I move amendment No. 1.
Public Business. - Apprenticeship Bill, 1930—Committee.
If amendment No. 1 is carried, the word "craft" will be deleted and the other words inserted, so that unless amendment No. 2 is met by amendment No. 1, I will have to put the question in a somewhat different form. Perhaps we could take amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4 together, as they all deal with the definition and then put a question, so as to save No. 2.
I am simply moving amendment No. 1 because it was pointed out on Second Reading that certain people had doubts whether or not a branch of a trade was being brought in under the definition, and I am moving to have it brought in.
As regards amendment No. 2 the intention in including a profession is to make it possible to have a profession like the nursing profession become a designated trade and to have the admission of apprentices into that profession regulated in a manner such as that suggested in the Bill. It appears that in that particular profession, at any rate, there is need for some such regulation, and it was thought, when the Bill was going through the Dáil, the opportunity should be availed of for doing that.
Amendment 1 also apparently covers amendments 3 and 4. There is no doubt about that. If the word "occupation" be held to include "profession," it meets amendment No. 2.
A decision on the word "occupation" would meet the position, I think.
It meets the position so far as nurses are concerned, but not dentists, as we do not want them in.
Amendment 5 is one of a number of amendments in the name of Deputy Good, dealing with the same point. I think the point raised in the amendment arises out of amendment 6, which proposes to insert a new section. Our practice has been to leave over amendments to the definition section, and take main amendments where they occur in the Bill. If amendment 6 is carried, a consequential amendment must be made in the definition section. I propose to leave over amendment 5 and to take the discussion generally, and a decision on amendment 6.
I am not so sure that that meets the point. In amendment 5, Deputy Good proposes to delete lines 14 to 22 inclusive. That is to say, he wants to take away the distinction between trade board trades and the others.
I want to take trade boards out of the Bill altogether.
If Deputy Good's amendment 6 is beaten, the Deputy is then, I think, precluded from getting trade boards out of the Bill altogether.
The Deputy cannot get them out of the Bill in the definition section. There are other parts of the Bill where they come in—in amendments 7 and 10 for instance. We can take them on the operative part of the Bill.
I move amendment 6:
Before Section 2 to insert a new section as follows:—
"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 the Apprenticeship Committee appointed under this Act in any industry (hereinafter referred to as a Scheduled Industry) specified in the Second Schedule to this Act. Any such trade or branch of a trade is hereinafter referred to as a designated trade."
As I pointed out on the Second Reading a number of very difficult problems arise in connection with this Bill. The amendment I have moved proposes to deal with one of them. Deputies are aware that the Bill differs from the recommendations made in the report of the Technical Education Commission. On the Second Reading the Minister was somewhat doubtful about that. I hope that since then he has looked into the matter. The members of that Commission had no doubt in their minds as to what their intentions were. Their intentions were that the Apprenticeship Bill should become a compulsory Act. The Minister told us on the Second Reading that the basis of the Bill was a voluntary one. My difficulty has been to try and alter its character and make it compulsory. I am not so sure that the amendments I have put down will achieve the object I have in view. The amendment before the House has been taken from the South African Act, the Act that was recommended by the Commission in their Report. The difference in the method adopted by the Commission and the method adopted by the Minister was to some extent pointed out on the Second Reading. Attached to the South African Act is a schedule which sets out the different industries to which the Act applies. That schedule helps to get rid of the difficulty of interpreting such words as "business" and "craft" that occur in Section 1.
If my amendment is carried it will, I take it, amount to approval of the schedule in some form and that will have the effect of putting before the Minister the views of the House as to what particular trades should come within the operation of this measure when it becomes an Act. The way my amendment, if accepted, will work is this: that the House, having approved of the application of this Act to these particular trades, it will then be left in the hands of the Minister to deal with what are known as designated trades in the manner set out in the Bill. I suppose he will take a limited number of them to start with. After that these trades will come under the operation of the Act in accordance with the terms of subsequent sections. As to the principle of compulsion, what I would like to point out to the Minister is this—that the voluntary system has had a fair and reasonable trial. It is the system, so far as apprenticeship is concerned, that has been in existence for at least half a century. The system, as we found from figures put before the Commission, did not achieve the object it set out to achieve. In other words, it failed. I should like to give again the figures that I put before the House on the Second Reading of the Bill in support of that statement. It is set out in the Report of the Commission that there are 9,282 craftsmen engaged in the building industry, taking that as an example. In a return furnished by the Minister's Department it is stated that there are 961 apprentices in that particular industry in the Saorstát. I pointed out that if we had the number of apprentices that we should have in that particular industry in order to keep it up to normal level that figure, instead of being 961, should be 3,304. These figures, I am sorry to say, were questioned by a number of Deputies, including members on the Labour Benches. I hope that since the debate on the Second Reading took place the Deputies who questioned the figures I gave have looked into the matter and satisfied themselves as to their accuracy. On that occasion I said that the number of apprentices to the number of craftsmen engaged in the industry in order to keep it up to normal level should be one apprentice to every three craftsmen.
If they consulted anyone in close touch with the problem I think they would find that while it may be necessary to have a larger proportion in some trades—what we call the shortlife industries—on the average, that is the figure approved by those who have studied it. I hope before we have any other further questions on that issue from those representatives that they will give us some details in support of their contention, if they still question that figure. It is a figure that I have examined, not for the first time, and I am satisfied that it is an accurate one. Taking that figure as the basis, we see at once that the voluntary system has not produced the goods. In other words, where we should have 3,304 apprentices in an industry we have only 961. That being so, I am quite satisfied that the voluntary system has had a fair trial, and that it is a failure, and for that reason, something much more drastic is necessary if we are to deal with this problem in the way it should be dealt with.
I am afraid in dealing with this question some Deputies did not realise the importance or the magnitude of it. Under the recommendation of the Commission, vocational schools were set up for dealing with the training of these young people, so as to make them more adaptable to industry. I am afraid, even in connection with vocational training, that the House is not aware—and this is a point that bears on the Bill before us, and particularly on the amendment—of the magnitude of the problem now before the various vocational committees in the Saorstát. The Department of Education, under whose jurisdiction vocational committees work, has pointed out to them quite recently in a statement that there are 120,000 young persons in the Free State within the ages of fourteen and sixteen, and that 45,000 of these are in primary and secondary schools. The task of dealing with the balance of 75,000 is the task of the vocational committees. I mention that figure in order to give the House some idea of the magnitude of the problem we are dealing with.
It is quite obvious to anyone who has even looked into the question casually that if these Vocational Schools are to function, and to do useful work, avenues must be opened to give employment to many at present unemployed, and who cannot get into an industry. If we do not succeed in opening up these avenues to industry, then the money that we are spending on vocational education is not going to do any good. The success of the Vocational Education Act very largely depends upon this Bill. If this Bill does not open up avenues to employment at present closed, then, a great deal of the money being voted, and that will be voted in the future for vocational education will be wasted. Therefore, I say, that this particular Bill and this method of dealing with this difficult subject, is of vital importance to the State.
I am particularly anxious that in discussing a problem of this character, it should not be discussed in any sense as a political problem. I would like to see the views of the different parties given freely in order to try to achieve in that way the object we have in view. I would like to mention that it has been pointed out in a resolution passed by the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Employment in Cork—a very active Committee, which has done very good work in the past—that many of the boys and girls emigrated in the past, and in that way eased the problem, but they cannot emigrate in the future, for reasons that I need not go into. That adds to the difficulty. We cannot throw these people who cannot emigrate on the scrap heap. We must provide some opportunity whereby their services can be availed of, if not in this country, in some other country. From that point of view I would like to urge on the House that I am satisfied the only way we can deal successfully with this problem is in the way recommended by the Commission on Technical Education, and that is through the medium of a compulsory Apprenticeship Bill. The underlying principle in this amendment is compulsion. Whether it will achieve its object is another question. I would like the amendment to be discussed on that principle—that of compulsion as opposed to the voluntary system.
Deputy Good in his statement referred to the necessity of finding employment for our young people in industry. I am entirely with him in that. It is essential that we should do so. The Deputy said that unless this Bill opens up avenues to industry it is of no use. I suggest that it is not by means of this Bill we will open up these avenues to industry. It does not seem to me to be a reasonable or a sensible method to put these boys into industry, and to find suitable means of livelihood for them, merely to secure by a compulsory measure that they will be apprenticed to a trade and learn a craft without having any guarantee that employment will be found for them in that trade when they reach the age for employment. Deputy Good talked of the proportion of apprentices to skilled men in a particular trade. I suggested on the last occasion that any figure of the kind would be a purely arbitrary figure, and nothing else. I do not care if the figure were one to three or one to four. It is an arbitrary figure and no proof can be adduced to show that it is the right figure. I suggest that the principle which should govern the matter cannot be fixed arbitrarily. These young people must depend upon the chance there is in a particular trade, having regard to the development of business generally and the movement in industry. All such considerations must depend on whether there is to be an opportunity for the employment of all these people afterwards at remunerative work.
Would the Deputy apply the same argument to the professions?
Certainly, if I could do so.
I would like to see it done.
To some of the professions, anyhow.
What about the profession of the Dáil?
I do not purport to speak on this matter with the special knowledge which Deputy Good and others have of craft trades, but it appears to me that the figures he gave in regard to the proportion of apprentices to skilled men are absurd on the basis, as I reason it out, that if five years were the normal period of apprenticeship there would be a completely new staff every fifteen years. That would mean that the ordinary life of the average workman would be fifteen years and that he would have to clear out then and have his place filled by some of the apprentices that would be coming along. That would appear to me, although I do not profess to have any intimate knowledge of these matters, to be absurd. In any case I do not feel that it is possible at this stage to provide a workable scheme on the basis of compulsion unless we go very much further than, I imagine, Deputy Good would be prepared to go, because, as I mentioned on Second Reading, if you are going to control the entrance of people into industry you cannot leave them there. If you force them, through a system of apprenticeship, into industry you must do that which is anathema to Deputy Good, namely, you must have a considerable measure of State interference in industry to ensure that the people you have brought into a particular industry must compulsorily be provided with employment. Deputy Good, of course, will not go that far.
There is no compulsion on any boy. You are only giving him the opportunity.
There is much more than that.
No more than making a teacher of him.
There is more in the suggestion which Deputy Good puts forward. He said that the voluntary system has had a fair trial. I do not think that it has had anything in the nature of a trial such as is proposed under this Bill. He refers to only one or two particular trades. I think that the principle which is enshrined in this Bill ought to be given a fair trial and, if and when it proves to be a failure, let us try other and different methods, but let us then be prepared to proceed to go on with what will be the logical consequence of these things if they are carried out along the lines which Deputy Good suggests.
I understand Deputy O'Connell's attitude to be this, namely, that he would be in favour of a compulsory system if a workable scheme could be devised, that his objection to the amendment is that it is not workable and would necessitate undue interference by the State in industry. I do not think that it is possible to devise a workable scheme, nor do I think that Deputy Good has found one. Although I am in sympathy with the idea of compulsion which Deputy Good is advocating, I do not think that his amendment is one that could be passed. Deputy Good's statement, which is based on the report of the Commission, that the present voluntary system of regulating apprenticeship is not suitable to modern needs can, I think, be controverted. Deputy O'Connell has asked that the principle of the Bill be given a fair trial. It is practically impossible to say what the principle is. The Minister has not shown his hand at all. He has not indicated any policy in respect of apprenticeship. He has merely devised a machine for regulating the work of apprenticeship committees which may be established in connection with certain industries. I saw it stated in an article in a weekly journal that this Bill is a typical product of a Civil Service department in so far as it exalts the machine into a matter of policy and makes the principle something in the nature of a secondary consideration.
Deputy Good's amendment, in so far as it desires to introduce the principle of compulsion into the Bill, is, in my opinion, worthy of support. The particular method, however, which he has adopted, namely, of scheduling a number of industries and saying that the Bill shall apply to them at the discretion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, is not, in my opinion, the best method. I dislike the scheduling of industries in a Bill of this kind, in the first place, because one always has the idea that certain industries may be omitted, and I think that in Deputy Good's list certain industries are omitted. The idea in the Bill is to have it apply to any industry which comes within the definition in Section 1, subject to certain steps being taken and, in my opinion, that is a better method. Amendment 8, in my name, suggests that the Minister should be given power to apply the Bill in respect of an industry to which he thinks it should be applied but in respect of which no application has been received by him. That would meet the principle which Deputy Good is advocating. That amendment, in my opinion, does not carry any of the disadvantages which attach to his. The main point we must settle is whether or not apprenticeship is to be compulsorily regulated. The present system, as Deputy Good says, has had a fair trial. This Bill is based on that system. We have conditions of apprenticeship in a number of industries regulated voluntarily. The Bill is to standardise methods of regulation and to give uniform constitutions to the committees, if there are such, in relation to particular industries in connection with apprenticeship.
The purpose of Deputy Good, with which I am in sympathy, is to provide that where, in the opinion of the Minister, it is necessary that the conditions of apprenticeship, as defined in Section 8, should be regulated, that he should have power to regulate them whether or not those engaged in the industry want such regulations. We have given examples of industries in respect of which we think that it is unlikely that application for designation will be made either by employers or employees. There may not be many such industries but it is in relation to any such as exist that the need for regulation is most urgent. That is why we would like to see the Minister having power, no matter what method is adopted of giving it to him, to apply this Bill, where he thinks it should be applied and not to depend on actions taken by other persons in order to have it put into operation.
I would like a further explanation both from Deputy Good and Deputy O'Connell. If the case made by Deputy Good, that in a particular industry there are only 900 odd apprentices when there ought to be 3,000, is well-founded and if that is typical of industry in general, then a good case has been made for something even more drastic than that contained in the Bill. That is where we are in difficulty. Deputy Good has given us an obiter dictum of three to one but he has not put forward, so far as I know, any basis on which he forms that belief. Deputy O'Connell, when challenged to examine that, said that it was simply absurd. As between the ipse dixit of Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Good I am not prepared to make a judgment. Neither of them is entitled to ask the House to decide merely on his obiter. Either of them has not put forward a case showing the basis upon which he makes his calculation. Deputy O'Connell calculated that on Deputy Good's basis the life, the employable time of a workman is only fifteen years. That is on the assumption that there would be no wastage in the apprenticeship, in the labour ranks or that there was no expansion in industry. Neither of these two propositions can be accepted. There is bound to be wastage and there must be expansion. If there is not expansion then we are faced with the whole of our unemigratable population who will either have to starve or be a load on pre-existing production so that we cannot assume either of the propositions. In regard to Deputy O'Connell's estimate of fifteen years, we have no evidence whatever apart from the statement made by Deputy Good in relation to the proportion of apprentices. Merely as a student in the matter who wants to know on which side to vote, I would be glad if either one or the other of these Deputies would effectively show his hand.
Deputy Good has told us that this amendment is intended to bring in the principle of compulsion. I think he realises himself that it does not achieve his object. He says further that it is in line with the report of the Commission and he has said both on Second Reading and again to-day, that the report of the Commission was in favour of the compulsory system. I think that is really one of the reasons why Deputy Good finds himself in a difficulty. He has put down an amendment which he says will bring in the principle of the South African Act, but the South African Act principle is not one of compulsion. What did the Report which Deputy Good himself signed say? The Report on page 72 refers to the South African Act in these terms:
In the Union of South Africa under the provisions of the Apprenticeship Act, apprenticeship became compulsory in such trades as decide, under advisory powers vested in special apprenticeship Committees, to adopt the provisions of the Act.
