I move that the Bill be received for final consideration.
Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1934—Final Stages.
I do not know whether I am in order at this stage in paying my respects to the Bill before it receives its final commendation from the House. I have not yet mastered the Standing Orders. I do not know whether it is in order to make a speech on the Report Stage or whether I have to wait for the next stage.
A speech from the Deputy, I think, is always in order.
Maybe I am, and maybe I am not. I feel myself in rather a difficult position because I do not like to go in opposition to the Minister and I do not like paying any more money into this Shannon scheme. One hundred and fifty years ago or so there were three pirates hanged on the Muglins, and the judge was asked why he condemned the pirates to be hanged on the Muglins. He said: "I wish them to have a good view of the situation." And you can have a good view of the situation from the Muglins, because, for the benefit of those whose geography may not be up-to-date, I may say that the Muglins are a collection of rocks in the Bay of Dublin, on the coast of Dalkey, beside Dalkey Island. There you can see the Hill of Howth and Lambay Island and, if you stretch your neck, you can see Ireland's Eye. You can see the coast all round Sandymount, Clontarf and the Pigeon House, and my view is on the Pigeon House in connection with this matter.
It is nearly 50 years ago — certainly 45 years—since I was attracted one fine evening, going down Nassau Street, to a group of men looking in through the college railings. I went over to see what was happening and I saw in the distance an elderly man who, the group of men informed me, was a professor, and he was learning how to fly. He had a pair of wings on his back and a rope round his chest, and the rope was held by a man some distance away from him. The poor man made strenuous efforts to fly, but he failed. An interesting question arose as to what would happen to the man at the end of the rope supposing the professor did mount into the air. Would he go along with him or would the professor let the rope go and fly away; or would he haul the man up and then let him fall and break his neck? In those days, when working men gathered together, you would always find them in serious conversation, and, naturally, the conversation of this group of men turned on science. I then got the information from these men, who were the descendants of men — their grandfathers or great-grandfathers — who had acted on the engineering staff in the construction of the Grand Canal, that there was any amount of water in Ireland but no water power, and that the Irish rivers, generally, were lazy rivers, and the Shannon the laziest of them all. So, having got my science degree outside the walls of Trinity College, which I would never have got inside, I found myself some years afterwards a member of the Dublin Corporation and, in the very first year of this century, engaged in the very important task of bringing about a proper electrical supply for the citizens of Dublin. There my information and my science degree were of great help because we got it into our heads that there was plenty of water in Ireland and no water power. The City of Dublin electrical supply at that period was confined to a small station in Fleet Street. That station still stands but it has been very much added to. I do not suppose that the radius of the streets supplied from that station at the time extended further than half a mile. Anyway, it was necessary for the well-being of the citizens and the credit of the city that the electrical supply should be tremendously increased. Every care was taken by the Corporation to see that the job they were going to undertake was a good job. Various syndicates arose to undertake the work, but the majority of the Corporation decided that the undertaking should be municipally controlled for the benefit of the citizens. They succeeded in doing that. In order to secure the best information available, a deputation was sent to Switzerland, which is a torrential country, to see the schemes that that Government had for generating electricity.
The Deputy raised a query as to procedure on the Report Stage of a Bill. On the Report Stage the House technically considers the report of the Committee of the House on the Bill. In this instance the Committee made no alteration in the Bill. The Deputy would be in order on the Fifth Stage in giving reasons for opposing the motion that "the Bill do now pass" but reminiscences going back to the construction of the Grand Canal and the foundation of the electrical system of the Dublin Corporation would not be in order.
I thought I fortified myself at the beginning. I find I did not. I would have to have a military training here in order that I would be well fortified. I submit, having regard to the fact that the Shannon scheme started on its career by absorbing the old Corporation supply, assets, money and everything else, that I am entitled to have placed on record the position, as it affects the Dublin Corporation and the Shannon scheme.
On the Fifth Stage.
Then I will wait until the Fifth Stage and resume.
I assume that there will be no objection to taking the Fifth Stage now.
