty—the precise application of what was called "catering". There was no great difficulty about the word "trade." I think Deputy Anthony intended to ascertain whether a learner as opposed to the old-time apprentice comes within this Bill. Learners are intended to be brought within the Bill. The Bill is comprehensive enough to have learners included. It is meant to have them included, and I think we have succeeded in doing so.

What do you call a learner in a trade?

That arises on a later point, and I think I had better deal with it by way of example. Similarly, Deputy Anthony wanted a positive answer as to whether the word "trades" not covered by Trade Boards Acts are within this Bill. The Act is intended to be capable of extension to these, and to cover, not merely Trade Board trades, but trades outside the scope of the Trade Boards Acts. Again, I suppose that matter must arise in Committee. Deputy Anthony spoke of the appointed members, and indicated, as the view of some Committees under the Trade Boards Acts, that some of the appointed members had not been friendly to the employees' side. Consequently I gather from him they were in some way prejudiced against the workers' interests. I find considerable difficulty in getting suitable people for these Committees. If anything the tendency is rather the other way. One can get a person who is definitely keen on social work to give voluntary time and effort to the work of Trade Board Committees. The attitude is generally too much that of the social worker and too little application to weighing the facts of a particular trade. People simply have an idea with regard to minimum rates and do not see that there might have to be a distinction made between country and town rates. There is a good social point in having part-time occupation and, in the case of womenfolk who must spend some of their time in their homes, they may have time on their hands and be capable of earning money during that period. The experience we have had of the appointed members is that they have succeeded pretty well in holding an impartial attitude between employers and employees. If I speak with particular application to one or two people, I think the mind of the social worker is a little uppermost, and that he does not advert enough to the reactions of the minimum wage.

Another small point was raised on Section 8 by Deputy Anthony, in regard to the maximum number of hours, where it is stated that the rules regulating the maximum number of hours are the hours to be worked in any week. The Deputy hinted that we should make that applicable to days. I think the debate on this Bill, so far, shows the necessity for having it drafted, first on the voluntary principle, and leaving the regulation and the rules to the Special Committees, because you have to consider the vast number of trades there might be and the tremendous number of varied circumstances that would apply to trades in particular areas and at particular periods of the week in an industry or to branches of some industry in the area. I think that is all the more reason for leaving this as elastic as it can be. I put it to the Deputy, on the question of apprenticeship, and in regard to the hours, that they must have some relation to the hours worked in the factory, and that as the training is to be carried out in the factory the learner's relationship must be determined by ordinary rules.

Suppose there are rush periods, as there undoubtedly will be, in factories at certain seasons of the year. It would be impossible to lay down rigidly here anything with regard to fixing of hours by the day. Remember, all the while there is power, where it is seen that a regulation is working badly, to amend or modify it and there is an amount of freedom and ease in the whole system of regulation.

Deputy Anthony also made the point that when it comes to the educational course to be followed we should determine, or any rate allow, that it would be a day school. I think Section 21 is definitely capable of application to day schools. I do not think there is anything which ties it up merely to educational work after the period of employment during the day. If necessary, we can amend it and make it clear, but not I hope to make it such that the school training must be always day training. Let us leave it in the free state in which it is at present, so that the regulations may be varied to suit the circumstances.

The Minister must recognise that some of these sections should be made mandatory, otherwise the good effects of his Bill will be entirely negatived. That is the reason I suggest that the sections dealing with the education of apprentices should be made mandatory and that "shall" should be substituted for "may" in some of them.

The Deputy must bear in mind that in some areas it is not possible to give day instruction.

These are points which will have to be borne in mind. I want to answer Deputy Anthony's question by saying that day school training is permissible under the section, but I do not want to make it so rigid that it must be so. Deputy Anthony's point as to the Schedule, that after the words "by counsel or solicitor" we should add "or other duly authorised agent" is quite a good point and can be met by an appropriate amendment. It can be put on a footing with the Trade Board system.