That is exactly the system we are trying to carry out. We have omitted one part of it. We did not schedule trades. The fact that Deputy Good's amendment does schedule trades, prevents not merely compulsion but prevents the voluntary system being ever applied to a trade if it is not included in his schedule. The Report did not recommend a compulsory system. It recommended something like what we have here. The amendment did not introduce a compulsory system but the aim of the Deputy is a compulsory system.
What part of the Report has the Minister read from?
Page 73, paragraph 163.
I think that visualises a compulsory system.
May I read it again:
In the Union of South Africa, under the provisions of the Apprenticeship Act, apprenticeship became compulsory in such trades as decide, under advisory powers vested in special apprenticeship Committees, to adopt the provisions of the Act.
That is not compulsory.
What is the meaning of the next sentence?
"A trade designated by the Minister of Mines and Industries, on the advice of a Committee, becomes subject to the law." Certainly an apprenticeship Committee is set up just as Deputy Good has proposed. Deputy Good proposes to establish apprenticeship Committees in certain designated trades, and then his amendment says that the Minister shall consult with those Committees, and after consultation the trade may be designated. Supposing an apprenticeship Committee which is established for the purpose of deciding whether or not designation shall apply to a trade says "yes" that is exactly the difficulty, I have not got a Commitee either of representatives of the employers or employees unless they appeal to me. Supposing a Committee which has been set up says after consultation with the Minister "we do not want to become designated," what is the Minister to do? Deputy Good's amendment leaves it to him either to leave it undesignated or to go on and designate it. The South African Act certainly recognises that the consultation is to be more or less approved by the Committee before designation comes about. I think the scheme of the South African Act is definitely the scheme we have here with the single exception that we do not schedule trades. Deputy Good's amendment schedules a trade in order to set up a Committee to advise the Minister whether or not the trade shall be designated, and so to have all the provisions of the Act applied. That is a limitation. At the moment I have the whole field of industry open to me. If I accept the amendment I am confined to those schedules, however wide and comprehensive the field may be. At any rate nobody has faced up to the difficulties or the difficulties of the compulsory system.
Deputy Good asked for compulsion on the basis that there are certain numbers of people leaving school every year, that these people are not brought into industry, that they cannot emigrate, and that they are going to be a burden on the community, but he does not show, and nobody has attempted to show, in fact it is not possible to show, that this Bill is a Bill with the intention of extending industries. That has to be done by other methods than these. The Bill is simply that when certain conditions arise we are going to see that apprenticeship of a particular type, better suited to present conditions, shall apply. Training will be given, suitable to the conditions in modern industry. The Bill does not attempt to extend industry. That is not part of its function. Deputy Flinn has remarked on Deputy Good's contribution to the debate that if there are less apprentices in a particular industry, and if it is typical of the industry, then something drastic must be done. Deputy Lemass remarked that the Report was a typical Civil Service production.
That was a quotation.
It was a quotation which the Deputy read to the House without showing any disapproval. The comments made by Deputy Lemass and Deputy Flinn are typical of the Opposition in Parliament. Something drastic must be done according to Deputy Flinn. Deputy Lemass says: "Accept my amendment and if after two years an appeal is not made for designation, the Minister may designate and have the whole conditions of the Bill operate." What are the conditions of the Bill? A Committee is set up which will in the first instance draw up regulations with regard to educational qualifications and so on. Supposing after two years, if the amendment of Deputy Lemass were accepted, an appeal has not come either from the employers or the employees in a particular industry, I may not have been able to induce an appeal from the employers or employees after two years——
The Minister said something now that he has not said before.
Leaving that out, it is open to me to induce it under the Bill. Supposing I have fallen asleep and nothing comes in, I may establish a Committee. Neither workers nor employers have moved in the matter and I establish a Committee. Supposing one or the other does not want apprenticeship conditions how do I get the Committee?
How do you get it if one side wants it and the other side does not?
Supposing that neither party has moved, what am I to do? What am I going to do to establish a Committee? I will not establish a Committee representing only one side, even under the present Bill. If one side so vehemently objects, and if I see that they are not going to act, obviously I cannot set up a Committee. What am I going to do in the Deputy's case?
It depends on the reason for failure; it may be that the workers are not organised.
Deputy Flinn says that something more drastic ought to be done. What could be done that would be more drastic?
The Minister, apparently, misunderstood my remarks. I suggested that a case had not been made by Deputy Good in so far as the Deputy did not give the basis upon which his own arguments were founded.
One of the Deputy's conclusions was that if there are less apprentices than there should be, and if that is typical of the industry, then something drastic ought to be done. We will leave that as a contribution to the necessity for compulsion. Deputy Lemass thinks that this carries on the existing system.
According to the Deputy, it carries on the principle. It will be seen that the old conditions in regard to apprenticeship, indenture, long period of service, etc., had no application to certain industries. These industries are carried on by people who adopt different methods of training to the old apprenticeship conditions. This gets away from the old conditions as we knew them, conditions that were distinctly a question of a boy being apprenticed under rigid terms, it being left to his parents or guardian, or a trade union, or between those people and the employer, to see that the conditions were carried out. The conditions set out under this Bill gave us the best approach that can be got to something intermediate, something between the old lax and rather bad system of apprenticeship and the compulsory system that has been referred to. We suggest here a committee and we get employers and employees, in equal numbers on that committee. Associated with them we have one or three representatives of the public. The public representatives will try to get both parties to draw up suitable conditions. Once the committee is set up, we make it compulsory that conditions should be drawn up with regard to four items and then we say that there are other things about which regulations may be drawn. By the setting up of this committee we bring about a discussion in a friendly way as between representatives of the employers and the employees, always with an audience of impartial people composed of one or three representatives of the general public.
I think that system ought to be given a fair trial before people put forward suggestions about something drastic being done or about the formation of a compulsory system. It is open to me, under the Bill, to introduce representations where I think representations ought to be introduced. It may be that neither the employers nor the employees consider it desirable to have a particular trade designated. In such a case compulsion is no good. If both employers and employees are against a system, there is no advantage in going against their wishes. Our aim is to get both parties on a committee and associate with them members of the public, selected impartially. They can then try to get apprenticeship conditions drawn up. I plead distinctly for the terms in the Bill as showing a better appreciation of the conditions under which modern industry is carried out, and as giving a better approach in a conciliatory way to both employers and employees. As I have already indicated, members of the public will sit on the committee and endeavour to bring both parties together. This is much better than a compulsory system, which would only break down. No case has been made for compulsion, and compulsion should only be resorted to, if it is considered necessary, when thorough investigation has been made by the committee of the situation.
The Minister says that no case has been made for a change in the present principle. We must admit that the present principle is a voluntary principle. I have made a case to show that the voluntary principle has failed to achieve the results expected of it. I do not think one can do anything more than produce the figures compiled by the Minister's Department. I have produced those figures and, on the face of them, I have submitted a definite case to the House. I have given the figures exactly as they were given to the Commission by the Minister's Department. Those figures bear only one interpretation.
Is the 3,000 figure a Department figure?
It is the figure given by the Department to the Commission. I read the Report of the Commission and I gave the figures to the House. To say, in face of those figures, that there has not been a case established showing that the voluntary system has failed is to say something which is not true.
Does Deputy Good say that there ought to be 3,304 apprentices?
That is the question I asked Deputy Good. The Deputy probably misunderstood me.
Deputy O'Connell declared that what you want to provide for those people is employment. With all respect to the Deputy, I emphasise that you want to put these young people first in the way of being employed.
Organise a continuous building scheme—a national scheme.
We will hear the Deputy later on about a continuous scheme. I want to put the young people in the way of being employed; I want to get them into the different trades which are now closed to them. Will Deputy O'Connell, or Deputy Anthony, tell me how a boy, anxious to become a bricklayer should proceed? How should a boy anxious to become a plumber proceed? We have thousands of young people in the country anxious to follow some employment. Some of them, doubtless, have a special aptitude for particular industries. How are we going to get them into these industries?
What are we going to do with all the idle people?
We would not have so many idle people if those avenues to employment were all open at the moment. I would like to point out the difference between young people going into industry and young people going into a profession. Let us take the profession of teaching. Is there any limitation to the number of young people who go into the teaching profession?
There is a very strict limitation.
There is a strict limitation based on an examination. As far as I know there is no limitation on the numbers who can enter for that examination.
I would like to assure the Deputy that there is a very strict limitation. The number of teachers taken in is governed by the possible number who will be employed. I am afraid the Deputy has put his foot into it there.
I am afraid that Deputy O'Connell is mixing the problem. He is trying to make it a little more difficult. The Deputy is evidently talking about admission into the secondary schools.
Not at all. I am talking about the teaching profession.
If a boy wants to get into the teaching profession, and has ability, what is the obstruction?
The main obstruction is the number of vacancies that exist in the training colleges for primary teachers.
I think Deputy O'Connell is satisfied. Let us take another profession. Let us take the medical profession. Any boy who wants to go into that profession and is not wanting in money, and has sufficient money to carry him through has no difficulty in his way. He is not met by the limitation argument or by the statement that there are only vacancies for so and so and such and such a number. If the boy wants to go into the medical profession that is entirely a matter for him and for his people. He is put through the course anyway. I want to see these young people put in a similar position to him. If there is not employment subsequently for them when they reach the end of their apprenticeship that is their look out, but I want to get the opportunity for them. That opportunity is closed at the moment.
Let us take the legal profession. What limitation is there against entering that profession? None that I know of. There is no limit whatever to a boy going into it. As to the question of subsequent employment that is a matter entirely for the boy and his parents. He may have to go abroad, but he is enabled to go into the profession. He can learn the profession. That is all I ask for those boys coming from our primary schools and who want to go into a trade or industry. If a boy wants to become a bricklayer, a plumber, a carpenter or anything else at the present moment those avenues of employment are closed to him. I say that is not fair. As far as that condition prevails I am quite satisfied that the money spent on our vocational schools will not achieve the results it ought. The money spent on them will be very largely wasted because there will not be opportunities for those boys when they leave the schools. That is the problem as I see it.
As regards this other question of the number of apprentices to the number of tradesmen, let us assume for the moment that the apprentice is thoroughly skilled in his trade at 23 years of age and let us assume that the average life is 63 years. That leaves 40 working years for the craftsman. It follows from that that in every ten years we lose 22 per cent. of the total or in every 8 years we lose 20 per cent. of the total. Take it that we lose in every ten years 25 per cent. of the total. Consequently, we must train 25 per cent of our craftsmen every ten years or 20 per cent. in eight years. A boy starting at the age of 15 years would reach efficiency at the age of 23. It is a well-known fact that many of those following a trade in the country parts come to the city to be trained and when their training is finished they return home. Others following other occupations will sometimes travel to distant places for information, and five per cent. under that head would not be excessive to meet these contingencies. That brings the proportion up to one-fourth or 25 per cent. Then we have further to provide for accidents, deaths and other causes which reduce the number to one in three.
I have been speaking now of comparatively long-lived trades. But we have short-lived trades, where these figures that I have just given will not be reached. That shows how the figure of one in three is arrived at. That figure is not questioned by those who have studied the problem, as I know, in other places. What I suggest to the Minister is this: That if we are satisfied that the voluntary principle has been given a fair trial, as I am satisfied it has, and that it has failed to achieve the object we have in view, then I think we ought to agree to give some other principle a trial and I now suggest the compulsory principle and that a Bill should be framed along those lines as we understood during the sitting of the Commission. The South African model was mentioned. There was no doubt at all in the minds of the members of the Commission that compulsion is necessary in view of the figures given to the Commission by the Minister's Department. These figures show that the compulsory system is necessary. The interpretation of the Commission was, and it is still their interpretation, that the South African Act is a compulsory Act. They recommend that the principle of that Act should be followed.
I suggest to the Minister that there is agreement on this point of compulsion and that this Bill might be re-drafted. I do not hesitate to point out the difficulty that one is in in trying to alter a purely voluntary Bill into a compulsory Bill. I laid bare that fact when moving my first amendment. I put forward that view. If we are satisfied that in the interests of those represented and in the national interests something should be done more than has been done, then I would suggest to the Minister to withdraw this Bill and to bring in a new Bill on a different basis.
I am opposed to this amendment. One would think, on listening to Deputy Good's speech, that an increase in the number of apprentices would increase industry in this country.
That is naturally the inference that anybody would draw from the Deputy's remarks. Again, Deputy Good has suggested that some of those trades are closed boroughs. It might be a surprise to Deputy Good to find that I agree with him that there should be no closed boroughs either in the trades or professional crafts, but we must have regard to the whole position and not to take things piecemeal. We have, as a matter of fact, the professions very largely protected by the economic circumstances of the people. Whilst it may be said in theory that the professions are not closed to the ordinary people of this country, at the same time we do know that in order to enter any of these professions one must go through a university course, and take out a degree. To do that course requires the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, and I need hardly say that the majority of those who serve their time to trades and crafts are, in the main, people who cannot afford to take up a profession. I agree that there ought to be no barrier put before any intelligent boy in this country entering any trade or craft. I have always held that view, but I do not see how we are going to alter the whole economic position by suggesting that the more apprentices we have, the better it will be for the country. It is quite the contrary in my experience. I know that we have thousands of building trade operatives in the country unemployed. Will the multiplying of apprentices in these crafts increase employment? It will undoubtedly increase the number of skilled operatives, but when skilled operatives have no opening for displaying their skill what benefit will that be?
What is the proportion of skilled operatives?
I would like to suggest to Deputy Good that he knows very well that all these matters are arranged amicably between the employers in any given industry and the employees. They arrange for the proportion. They arrange that the proportion shall be one in five, or one in three as it is in some cases, and in practice it has been found that that number is quite sufficient. There were some crafts in which it was found absolutely essential to close down apprenticeship for a time altogether, and Deputy Good knows that action of that kind is not taken without some very serious reason.
I would like to know in what crafts did that happen?
I will give you the facts—the plumbers.
Not to my knowledge.
I can give the Deputy the names of the firms where it occurred.
Give us the particulars.
I will give them to the Deputy personally.
I appeal to the Deputy to give the information to the House where we can have it on record and where we can all use it. Giving it to me privately is absolutely useless information. We want to have it here where we can check it up and test it.
I will give the Deputy any information required in that way.
That information is no use unless I have it for the House.
We all want to see this Bill operative and become an Act. There are many features in it which will certainly help vocational education at the moment. In my view as one who has had some experience of the apprenticeship system I feel that the voluntary character embodied in the Bill is one of the best features and nothing can be gained by the amended suggestion of Deputy Good which I may say, with other amendments put down on the paper by Deputy Good, seems to be lifted entirely, without the change of a comma, from the South African Act. Deputy Good wants this to be made a true and accurate copy of the South African Act.
That is the report of the Commission.
From my reading of the Bill I think some of the most objectionable features have been put in and some of the best points left out.