Is there any special urgency?
The Board is anxious to get the capital made available.
Perhaps the Minister will answer some questions then?
We only lost a few minutes after all. I do not take up much of the time of the House. If I was like other members, who speak for hours, and who fill up the Parliamentary Records, and give the reporters and the printers plenty of work, I would not object, but I take up very little time in this House. I am rather concerned from the Dublin man's point of view about this Bill. More money is asked for. Already £9,000 000 has gone into the enterprise so that, with an undertaking of that capacity, I am astonished Deputies did not take more interest in the proceedings. The Bill has nearly gone through all stages, and no one made any remarks. Is it that everybody is satisfied the undertaking is going on all right? I am not.
Is not a lot of this money for Dublin?
Some part of it.
A big part of it.
We will go into that afterwards. I am sorry I was interrupted when I was going into the question. I cannot help that now. It is my misfortune always to be interrupted and never let go on in my own way. I was proceeding to relate the care and the pains that the Dublin Corporation took at the beginning to provide a supply of both light and power for the city. The advice of the best engineers was obtained. Vigorous opposition came against the undertaking remaining in the hands of the Corporation. Various syndicates put up brass plates around Dublin, representing themselves as great engineers, and as having any amount of capital behind them. An inspector of the Local Government spent 11 days dealing with the application of the Corporation for a first loan of £250,000 with which to start the undertaking. The Local Government Board eventually agreed to allow the Corporation to borrow the money and to proceed with the work. The undertaking was a success. For some time it had a struggle, but after seven or eight years working it became a substantial success. The Dublin Corporation was suppressed in 1924 and its work was carried on by Commissioners.
The Shannon Electricity Supply Act was passed by the Dáil in 1927 empowering the Electricity Supply Board to take over the Corporation electricity undertaking. Therefore the Board started well. I have here a short statement of the immense assets that were handed over to the Electricity Supply Board, there being no Corporation at the time to make a protest. I got the City Manager's Department to make out the statement, and I told the officials that probably some reference to the matter would be made here to-day. The statement is not as complete as it could have been, because the books and everything else concerning the electricity undertaking have been taken over by the Electricity Supply Board and are not available to the citizens. The total capital cost of the undertaking amounted to £1,959,935 at the date it was taken over in 1927. Against that there was an outstanding loan of £500,000 so that the excess of assets over liabilities at that date amounted to £1,445,670. That is the present the Electricity Supply Board got from the Dublin Corporation, including debts due by customers amounting to £144,000. The net cash in bank at that date was £57,980. The total surplus for the last year of the undertaking's working when it was controlled by the Commissioners was £87,024. The revenue that year alone amounted to £320,000, the working expenses being £184,141 and the capital debt charges repaid £63,000, leaving a net surplus of £87,000 on that year's working. With that gift alone, I think the Shannon scheme started well. Surely with £9,000,000 of the country's money, along with the Dublin undertaking, the enterprise should have shown better results than those indicated in the present year's statement of accounts, a surplus of just £5,000. We are told it is only in its infancy by some of its apologists. That may be.
And that it is a white elephant by others.
That may be. I never said that it was a white elephant. I hope it will not be. I hope it will be a success. Deputies may not think so from my remarks but I hope it will go ahead and that it will be a success. What I do object to is putting more and more money into it. If it is only in its infancy, it is not showing very many signs of walking. That is generally a very anxious time for the parents of an infant, when it is showing signs of walking. A considerable sum of money has been put into it year after year. I heard the Minister refer to all that had been put into it some years ago and he went on to recount the further sums that it would be necessary to put into it next year. I think I heard him say that it would be necessary to put money into it up to 1975. I believe that there is sufficient money in it already and that no more should be put into it until there is substantial evidence that it is going to pay its way. I do not ask that it should make a profit, but I do ask that the supply should be made available for customers all over Ireland both for power and light at a reasonable price. I say that it should be an enterprise to be looked forward to by those who are responsible for the education of our youth, as well as the parents of our young people, as a place where honest and decent employment may be found.