Deputy Byrne, I think, is under a misapprehension with regard to the effect of Section 8 and 17 when read together. Section 8 simply says that the apprenticeship committee may make certain rules, and amongst these may be rules in relation to the educational qualifications of persons entering employment by way of apprenticeship. Thereafter these rules, when made, have to be confirmed and, if made and confirmed, are in operation, and then Section 17 works: that where the rules are in force it shall not be lawful to employ a person in such trade unless he possesses the educational qualifications laid down in such rules. There is complete discretion given to the Minister whether or not he will confirm rules which prescribe certain educational qualifications. That is a matter that can be attended to in the circumstances of each trade. You could lay down that nobody would be accepted as a learner or apprentice unless some specified minimum amount of educational attainments were there. But, remember, this Bill deals with apprentices as we used to know them; that is to say, people who are going to be trained for entry into the old type of skilled trade. It is also intended to cover learners, as they used to be called in the Trade Board Acts, and there are many processes at present in some of these the newer trades in which very little in the way of educational attainment is needed. For instance, take a machine minder, which some of these lads become in a good number of businesses at present. If any minimum is going to be prescribed in the Bill it would be so low that it would be useless. Then when one thinks of the other end of it, there are in certain processes, say, in the boot trade, and in the shirt-manufacturing industry, which will be taken up by men and women learners, people very definitely of adult age and far beyond the school period. If one were to think of the standard of education required there, or the standard that would usually accompany a learner in such a business, a standard could be set far too high. Again, I think it is best to leave it to the committee to prescribe the rules and leave these rules for confirmation.

Deputy Moore thought there was one flaw in the Bill, that there was no co-ordinating authority; that there might be different rules and different trades in different areas. When I pointed out that there was discretion in the Minister with regard to the confirming of the rules and that, in the process of confirming, modifications of the rules might be enforced, he apparently altered and said: surely I would not attempt to co-ordinate. It is difficult to follow him when he alleges that there is no co-ordinating authority, and, when one is shown to him, alleges that it is definitely against the Bill that somebody is going to co-ordinate. It will certainly be the duty of whoever is going to carry out the Act to see that where there is some equality required between rules in different cases that that equality will be brought about where there are similar conditions operating, but who also will see that the varied circumstances of the different applications will also be borne in mind and that there will be differentiation in the rules allowed.

That is not indicated in the Bill.

It is definitely indicated that rules may be made in a particular way. Those rules have to come before one particular authority for confirmation, and it must have been evident to any one that one of the duties there would be to see that there are not rules drawn for haphazard applications. If for no other reason, the mere fact that there is to be an inspection carried out by certain officers will always tend rather in the direction of uniformity. If there is any danger it is that the rules will be rather too tightly made.

Is one to infer from the fact that the Minister has this co-ordinating power, that uniform conditions as between, say, Munster and Connacht will be insisted upon with regard to the apprentices in different trades?

I hope they will not. All I am saying is that the Deputy's objection was that there was no co-ordinating authority. I said there was, and the Deputy's second objection was "Surely you will not co-ordinate."

I did not say "surely."

That was the impression given. There is a co-ordinating authority. Take, say, rules regulating some of these learnerships that there will have to be in shirt-making where the training required will not last longer than a period of some weeks. Certainly when you get into the region of a couple of months, it would be the extreme term of the period necessary. Then take some aspects of the wood-working business where an apprenticeship period of from five to seven years used to be demanded and for which certainly a long period of years would have to be demanded. Does the Deputy consider that there ought to be anything approaching rigid uniformity between these different types of people?

That was not in my mind. It is possible under the Bill to have Regional Committees. The decisions of these Committees as regards the conditions of apprenticeship can differ, at least as submitted to the Minister.

Certainly they can. All I pointed out is that in some cases they necessarily must, and when confirmed must be different, but that there is a co-ordinating authority. Deputy Moore also, while pleading for a compulsory Act as against the powers given to the authorised officers, particularly objected to the fact that the authorised officer might under Section 28 (1) (d) "examine either alone or in the presence of any other person, as he thinks fit, with respect to matters under this Act, every person whom he finds in any premises upon which he is entitled under this section to enter and require such person to answer such questions as he may put touching such matter, and to sign a declaration of the truth of the answers to such questions." Let us assume that that power is not there. How are the inspectors ever going to enforce them? Let us take a trade in which Deputy Moore's ideal has been some application made; there is a designated trade, and a committee and rules established by that committee in a particular area.

Now we have got, at any rate, to the same stage in that particular trade or business as if the whole thing was compulsory. We want to see that the regulations are carried out. Unless these powers are given, and given to the authorised officer, particularly the powers given under Section 28 (1) (d). there would be no way to enforce them, and particularly if we go further, as the Deputy wants us, and say that whatever they find out as a result of the inspection must be kept confidential. I should say the first place in which the confidence would be broken would be where a prosecution was instituted and those people would be induced to swear to what took place. So far from there being anything about getting information of this kind to be kept locked up, it would be quite useless unless it was produced in due form.

I mention confidence as applied to the inspection of wages sheets and other accounts.

If the Deputy wants to take away any of the powers of the authorised officers let him do so by putting down an amendment and we will then see how far his proposal would help us to get enforcement of the Act.