I oppose Deputy Good's amendment. I think it would be fatal to the objects intended in this Bill to introduce the element of compulsion. So far as the Bill itself is concerned I think it is a very good one, but I can see results flowing from this Bill far greater than the question of the apprentices. In industries generally it is absolutely essential that the employers and employees should be brought in closer touch. If this Bill had no other thing contained in it than to bring employer and employee together it has a good deal to recommend it. I would like to see the time in this country when all industries and conditions of industries would be controlled by a joint labour board constituted out of employers and employees. When we get to that stage, and this is the first step towards it, we will have industry organised on a much better basis than it is at present. I have nothing more to say on the question. I served one time on a joint labour board. I saw employers and employees who had grievances one against the other. After a round table conference they composed their differences very rapidly. I think we are now making the first advance towards the establishment of joint labour boards in all industries. The Minister will have power to induce the employers and employees in certain industries to come in under this Apprenticeship Act without the suggestion of compulsion. I think step by step we will gather up the threads in the control of industry. It is better for the country generally that industries should be organised by those engaged in them than by any drastic measures the Minister may introduce.
I would like for a moment to refer to an analogy which Deputy Good tried to make between professions and industry. The difference is surely a simple one. It is agreed by, I think, most of the people who have had touch with this matter that the proper training for industry can only be given in the workshops. You can supplement it in the technical school and the technical school will probably have come to play a greater and more important part as time goes on. I think it has been agreed by the people concerned that workshop training is an essential. If we are going to have apprentices trained for some part of their course in their employers' premises there immediately comes out from that a difference as between the training for industry and the training for a profession. The man who wants to proceed to law or medicine goes through the ordinary course of education at his parents' expense practically all the time and goes to one of the recognised diploma conferring places. No private employer is put out in order that he might secure his diploma. He does not interrupt a private employer's business; he does not complicate the number of employees that a private employer has to take. He does not introduce any element of discordancy into his wages sheet. All these factors are summed up in the point made that you interfere to get your training through the private employer's place of business in the one case and you do not in the other.
Engineering is rather an exception.
So is the Bar and so is accountancy.
It has been said here that there were close boroughs. Deputy Anthony used the phrase in reference to Deputy Good's remark. I must say I expected to find, from all the rumours that I heard since I had any touch with industry, a great deal more in the Commission's Report with regard to the close boroughs.
If the Minister reads the terms of reference he will see that it did not come within them.
May I refer to one thing which must have come within the terms of reference, because it is reported on. On page 84 of the Report, where this famous table supplied by my Department is included, there is this statement:
"The proportion of apprentices to skilled men which is specified in certain agreements between employers and trades unions indicates the maximum number permitted"—I I draw attention to this—"and represents a proportion barely reached in practice."
In other words the agreement as between the trade unions and employers, which is supposed to set up this close borough system, is criticised by the Report as representing a proportion rarely reached in practice. There may be other considerations that could not come before the Commission. They might have adopted that part of the Report had it come before them, but we are faced with the position that these closed conditions exist in some parts of industry, and the better way to get after them is by getting employers and employees, under the chairmanship of an outsider with two other impartial observers, and have the whole thing ventilated. It may be that two or three years' experience of this will show that there is this closed system prevailing in certain trades, and public opinion may be aroused against it by the reports that will issue from these committees or the attempts made by this Department to get the committee established and its failure. Then will be the time to think of some better approach to this position. That position has not yet been demonstrated. No one yet has any proof. There is a certain amount of talk about it. I think it is clear enough that something approaching that type of condition exists, and people attempt to get that sort of thing right, but how far the attempts are successful and what is the vehemence behind that attempt I do not know.
At any rate a time for a better approach will come when we have tried to bring these people together. I should say if we do find that there are trades and businesses for which we cannot get apprenticeship committees set up because the trade will not allow themselves to be designated the approach may have to be different.
Cannot that happen under the Bill?
It may happen, but we will see how far it will happen. It will not happen if people have agreed to form the committees.
If they fix the standard number of apprentices.
Then we are up against a situation which we will have to face in some way. I suggest it is impossible to face it in the way of saying to some employer: "You must take on so many employees." He must take them even if he does not want them or if it means that all his employees will walk out of his business. The natural reaction of the employer then will be to say: "You force these on us and you will have to pay strike wages to carry on the business, as our business is at a standstill owing to your actions." The only other way of dealing with it will be we will have to look to see that technological establishments are to be brought to a particular point of perfection so that they can give training there instead of in the employer's business. I hope there will be general agreement that, no matter what happens to the young person eventually, whether he is going to get employment here or elsewhere, that it is better to have him trained in one sort of skilled occupation than not to have him trained at all. But if we are going to assist industry by trying to force people into private persons' establishments against their will or subject them to certain changes arising out of other employment we will have to approach that difficulty but surely it is too early to shout about these difficulties until we have met them.
We are up against them at the moment.
They are in the Bill.
The Commissioners' Report used this phrase, "a proportion rarely reached in practice."
It did not come within the terms of reference.
I got a series of recommendations from the Commission with regard to the designated trades and so on. The paragraphs which preceded the recommendations give me certain information with regard to skilled men and apprentices, and I get below that particular statement that these things are generally ruled by agreement, and we have the statement that the maximum is rarely reached. There must be something in the terms of reference which enables the Committee to deal with that. At any rate it is there. I may be taking a wrong deduction from it, but the Report of the Commission is there, and the evidence tendered to the Commission is the main thing. Bringing the two sides together, under the observation and control of two or three impartial observers is, I think, the best system that we can devise at the moment.
Could the Minister give any real reason for refusing to accept powers to deal with the situation which can be contemplated, even though it may never arise? He talked about the dangers of compulsion. He said you have to force a particular employer to take in more apprentices than he is willing to take. That danger is in the Bill. If the employers and employees agreed to have their trade designated, and if the Apprenticeship Committee is set up, and it fixes the number of apprentices in relation to each factory, and if the owners of the factory refuse to take in that standard number of apprentices, he commits an offence against this Bill, and is liable to a fine.
Yes, if the people representing him have agreed to this.
You are not going to avoid that danger.
I think so.
The danger of workmen walking out on strike, because the employer endeavours to comply with the direction of the Committee?
The Committee will be representative of all the people.
They are appointed before the regulations are made.
They may be but they are appointed for the very purpose of making the regulations.
No. They are appointed under the obligation to make four definite types of regulations and with power to make others. A particular employer may have agreed to the designation of his trade on general principles without knowing the nature of the regulations that the Apprenticeship Committee for that trade are going to make, and when he comes up against these regulations he may find himself in very definite disagreement with them. That danger is there in relation to individual employers in designated trades. The Minister is refusing to accept compulsory powers because it may be there also in relation to individual trades. You may have failure to make a request for designation in a particular trade for some other reason than that neither employers nor employees desire to apply for it. It may be due to a lack of organisation on the part of employers or employees or to some other cause. What I am suggesting to the Minister is that he should take the limited compulsory powers that are conferred upon the South African Minister. The South African Act is a voluntary Act in principle, but the Minister has certain compulsory powers. He is obliged to act in consultation with the Apprenticeship Committee but he is under no statutory obligation to accept their advice, if, in exceptional circumstances, he thinks it inadvisable to do so.
The amendment that I propose is that if within two years no application is made for designation the Minister may make a special order if he is satisfied that it is desirable that such special order should be made. He would do everything possible to induce an application from one or preferably from both sides, but if the exceptional circumstances continued and if he foresaw in that particular industry that because of short-sighted policy the supply of trained recruits was likely to fall short of the number required at some future date, then he should have the necessary machinery to impose the will of the community upon the persons concerned. I cannot understand the attitude of the Labour Party. Deputy O'Connell's objection appears to be largely based upon the grounds that if you adopt a compulsory system you will have an undue amount of State interference in industry.
That is what the Deputy said.
I said that if you trained people you would want to go much further. I am prepared to go, but Deputy Good is not.
Do not mind Deputy Good. It is Deputy O'Connell we are talking about. If Deputy O'Connell is prepared to do it later why not take the first step?
It is not the first step.
It is the first step. I suggest that the purpose of this Bill is being misunderstood. Why have we passed the Vocational Education Act? Surely our purpose should be to provide a supply of skilled recruits for industry. If the sole purpose of this Act is merely to regulate the age of entry, the period of apprenticeship, the rate of remuneration, and things of that kind, then this is only a Bill of secondary importance. The main purpose of the Bill should be to provide the means by which we can be certain of securing an adequate number of skilled recruits for industry.
Provided we are able to employ the skilled people we have.
That is another matter. Deputy Anthony dealt with that. He commenced by saying that he was not in favour of the close borough. Then he proceeded to defend that position and to make the fantastic argument that because unemployment is prevalent now we should deny training in the skilled industries to the young people.
It is a matter surely for arrangement between the employers and employees. The Minister has suggested that the close borough did not exist to the extent that the Deputy thinks. As a matter of fact, in the building trade about which Deputy Good knows something, there is an arrangement by which boys are indentured to carpentry by way of fee, where they are not the sons of carpenters.
There are no fees in the building industry.
I do not suggest that the close borough exists. When we have the Report of the Commission which says in relation to that particular industry that the employers are not taking in the maximum number of apprentices allowed by the agreement, surely that should alter Deputy Anthony's attitude. The adoption of the amendment would ensure that the maximum number agreed on by the trade unions would receive skilled instruction.
We would have to examine the reasons why this maximum was not reached. The reasons, probably, would be that there was not sufficient employment for those already in the trade.
The provision of employment for our people is a different matter. Is it the contention that because employment is absent at the moment we should deny training to our young people and bring them up as unskilled workers to fill casual jobs all their lives? That is the effect of Deputy Anthony's contention. Is there any reason why we should not have them trained? The fact that unemployment is prevalent at the present time is no reason why the workers of the future should be in the main unskilled workers, that they should be denied an opportunity of acquiring trades at the time when they can best acquire them.
That is the issue.
Not at all.
We are all agreed upon that. I have said before that the particular method of providing compulsion which Deputy Good suggested does not appeal to me. I do not think it is necessary to adopt that method. I want to see the Minister have the power, which he may never be called upon to exercise, but nevertheless to have it, to impose an Apprenticeship Committee with power to make regulations upon any trade in which he thinks the circumstances are so serious that he should exercise that power, even though neither the employers' nor the employees' organisation makes application. The South African Minister has that power and, as the Minister is framing his Bill upon the South African Act, he should not deprive himself of it.
I want to refer to the remarks which have just been made. Deputy Lemass's amendment reads: "Provided that if no such application is made within two years of the date of the passing of this Act in respect of a trade for which the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable that such special order should be made, the Minister may make such special order." Am I to read into that that the Minister is not to make such a special order unless he is convinced that the parties want it?
That is what is there.
That is not what is there.
Unless he is satisfied that it is desirable to make it.
I may be satisfied that it is desirable, but I may also be satisfied that neither the employees nor the employers want it. Am I to make the order then?
If I am satisfied that one of them is vehemently opposed to it, am I to make the order?
If the employees make the application and the employers' organisation is vehemently opposed to it, will the Minister designate that trade?
Why do it in one case?
Am I to read that into his amendment? It is certainly the tenour of the Deputy's speech. If I am satisfied the order should be made, but I am also satisfied that neither the employers nor the employees want it, am I to make the order? If I am satisfied further that one of the two parties is vehemently opposed to it and will not co-operate in carrying it out, there is no good in making the order.
What is to happen when the boys come out of the vocational school and want to get into industries?
I can see circumstances in which the Minister could make the order no matter who is opposed to it.
Supposing I designate a trade and get some sort of a committee. It will not be a very representative committee if one party is vehemently opposed, and I think I will be left in the lurch by the people staying away.
There is a Bill coming before this Dáil definitely regulating, in particular circumstances, admission to a particular occupation. Why should the Dáil impose by statute these regulations in respect of auctioneers and not impose them by statute in respect of some other trade, if the circumstances require it.
There are other things. You are prohibiting people from entering in that case, but in this case you are forcing people in by a positive act. I am taking the circumstances I spoke of: an application has not been made. I am convinced that it is desirable that a particular trade should be designated. I am further convinced that one of the two parties likely to be involved is vehemently opposed to it. I designate it nevertheless. I go looking for my committee. Am I likely to get representative members from the two parties in the circumstances I have outlined? Supposing I do get them, and I get the committee to establish certain regulations. Amongst the regulations they establish is one with regard to the number of apprentices in regard to a specific premises. I go to a certain premises owned by Mr. X and say: "Take in so many people." Supposing he is recalcitrant and says "No"? Supposing it is the employees who object to a certain number of apprentices and the employer says: "Certainly, but I know what is going to happen," and the next day he meets me and says: "This is what I foretold would happen; this place has been blacklisted and they are all going out."
Cannot all that happen under the Bill?
It is very unlikely. It is less likely to happen where one or the other party has asked for the application of the Act, and where I have made a special order. Remember, the special order implies giving notice to all who are likely to be affected. Where there has been no objection raised, or not sufficient objection to make me withhold the application for the designation, and where representative members have sat upon a committee and established a particular number, there is surely less likelihood of that occurring than where I do this on my own, in the circumstances outlined, in the teeth of clear opposition from one of the parties.
Must these Apprenticeship Committees be unanimous in their recommendations?
No. The application need only be made on the part of one party. Then there is the procedure of special order which gives notice to certain people. I do not know what form the Bill may take, but suppose it is passed as it is. They must make regulations upon certain things and they may make regulations about certain others. The employer knows about these because he will have notice given to him. There will be no objection to the making of the special order unless it is considered that it can be sustained. In these circumstances I say it is very much less likely that there is going to be any trouble with even an individual employer than in the other circumstances.
It is not impossible.
We cannot rule out possibility. In that possibility all that we can see is that we have against the recalcitrant employer the full weight of the group, including the employees.
We have. There has been an application made; the application has been considered, and a special order has been made. The procedure under the special order means notice to everyone likely to be affected. The committee has met and established certain regulations, and these have been confirmed. When all this procedure has been gone through, if you find the employer reluctant to employ a certain number you have, at any rate, against him the full weight of a certain group of the employers and of the employees.
Not necessarily. If the Apprenticeship Committee decide to make regulations in respect of the number of apprentices by a majority, with the employers' representatives upon the committee in opposition, would not the individual employer consider he would have the full weight of the support of all the other employers in that industry?
No, because it has to go through the procedure of confirmation. In these circumstances it would be the duty of the Minister to intervene and to see whether he will or will not confirm. Clearly there will not be confirmation with the full weight of the employers against it.
Even in that particular case it would not be impossible.
Instead of arguing on the minor point of possibility, I take the Deputy on the other point, which is the most likely to lead to trouble most certainly—the compulsory clause to be enforced in the teeth of opposition, or this other thing which is, I think, the root of this whole matter, that is the voluntary principle. You are going to try and bring people together and to agree on certain things. The whole lengthy procedure is to try and get their minds as one on a particular regulation. That is a far better system than acting against a declared opposition. That only leads to trouble. The trouble may have to be faced in this also, but, again I say, why meet trouble too early? Let us try this out. We can see what is going to happen. Deputy Lemass's amendment contemplates that within a period of two years no application is made. My policy is definitely going to try and introduce Apprenticeship Committees in as many industries and branches of industry as possible. On the point of organisation, if my division of trade-board trades and non-trade-board trades is left, the trade-board trades are supposed to include all those where the people are not sufficiently organised to be able to resist an attack upon wages. We get both the organised and the non-organised on the employees' side. The employers are, in the main, sufficiently organised through the Advisory Committees which I have at present.
The number of trade-board trades for which there can be Apprenticeship Committees is very few.