The omnipotence of this Board is complete. Even the Minister, when he was speaking the other day, had to say that he did not know anything about certain questions that were asked, that he only knew what was in the report, that he has no control over the Board and he knows nothing of what is happening there. He has to be satisfied, just as we have to be satisfied, with the statements of accounts submitted every year. That is not right considering that this enterprise enters so much into the industrial life of the country. Surely the Minister should have control. Surely somebody should have control. Somebody should be empowered to say: "You may do this, or you may do that," or "you may not do this or that." What is the position? Is the employment under this Board good employment? The Corporation of Dublin paid good wages to artisans, skilled and unskilled, and to its clerical officers. £60,000 a year was the wages pay-roll of the working men for the period I was there. Nearly £30,000 was paid to the clerical officers. That was almost £100,000 paid out when the Pigeon House was working and the Corporation had control of its own supply. What are the wages paid now? I asked that question the other day. The Minister said he presumed that the wages paid were under the control of the trades unions.
Here is a case that happened recently. The son of a very good citizen, a man who gave good work to his country and to his city in his day, was employed by the Shannon Board. His wages were £1 5s. per week. He was a fine presentable, well-educated lad. He came into me some time ago and he asked me could I get him a position. I asked him: "Where were you working?" He said: "I was working on the Shannon Board." I said: "Why did you not keep working there?" He said: "I could not." I asked him why. He said: "They reduced my wages." I asked: "What wages had you?""Twenty-five shillings a week," he said. "What did they reduce your wages for?" I asked. He said: "They brought in some new machine to do part of the work I was doing and they cut me 5/- per week. They reduced my wages to £1. I could not stick it, and I would refuse to stick it for anybody." If that is the type of wages that are paid there to operatives who are not in any trade union, I certainly commend the whole position to my neighbours here, the Labour Deputies, and ask them to look into it. I shall quote another case to show the omnipotence of this Board. Three men came into me 12 or 18 months ago to know if I could get them on the Corporation Bureau for work. They said they had been working at the Pigeon House and had been pensioned. I asked: "Have you got the pensions still?" They replied: "No, we compounded for a certain sum with the Board. The Board bought our pensions and we spent the money. We thought that if we got the money into our hands it would be better for us. We have the money spent now and we are trying to get work again."
I did my best to get them on the Corporation Bureau for some work, but just imagine a great Board like this getting power to compound working men's pensions—peddling for them. Who supervises the Board? The Minister ought to know. There should be some steps taken to see that these omnipotent powers shall not remain with the Board. Here is another example of what they can do. Of course, they do it under their Act of Parliament, the Act of Parliament which puts them beyond even the control of this House. They erect in many places great poles for their wires. Some of these poles in the streets of Dublin are all right. They are painted, silver painted, but in other places they put up railway sleepers, great black tarred things, as high as this ceiling, and they put them anywhere they like. Several protests have been made by the Corporation against the erection of these poles, but to no avail. A well-known law case occurred some years ago in which a lady, who lived out in Clonskea, I think, disputed their right to erect poles on her lawn. She lost the case, and, I think, some of them told her that they could, if they wished, put poles in her drawing-room and right out through the roof of her house. I might mention also that they exercised this power in an unfair way in an area on the south side, in which the Corporation are carrying out a big housing scheme, an area in which we are endeavouring to perpetuate the historical associations of the place. Little garden plots are provided in front of each workman's house. It will be scarcely believed that the Board have erected these railway-sleeper poles on some of these lawns. All we could do was to protest against it. If this happened in another place they would not be allowed to erect these poles or to have wires dangling out of them all over the country. They would be made to put the wires under the ground. We had no power to compel them to do so or we might. I forget really some of the matters to which I wished to refer owing to the interlude with the Chair. The position is as I have described it, and I respectfully suggest to the Minister that he should get powers to enable him to be the man on top in these matters.