Outside these points there were a couple of bigger matters raised in the course of the debate. Deputy O'Connell asked why not schedule trades as scheduled in the South African Act. I said earlier that I thought the scheme of the South African Act had been misunderstood. In the South African Act certain trades were scheduled, and it was set out in Section 1 that "the provisions of this Act shall only apply in respect of apprenticeship to any trade or branch of trade designated by the Minister after consultation with an Apprenticeship Committee appointed under this Act in any industry (hereinafter referred to as a scheduled industry) specified in the first schedule to this Act. Any such trade or branch of trade is hereinafter referred to as a designated trade." The schedule was of a limiting nature. First you had certain businesses scheduled and there could only be apprenticeship regulation in connection with those trades— only those scheduled.

They were practically all scheduled.

Oh no, there is a small schedule given at the end. It was not even that for the trades scheduled there had to be an apprenticeship committee set up—by no means; that apprenticeship committee was only set up inside the trades, at least with the first limitation of having to be mentioned in the schedule. Apprenticeship Committees were only to be set up after consultation and a recommendation made that there should be apprenticeship conditions attached, so that the schedule was only by way of limiting the completest application of the Act. It did not extend the Act immediately to those trades. There had then to be a recommendation put forward by the Committee that the ordinary series of regulations such as we have here should apply. To that extent we have, if anything, enlarged the South African Act by simply not scheduling by way of limitation any number of businesses.

Deputy Good has said with regard to the South African Act that it is compulsory, and has attempted to prove his contention by saying that if you read through the clauses you will see the word "shall" appearing there very often. If the Deputy will count the number of "shalls" that appear in this Bill and compare it with the number of times the word appears in the South African Act I think mine would win out, but the Deputy himself has signed the report of the Commission and the report on page 73 describes the South African Act in this way: "In the Union of South Africa under the provisions of the Apprenticeship Act apprenticeship became compulsory in such trades as decided under Advisory powers vested in special apprenticeship committees to adopt the provisions of the Act."

That is exactly the same scheme. The framework is somewhat different, as I have shown, but the basis is exactly the same. They set up their special apprenticeship committee and they then advise. It is a question then whether the trade decides to adopt the provisions of the Act. Deputy Good urges in a vague way that this whole Bill should be made compulsory. Deputy Moore clearly wants that, and Deputy Lemass wants that, but Deputy O'Connell does not want it. Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Good had a certain argument in the course of the debate, as to the number of apprentices that should be allowed, say in the building trade. Deputy O'Connell questioned Deputy Good's suggestion of one in three. Deputy Good instantly said that that was a matter settled by the Minister in South Africa. It is not; it is a matter in which recommendation is to be made by the apprenticeship committee to the Minister; thereafter he may settle it and be responsible.

He settles it upon the recommendation of the Committee.

Just as I in this case shall be responsible.

There is a difference.

Exactly the same. If the trade does not put it up can the Minister do anything on his own in South Africa? Can I do anything on my own, or is it desired that I should? There was a difference as to the one in three provision of apprentices. Deputy Good said it was the South African provision, but that was questioned. Suppose there is a difference of opinion between Deputy O'Connell as representing the employees, and Deputy Good the employers, as to the number of apprentices that should be allowed to each workman in the building trade, am I to come along and say arbitrarily that the number should be so and so, and if I say the number should be so and so, how am I to enforce it? If Deputy Good does not take the proper number of employees into his business am I to prosecute him? If he wants more apprentices than the employees want, and I provide him with them and the other employees leave his business, am I still to prosecute Deputy Good for not carrying on his business with the apprentices and nobody else? There are innumerable difficulties in the way of enforcing this matter. Deputy Lemass said that it was clear that the State should have power to interfere and regulate, and be raised the question of co-ordination. He mentioned the question of garages. I do not know whether he was complaining that there were too many apprentices or not enough, but he thought the motor garage business was not one likely to make application to be a designated trade. If it does not make application either for employers or employed it is rather a sign, I think, that they are satisfied with their present conditions.

It may be a sign that the employees are not organised.

If they are unorganised in the sense of being under the Trade Boards Act there would be a Trade Board to apply to.

In fact, there is no Trade Board.

That is rather an indication that the employees are regarded as somewhat organised, at any rate, and whether organised or not are able to protect their own interests. There is no specified number of employees that must come along. Any number of employees which the Minister thinks sufficiently represents the position in any trade to make him enquire and consider whether or not there ought to be a designation of the trade can make application. Here is the motor garage business which we are told is very flourishing. There are apparently too many apprentices; that is the main idea put forward. Yet neither from employers nor employees is it likely there is going to be an application made. Supposing the employers are satisfied with the number, and I again decide that some compulsion should be put upon them, am I to decide arbitararily on the numbers of apprentices as against the employers' wish?

