Let the Minister read his own Party organ. I suppose I will not be accused of bias in quoting that. The Minister was highly annoyed and highly indignant because I sought to warn him against the dangers which flow from giving private enterprise facilities at the expense of the State without getting any guarantees from the private firms concerned. In this instance I want to make sure that if the State is going to give private enterprise certain facilities we are entitled in all reason to know the conditions that are being imposed upon these firms. Yet the Minister came to the House on Friday last and made a very brief statement which contained no information of the kind we were entitled to expect on an occasion such as that. Having made that brief statement he asked Dáil Eireann to approve of the Reserved Commodity (Sewing Cotton) Order without the House being given the necessary information. I think that attitude on the part of the Minister is inexplicable. I think it is without precedent that the Minister should come to this House and ask for the wide powers which he is seeking in this Motion without giving the House the detailed information which it seeks in connection with this particular matter. Even apart from this particular instance I think the whole policy of the Government in granting facilities to private enterprise is wrong—without making sure that certain conditions in respect of the rates of wages and certain conditions of labour will be observed in these undertakings which seek facilities from the State. The whole policy of the Government seems to me to be that we want industries here at any price, the main consideration being to get the industry and that it does not matter what kind of exploitation is carried on in order to establish and to maintain that industry. It is obviously a task for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to take every possible step to ensure that so far as he can the conditions of employment and the rates of wages paid approximate to the most ideal that it is within the power of the Minister or the power of this House to make. My complaint against the Minister is that in giving facilities to private firms he has not taken steps to ensure that these firms will be required to pay fair rates of wages and to observe fair conditions of labour. The whole policy of the Government in this particular respect seems to be to get industry at any price. As against that kind of rash policy, as against that kind of panic for industry I suggest to the Minister that his policy should be tempered with the desire to see that such industries as are being established and in particular in respect of such industries as are seeking assistance from the State, he should take steps to ensure as a condition of the grant of any assistance by the State that fair rates of wages and fair conditions of labour will be observed by the firm in question. So far as this House knows, no such steps have been taken in this particular instance. So far as this House knows, no steps whatever have been taken to ascertain from the firm in question what rates of wages it proposes to pay.
The Minister came to the House and asked to have this Motion approved, but there was not a single indication from the Minister that he proposed to impose upon this firm any conditions in respect of wages or any other feature of employment in the industry. We are being asked, therefore, so far as this particular industry is concerned, to make it a closed borough for this firm. If we are going to do that, we ought to do it with our eyes wide open. We ought to do it when we have knowledge of the conditions of employment in the industry. We ought to do it when we have knowledge of the rates of wages to be paid. I think it is grossly unfair for the Minister to come to this House, and ask for the authority which he seeks in this Motion, without giving the House the detailed information which it requires in respect of the rates of wages, the conditions of employment, the sexes of the persons to be employed there, and the proportion of one to the other. I am not asking the Minister for anything unreasonable in asking for that information. We certainly ought not to be asked to approve an Order enabling the Minister to issue a licence to a particular firm, and to make this industry a closed borough for that firm, without having first obtained all the relevant information in respect of the conditions of employment in the undertaking.
It is quite possible, and indeed it is highly probably, that if this firm has a licence issued to it, and any subsequent proposal is submitted to the Minister for the establishment of a second undertaking in that particular industrial direction, the Minister will be prohibited from allowing that second industrial undertaking to be established, at least so far as the powers in his Department are concerned. This House will have placed itself in this position: It may give the Minister power to issue a licence to one particular firm, without information as to the wages or conditions of labour in the factory. Afterwards those conditions may come to light. They may be found to be unsatisfactory, but the House will then have put itself into the position of making a closed borough for one firm paying low rates of wages, and being prohibited in fact from permitting a second firm to be established, even though the proposed rates of wages are substantially higher than those paid in the first instance. I want to protect my vote against that possibility. I want to protect the State against the possibility that it will be used to subsidise an industry by the issue of a licence of this kind. I want to put the State in the position that it will not give its imprimatur to the establishment of a closed borough for the private owners of an enterprise, unless there is some definite information as to the rates of wages and conditions of employment. I hope that, since Friday last, the Minister has been able to get information on the matter. I hope we are now going to hear about the rates of wages and conditions of labour. I hope we are going to hear how many men and how many women will be employed in the undertaking, and that on to-day, Tuesday, we can have the information which we ought to have got from the Minister when he was moving this Motion on Friday last.
Aside from the whole question of whether this firm should or should not be licensed, and aside from the whole question as to whether it is desirable to permit the manufacture of this commodity in this country, I should like to ascertain from the Minister whether in fact the Government can see no way of inducing the manufacture of such commodities in this country except by setting up private monopolies, which are to be permitted to exploit the market for their own benefit, the creation of new national wealth and the provision of employment for Irish workers being secondary to the main consideration, which is to line their own pockets, and afterwards, and only incidentally, to create new sources of employment. The Minister used to be in favour of nationalisation of certain kinds. Has he given any consideration to the question of dealing with a problem such as this, and of introducing new lines of manufacture here, by setting up publicly-owned and publicly-controlled undertakings to produce such commodities here? It is not a very far step from having a publicly-owned and publicly-controlled sugar beet company, and Shannon scheme, to having a similarly owned and controlled industry in respect of cotton thread or other commodities. I should like to know whether the Minister, who used to be so fond of nationalisation in other days, has now completely abandoned any possibility of using the resources and the powers of the State in order to assist in the establishment here of industries which, so far, private enterprise has not established, and which private enterprise will only establish on being guaranteed an unrestricted monopoly in the home market? There may, of course, be people who will say that the State cannot run those schemes as efficiently as private enterprise.