I do not think so. In practically every one of those trades in which there is a trade-board you can have an Apprenticeship Committee.
You will not have it in the milk-distributing trade.
They may be a very small percentage of the total, but you can have an Apprenticeship Committee in every trade-board trade.
May I point out to the Minister that the difficulties are greater than he visualises? There is a rather important industry here in Dublin, the bricklaying trade, and in that particular industry they will not allow any apprentices to be taken by the employer at all. How are you going to set up an Apprenticeship Committee in that particular industry?
How is it that that particular position was brought about?
The trade claims that they will only allow as apprentices to that trade the sons of bricklayers who are at present engaged in the trade, and the result is that in that particular industry the numbers are reduced by half in twenty-five years.
I do not think the Deputy understood my question. How are employers in that particular trade being brought to the point of accepting only the sons of bricklayers into the business?
As a matter of fact the employers of that particular trade cannot take in any apprentices. The apprentices are only those taken in by the trade; they are bound to the trade and not to the employers, and that is affecting the industry. It is as well that we should hear the other side in this matter. I do not want to cause any unpleasantness.
But there are apprentices in the bricklaying trade.
Yes, but only the sons of bricklayers taken in by the trade. As a matter of fact no employer can take in an apprentice and as a matter of fact the apprentices are not bound to the employer but to the trade.
The Deputy says the employers cannot take apprentices. Why?
Because the trade will not allow them. The result to that particular industry is that the number of men employed in the city to-day is less than half the numbers that were employed twenty-five years ago and the shortage of employees at present in that trade is becoming a very serious difficulty.
Is that the reason for the scarcity of employment?
Employment is so scarce because these men that have control of the trade have made it such a close borough that the output in that particular industry is exceedingly small. I happen to know, because in 1914 in Dublin we had four brick works employing over a thousand men. To-day three of these works are closed down, and we can hardly keep one of them open because of the competition of cement. If the bricklayers of Dublin gave a larger output we would not have cement houses built in Dublin to-day. In Belfast they would have none of these cement houses built because the bricklayers were determined to keep the cost of bricklaying down to such an extent that the cement could not compete.
Have the builders' profits been kept down?
The bricklayers of Belfast succeeded in keeping out cement houses, but in Dublin not a house is built of bricks at the moment. They are all built of cement, and in a few years, unless something is done to remedy this, bricklaying will be a thing of the past. It is these restrictions of the trade union that are affecting this particular trade, because boys are kept out of the bricklaying trade unless they are the sons of tradesmen. Why it should be I do not know, but it is restricting employment in the allied industries. It is all very well dealing with a particular problem, but I want to have this question looked at from the point of view of the mother and of the father who have three or four sons and want to get them into industry. You talk about all these difficulties created by other organisations, but let us look at the real difficulty—the difficulty of the parent who wants to get employment for his boys. What is he to do? What are we to advise him to do? It is said: "Send him to a vocational school," but when he gets through the vocational school how is he going to get into industry unless the avenues of industry are opened up to him and the barriers removed? Why should there be barriers in industry greater than in the professions? Unless these barriers are removed and there is more employment in industry we will not get over the difficulty by vocational schools. I want something done to deal with this problem. I have seen this problem as a member of the Juvenile Employment Committee in Dublin for many years. We are face to face with this problem, and it is becoming more serious from year to year. In Dublin last year we had some 5,000 new applications from young people leaving our schools. We could only find employment for less than 1,000. What is to become of the rest? Are they to be thrown on the scrap heap and given no opportunity? A lot of these will find employment in occupations that lead nowhere. We want the avenues to industry opened up and the barriers removed. We want this Bill to remove these barriers in the interests of the State, and I say it does not remove them. If the Minister could call a conference of those interested in trying to get some agreement whereby these obstacles could be got over, we would make some progress. But I am satisfied that this Bill in its present form is not going to help the situation, and the problem will grow much more serious than it is. I am anxious as the result of the work of the Commission and the assistance of the Department that something real and practical should be done. It is a pressing problem and calls for something to be done.
The discussion on this amendment No. 6 has wandered over No. 8 also. They are in a certain way related, but No. 6 is the main amendment, and No. 8 differs from it in several radical respects. I propose putting No. 6 first. Does the Deputy insist on pressing his amendment.
As far as I can see there is no support for it.
I shall support Deputy Good.
There is still no support for it.
I cannot say that even the Deputy's support fills me with hope. In view of the expression of opinion elicited, I have no objection to withdrawing the amendment. Probably the discussion we had may serve some useful purpose.
I think amendment 7 falls as consequential.
I think amendment 7 will be looked upon as an alternative to No. 8, but of a different type. Deputy Good simply proposes to remove a sub-section that would forbid a special order being made unless a special application was made for it.
Amendment 7 is consequential, I think, upon amendment No. 6.
I think the purpose of amendment 7 would be to provide that the Minister may make an order to designate a trade, without receiving an application from anybody.
That is what it comes to.
I would like the Deputy to propose his amendment, and I shall support it.
Is the Deputy moving or withdrawing his amendment?
I feel, in view of the expression of opinion that amendment No. 6 has elicited, that the object I had in my mind to eliminate this particular sub-section could not be achieved. At least what I had in mind was that the Minister should have power in the event of neither party applying for the setting up a committee that the Minister should have power to intervene in such a case, and in the interests of the State set up a committee, and take such steps as might be necessary.
That is the principle that is embodied in it, and that I tried to outline in connection with amendment 6, but that particular proposal did not seem to meet with general acceptance. If the larger application of the principle did not meet with general acceptance I do not see that there is very much use in pressing this minor amendment.
I am prepared to accept amendment 7. Amendment 6 has been rejected by the House, not so much for what was in it as for the principle behind it. The amendment set out definitely to establish the compulsory principle, that a trade could be designated against the will of either employers or employees, or both. Deputy Lemass, in amendment 8, provides that if there is no application made within two years, that then, if the Minister is satisfied it is desirable that a special order should be made, the Minister may make such special order. Deputy Good's amendment, No. 7, makes the same approach to that, but in a better way, because he simply proposes to cut out the part of the section which says that no such special order can be made unless application is first received by the Minister in the case of a trade-board, and in the case of a non-trade-board that application is made by or on behalf of employers or employees. If that is cut out it gives a little more laxity.
I have stated my policy, that I would examine the circumstances beforehand. Unless I found there was likely to be no definite opposition to this I would not make a special order. That leaves the position a little bit more lax, and means that the Minister could act, if he thought, for instance, that people were not making application because they had not the matter properly before them. That is why I much prefer amendment 7 to amendment 8. The latter postpones this particular thing for two years, and it also puts the matter in a rather contentious way.
If there was any guarantee that the policy which the Minister has declared would be the policy for all time then no danger might exist in cutting out this particular provision. But if somebody else came along with a different policy he would have the power to apply special compulsory powers, and to make regulations, even though one or both parties did not want the regulations.
That is the danger.
Is it the Minister's argument that he could not go very far if there was violent opposition on one side or the other?
On the section, there is just one question that I would like to ask the Minister. In paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) it is provided that "the Minister shall by another order." Should not that read "the Minister shall by a special order?"
That is a point that I had not adverted to, but I will have it examined before the Report Stage.
Deputy Good has some amendments down which would seem to indicate that he wants to abolish the division between trade-board and non-trade-board trades. We passed amendment 5 which relates to that matter only in connection with the definitions. I was under the impression that the matter would come up again on amendment 6, but it did not.
I cannot see what use it is to establish trade-boards under this Bill. Possibly the Minister will give us some information. The only advantage that I see the Minister derives from the existence of a trade-board is that he does not appoint an apprenticeship committee where a trade-board exists. I do not think that is an advantage, because a trade-board is appointed with a different object altogether. It is appointed to discharge different duties. I was anxious that the trade-board proposal should be eliminated from the Bill. How far the Minister approves of that I do not know. I do not think that any trade union in the country would want to have the same representatives dealing with apprenticeship questions and ordinary trade-board questions. The mixing up of the two is not going to be any advantage to the apprenticeship committee or to the trade-board.
Would the Minister enumerate the advantages that he sees will arise from the differentiation? Deputy Good's point seems to be that trade-boards were established for an entirely different purpose to that of dealing with the question of apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship committees will have as part of their duty the regulation of entry and the conditions of entry. My main point is that there is certain over-lapping of functions. I must do either of two things. I must abolish the trade-boards as they are at the moment and establish in their place these apprenticeship committees giving them the functions set out, or else I must take the trade-boards as they stand, and add to their present functions the duties laid down under the Bill. I have very good committees at the moment under the Trade Board Acts. They have been working very efficiently, and they are the model on which this particular machinery was prepared. I think it would be rather disastrous either to remove them or to reappoint them as apprenticeship committees. I would prefer to leave them as they are, and add the work of the apprenticeship committees to their present duties. If I thought that what Deputy Good said was true, I would be very much shaken in my belief, but the opinion that I hold in regard to them is exactly the reverse of the Deputy's. Pretty nearly every organisation of employees would appoint the same people to these committees that they have previously appointed under the trade-boards. I think the best thing is to keep them. If, as Deputy Good said, speaking of employers, a distinctly different type of man would be put on, I would like to have an opportunity of discussing that later with some of the employers.
They are entirely different problems.
There is certain over-lapping, but the fact that they are doing this other work already in no way detracts from their value in so far as serving on the apprenticeship committee is concerned. There is going to be over-lapping, but I think the best thing to do is to allow the trade-boards to remain and give them these new duties. If necessary, we can attend to the personnel afterwards, if that is found to be a difficulty.
On behalf of Deputy Cassidy, I move amendment 11:-
In sub-section (1) (a), line 50, after the word "members" to insert the words "chosen by the Minister in consultation with the organisations of employees and employers."
This refers to non-trade-board trades and includes craftsmen and skilled operatives, men with a long tradition of trade union activity behind them. They constitute, Deputy Good will agree, the better organised trades. I think the attractive feature of the Bill is that so many of its provisions are voluntary. The Technical Commission in its report recommended that representative members should be chosen in consultation with the organisations of workers and of employers. We would like to see that recommendation enshrined in the Bill. I think the Minister admitted that for the proper functioning of these committees it will be necessary to have manifestations of goodwill on both sides. For that reason I think it is necessary that the words in the amendment be inserted in order to facilitate the general working of the measure.
It is clear from the Bill that the members are to represent an equal proportion of employers and employees engaged in each trade. The amendment proposes to impose a condition that they shall be chosen in consultation with organisations of employees and employers. There may be districts in the country where there are no such organisations, and therefore I think it is better leave the Bill as it is. The members will have to be representative. Under the trade-board system we have no difficulty in getting representative members. The spirit of the amendment is acceptable to me, but I think that if the amendment were to be inserted it would make the Bill a bit rigid.
I move amendment 12:-
In sub-section (1) (a) to delete subparagraph (ii) and substitute the following: "one member who shall be chairman appointed by the Minister."
I hope the Minister will see his way to accept this amendment.
I object to all the amendments dealing with this. I think there are some trades where there is such definite organisation and amicable agreement between the parties that a single appointed member to act would be sufficient, but there are others where I think it would be better if three outsiders were appointed. This is a case where a certain amount of laxity is required. I must advise the House against cutting down the number to one.
How would the Minister guard against this danger? Assuming that you had the position of three on each side representing employers and employees in the case of some industry how is the chairman going to be elected? Would it not be a better plan for the Minister to nominate a chairman?
He does under sub-section (1) of Section 5.
Section 5 (1) says that the chairman of every apprenticeship committee shall be such member of such committee as the Minister may appoint.
Does that meet the point?
Yes, but I think that the point of Deputy Anthony's amendment is that he only wants one.
That is the other point.
I did not hear Deputy Anthony make his case for the amendment, but I think that that is the important point. Much of the Minister's argument would seem to me to be in favour of that, namely, that the one man appointed as chairman ought to be a person who would, as it were, hold the balance evenly, and be in the nature of a conciliator, as it were, between one side and the other. If the Minister does not get agreement under the scheme he will not get very far with it. If he gets a decision by a majority, by the votes of the appointed persons throwing in their lot with one side or the other, according to his argument, he will not get very far. It seems to us that if the whole idea behind this Bill is the principle of agreement, or the largest possible measure of agreement, it would be better to have one man who would, as it were, be in the position of a conciliator, a person who would bring the two parties together.
I think that the Deputy is speaking a little more to the point in regard to the appointed member, or members, not voting. If there were three appointed members and they had not power to vote it would not matter. I object to both amendments, both to cutting down the number to a single person and to the one which would preclude that person, or persons, from voting. I would ask the Deputy to consider the rather serious work to be done by these committees. They have to make rules under the section establishing apprenticeships. There will be conditions of employment, wages and maximum hours of work. Then they may go on and, in relation to compulsory powers, deal with educational qualifications, age limits, training, and the regulations as to numbers of apprentices. On foot of these regulations afterwards prosecutions will lie. That is a rather serious responsibility to put on one person in an important industry, which may not yet be properly organised, and may not be very stable. I would prefer to have the weight of the three persons thrown in, mainly on the side of argument, because although the matter may come up on a clear division—employers on one side, employees on the other, appointed members being split—I would much prefer, having the final judgment, to see whether the three appointed members were on one side or whether there was division between them. There is, of course, always the power in the background to refuse approval. The discussions can be better carried on by three persons appointed than by a single individual. The items of discussion and the details of voting are the important things. I think that the whole weight of argument is in favour of three and of these three voting. It will not be a matter of majority decision, one way or another, but rather of weight of argument and reasons advanced. There is better opportunity of getting an expression as to what is happening from three rather than from one person. I think that three persons would find themselves more comfortable on such a committee, dealing with important matters, than one individual, as the three would share the responsibility. I would plead earnestly for the power, at least, to appoint three. That power need not always be put into operation.
"In sub-section (2) (a) (ii), after the word `Minister,' line 9, to insert the words `in consultation with the local or national associations of employers' organisation and trade unions respectively.' "
It seems to us that there ought to be some consultation with both parties before members are selected. This does not bind the Minister to anything but merely suggests that there ought to be consultation. I think that that would be a very wise step for any Minister to take before making appointments on these committees. He need not accept their advice but he ought to ask for it.
In this case they have their representatives on the committee.
Before the Minister appoints the members does he consult the committee?
There are already members of the trade boards on the committee.
I have no consultation with trade board members. My point against this amendment is the same as that against the previous one. There may not be a local association of employers in a particular area and if I went and consulted a larger national group, put the names before them, and they were objected to, would the Deputy consider that I still should appoint them? In that case the authority of the man would be very much weakened, and, having revealed that fact to the person, I doubt if he would act. This is rather a difficult type of work to throw on people. It has been done with good spirit under the Trade Boards Act by people who act in an honorary way. Perhaps the Deputy would tell me privately, because I have not heard openly that there has been any objection to the people appointed. I think that the same spirit will run through these committees, and I think it better to leave it run in the way indicated in the Bill.
I cannot say that there has been any objection. If the Minister found that there was objection to a certain person, I think he would be foolish to appoint such person. If there were any such objection it would be better for the Minister to know beforehand rather than to allow it to reveal itself after the appointment is made.