How on earth is one going to enforce the regulation with regard to training of apprentices in an establishment where the employer has made up his mind that he does not want so many? It would need an inspector to be on the premises the whole day long. If there is not some measure of agreement on this point as between the employer and the employee there is no great prospect of this scheme or any other scheme working.

The necessity for State intervention only arises where there is a case for fixing the maximum and not the minimum number of apprentices.

I do not see the point.

The necessity for State intervention only arises where there is a case for fixing the maximum and not the minimum number of apprentices. You cannot compel the employer to take on more, but you can compel him to take on less if necessary.

Why compel him to take less? Supposing it is considered that there are more openings in the trade than that. Take a person for whom Deputy Good would speak in this matter, and who would say that children ought to get an opening in this business, and the employer is going to take on only a certain number. The difficulties are equal whether it is a question of forcing a bigger number on the employer or forcing a less number than people want to have in business. I think there is going to be a very grave social condition revealed immediately that would require some investigation if employers are going to be forced by some regulation of mine to keep a lesser number of employees than what they have at the moment. Then we would get a condition which Deputy Good referred to in his speech, a condition which I cannot see breaking off anywhere short of State control. Deputy Good's argument ran somewhat in this way, and Deputy Lemass is rather with him: we educate children in this country up to a certain age, and at a certain age we leave them to their own devices. Deputy Good says that we should go one step further and see them into industry and at the end of their period of general training, we should go a little further and put them into business compulsorily against the wishes——

Or other business.

We put them into business to get them trained. The training must be done through the business. You put them into the business to be trained against the will of the employer or against the will of the employees, or against the will of both. There is no occupation for such an apprentice afterwards. The mere training for an occupation does not provide employment at the other end. Do we drop them at that point? What is the logic of dropping them there, if we decide that it is inhuman to drop them at the other point? We must keep them on and see that they get employment.

I am not quarrelling with that.

The responsibility ends at twenty-one when he has got his training.

I do not see the logic of it. We train generally and it is alleged that it is inhuman to drop the apprentice and let him fend for himself. We are to take this further step which is a very definite interference with industry. It would mean the State shouldering the payment of wages if there was difficulty in the industry over the apprenticeship point. We take him to a certain point, and it is all very well for the people to say we must carry him further. Then we get the State as a kind of employer. This country has not got to that point yet.

That may follow.

I wonder where Deputy Lemass stopped short? We have given him training in a skilled trade and there is no occupation for him. What are we to do?

Provide opportunities.

The State has to provide opportunities. The State becomes an industrialist.

There are other ways in which the State can provide opportunities for work.

I do not see how the State can provide an opportunity for work unless it is to become an employer, engage people and pay wages, even though the product cannot be economically sold.

I do not want to interfere with the Minister, but his proposal at the moment is to have a voluntary scheme. I say that a voluntary system has been in existence for a quarter of a century and it has failed to produce the goods. Young people are not getting the opportunity and they are going to swell the unemployment list. Is that to continue? If not, what are we going to do for them?

That brings me to the second big point. Deputy Good has founded a lot of his comment on the figures which he knows so well from the Report of the Juvenile Advisory Committee. A certain number of people come under the control of the Committee, and only a certain number are placed through the exchanges. First of all, that is not the final limit of the number of people of that age who get employment.

It would be very unfortunate if it were.

It is not so. It is stated that a certain number would get employment through the Committee, but that does not mean that no further persons get employment. So far as the Apprenticeship Bill is concerned, Deputy Good would perhaps tell us, if it is possible to do so, how many of these people are prevented from getting into certain trades where work is available by reason of the fact that missing a proper apprenticeship somewhere they have not got a proper apprentice's training? That is where we are up against a real problem. I do not know what the number is.

The figures that I have quoted.

Certainly not. I remember an earlier figure given by the Deputy which, I think, was one in ten. I think to-day he said it was one in seven. It cannot end there. Let us say that three out of every seven do not get employment. The Deputy jumps to the conclusion that the reason these three out of seven fail to get employment is that they have not been trained or apprenticed. Surely it may be that there is no work for them.

If they were skilled a large number of them would get employment.

If the avenue to skilled trades were more open people would get employment?


Deputy Anthony and Deputy O'Connell answered that by submitting that there are certain skilled trades in which there is unemployment at present.

There are thousands unemployed in the building trade alone.

Certainly it does not seem that lack of apprenticeship is the only thing which stops people from getting employment.

I cannot vision the building industry without employment.