I think no more money should be put into it until it shows real signs of being able to stand by itself. The sum of £3,000,000 is wanted under this Bill. Is that on top of the millions that they have already got? I do not know that that is good enough at all. I may be wrong. I do not know very much about electricity, although I served fairly good term in the Corporation in connection with it. In the first year of the war, 1914, the Corporation set up a special committee to make some important inquiries as to the working of their system, at that time, and as to its future prospects. An expert named Dollan was brought over from England. He was a very able and solid man. I was chairman of that committee and acted upon the committee itself from its inception. I had very extensive conversations with that man, and rather exhaustive meetings of the committee and I got to know a great deal about the system. From the acquaintance I have had with the question, I think I am fairly entitled to speak. From the reports that I have read recently, in connection with the Shannon scheme, I am satisfied that it is an enterprise in which no more money should be invested unless, and until, the Executive Council are fortified by the best opinions they can get as to the future of that enterprise. I think that is reasonable. I do not think there is anything in that suggestion of mine to which any businessman could object. I have taken my own view of the situation and worked out my view of things generally. I finish up by emphasising the fact that some group should have powers over this Board, and that the ultimate control should rest with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and not with the Board. The citizens will then be sure of having some say in the matter. At the present time they have none and I do not think that that is a condition of affairs that ought to be allowed to exist in this year of civilisation, 1934.
I agree, to a great extent, with what Deputy Kelly has said. I think the Minister should have control over the Board. Electricity consumers in Limerick have a particular grievance, even greater than the consumers in Dublin and in Cork. The consumers in Limerick pay a higher price for their electricity than the consumers elsewhere. I cannot see why that should be so. We, in Limerick, had a very complete system of our own until the Government swooped down and took control. There were some men dismissed as a result of the E. S. B. taking control and I shall ask the Minister to look into the grievances of these men. Men were dismissed from the Corbally Mills as a result of the E.S.B. taking over, and I think that some provision should be made for these unfortunate men as a result of losing their employment.
I want to ask a question about whatever amount of money is involved in this. What amount of money does the Minister think it necessary to expend, say, in this calendar year and the next calendar year? I want to ask if provision is being made for the supplying of that money out of whatever was got in the last National Loan. And, if so, at what rate of interest will the Minister now provide that such money should be lent to the Board? Is there to be a charge of 5 per cent. irrespective of whether money now-a-days can be borrowed at that rate or not? If the Minister thinks the rate of interest that is going to be charged is oppressive, in consideration of the terms on which money can be borrowed, I would like to ask him if he would not contemplate giving the Board itself, under proper supervision and guidance, of course, power to make an issue of its own or to look for public subscriptions. It would possibly have to be guaranteed. It is possible that for a specific purpose an issue at this moment, when there is abundant money lying around at a cheap rate, could be borrowed at a rate of interest that would be for the benefit, in the present instance, of the Board and the consumer.
There were a certain number of other matters dragged into this debate. I do not intend to refer to them at any length here now because, in my opinion, this is not the proper occasion. The accounts were published. It was a consideration accepted by everybody in the House that the return the Board had got to make for the big sums of money they had got, and the big advantage in credit they had got from the State, there should be, once a year, an opportunity given to members of the House if they wished to avail themselves of it, to discuss the affairs of the Board. The accounts have been presented and I presume it is still the case that if a day were sought, or a period sought, to discuss these accounts it would be granted. Upon these accounts matters that have been referred to here could be most properly raised. But since matters got started irrespective of what the case may be, may I say this:—The Board must show on the scheme of arrangements made with them that the payments that are due from them are likely to be made. Deputy Kelly should pause and consider what the obligations imposed upon the Board are. They have to repay the State all the outstanding moneys. They do that by interest payments and by payments from the sinking fund and they have to do what no commercial concern does at the present time: they have to pile up a reserve with the result that if that scheme and that other scheme of payments works out, and is continued to the end of the sinking fund payment, the Shannon Board will find themselves in the position that they will have repaid the State and repaid the interest on the moneys which the State was then able to borrow and this would enable another Shannon scheme to be built if required. I make the boast that the system is able to supply Dublin with electricity at a cheaper rate than ever it got it before.