"At the end of sub-section (4), line 7, to add the words `such regulations shall provide in the case of apprenticeship committees for non-trade board trades that the chairman shall not vote.' "
Here again you find that in many parts of the country these non-trade board trades are not organised in any trade union. It is not always easy to get an impartial chairman in such areas. I suppose that nine times out of ten you would get a chairman who would not be impartial, who would lean on the side of the employers, and who would be against the employees. In order that the chairman should be above suspicion he should not have a vote.
I have made my plea that these people should be as numerous as three and should be allowed to vote. This is not a case in which voting rules. In the end, it is not a majority of votes that is going to decide but the circumstances about the whole discussion, the circumstances under which the votes were cast and the possibility, without serious difficulty, of carrying out the regulations. It is not a question of throwing either a group of employers or a group of employees into the hands of two or three outsiders. They should be allowed to exercise some discretion on the committee and indicate their point of view, even to the extent of voting. I think it is proper that the responsibility of voting should be put on them as it will add to their importance considerably. If the appointed members are found out afterwards to be particularly biassed in one particular direction, they will not last for any considerable time because otherwise they would only throw the business into discord. As we have allowed them to remain with regard to numbers, we should allow them a certain amount of discretion by allowing them to vote. It is not decisive.
Does not the Minister recognise the danger? If it is a question relating to apprenticeship, and if it cannot be decided except on the casting vote of the chairman, it still remains a question. Assuming that they were divided in the proportions of three and three or four and four, and that the chairman gave his casting vote, it still remains a question between the representatives of the employers and the employees. I want to obviate that and to facilitate the easy working of the Bill. If I could be quite sure that what the Minister has in mind could be translated into action, I would be prepared to withdraw it. I want to point out the difficulties that will exist if there is a casting vote given by the chairman.
I think too much importance is being attached to the word "vote." For instance, supposing the Bill was changed to meet this situation: that there would be a discussion, and that there would be sent to me a statement as to the vote between the representative members and a recommendation from the appointed members, that would meet my purpose equally well, but there is really nothing more than that in this voting. It only means that persons selected as being impartial, people from outside, people who have no connection with the trade, can give their interpretation of disputed points of view to the Minister. If Deputies would say on another stage that instead of voting these members should say what has been the result of the discussion amongst the representative members, and then would add their own recommendations concerning the matter, that would meet my point. There is nothing meant by their having a vote. If the Deputy thinks that once there is a casting vote of the chairman the thing goes ruthlessly along, that is not the way at all.
In sub-section (1), (d), line 30, to delete the word "inclusive" and substitute the word "exclusive."
This is a typographical error.
I am not so sure. It relates to the words "inclusive of overtime" in paragraph (d). I am not quite sure whether there was a drafting error there or in Section 15, which relates to the same paragraph. The wording there was "exclusive of overtime," and I took it that "inclusive" was meant. I submitted an amendment to change "exclusive" to "inclusive." It seems to me that it should be "inclusive of overtime," and that in relation to apprentices the maximum number of hours fixed should not be capable of being defeated by any arrangement for overtime, and the committee who fix the over-riding maximum should not include ordinary work or any overtime which may be necessary.
The working of this is quite different to what the Deputy points out. In all these trades there are fixed hours, but there is overtime in addition. Every trade has a regulated number of hours.
I think it is better to have it exclusive, because otherwise they may fix a high maximum to cover overtime.
That is one of my objections to it, because as I said previously, we have to treat this as being done through the particular shops or employers' premises or place of business. The employer may have to work overtime. The apprentices' hours will be regulated by the hours of work worked by the other people. If we put in here "inclusive of overtime," it would mean a considerable disorganisation. If not, then what Deputy O'Connell says would occur.
If the word "exclusive" was in, I take it it would mean the number of normal working hours, and consequently the number of additional hours that might be worked in any particular period——
The amendment, as the Deputy wants to have it, would have the word "inclusive," so that you would have the same difficulty. You would have rules regulating the maximum number of hours, including overtime. That is the danger.
I move amendment No. 19:—
In sub-section (1), to insert at the end of paragraph (d) the words "but not so as to increase the maximum number of such hours appointed by or under any other enactment."
I pointed out on the Second Stage that there might be other pieces of legislation—be fixed certain legislalation—with regard to children and their employment. This Bill might over-ride some of the earlier and more restricted Acts. I want to meet that in part by this amendment.
How does that work out with amendment 20? Will the Minister say what is the effect of amendment No. 19 on amendment No. 20?
To accept amendment No. 20 would then more or less impose as a statute the maximum number of hours not exceeding eight. I would rather leave that to be determined by other enactments. Then we will carry in the other enactments if they are there.
I move amendment No. 20:—
In sub-section (1), to add at the end of paragraph (d), the words "and in the case of persons under 18 years of age the maximum number of hours, not exceeding eight, which may be worked in any day by persons employed by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district."
This applies to persons under 18 years of age and regulates the maximum number of hours which they can work. Does the Minister agree to accept it?
I thought there was some sort of understanding on the Second Reading that the Minister would accede to a request I made that some section or sub-section should be introduced into the Bill which would provide the maximum hours of work to be worked by young persons under the age of eighteen and that the daily hours should be restricted. While it might be suggested that the 48 hours should operate, at the same time young persons might be worked for 48 hours in the space of five days. That is a tendency I would like to restrict. I do not think it would be a good thing, even for the industry. Whilst it might not be so injurious for adults or grown-up people to work long hours for three or four days at a stretch, it would have a very injurious effect on young people of about eighteen years of age. That is the reason I suggest this amendment should be adopted. I feel that the working hours each day should be restricted to a maximum of eight for a young person.
Amendment 19 has been accepted, and I intended that that amendment would meet the point that has been raised. It has been mentioned that this Bill might give the apprenticeship committee power to fix hours of working which would be far in excess of those allowed for young people under other Acts that are now in operation. I provide a guarantee against that through the medium of amendment 19. The members of the committee are forbidden to increase the number of working hours set out under any enactment now in operation. I promised to bring the terms of this Bill within the terms of existing legislation dealing with trade conditions and hours of working. I never promised to impose, through this Bill, any special conditions with regard to the hours to be worked by apprentices. If and when an eight-hour day becomes statutory in this country, amendment 19 will bring this measure into conformity. Until we have that condition of things here I do not feel disposed to impose any special conditions through the medium of this Bill.
Is there anything here to prevent young people working an excessive number of hours per day? I pointed out on Second Reading the danger that might exist. I had in mind that it might be advisable specifically to mention a maximum number of hours during which young people would work.
Surely all this is met by Section 8 (d)?
There is no reference to the maximum number of hours daily.
There is a definite regulation as to the number of hours during which young people should work.
Yes, in any week. I want to be sure that they will not be asked to work ten hours on one day and six hours on another day.
With regard to one fairly important trade in this country, Deputy O'Connell might be doing an apprentice a great injustice if he did not allow for irregular hours of work from day to day. I refer to the garage business. In a country garage there is no such thing as regularity of work. A car may come in one day, and it will have to be repaired within a certain time. There may not be another car for several days. The apprentice is there all the time, and if he is not allowed to be at the repair job, he will be losing a great deal of the training he is seeking. If his eight hours terminate at six o'clock, and if the car comes in at four or five o'clock to be repaired that evening, then, as he is compelled to go away at six o'clock, he obviously loses the very chance for which he is placed in the garage. In that particular trade there would be a great injustice to the apprentice.
I am opposed to that principle. If a boy works eight hours a day and finishes the eight hours at six o'clock, he should then go away. It would not be fair to keep him there. Can the Minister suggest anything, even to meet the case put forward by Deputy Moore? I object strongly to the suggestion made by the Deputy.
I propose to bring this measure within the terms of existing enactments, whatever they may be, with regard to young people. I do not intend through this measure to impose restrictive conditions. The committee may impose very restrictive hours, but that will be a matter for them. I did not intend to meet that point about a mixed number of hours per day. Of course, if that were fixed by some other enactment, or is afterwards fixed, that is another thing. I am stopping short at amendment 19.
There should not be any mixed hours.
This measure gives the apprenticeship committee power to establish hours, and it gives them power afterwards to amend or modify whatever regulations they may make if they find that abuses occur. I prefer to leave the matter in that lax fashion. In the meantime, if the eight-hour day came into being through an international convention, then it would have its application to this measure through amendment 19. I do not want to deal with the question of hours on this Bill.
Will the committee have power to make a daily maximum?
They will have power to deal with the maximum number of hours that will have to be worked in any particular week.
Is the Minister prepared to accept an alteration affecting the number of hours to be worked daily?
Will the Deputy inform me, from his experience of trades, is it a general practice to fix the working time on the basis of the day as opposed to the week?
Under the existing Factories Acts young persons are precluded from working more than a certain number of hours every day.
What is the maximum number of hours per day?
Supposing there is a breakdown in the machinery in the works, are the employees going to stop? What is the use of legislating any little business that we have in the country out of the country?
Before we take amendment 21, I would like to know what would be the effect of amendment 23, if carried?
What I had in mind was that the Bill was to be made compulsory. That was at the back of my mind when I submitted the amendment to make these deletions. The Minister has done away with the compulsory principle and, therefore, the amendment will have to go.
Not at all.
There is no use in making one part of the Bill compulsory and the other part voluntary.
I beg to move amendment 21:—
At the end of sub-section (1), to add a new paragraph as follows:—
"rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the educational qualifications of apprentices) in relation to the educational qualifications of persons entering on employment by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade for which such committee is established with persons carrying on such trade in the district of such committee."
This is the point that I raised on the Second Reading. I think the first regulation that the committee should make should be on these lines. The amendment makes it compulsory on the apprenticeship committee to make these regulations. It is essential that they should make regulations setting forth the standard of education that young persons entering an industry ought to have reached. Naturally, the standard will vary according to the various trades which young people will enter, but there should be some definite standard, and that is the object of my amendment—to make it compulsory on the committee to make regulations in regard to educational qualifications. That is much better than to leave it purely a voluntary matter.
I do not think that this is one of the regulations that the committee should be compelled to make. There are some rules that the committee will be obliged to make, but this should not be one of them. There is a Compulsory School Attendance Act. Everybody has to attend school up to a certain age. That is the standard of education which will apply in the case of some trades.
But they do not all reach that standard.
Why should you deprive the people who attain only that standard, and who cannot get beyond it from being trained in a trade in which they are suitable? It seems to me that it would only be necessary to make rules indicating qualifications for a trade where the possession of such qualifications is likely to mean better work from the apprentices or is necessary in the proper carrying out of the business. This should be an optional matter. I do not think it should be made compulsory on the committee to adopt such regulations.
I would add to what Deputy Lemass has said, that if we take the group of matters referred to in (a) (b) (c) (d) in sub-section (1) of Section 8 and sub-section (2), they would represent all that one would expect the apprenticeship committee to determine with regard to any group. We picked out the four that we thought were essential, and also the four that we thought would lead to less trouble in the calling together of the apprenticeship committee, and the least difficulty in having designation accepted by both employers and employees. My opinion is that if one of the latter paragraphs is left out so much more difficult will it be in the way of getting apprenticeship committees together or the idea of any designated trade being accepted. The more rules there are that have to be made compulsory by an apprenticeship committee the more difficulty there will be experienced by employers and employees looking forward to their trade becoming designated. This is one that gives the least difficulty. I am not so much against this as the others. At the same time what Deputy Lemass has said must be borne out.
Practically no education may be required to become a learner in some trades and manufactures at the moment; and then why insist on the apprenticeship committee prescribing a standard of education when, in fact, what the committee will do will be to prescribe a standard so low that anybody can pass it. I do not know what the Deputy thinks he is going to achieve or what extra value he is going to get by insisting that the committee shall prescribe this particular thing. Surely that should be left to the judgment of the committee. If they find that the training of apprentices is hampered because people are attempting to get into a trade without a certain standard of education, then it will be time to make a rule, but I think it would be a bad thing to insist on its being done now. It would make it a little more difficult to get the whole apprenticeship system adopted.
It would help the apprentices' sense of values if we had some standard.
Supposing one thinks of a certain type of learner where the people will be women of the age of 30 years, what education or qualification is to be prescribed? What is the test that is to be passed? I can see some difficulty in getting some standard of value in the case of women of 30 or 40 years of age.
They will be apprentices.
Learners and apprentices.
I move amendment No. 22:—
To add at the end of sub-section (1), a new paragraph as follows:—"rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the training of apprenticeship) requiring employers carrying on such trade in such district to train and instruct apprentices employed by them in a specified manner."
I look upon this as a very important amendment. In regard to the training of apprentices, it is the opinion of many trade unionists that that is one of the most essential things in the apprenticeship system. It used to be the practice in Government dockyards to ask some of the skilled operatives in the various grades to train apprentices. These skilled operatives were rewarded according to the efficiency shown by the apprentices. These dockyards turned out some very excellent craftsmen as a result of this system. The craftsman got a certain reward when he was able to show that his apprentices made some progress. The apprentice was subject to examination at various periods during the apprenticeship. The result was that the apprentice very soon became a finished tradesman or mechanic. We are also aware that in many of these trades the boys are apprenticed some with fees and some without fees and very frequently they derive no benefit at all from their apprenticeship. The consequence is that a number of unskilled operatives and mechanics and so on were thrown on the market every year.
I think there is an obligation on the employer to see, when he takes an apprentice into his shop, that that apprentice will be properly treated and will be an asset to his employer.
I would like to support this amendment. It seems to me that the two most important of these provisions are (c) and (d) of sub-section (2), that is the sub-section requiring employers to train and instruct the apprentices. I think that the whole purpose of our vocational education and apprenticeship system is to ensure that there will be an adequate number of properly trained workers in each industry, and the putting of these rules into the optional sub-section of this section will suggest that it is a minor part of the work of the committees instead of its being the chief part of the work. I think we should have a discussion upon the advisability of keeping any one of these in the optional part of Deputy Good's amendment, but as that has been withdrawn now, I can not discuss paragraph (d) at all at this stage. But (c) is just as important as (d). It would, in my opinion, be almost essential in the making of this Bill an effective instrument that the apprenticeship committee should be required to make rules regulating the training of apprentices over whom they have control. I think in the South African Act it is compulsory on the Minister, after consultation with the committees, to make regulations concerning the training of apprentices. In any case whether it is or not it should be made compulsory here.
I have a little bit more difficulty on this than on the last one. I think the effect of this might be to prevent the apprenticeship committee being established, because the employers and employees on the committee might find it entirely beyond their powers to draw up a code. Remember the paragraph runs: "Regulations requiring employers carrying on such trade in such district to train and instruct apprentices employed by them in a specified manner." They have to put down the course, so to speak. If there is a general sort of course easily applicable to learners or apprentices, I should say it will be done, but again I ask people to think of the consequences of making it compulsory. If you impose on them the obligation as part of their duties that they must lay down a code which employers have to follow if they have to train their employees in a specified manner, we may prevent the apprenticeship committee coming together at all. I think if we had an intermediary word between "shall" and "may," I would accept something more than "may" and less than "shall." I would make it my business to ask committees in all cases practically to make rules on all the points, but I cannot force it. That is no good to people who want it made part of their obligation. What we decided to do departmentally was, we would pick out things which could easily be done, and leave other things, where simple plans could not be made, to the good-will and good sensei of the committee. The Minister, in the background, may exercise a certain good influence on them by sending back a thing to be considered. I would make it my business to see that, where possible, regulations of this type would be brought forward, but I do not like to insist on this particular thing as a matter of obligation on the committee at this particular moment.
