That brings us to the conditions of the licence. The Minister put a notice in the Press that it was the intention to make this a reserved commodity. He says that he has got no substantial objections, and that he is going ahead. He also stated that the licence is not issued. Surely, if an important Irish industry is going to develop in this way, and if Irish capital is induced to put itself into an industry with the protected terms, that no one else will be allowed to manufacture or to import, the Minister should examine the situation most carefully before we would give that particular type of protection and assistance to any group of people setting themselves up in this matter. The fact that they have to get so much protection shows that there is a considerable amount of danger in going into this business unless they are completely protected.
The Minister has given no evidence that he has examined the situation, and not only that, but, as it were, covers himself from telling us the conditions under which he is to give a licence by saying that a licence has not yet issued. When the Minister, in spite of considerable criticism, forced his legislative proposals dealing with reserved commodities generally in the Dáil, he said he was going to impose a number of conditions. We want to know what conditions he has imposed on this company. The first question that arises is: Did the Minister go into this question himself? Did he take the initiative in selecting this as a reserved commodity, or was it because persons applied as the Act provides in Section 20? The Act says:—
(1) Any persons who proposes to manufacture a reserved commodity may apply to the Minister for a reserved commodity manufacture licence.
Was the Minister approached by a body to make this a reserved commodity or did he take the initiative? If he took the initiative I would like to hear what kind of inquiries he carried out, and what he found. The Act also provides that:—
(a) such application shall be in the prescribed form and be made in the prescribed manner, and
(b) such application shall state—
(i) the area within which the applicant proposes to manufacture such reserved commodity, and
(ii) such other particulars as may be prescribed.
Can the Minister tell us what area the present application is for, and what other particulars he required the company to supply? Apparently they applied for a Reserved Commodity Order to cover the whole of the Free State, and apparently it was part of their stipulation that they should be given a monopoly in that area. Again, the Minister requires some other particulars, and I would like to know what the particulars were, and what general information he got. Section 23 says:
(1) Whenever the Minister grants a reserved commodity manufacture licence in respect of a particular area, the Minister may attach to such licence conditions in respect of all or any of the following matters, that is to say:—
I take it that the Minister is allowing them to manufacture for the whole of the Free State.
(b) The extent to which materials for the construction or adaptation by such holder of any factory within such area and the plant, equipment, and apparatus of such factory shall be materials, plant, equipment and apparatus produced or manufactured in Saorstát Eireann.
I should like to know what kind of conditions applied in that respect.
(c) The time within which such holder shall commence to manufacture such reserved commodity within such area.
The Minister told us that these people have commenced production. What does he mean by "production"? It was put to the Minister the other day that this company was simply importing thread and spooling it. I should like to know what the Minister means by "production". Does he mean production of thread from raw cotton? What condition did he impose on the company to begin the manufacture of thread in that way by any particular date?
(d) The maximum quantity of such reserved commodity which may be manufactured in any year at the factory in such area in which such holder manufactures such reserved commodity.
The Minister tells us that £75,000 is the annual market for this trade here. Will the Minister say what conditions he imposed on this company as regards the amount of thread they will manufacture in their first, second and third years, and when he will require them to be in a position to manufacture, from the raw yarn, the full requirements of the country? The Minister may impose restrictions with regard to the amount that may be sold in any year. Has he done anything in that connection? He may impose conditions with regard to the minimum quantity to be manufactured. That arises under the other point. He may impose conditions as regards the maximum price which may be charged by such holder for any such reserved commodity. He may impose conditions with regard to the nature and quality of such reserved commodity. Dealing with these two conditions—maximum price and nature and quality—Deputy Dillon drew attention in the House on the 19th June to quotations that had been given by one of these firms. He said:
"At the present moment, if my information is correct, quotations have been given by these firms for certain types of thread. According to these quotations, threads that are available in Great Britain at 112/- to 120/- are going to cost 200/- here; threads that are quoted in Great Britain at from 48/- to 52/- are going to cost us here 60/-; and thread that is costing from 52/- to 58/- in Great Britain is going to cost 80/- here."