I do not believe that at all.
I do not care about the Deputy's belief; it is the figures that talk. The figures are there in the Board's accounts. If what I said is either untrue or inaccurate it should be contradicted by the production of the figures.
I have not the books.
They are here and they are in the Deputy's possession. The Deputy has more easy access to the facts in connection with the old Dublin situation than most people here. They can be got if the Deputy cares to look up the debates from the year 1925 to 1927. I omit one or two places in the country where by a lucky chance bankrupt concerns were bought over by people in possession of them when the Shannon Board came in, and because they had no overhead charges to pay and because they got into their possession bankrupt concerns, they possibly supplied electricity cheaper than the Board is now supplying, but in the main electricity has been supplied everywhere for all purposes at a cheaper rate than ever before in the country.
That is not so in Limerick.
It is so. Let me repeat again for all purposes. A point can be made about it that in some places there is more charged for public lighting than previously, but the surplus gained by that is offset in other ways. There are other cases in which public lighting has been given at much less than before, and the private consumer has to pay more.
I am speaking of the private consumers.
We cannot take the private consumers as a class apart. The whole area of distribution has to be taken into consideration. I make the statement again that if you take all classes of electricity users into consideration I want to have one place in the country pointed out where, in relation to all classes of consumers, it can be stated that there is more paid for electricity now than before.
It is not Limerick. The accounts are before us, and we can have it discussed. I should like to have a debate raised on figures, not on statements. I am cutting out Killarney and other small places where, through accidental circumstances, there was a peculiarly cheap provision of electricity. With the exception of one or two places, I want to repeat that I believe there is no place in which there is not now less being paid for the total amount of electricity being consumed by all types of users than before. If that is the case, and the Board repay the capital and meanwhile are paying interest on outstanding moneys, and if the Board is, in addition to that, at any rate in the way, because the time has not yet come, to pile up such resources that at the end of the sinking fund period there will be such an accumulated amount as will rebuild a second Shannon scheme without charge to anyone, it is a phenomenal achievement. This is a matter that should be discussed when the accounts are before us and not at this tail-end of a Fifth Reading debate to get more money.
I take it, as a matter of course, that when the Minister comes to the House and, without any explanation other than he gave, asks for more money for the Board, it means that he is satisfied with the progress that the Board has made. I am satisfied of that from another circumstance, that as far as I read the accounts the Minister has made no change in the arrangement with regard to the repayment of interest charges, the general organisation, in so far as he has control over it, and the arrangements that were there when he came in. Consequently, I take it from that silence and tacit accord that he is pleased with what is happening. If he requests this House to give him more money for embarkation on this scheme further, it means that he sees the Board has a future and that the Shannon electricity concern is on a sound footing and is likely to be the success that is claimed for it.
Would the Minister inform the House what is the amount of this loan?
Under the Bill, and whether one additional unit will be developed under it.
This Bill provides a sum of £1,160,000 to the Electricity Supply Board to enable it to carry on all the functions entrusted to it by the electricity Supply Act — the function of distributing electricity, trading in electrical equipments, maintaining its works and undertaking various investigations in relation to the electricity supply. No part of the money provided under the Bill will be expended upon generation. That is not necessary at this stage, because last year we passed a Bill providing money to meet the cost of the additions at Ardnacrusha and certain extensions in the generating capacity at the Pigeon House. Undoubtedly, some part of this expenditure on the Pigeon House water supply, arrangements for bringing in coal, and the expenditure at Ardnacrusha on the deepening of the Shannon, will increase the efficiency of the Board's plant, but that is necessary expenditure in any event. It arises out of the growth of the system.
That will lead to better generation?