Where it cannot be mandatory, would the Minister devise any other method by means of inspection or other means to secure that these apprentices would get proper training? The words "in a specified manner" will be interpreted in the ordinary acceptation of the term. You have many instances of where lads were apprenticed to various trades in this country, and were kept during the major portion of their time doing work not appropriate to that trade at all. That should be put an end to, and if the Minister could see that by some method of inspection it could be got rid of it might meet the case.
This is apparently all covered in sub-section (2).
It has been moved to make it compulsory.
The Deputy proposing this wants to have it compulsory. I am not sure, from the purport of the Deputy's last remark, whether he wants to cut out these words "in a specified manner." I think that would be difficult. The importance of the words is that a prosecution will follow a breach of these regulations, if these regulations are made. If an inspector goes into court against an employer on the vague charge that he is not training or instructing apprentices employed by him, it would be very difficult to get any satisfaction for that. The words "in a specified manner" are important and, at the same time, show the extreme difficulty of the case, because this has to be always viewed from the angle of coming to court afterwards, dealing with prosecutions for breach of regulations. In easy cases the rules will be made as, for instance, where either party can convince the appointed members that the rules ought to be made. I think that it ought to be left as a thing which the committee may do, provided the committee agree to it. It is better to leave it that way than to have it made an obligation upon them and have the committee possibly fail.
I move amendment 26:—
In sub-section (2), page 5, to delete paragraph (d) and substitute the following paragraph:—
"(d) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the number of apprentices) fixing in relation to any specified employer carrying on such trade in such district the number (in this Act referred to as the standard number) of apprentices whom such committee considers should be employed by such employer in such trade in such district, and such number may, if such apprenticeship committee thinks fit, be expressed as a proportion of the number of persons of any class or classes employed from time to time in such trade in such district by such employer."
Objection was raised to (d) of sub-section (2) of Section 8 as it stood, and particular objection was taken to the words "`in any particular premises," because it was pointed out that there might be certain operations which would not be carried out in the premises of an employer at all, and it might be difficult to get a proper application of the law. He might be employed by a person on outside work in other premises also. Consequently, the amendment was drafted, and I think it not merely meets that point, but other points which arise.
[Professor Thrift took the Chair.]
We get away from the idea of the particular premises. We fix it now with regard to a specified employer carrying on a trade in a particular district, and we allow that the number may be expressed as a percentage of the number of persons employed from time to time by such employer.
That meets my amendment No. 27.
Does it not seem curious to make rules as to the number of apprentices which should be employed? The rule presumably, according to a subsequent section of the Act if it is made, can be enforced under the penalty of a fine, but a rule as to the number which should be employed seems curious. I could understand the phrase "must be employed."
It is the number which the committee considers should be employed, but there will be absolute liberty given to provide that that will be the number that should be taken. There are two other amendments which are somewhat linked with this amendment, an amendment to Section 20 and a new section proposed to be inserted before Section 21. The three go some what together. I think the small point the Deputy raises can be understood even from this. They will fix a number. It is said here that that is the number the committee thinks should be employed. That will be the number in relation to which prosecutions afterwards will be taken. I do not see any difficulty in the amendment.
I thought the word "must" would be a lot better for the purpose of the section.
Would the Deputy read the new section before 21 and the amendment to Section 20? The Deputy could read over that point about the word "should" and consider that we are attempting to fix numbers not in relation to any particular premises but in relation to the specified employees to be employed by an employer in such trade or in such district and the further point that the number may be expressed as the proportion to be employed by any particular person.
Supposing the employer has more apprentices than the local committee considers it advisable for him to have, is there to be any appeal on behalf of an employer to any superior body?
We will have to take the three together. Deputies must consider amendment 37 and amendment 38 as one with this.
I suppose there will be no need for making provision for people like painting contractors, for instance, who send their apprentices to any part of the country? I am thinking now of the phrase "whom such committee considers should be employed by such employer in such trade in such district." In the case of apprentices of that kind it would be very hard to define their district. I cannot quite see the way out, but there may have to be special provision made for cases of that kind.
"The employer's district"—the district here will be the district of the employer. If he has a certain number of apprentices he can send these off to certain parts of the country.
In that case, you would have such apprentices employed for perhaps the greater part of a year outside that district altogether.
Possibly; yet after all what we are aiming at is to get some relationship between the number of apprentices and the number of skilled tradesmen. Supposing an apprenticeship committee views a particular thing like that. The painting business is one in which the difficulty will not arise. Suppose it is viewed in relation to Dublin and you get an establishment which is accustomed to taking on work in other parts of the country. If it is agreed that a man shall be allowed to have so many apprentices, does it matter in the end where the apprentices are sent for training?
Is not the district there the district of the apprenticeship?
Which will be established in relation to the employer's district.
That might be the whole country.
Or it might be a small area.
Difficulties of this kind arise occasionally. With employers the number of employees varies because sometimes they are busy and other times they are not busy, but the number of apprentices they have to take on is calculated on the number of employees they had when they were busy. Then when the work gets slack the local committee may say: "You have too many apprentices." If we are to have it one way we will have to have it the other way. If you are going to compel the employer to take so many apprentices if the emergency arises and the committee says he has too many apprentices, I want some way of dealing with the situation. That is my difficulty rather than the other difficulty, and I think any figures I have used have shown that. A subdivision of that character will be necessary.
That arises on amendment 37.
I thought we were taking the three together.
I do not propose to take the three together. I say that the later two must be read along with this in order to have this properly understood. The special point to which the Deputy refers really comes on on the new Section 21.
The committee fixes the number of apprentices he may have.
You are going to bring this rule into operation. The employer, say, has six apprentices. If the committee make a regulation that he is only to have two or three, what is to become of the others?
Can the Deputy say what has been the practice hitherto in cases of the character to which he refers?
We had no apprenticeship committees hitherto. I would like to have some experience of their working before answering that question.
I think so far as the building trade is concerned these things are covered by agreement. I do not think that this Apprenticeship Bill will upset these agreements.
If there are agreements which are legally enforceable as between the apprentices and employers the enforcement of these agreements may still continue, but under this Bill the only thing to which force of contract is given are the rules made by the apprenticeship committee. Once the rules are made the employers and the apprentices are both deemed to be bound by these rules. As far as this Bill is concerned, several things are left out. They may be legally enforceable. They may be something further than what is here, but this Bill does not deal with these.
If the Minister, on the next stage, would bring in something that would deal with this situation, should it arise——
I would prefer to discuss that situation on amendment 37 or 38.
You can quite foresee that a committee might say that an employer should not have so many apprentices. What will become of the others?
They will be no longer apprentices.
I move amendment 28:
In sub-section (4), lines 58 and 60, to insert after the word "make" the words "rescind or amend" in each line.
The purpose of this amendment is to provide that when the committee makes a rule and gets the sanction of the Minister for the rule, it may not amend or rescind that rule without the sanction of the Minister.
The amendment seems unobjectionable at the moment, but there will have to be an addition —rescind, amend, or add to.
If the committee added would not it be a new rule requiring the sanction of the Minister in any case?
I will have it considered before the next stage.
I move amendment 29:—
Before sub-section (5), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
"An apprenticeship committee before making rules under this section in respect to any trade shall take into consideration the practices and customs prevalent in such trade and in particular any agreements existing between employers and trade unions in relation to the conditions affecting apprenticeship and shall not make any rule in contravention of any existing practice or agreement recognised by employers and trade unions in the trade without the approval of such trade unions."
This section deals with rules by the apprenticeship committees. The purpose of this amendment ought to be quite obvious. They would be useless, and would tend to defeat the objects of this Bill if rules were made without the good-will of the trade unions. The members of the trade unions, after all, are the persons who will have to teach these lads their various trades or occupations. I feel that it would be wiser to have these words inserted in the Bill so that friction may be avoided in the future, and that these rules will be drawn up in conformity with the rules of the trade unions affected. I think that is a very useful provision. I hope the Minister will accept it.
Under this amendment, as I understand it, the trade unions are going to regulate the number of apprentices.
Is that what the Deputy proposes? Is not that what we are trying to get away from all the afternoon?
My attitude in this is, that if the existing practice or custom prevalent in the trade, and the existing agreements are to rule apprentices, there is no reason in the Bill being brought in at all. If we are going to establish these as a standard by which everything must be ruled, there is no reason for the Bill, because if there are agreements there, and the people want them modified, I presume they can get them modified. At any rate, the trade unionists cannot have it that there may be compulsion put upon employers with regard to an existing agreement, but where they themselves do not like it the existing agreement must stand. There is very little in the way of compulsion in this Bill, but this would remove every vestige of anything approaching to compulsion. The whole approach to this matter must be rather in a conciliatory way, so that these things probably will be taken into consideration, but I think the Bill ought to be withdrawn if this is what is to rule. If this is going to be the criterion there is no use having the Bill at all.
I submit that it would be good policy to discuss this matter with these representatives. It does not necessarily follow——
That is not the amendment.
You may get something approaching agreement.
The amendment says that the committee shall take into consideration the practices and customs prevalent in such trade and in particular any agreements existing between employers and trade unions in relation to the conditions affecting apprenticeship, and shall not make any rule in contravention of any existing practice or agreement recognised by employers and trade unions in the trade without the approval of such trade union. It is a bit one-sided.
I move amendment 30:
To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
"(2) If, owing to the death or insolvency of the employer or for any other reason which the Minister deems satisfactory, the terms of any contract of apprenticeship in a designated trade cannot be fulfilled, or if the parties to the contract mutually agree, the Minister, in consultation with the apprenticeship committee for such trade, may arrange for the transfer of the contract to another employer."
This is a section taken from the South African Act, which appears to me to be necessary in order to protect the interests of apprentices whose employers might die, become bankrupt, or, for some other reason, be unable to fulfil the contract. It seems to me to be necessary, although I am not convinced of it. The Minister, no doubt, has looked into the matter, and can tell us whether it is or not. There does not appear to be any provision to deal with the particular case of an apprentice whose employer goes bankrupt, and who is consequently unable to fulfil his contract with that apprentice. The purpose of the amendment is in such a case to give the apprenticeship committee power to transfer that contract to another employer, so that the apprentice's training would continue.
I am not at all certain that the full effect of the amendment is not contained in the concluding words of Section 12, "such committee may, if it so thinks fit, release both parties from their respective obligations under the agreement implied by this section, or modify such agreement." There may be one point left over by that, and it will be examined between this and the Report Stage to see whether the section meets the exact point the Deputy has in his amendment. However, I suggest that if there is going to be an amendment it ought to be more generally phrased than on the basis of death or insolvency—for instance, adding to it, "modify such agreement or substitute-another party to the agreement." That would probably meet it better.
Will the Minister consider the matter?
Yes; I shall get it considered.
I should like the Minister also to consider that an apprentice might be forced, perhaps against the will of his parents, to go to an employer chosen by the committee. I do not think that would be advisable. As I read the amendment, it is possible that a young apprentice, whose employer has died or becomes insolvent or disappears, might be forced to go to an employer with whom his parents did not agree. There is that danger.
The Minister is redrafting it.
Remember that it is always the committee may do certain things. The line of approach I take is, that I will consider meeting whatever difficulties there are in the section by adding to it "or substitute another party thereto." That is tied up to the preamble in the section already, that the committee may, if it thinks fit, do certain things. However, the Deputy can see exactly how far my amendment goes.
Has the Minister considered the question of whom the apprentice is to be bound to, because that is involved in the amendment we have just been considering? The transfer of an apprentice would be very much easier if the apprentice is bound, as a great many are now, to a committee instead of an employer. That is done with the object of giving the apprentice a better training. Supposing that the trade of an employer with whom he is learning his trade for any reason falls off, then the apprentice does not get the opportunity for learning his trade that possibly may be desirable. In that particular case, if there is any reason for the falling off of the trade, and if he is bound to a committee, the committee can transfer him to another employer who happens to be busy in that industry, thereby giving him a better training. That is a point that ought to be considered if the Minister has not considered it. It is one of the more modern ideas in connection with improving the training of apprentices and it is working most satisfactorily in several large areas in America.
Although Section 12 says that where the rules are in force a person is to be deemed to be employed under an agreement signed by such person and his employer—although these are marked out as the two parties to this agreement, the committee is also in it, because the committee then has power to modify. We have to a certain extent got in the committee, although probably not as directly as the Deputy would like.
The difficulty is this: The contract of apprenticeship is made between the apprentice or his parents and the employer and cannot be broken by any third party.
It can here.
It would want to be a very special form. I ask the Minister to consider the other point. Instead of binding the apprentice to the employer, he should bind that apprentice to the committee. The employer is bound to train under this Bill, and the committee can regulate the way the boy can be trained, as to the hours he is to attend and other things like that. It does not alter the question of that training at all. It certainly does alter and make much more easy the question of transference from an employer, who may be slack, to an employer who may be busy.
I move amendment 31:—
In page 7, to delete sub-section (2), and substitute the following sub-section:—
"(2) If any employer—
(a) fails or neglects to keep such records as are required by this section to be kept; or
(b) wilfully or negligently makes in such records any entry which is false or misleading in any material particular,
he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding two pounds and also, in case of failure or neglect to keep such records, to a fine not exceeding one pound for every day during which such failure or neglect continues after conviction."
There appears to be a defect in this. There was an obligation put upon the employer to keep records of wages, but apparently there was a loophole, that he might keep false records, and this is intended to meet that.
If a particular employer merely neglects to keep such records you put him on the same level of punishment as an employer who deliberately falsifies his records. I think there is a very big distinction. Deputy Cassidy's amendment, along with the provision in the Bill, would, I think, be much better, but here you put the two on the same basis. The failure of a man to keep records may be due to many things, but I would regard deliberate falsification as a much greater offence, and it should not, I think, be put on the same basis.
I think they are hardly put on the same basis. The same maximum is applied to both. Does the Deputy think that a maximum of £2 is not sufficient for falsification?
I do not think it is.
Perhaps the Deputy would put down an amendment for the next stage?
You leave a man open to the maximum fine who simply neglects doing it.
It is a fine not exceeding a certain sum.
I suggest to the Minister that the fine for the offence prescribed in clause B should be progressive. You have very severe penalties for those who fail or neglect to keep records, that is, after the first offence is discovered, whereas apparently a man who wilfully makes a wrong record is subject only to a fine not exceeding £2, and if he repeats the offence twenty times the fine cannot be increased. There is something disproportionate there.
I might remind Deputies that this is a voluntary act, and if you put on penalties of a nature that an employer might consider excessive it may have its reactions. The employer may say: "I will not incur responsibilities and liabilities of that character, and so I will not take any apprentices." I should like that both sides should be before the Minister when he is considering this particular aspect.
I hope Deputy O'Connell will put down an amendment such as I have suggested.
He can do so now by moving to alter the figure £2.
There is a special amendment by Deputy Cassidy dealing with that.
The amendments are practically the same for the penalties. Amendment 32 is to change it from £2 in paragraph (b) to £5.
No. That only applies to the amount to be inflicted for falsification.
May I remind the Minister that the fines for breaches of contract seem in strange contrast with those provided in sub-section (2) Section 17? It provides: "If an employer employs by way of apprenticeship any person in contravention of this section he shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable, on summary conviction thereof, to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds." An employer is liable to a fine of twenty pounds for employing an apprentice who has not the educational qualification, a thing that the Minister himself admitted it may be very hard to define, but the person who makes a deliberately wrong entry in his records is only subject to a maximum fine of £2.