The Deputy went on to say that if the industry were going to convert the raw material into the finished product, a case might be made for permitting the Irish manufacturer to charge 150/- or 160/- for what costs in Great Britain 120/- because he would be going into a business which requires technical skill and would be in a competition with firms which had led the world in that trade. These quotations were, I understand, already given to firms requiring thread here and the matter was brought directly to the Minister's attention by Deputy Dillon on the 19th June. As regards the nature and quality of the reserved commodity and the general difficulties which the users of thread in this country expected they would have to face, Deputy Dillon said:—
"I understand that one of these concessionaires has informed thread buyers that if they want coloured thread—coloured thread is a very important raw material of the readymade clothing industry—they must buy not less than six gross of a shade. The Irish producers will not be in a position to furnish less than 6 gross of a particular shade. That means about £20 worth. Heretofore, the ready-made clothing manufacturer could get his choice of 260 shades, in 5/- lots of any shade, from a central agency for a world-wide firm of English thread manufacturers. I have repeatedly pointed out that this system of imposing tariffs without careful inquiry into the probable consequences of their imposition very often does far more harm to established industries than you can hope to balance by the good you are going to do in setting up the new industry you have in mind."
I am sure it has been pointed out to the Minister that some manufacturers have very considerable difficulty in getting the right type of thread to suit their machines and that very often it takes years of experience to arrive at the proper type. With shirt manufacturers and, probably, with clothing manufacturers, the thread problem is not simply one of price. However, the Minister has power to control the price and the nature and quality of reserved commodities. The licence may also contain conditions regarding the mode of manufacture and packing of such commodity. It may also contain conditions as regards the employment of Saorstát nationals. The Minister was not able to tell Deputy Norton what sort of people were going to be employed in the factory, though it was stated that women would dominate the factory. Surely, in asking the House to give a monopoly to a particular firm and practically to exclude the importation of all other manufactures of that type, the Minister should come to the House better equipped with information than he has come in this case, when he is not able to give the House an idea of the percentage of employees who will be women in this industry.
The Minister may include in the licence a condition dealing with the extent to which the capital invested in the business is, from time to time, to be owned by nationals in Saorstát Eireann. He has not given us any idea of the amount of capital involved in the establishment of this new industry. The licence may contain a condition as to extent to which the management of such business is, from time to time, to be controlled by nationals of Saorstát Eireann and the extent to which the directors of the company shall be nationals of Saorstát Eireann. There may be also a condition as to the return to be made to the Minister and as to the taking of samples. There is a general provision under Section 25 that the wages paid by the holder of a "reserved commodity manufacture licence" to persons employed by him shall not be less than would be payable if such business were carried on under a contract between the Minister and such holder containing a fair-wages clause. The Minister has not told us anything as regards the rate of wages which will be paid in this establishment or the nature of the general wages bill.
There is another aspect of the matter to which the Minister might address himself in dealing with this motion. On the 19th June, the Minister told Deputy Dillon that cotton thread was not yet being manufactured in Saorstát Eireann, but that the issue of licences for the importation of cotton thread free of duty was suspended while he was considering whether or not the issue of such licences in future would be justified. Does the Minister propose to continue to hold up the issue of licences for the importation of cotton thread? Will he say if there is a complete hold-up or whether the people running this company are getting a permit for the importation of cotton thread free of duty? If so, will the licence continue to be issued to them for the duty-free importation of cotton thread? If licences are not being issued at present for the importation of cotton thread free of duty, will the Minister say to what extent cotton thread is being imported at all and to what tariff the cotton thread that is being imported is subject? In this case, we have a sample of the way in which the Minister approaches these subjects. So far as we know, the Minister has been simply approached by somebody who said, "If you give us a monopoly we will set up machinery for the manufacture of cotton thread?" He thought over the matter and issued an Order simply stating that cotton thread would be a reserved commodity, without going into details as to the amount of capital involved, the wages to be paid, the type of stuff to be turned out, or the extent to which the present requirements of the thread trade in the country were going to be met. The Minister has given no indication, good, bad, or indifferent, that he has examined these matters at all. That is why I say the whole procedure for which power was taken in the Control of Manufactures Act to deal with Irish industry in this particular way is simply outrageous.