Yes. I explained that the main purpose for which the capital is required is to finance the natural growth of the system. There is, year after year, an increase in the demand for electricity arising out of the more extended use of electricity in industry, the more extended use of electricity for household purposes, housing developments that are proceeding, and the change in the habits of the people. That increase is experienced in every country. It is reckoned that we should have an increased growth equivalent to 14 per cent. per annum. It has been found possible in other countries to secure an annual increase at the rate of 14 per cent. per annum. We are not getting that here yet. We are getting near it, but we have not yet succeeded in getting it. It will be necessary for us to get a growth in consumption of about that dimension before we can be satisfied with the position of the scheme. The scheme is working out, as Deputies are aware, despite the fact that it has met with difficulties. The Board, from the day it was established and entrusted with the responsibility, has met with difficulties which were not foreseen before its establishment. These difficulties have had their effect upon its finances and the general development of the scheme. But, despite these difficulties, progress is being made, progress which, in the circumstances, I think we can regard as satisfactory, although I do not think it will help the scheme or the Board to over-estimate what is being done.
The accounts for 1932-3 are there. They show, on the face of them, a small surplus. Deputies will have noted, however, that no provision is made for depreciation of the Board's plant. Depreciation, I think, is properly chargeable as a working expense, but no provision has yet been made for it.
Is there any reserve being piled up?
Deputy McGilligan referred to the obligations of the Board, its obligation to pay interest on the advances made under the previous Acts; its obligation to repay these advances, to provide a depreciation fund and to provide for a reserve fund capable of replacing the system at the end of a period of time. The Board is meeting at present its interest charges. It has not, however, commenced to repay, nor has it been asked to commence to repay, nor would it be able to commence repaying, the capital advanced. It is not making provision for the depreciation of its plant and no reserve fund of the kind mentioned has been or is being built up as yet. However, I do not want any false impression to arise out of what I have said, because the financial position of the Board is improving with each year that passes and in due course it will be possible to appoint a day on which the repayment of capital will commence and also to contemplate the provision of an adequate depreciation reserve. It was originally contemplated that the appointed day would be in this year, but that, it appears, will not be possible.
I cannot tell Deputy McGilligan whether the Minister for Finance will make the advances under this Bill out of the proceeds of the recent loan or from any other sources. The advances are made from the Exchequer. The question of the rate of interest is one that is at present under consideration following representations from the Board. The rate of interest was fixed by our predecessors and it has operated up to the present but, having regard to the lower rate at which the State is now able to borrow money, it is clear that the matter must come up for reconsideration. The question of giving the Board power to raise its own capital is also one for consideration. No decision has yet been made, nor has it been clearly established that it would be in the interests of the Board that that power should be given them. It is unlikely any change in the law will be made during the course of the present year, whatever we may decide to do next year.
All the matters raised by Deputy Kelly were, of course, fully discussed in the Dáil on many occasions in the past. I think we should not confuse the Shannon scheme with the functions of the Electricity Supply Board. The Electricity Supply Board is operating a national electricity supply. It has control of the various generating units and is under obligation to supply electricity subject to certain limitations in relation to the price charged. The institution of a national supply, publicly owned and controlled by a Board appointed by the Government was, I think, a very useful step, something which is bound to be conducive to industrial development and the public convenience. It is not necessary to discuss now all the steps that were taken from the date upon which it was decided to initiate the Shannon scheme down to this year, or to consider whether they were wise or unwise. The fact is that the Electricity Supply Board is in possession of the Shannon works, in possession of other generating equipment throughout the country, is controlling the transmission and distribution systems and is carrying out certain functions entrusted to it by law. It is not possible to reverse that position. We must give that Board whatever support it requires, we must provide it with the capital that will enable it to finance the growth of its system and, in other ways, help it to achieve its task.
It may be that there is a case for exercising more control over it than was originally intended. The initiators of the scheme decided on an amendment in 1931, when a section was introduced in the Act of that year limiting the power of the Board to secure capital advances from the Minister for Finance only when the Minister for Industry and Commerce had been satisfied that the moneys were properly and reasonably required. That limitation was considered necessary under the circumstances of that year. It is now being considered whether that limitation can be removed or not. It is possibly true that the Board have acted in a manner open to complaint in the placing of distribution poles and the like. My experience has been that when representations were made to them, directly or through my Department, these representations always received fair consideration. If they could be met without undue inconvenience they were met by the Board. I have no control over employment by the Board and, if Deputies desire to base complaints concerning either the rate of wages paid or the men employed on particular works, they have as much right to make those complaints direct to the members of the Electricity Supply Board as I would have.