The Minister, I think, suggests that the Deputies should reserve that point for the Report Stage, accepting his amendment in the form set out, and putting down an amendment for Report Stage varying the penalties.
As a workman myself, I must say that I do not think it would be wise to impose too many regulations upon employers. I find myself in some difficulty in discussing this matter, because in the country there is practically no work for apprentices at all. If you impose these regulations upon employers, it may be that you will be defeating the very purpose that this Bill has in view. I know employers at the present moment who are very loath to take in apprentices because their work is not continuous, and they cannot guarantee that the work will be continued long enough to cover the apprenticeship period of five years. I think there is too much legislation at the moment. I think that we should see that the work is there before we pass rules and regulations governing it, and if we did that the country would be much better off. I am absolutely opposed to any more regulations being imposed upon the employers or upon the workmen. Leave them alone, I say. I do not know how we got on for the past thirty-five or forty years without any of these regulations.
That is the most sensible speech that has been made here to-day. I have a number of young fellows in my employment learning their trade, and if I am to be compelled to do all the things that are sought to be imposed here somebody else, I think, will have to employ these people. Labour ought to recognise that they are doing very well in Ireland to-day. There is no country in Europe where they are getting better paid and where there is less unemployment.
I would like to ask are we going to have second reading speeches again here on the Committee Stage of this Bill and foolish statements such as we have just listened to.
I think if there was a comparison made between us the Deputy would not come out the best, even though he is leader of the Labour Party.
I move amendment 33:
To insert before Section 15 a new section as follows:—
"(1) It shall be an offence under this Act for any person without the written consent of the Minister directly or indirectly to require or permit any person to pay or give or to receive from any person any consideration, premium or bonus in respect of the engagement or employment of an apprentice.
(2) Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds and on such conviction the court may order the person receiving such consideration, premium or bonus, to repay the amount thereof to the person by whom it was paid."
This amendment raises a question we had under discussion during the Second Reading of the Bill. That is whether there should be regulations prohibiting the giving or requiring of a fine or bonus as a condition of apprenticeship. A number of Deputies expressed strong views on this question, and urged that the Bill should be amended so as to make it illegal for any employer to require, or for any person to pay, a fine or bonus as a condition of apprenticeship. That is also one of the provisions of the South African Act upon which this Bill is founded. The Minister in preparing his Bill must have had, for some reason or another, definitely decided to insert this particular section. What his reasons were we are anxious to know. There is a practice in certain trades requiring that apprentices shall pay, in some cases, quite substantial sums before they are admitted to apprenticeship. That particular practice results in persons in poorer circumstances being debarred from these trades. It also results in some cases in particularly dangerous abuses, in so far as apprentices may be taken on by incompetent employers who have no real need for them, who are not in a position to train them, and whose desire is to extract the fine from parents of the apprentices. I have myself experience of one or two cases of poor people who scraped together a fairly substantial sum of money in order to get their sons trained in a particular business. They paid these sums by way of bonuses to particular employers who were utterly incompetent to teach their sons, and who, in fact, in one case decamped altogether before the period of apprenticeship had concluded. If we are going to set out now to regulate the conditions of apprenticeship in particular trades we should, I think, make it one of the rules that no payment of this kind be required from any person seeking entry to any trade, and that, so long as other conditions laid down in Section 8 of the Bill are complied with, admission to industry should be open to everybody.
That is the purpose of this amendment. The amendment in the name of Deputy Anthony is somewhat similar to mine. Both are based on the South African Act and embody a principle which, I think, should recommend itself to the House, particularly to those Deputies who have had experience of incidents such as I have mentioned.
I desire to support the amendment moved by Deputy Lemass. It is much on the lines of one that I have down. In view of all that Deputy Lemass has said on his amendment with regard to this system of taking fees for apprentices there is no need for me to say much. Like Deputy Lemass, I am aware of some very sad cases where parents or guardians of boys paid substantial fees to have them trained to some trade. Two cases occurred recently in Cork in the electrical trade. Fees were taken for the training of apprentices. The person who took the fees was not able to teach the boys any trade at all. He took his departure to England a short time afterwards and has not since been heard of. The practice is far more common than many people imagine. I understand it is quite common in Dublin City. It is pretty common in Cork City, too, but I think that some of those who acted in that way in the past will not try it on again.
I ask for a ruling that the amendments in the names of Deputy Lemass and Deputy Anthony are both out of order. They refer to the payment of a consideration, premium or bonus in respect of the engagement or employment of an apprentice. This Bill refers only to certain designated trades. The amendments refer to apprentices of all types.
The amendments are inclusive?
They include designated trades but they go beyond them.
I could not rule out the amendments on that ground. I take them as referring to apprentices to whom the Act will apply.
As Deputy Lemass's amendment stands, it applies to all apprentices. It would apply to an apprentice to a dentist.
I could understand the Minister's point if he gave that as a reason for not being able to accept the amendment as worded. Before ruling the amendments out of order, it would be necessary to have the point discussed.
I will discuss the point. If the amendment in its present form were to be inserted it would widen the scope of the Bill beyond designated trades. Deputy Anthony said that his amendment was exactly the same as Deputy Lemass's. His amendment, I presume, refers to all apprentices whether in designated trades or not.
I would like to have the amendment extended to all apprentices. If it is not possible to do that under the Bill, perhaps a slight alteration could be made in the wording of the amendment.
The Bill only deals with designated trades. At the moment the position is that the apprenticeship committee need not make rules in relation to the number of people who may be employed by way of apprenticeship. There is no obligation on the committee to make a rule regulating the numbers. If the committee does not make such a rule, then a premium may be demanded by an employer. If the committee makes a regulation with regard to numbers, the employer must take that number, and cannot enforce conditions of his own, but if the committee makes regulations with regard to numbers no premium can be enforced.
Supposing the number of persons seeking to be engaged as apprentices exceeds the number for which there are vacancies, then a premium might be offered and might be accepted.
With regard to these premiums, I think there is some misunderstanding. We had a good many people in our place, and never got a premium from them. In the case of people learning shop-work, the custom was for them to pay some little premium, but whether that is the rule now or not I do not know. In return for that premium the people who accepted them as apprentices kept them in their houses and supported them.
The situation is as I have just explained. There may be something in the point that Deputy Lemass urged a moment ago, that if there were a dozen people offering for apprenticeship and four of them say they will pay a premium, these four may be taken in preference to other people. If we want to prohibit that it is a very serious matter, and should be debated on a proper amendment, and not on this amendment, which is far too wide in its scope. The matter might be debated on a simple amendment prohibiting premiums in cases in which rules have been made regulating numbers.
Why only in such cases?
Because if the committee do not think it desirable to lay down rules with regard to numbers, there must be some reason operating in their minds to prevent their doing that, for instance, special considerations applying to the business. Without knowing what those conditions are it seems to me that we should not casually do away with the rather common system of paying premiums or bonus for training to be given. There are certain obligations imposed on employers, and I would rather have the question of premiums tied up with some of these conditions. I picked out the rule relating to numbers, but the question might also be tied up with the rule relating to educational qualifications, although I think it would be rather ironic to tie it up with that. I object entirely to the amendment, because it proposes to sweep away the premium system from every profession or trade, irrespective of whether it is a designated trade coming under this Bill or not. I would object to the sweeping away of the premium system completely even in the case of a designated trade. I would prefer to have the question considered in relation to some rule or regulation that the committee can make. If Deputies express the desire to have premiums done away with generally in relation to apprentices in designated trades, then I can have considered, between now and the Report Stage, which of the paragraphs it should be attached to and what conditions should be attached to the non-enforcement of premiums.
It is not the custom, as Deputy McDonogh stated, in the larger industries, as far as I know, to accept premiums. In the industry with which I am connected there are no premiums. They have gone out of fashion. As the Deputy pointed out, there are trades in which premiums still are paid for certain returns which the apprentices obtain. I agree with the Minister that it would be inadvisable to sweep away the whole system without due enquiry. If the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable to maintain premiums in particular departments I think he should have liberty to do so in the Bill. I am quite satisfied that the question will not arise.
If the Minister is prepared to consider the matter, and to draft an amendment relating to the payment of premiums, and dealing with the number of employees, and to introduce such an amendment on the Report Stage, I prefer to withdraw my amendment. I realise that this amendment cannot go through in its present form. If the Minister will consider the matter and let the House know whether he is going to do so or not, so as to enable the question to be discussed on the Report Stage, it would satisfy me.
What I am suggesting as a possible alternative would be either to put in a new clause to Section 8 (2), leaving it open to the committee to say that premiums shall not be enforced—either to do that, or else to say premiums shall not be enforceable except, and to tie that on to the exception to the rule which requires an employer to train and instruct.
Will the exact scope of the training and instruction which the employer must give be defined in the Bill or be outlined by the committee? I am not very familiar with conditions in industrial Dublin, but I was familiar with the industrial conditions in Belfast, where the premium system has vanished in relation to handicrafts, where personal instruction is not given by the employer. At this stage, so far as ordinary handicrafts and trades are concerned, they are an anachronism and should be abolished.
When he is drafting the amendment I would like to give the Minister some discretion in case he considers the wording too drastic. I suggest that premiums and fees might be allowed where proper training would be given or where there were special circumstances. I know the type of case Deputy McDonogh referred to where something is given in return, for instance, maintenance. That class of case could be covered by "special circumstances," and I suggest that the Minister should have regard to such circumstances.
What I propose to do is to consider an amendment which will be entirely within the scope of the Bill, and will have reference only to designated trades. Alternatively, I will consider making a new sub-section to Section 8 (2), clause (e), allowing the committee to make rules forbidding the taking of premiums in any case but leaving it to the committee to do so, and not making it compulsory on the committee, or else amend clause (c) of Section 8 (2) so as to allow premiums to be enforced if and when training is given.
I do not expect that that will be a very satisfactory conclusion— to prevent the giving of fees in a designated trade and to allow it to prevail in other trades. That will obviously raise the fees in trades not designated. Fees have been going up recently. I heard an employer remarking the other day that he thought he could live entirely on the fees from apprentices if he were prepared to accept all that offered. I think the Principal of the technical schools in Dublin could tell the Minister that it is becoming practically impossible to place boys who have been trained there because they are not able to meet the demands for fees made by employers. It does not seem to me to be satisfactory to have one class of trades where fees are prohibited and to have perhaps much bigger classes where they are allowed.
The Deputy does not want me to prohibit fees in trades outside the designated trades. I cannot do that in this Bill.
We would like to do it.
I move amendment 36:—
In page 7, to delete sub-section (2) and to substitute the following sub-section:—
"(2) If any employer—
(a) fails or neglects to keep such records as are required by this section to be kept; or
(b) wilfully or negligently makes in such records any entry which is false or misleading in any particular,
he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding two pounds, and also, in case of failure or neglect to keep such records, to a fine not exceeding one pound for every day during which such failure or neglect continues after conviction."
Was it purposely that the word "material" in Clause (b) of the amendment was left out? That adjective is used in other parts of the Bill.
I will have the word "material" inserted.
I absolutely object to the wording of sub-section (2):—
If an employer employs by way of apprenticeship any person in contravention of this section he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.
To submit a person to a fine of £20 for employing an apprentice who had not the educational qualifications laid down in the rules is, in my opinion, a preposterous proposal. We must take into account the fact that very many employers will be unable to judge the educational qualifications of apprentices. If the Minister replies that such employers have the committee to appeal to, it must be remembered that very often there are ties of blood and family friendships that are urging them to employ particular persons. It could not be regarded as a very serious offence in view of the vague term "educational qualifications" to employ apprentices who would not be up to standard. I suggest that sub-section (2) should be deleted. In fact, the whole section is unnecessary in my opinion.
If the whole section is unnecessary we need hardly give the committee power to make regulations about educational qualifications. If they are not going to enforce it there is no use making a rule. It would be very drastic to wipe out the section.
I agree with Deputy Moore that the penalty is excessive. I do not think it should be more than £2, unless the case is the same as the class of one we had a few moments ago.
The comparison made a moment ago was a wrong one, because Deputy Moore took a section for comparison which was not a comparable section. The scheme throughout is that there are rules which may be made. The penalty for contravention of the rules, I think, in every case is a fine of £20, but you come to certain things incidental to the rules, such as the keeping of records, where the penalty varies. I would like to have an expression by way of an amendment before the Report Stage. It might be held that the penalty for falsifying a record, for instance, is too small. It can be dealt with by amendment on the Report Stage.
May we take it that the Minister will reconsider the question?
Will the Deputy put down an amendment suggesting the proper penalty?
The amendment I would put down would be to delete the whole section.
I will object to that unless the Deputy consequentially will say that he is going to move to delete part of Section 8 (2) (a).
Of course I would have to go over the whole Bill again to see whether there could not be another method found of promoting a good standard of education amongst apprentices rather than compelling an educational standard and enforcing it by means of heavy fines. I would not be prepared to give an opinion on that. As it stands, I do not think that the Dáil should pass it.
I think there is some confusion about this. There is a good deal to be said for Deputy Moore's attitude, and I think he should bring in an amendment at a later period, but at the same time we must have regard to the commonsense of the committees to be appointed. I take it that no committee will require an apprentice, say, to bootmaking, to have a university degree. It simply demands a certain standard of education, that standard being something of an elementary character. Any of us who have given any service on technical instruction committees knows that a number of boys came to the technical schools to avail of technical education, but were unable to go into the first technological class because they could not do simple multiplication. What is the use of giving a boy a formula to work out certain results when he cannot do simple multiplication? How can you ask him to do sums in simple proportion when he cannot add five and five?
It is just as well that Deputy O'Connell is not listening to his colleague.
It is not the fault of the teachers, but of the system, and of the class represented by Deputy Good, who kept the common people of this country uneducated. That is the cause. While it may be necessary to change the figure £20 to £10, I do not think that it calls for so much adverse comment.
According to Deputy Anthony, the sins of the employers are to be visited on the apprentices. Because the employers have not enabled the children to get a proper education they are not to be allowed to get training in a designated trade. I think it will be found that there will be so many different standards for different trades no committee will be able to fix an educational standard. As the Minister pointed out, there are a great many trades in which the lowest standard that would be fixed would hardly be required by the apprentices. If you visualise an instance where a man has a relation, a cousin or a nephew, who desires to be an apprentice, are you going to say that that man has first to look up the educational standard fixed by the local committee, and if the boy is not up to that standard, he has to dismiss him under a penalty of £20? Such a proposal is quite unreasonable.
The Deputy will consider an amendment for the Report Stage?
If the Deputy puts down an amendment for £2 on Report, we will all support him, except, of course, Deputy Anthony.
Sections 17, 18 and 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
I move amendment No. 37 as follows:—
In page 8, to delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—
"(1) Where any rules regulating the number of apprentices made by an apprenticeship committee are for the time being in force and such rules fix a standard number in relation to any specified employer, it shall not be lawful for such employer to take into his employment by way of apprenticeship in the district of such committee in the trade for which such committee is established any person unless—
(a) either no person is then employed by such employer as an apprentice in such trade in such district or the number of persons then so employed is less than such standard number; and
(b) such taking into employment would have the effect of making the total number of apprentices so employed by him equal to such standard number."