It is the apprenticeship point we are up against here, and not the other point. I was expecting that Deputy Good might have made a case which certainly appeared in some way before the Committee but for which not very definite proofs were adduced. That is the matter of restrictive conditions operating in regard to bringing in apprentices to certain trades. If any case is made that there are restrictive conditions operating in regard to bringing in young boys to these trades, and that these restrictive conditions will not be got rid of under this scheme, then there is a blot on the scheme and we would have to have these defects removed. I have heard the argument used often. There is the contention by certain employers that boys of obvious skill and promise cannot get into certain business because in certain trades there is something amounting to a caste system, that a person cannot become a bricklayer unless he is the son of a bricklayer. I have not yet seen any definite proof of that. I know the Commission was set up and had this matter specially referred to it. It was expected that that claim, if it could be proved, would have been proved or that evidence would be brought before the Commission in regard to it. I have searched the records of the Commission and I have not found that it was proved.

Statements were made with regard to that particular situation. Supposing it does hold at this particular moment, my difficulty is, what allows that condition of things, what is it that permits it to operate? It is stated to be in operation for a long time. Is it that certain Trade Unions are powerful enough to enforce it, or is it that there is collusion between trades unions and employers in a particular business? If it is a trade union regulation and the trade union is enforcing it, is it expected that a phrase in a Bill giving the Minister power to do something is going to end the matter? Surely the best thing is to have it dealt with as it is dealt with here. We can get either the employers, if they are aggrieved at the situation, or the employees if they are aggrieved to bring forward an application to have the trade designated. Once it is designated we have two parties equally represented and three appointed members who, more or less, arbitrate the matter, and bring forward a rule. That rule may not be pleasing to either of the parties, but there is a chance of having the matter ventilated as between the representatives of the trades union and the employers with two or three outsiders chosen for their impartiality, and who decide what they think is the best rule. Again, I do not see that the enforcement of a compulsory system is going to work immediately. It will have to be set out on this basis, to see if we can get these things brought and liquidated before the appointed members.

Deputy Lemass is against the division between the trade board trades and the non-trade board trades. I think it is necessary to keep the division. We have a trade board system in operation here for a limited number of grievances. Under the trade boards there is a regulation of learnerships and it would be difficult to have two bodies dealing with the matter. The Deputy said why not leave out the trade boards? I imagine he meant why not leave out the distinction between the trade boards trades and the others and have them all dealt with by apprenticeship committees. Why establish such a committee when we have a committee doing practically the same thing already?

For different purposes.

For different purposes, but working properly, committees which have a knowledge of the trades and the work that is thrown on them. Why should not we accept these established people in the limited number of trades to which the trade boards apply? There is nothing at conflict between the trade boards and the others. We have one set of individuals ready to hand, and they have given good work. We can decide whether or not we make them an apprenticeship committee. They will have to take on extra duties but they will not be hindered in that by the type of work they have already done. There is no incompatibility in the duties. They are the proper people to do the work. A Deputy said that there is no such division in South Africa. I do not think there are such trade boards in South Africa.

How many are there in existence here?

Not a very large number. It is a number which may be enlarged from time to time. It is a number which fluctuates because certain trades may be brought under its application and others may be removed. I do not think it complicates the measure by having them here. They are doing good work at present, and they are the very type which we set out to get under an apprenticeship system.

On the matter of premiums we have no explicit prohibition on premiums and bonuses as they have in South Afrca, but I cannot conceive of premiums being legal in any trade in which there is an apprenticeship committee formed hereafter, because the Committee will make rules which will determine the contract and there is no question of a rule with regard to premiums. That is a matter that will have to be examined further between now and the Committee Stage. I cannot see that a premium or bonus will be possible hereafter in connection with any trade which is designated, and for which the Apprenticeship Committee has made a rule. Somebody asked why not take away premiums and bonuses in regard to all business. We are dealing with apprentices in a particular scheme and we can only deal with premiums in designated trades.

The important matter is to make it illegal to receive a premium.

It is illegal to do anything contrary to the rules.

That is not very clear.

It is quite clear.

If there are a number of apprentices seeking engagements with a particular employer, there is nothing to prevent him giving the position to the apprentice who pays a premium.

I would like to see a case put up, because I think I would catch that employer under some section of the Bill.

Would not the likelihood of fees being abolished lessen the probability of a number of trades applying for designation? Will the employers who are getting fees not use all their influence to prevent employees from applying for designation? Is the Minister not making a strong argument for compulsion?

If I have supplied a strong argument for the employers asking for exclusion, then I have supplied an equally strong argument for the employees making an application for inclusion. It would work both ways. On the application of either I can act.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 13th May.