Representations do not seem to get very far.
I do not agree that representations made by responsible Deputies would have no effect.
That means that there are some of us who are very irresponsible.
Some are, but I have no reason to believe that when responsible Deputies make complaints they are not investigated.
Then I must be an irresponsible Deputy.
I do not say that the Board will always accept complaints as particularly well founded and calling for an investigation. The Board is usually at great pains to justify whatever decision it makes.
I admit that it takes great pains to justify whatever decision it makes.
These are all the matters to which it is necessary to refer. There will be another Bill brought before the Dáil in the present Session to provide additional capital for the Board for storage purposes and also to effect various changes in the law regulating its activities, the necessity for which has appeared from time to time.
I should like to mention one matter in order to elucidate a certain statement. The Minister said he could not be satisfied with the position until there was a 14 per cent. increase per annum in the consumption. Does that percentage apply apart from the new expenditure by way of development which is to take place under this Bill?
Perhaps I should have said a 14 per cent. increase per annum in revenue. The Deputy will understand that expenditure has been continuously proceeding upon the improvement of the transmission system and the extension of the distribution system, upon bringing current to places where it is not supplied at the moment, bringing current to consumers. All that expenditure will involve in due course additional heavy expenditure upon generation, and in order to ensure that when that heavier expenditure has to take place the Board will have sufficient revenue to meet the capital charges thus arising, an annual increase of 14 per cent. per annum in revenue appears to be required. The increase at present is 11 per cent. or 11½ per cent., but it is getting up to the point of 14 per cent.
With that increase, if he attains it, does the Minister believe that the Board will be in the position to start building up the reserve fund about which Deputy McGilligan spoke?
If there is a 14 per cent. increase year by year for some years to come, the Board will then be in a position to meet all its interest charges, and make provision for repayments over the periods allotted to them for the various items on which expenditure was made long ago, and also to make provision for necessary reserves. It does leave the Board in this position, that at the end of the 30 years, which is the sinking fund period for certain portions of the work, all the money will have been repaid and there will have been piled up such a sum as either, if saved, would rebuild that portion of the works or, if expended, would have kept that portion of the works in first-class condition. That is the achievement. I think the Minister might also say that, if one takes the percentage increase year by year on the previous year's revenue, as from the beginning of the scheme to date, there is more than 14 per cent. over the whole period. Last year or the year before may not be quite as full as 14 per cent., but taking the whole period, there is more than 14 per cent. shown over a period of years.
Well, of course, there was a great increase as between the second and first. The Board should be expected to meet all its working expenses, and I include in that depreciation. It is required also to repay the advances from the Minister for Finance, and in addition it should provide also a reserve capable of meeting all contingencies that are going to arise from time to time. There was about this time last year a very severe snowstorm which did a good deal of damage through the transmission system and a very considerable amount was required to make good that damage. Such expenditure should not have to be met by fresh capital advances.
Will they be able to pay more than £1 a week to the workers?
Am I right in saying that this expenditure is not included with the supplementary scheme? Am I right in supposing that this expenditure is in no way concerned with the supplementary scheme?
Only to this extent—in 1932 we provided for the installation of a turbine at Ardnacrusha. Included in this sum there is, roughly, a sum of £50,000 for the deepening of the Shannon at Killaloe.
There were originally two schemes put up and when the experts had finished their recommendations on the matter there were really three schemes. These were called the first and second Shannon development schemes. Deputy Thrift's point is that the second stage, as understood, is not being now inaugurated and the Minister said "No." These different developments are no longer now as clear cut as when expressed in the experts report. This is advancing towards the first Shannon development and getting towards the second——
We are certainly past the first stage.