This and the next amendment are the amendments to which I directed Deputy Good's attention earlier. This amendment aims at preventing the standard number of apprentices being exceeded by any employer taking in new apprentices. It allows, where the number had been exceeded before the rule had been made, the number in excess to be retained, but no new people to be taken on. That is the effect of amendment No. 37.
I move amendment 38 as follows:—
Before Section 21 to insert a new section, as follows:—
(1) Where any rules regulating the number of apprentices made by an apprenticeship committee are for the time being in force and such rules fix a standard number in relation to any specified employer, if and whenever such employer employs in the district of such committee in the trade for which such committee is established either no apprentice or a number of apprentices less than such standard number, such committee may make an order in the prescribed form requiring him to take into his employment by way of apprenticeship in such district in such trade such number of persons as will make the total number of apprentices employed by him in such district in such trade equal to such standard number.
(2) Whenever an order is duly made under the foregoing sub-section in relation to an employer and such order is personally served on such employer, it shall be the duty of such employer to comply with such order within one month after such service, and if he fails so to do he shall, unless he satisfies the court that such failure was due to some unavoidable cause, be guilty of an offence under this section and be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.
This amendment refers back to the point which Deputy Moore mentioned on Section 8, the number which the committee consider should be the maximum. This enables the committee to enforce the number which it considers should be employed, if the employer, despite the fact that the committee has intimated that opinion, insists on employing a number less.
If he has not work for that number what is to happen?
That, of course, gets back to the committee on which there will be representative members and gets back to the Minister who has to confirm in regard to the particular business or particular employer specified in a particular district.
I submit that this amendment, as worded, is a bit too dictatorial. Possibly it is not intended to be so but I think it could be made less so and be just as useful. If it read, "may, if suitable representations to the employer had been made without effect," I think that would make the amendment more useful. As it stands, you have a committee and there may be an employer that none of them has any particular reason to be sympathetic with. Such employer may be found not to be employing the requisite number of apprentices and the committee may make an order compelling him to take the necessary number into his business. Would it not be better to proceed by way of representation because he may have a good case to make? Presumably any rule made under this section need not be strictly obeyed under all the circumstances.
My difficulty in regard to this proposal is similar to that which I explained before. There are times when an employer can usefully employ a number of apprentices but there are other times when he can only employ a considerably lesser number. If he is bound to employ the larger number when trade is bad and the number of tradesmen are few, it is putting a somewhat unfair obligation on such employer.
Are you compelling him to take them on?
Under this Bill, if certain conditions are fulfilled, the answer is "Yes."
It might happen that in the building trade a builder might be busy for six months and have employment for a number of bricklayers and carpenters. In that case the rule was, one apprentice to three tradesmen.
It is a pity the Deputy was not here to explain that earlier.
The builder after six months might have absolutely nothing to do and in that event what is going to be done? The whole Bill is bristling with difficulties and the Minister will find that out when he comes to put it into operation. There is no need for all this legislation. It would be much better to leave things as they are. There may be apprentices bound to a builder who has no work. Am I to understand that a builder can keep an apprentice on for five years, though he may be as good at the end of three years as at the end of five, and that he will be prevented from going elsewhere? The whole thing is ridiculous.
I am sorry that the Deputy was not here earlier when a considerable number of Deputies wanted to make the whole Bill compulsory. It was not, apparently, couched in a sufficiently dictatorial manner. I suggested that we should advance by slow steps and have the voluntary principle tried out. Now I hear some of the advocates for compulsion coming round to my point of view.
The Minister knows that there is a big difference between passing a Bill with compulsory powers and suggesting to a committee to be dictatorial in their relations with an individual employer.
The attitude of compulsion that was expressed here was first of all that there should be no waiting upon people to make application, that there should be an enforcement of this whole Act upon people whether they applied or not. There was further a desire to amend the Bill so as to make certain things which the committee, may at its discretion settle by rule, compulsory on them by rule. Deputy Coburn was not in for the discussion but on that very point there was a discussion. As the Bill stands at the moment the committee may not establish any rule, that is, the duty is imposed upon them to establish a rule but if they do not do it there is no enforcement. Deputy Good amongst others wanted to make this one of the points upon which the committee had to make rules and I think Deputy Moore was in favour of that principle also.
What we object to is that portion of the Bill is compulsory and other portions of it are optional. Whenever the Minister thought it might be useful to put something in he inserted it, but where he thought it would not, he would not insert it. There is no principle underlying the Bill.
The Minister knows very well the difference between the two things we indicated. In this case, it is a matter of administration, that the committees should not be encouraged to be arbitrary in their actions or in their orders to particular employers. There is a suggestion in this amendment that they can act in a very arbitrary way. That is very different from the Dáil deciding to be arbitrary or deciding to make certain things compulsory.
Exactly: let us force everybody into it whether they like it or not, and insist on the committee carrying out its duties and making rules in regard to numbers, but when they are going to carry them out against an individual employer we are to see that they are to be meek and mild towards them. What is the dictatorial committee going to do?
The committee may make an order requiring a man to take into his employment such a number as to make the total equal to the standard number. There is a sub-section which follows providing that when the order is made the employer must comply, and if he fails to do so he shall, unless he satisfies the Court that the failure was due to some unavoidable cause, be guilty of an offence. I do not know what other buffer is required between the committee which, we will have to suppose, is likely to act in a reasonable way and this employer. If the committee is so full of hostility to one employer—these were the circumstances the Deputy outlined, the committee being inimical to a certain employer, deciding to force it on him, subjecting him to very vindictive treatment, and going to force on him a certain number of employees—does the Deputy think that this hostility is going to be lessened in any way if you ask them to make representations to an employer before serving an order on him? I do not think it helps the would-be victimised employer to any great extent. I think there is sufficient difficulty in the matter already, and a sufficiently easy approach to the difficulty in the matter already. The committee establishes what it thinks would be the proper number. It gives notice of that. If it finds that an employer is not complying it serves notice on him to take on the number, and then Court proceedings follow if he refuses. I do not know what the Deputy wants.
The stages are then: the committee decides on a certain number of apprentices to each employer; it is reported that an employer in the district has not complied with that rule; the committee then immediately serve notice on him to employ that number, and if he has not done so within a certain time, the next stage is that he is taken into Court. I submit that it could be made less unpleasant than this, but I am not prepared to press the matter.
Before the amendment is put finally there is one aspect of the question that should be considered. Supposing a committee says to an employer, "You are to take so many apprentices," and that that employer takes on that number of apprentices, the members of the local trades union may say, "We will go out on strike." Is any penalty to be imposed on the local trades union, or is all the penalty to be put on the employer? We want the Bill to be fair. I have not seen that any penalty attached to any trade union in this connection. They happen to do things which are illegal, like the rest of us at times. They would make it difficult for the man to take on the number of apprentices by saying, "If you take them on we will go out on strike." On the other hand, if he does not take them on, he is penalised by the committee. Whose advice is he to take? The obvious thing is to put in a clause——
Will the Deputy draft it?
That is the Minister's duty; not mine.
Would the Minister not consider leaving the period between the serving of the order on the employer and the time when he must comply longer than a month? After all, the employer, I presume, would be entitled to exercise some personal choice with regard to apprentices. If he has only got a month in which to make his choice it may take him over this time to get suitable persons. I submit that the period in which he should be allowed to choose his apprentices might well be left to the committee.
The Deputy would not suggest a period himself?
I would suggest a longer period than a month—three months.
Say a year.
Would the Deputy put that down for the next day?
Why should not the Minister do it himself?
Because I see no reason for it.
The Minister is giving a reply then to my argument, and therefore I must determine whether I am going on with my proposal or not. That is a more direct way of doing it.
I move amendment 39:—
In sub-section (2), page 8, to insert in line 46 after the word "held" the words "within the normal working hours of such apprentice and" and to delete in line 47 the word "person" and substitute the word "apprentice," and in sub-section (4), page 8, to delete in line 65 the words "so far as the same may be necessary."
This point was raised on the Second Stage with regard to the question of night work, and I am meeting the suggestions then made.
I move amendment 41, which reads:—
In sub-section (3), line 59, to delete the word "section" and substitute the word "sub-section."
I do not understand the amendment.
I intended to change the wording of it. I want the word "sub" inserted before section so as to have read it "sub-section."
I do not understand the reason for the change. I think the whole thing is contained in the section to which the Deputy's amendment refers and not the sub-section.
Will the Minister accept that where unavoidable causes arise, and where the apprentice is working longer than an eight hours' day, it will be taken to mean an unavoidable cause, such as sickness? It would be rather unfair to penalise a lad who has been kept by a builder working in the country, and expect him to attend a technical school and do night work, when he has completed his ordinary day's work.
The Deputy's amendment is to Section 21, as it is in the present Bill, and he proposes to change the word section in three places and to put in the word sub-section. I think the thing is entirely wrong.
I am trying to safeguard the position that I indicated earlier, and I wish to say that I tried to induce the Minister to have a day fixed not greater than an eight hour day. I want that amendment inserted in order to obviate any trouble occurring in this section, where, as I have tried to indicate, a boy might be kept working at a building a good distance from the technical school, and because of that fact he could not attend the school at night.
I want to ask if Deputy Anthony is in favour of fining an apprentice because of his absence? In one amendment he was proposing to fine him £1. The apprentice is getting 5/- a week and he may be fined £1.
Because I want the class held in the daytime during the ordinary working hours.
Before Section 24 is passed, may I ask the Minister if he has considered making any provision against the giving by employers of certificates which are incorrect and misleading as regards the apprentices? This is one of the plagues of the day and it is doing a very great amount of harm. Apprentices who have merely knocked about in a business, and who have been attached to it in the vaguest possible way, are able to get splendid certificates from employers. Very often these certificates are couched in the most elaborate language, testifying to the skill and industry these apprentices have shown and their genius for business—all of which is often entirely incorrect. Very often too these youths are in trades where the employment bears on the safety of human life. It is a very frequent complaint throughout the country that testimonials or certificates from employers in a good many trades cannot be trusted at the present time—that no reliance can be attached to them. It looks to me, without having heard anything from the Minister on the matter, that to ignore that matter was a curious omission on his part. It would have been a very useful reform if he had provided against the giving of certificates that would be incorrect.
I am glad that Deputy Moore has raised this point because it is a most important one. The standard of craftsmanship has fallen very considerably in recent years and I am not sure it is not continuing to fall. We would like to see the standard raised rather than to see it falling. This is a point that has been worrying a number of employers for a considerable period. A number of them are agreed that before the apprentice gets a certificate he should be called upon to pass an examination in the craft to which he is being apprenticed and that he should not be allowed, if he has not given any attention to his work or to his work in the schools while he has been passing through his term of apprenticeship, to get that certificate. Such a boy should be penalised. Furthermore, that is the only way that will raise the standard of craftsmanship. I would like the Minister to consider that particular aspect of the question. It is unfair that a boy who is of a very poor standard from the point of view of his craft and who has given no attention to the business should be set free and treated after a certain time in exactly the same way as the boy who has given attention to his work and knows his craft.
Whilst I agree in general with what Deputy Good has stated, still I think the boy is penalised enough if, as a result of his inefficiency, he will not get employment. Surely the employer is not such a fool as to keep an inefficient man in his employment. It would be up to the apprentice himself to make himself efficient in his trade, otherwise when he is finished with the apprenticeship he will not get employment. I am sure Deputy Good would be the last man to keep in his employment a man who is inefficient. I do not know how the Minister could include in this Bill a section dealing with the point raised by Deputy Good and Deputy Moore. Many a time, I am sure, Deputy Moore gave a character to a person in order to get employment and perhaps the new employer might not find the man at all efficient or up to the necessary standard. Of course Deputy Moore would give that character in good faith. Any other employer might just do the same. It is hard to fix a general rule in these cases. The whole thing would depend upon the employer. He will soon find out whether the man he employs is capable or incapable, and if he is not a good man he will not keep him.
[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]
I think the last speaker has given the answer to the points that have been raised. The complaint is made that a man might go into a particular trade and he would get the same wages as really skilled persons although, because of his lack of skill, he would not deserve those wages. I think that matter would be regulated by the employer, who would very soon find out if the man were worth retaining. As to whether people will get into occupations under what amounts to false pretences, I would like to point out to Deputies that a register is to be kept under the provisions of this Bill, and that register will give a certain amount of information in regard to workers. There will have to be a register kept and particulars will have to be entered by employers. That register will be open to inspection. If an employer wants to find out anything about a worker, he can go to the register and he will see the particulars laid down under the designated trade to which the worker is attached. He will see there details about education, progress, etc. Of course, there would be nothing like a certificate. To advance to that point would bring us a very long distance. It would necessitate the setting up of some examining body with power to issue what would correspond to a leaving certificate. I doubt very much if that is required, but if it is pressed it would mean going a long way.
On Section 26, I would like the Minister to give us some information as to what is meant by authorised officers. As will be observed in Section 28, these officers are given very wide powers. They can enter an employer's premises and inspect his pay-sheets, and they can ask all sorts of questions. If the employer or his officials do not supply the information, and if they do not act in a courteous fashion, they are subject to penalties. What particular officers has the Minister in mind? What class of individual comes under the heading of authorised officer?
There is a definition with regard to authorised officers, and it sets out—"the expression `authorised officer' includes any person authorised in writing (either generally or for a special purpose) by the Minister to exercise all or any of the powers and perform all or any of the duties conferred or imposed on an authorised officer under this Act." In the main they would be officials who are at the moment industrial inspectors and, possibly, the factory inspectors might be authorised.
Inspectors and officers of the Department?
Yes, of the Department.
They will not be officers of a trade union?
No. There might be certain officers of the Department of Education also authorised.
With regard to Section 34, which deals with the expenses of members of apprenticeship committees, are the members to be paid?
That would have to work itself out in accordance with the duties that would be laid on the members of the committee and the amount of their time that would be taken up. The appointed members of trade boards get a certain amount of extra remuneration, but the other members get only sufficient to cover their expenses; I mean the representative members. That will be what we will have in mind at the start.
It might be quite right to pay the expenses of persons who would have to travel to attend meetings of the committee, but take the case of members residing in the city—they would not have to go to any expense.
We would look for voluntary work there.
Does the Minister set any limit to the number of meetings to be held? That would have an important bearing on the expenses.
It is not limited in the Bill and, to a certain extent, it will depend upon the committee. Of course there can always be a certain amount of supervision. The remuneration and expenses have to be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance—such as will be sanctioned by him.
With regard to amendment 45, which deals with the schedule, I agreed on the point submitted by Deputy Anthony to bring in an amendment to allow duly authorised agents. I may put that in, in preference to Deputy Anthony's own term of solicitor or agent.
Representations have been made that we should allow a considerable interval between this and the Report Stage. A date was mentioned yesterday which I would like to accede to; but it may be too near the end of the Session. I am prepared to suggest this day fortnight for the Report Stage. If at that time we are not within sight of the end of the Session, and if there is a possibility of getting the Bill through at a later period, I will propose not to take the Report Stage until a later period.
I am anxious that the Minister would leave the next stage as long as possible. There are numbers of matters one would like to consider and, after our discussion here to-day, there are numbers of bodies that would like to give the Bill their consideration.
I am suggesting this day fortnight, but I may have to ask a further postponement if there is time within the present Session.
Report Stage fixed for Thursday, 25th June, 1931.