Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £361,635 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníochta i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1939, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála maraon le hIldeontaisí-i-gCabhair.
That a sum not exceeding £361,635 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1939, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.
Deputies have, I am sure, noted the various details of the Estimate as set out in the Book of Estimates. The total of the Estimate for the year shows an increase of £52,169 over the Estimate for last year, an increase which is due mainly to the necessity for increased provision under three sub-heads:— sub-head A for Salaries, Wages and Allowances; sub-heads I and J for Exhibitions and Fairs, and sub-head M for the Production of Industrial Alcohol.
The increase under sub-head A, the sub-head relating to salaries, wages and allowances, calls for no special comment as it is due mainly to automatic increases in individual salaries. The total staff, as Deputies will have noted, has remained practically the same as in last year. There was a slight increase, the figure in 1937-38 being 587 and for 1938-39 being 595.
The increased provision under sub-heads I and J for Exhibitions and Fairs arises first because we decided to build an Irish Pavilion at the Glasgow Exhibition which is now proceeding, and, secondly, because it was proposed to have an Irish Pavilion at the New York World Fair which is to be held next year. It is the opinion of the Government that expenditure upon suitable displays at important international exhibitions is money well spent and will repay itself in increased trade and in increased tourist business.
The increased provision under item M for production of industrial alcohol is very largely a book-keeping item. The five industrial alcohol distilleries will be working continuously this year, and the increase in the Estimate is due mainly to the consequential increased expenditure contemplated in respect of raw materials. The Estimate is based upon the assumption that 35,000 tons of potatoes will be purchased. This is probably the last year that that particular sub-head will appear. On the assumption that the Industrial Alcohol Bill which is now before the Dáil will be enacted, that Bill will transfer the operation of the industrial alcohol enterprise from the Department of Industry and Commerce to the company to be established under the Bill. The total provision in respect of that service in this year includes a sum of £61,700 for capital expenditure. The anticipated receipts from the sale of industrial alcohol are estimated to reach £168,000.
There is on the Order Paper a motion in the names of Deputies Pattison and Davin that the Estimate be reduced by £100 in respect of item A. A motion of that kind is usually indicative, not of any desire on the part of the Deputies concerned to reduce the particular sub-head, but of their intention to raise some particular matter relating to the activities of the Department. I may say I have had no information that any particular matter is to be raised on the motion and, consequently, I cannot deal at this stage with whatever the two Deputies have in mind.
The activities of the Department of Industry and Commerce, as Deputies are aware, cover a very wide field, and it is not possible in the course of a short statement introducing the Estimate to make more than a very brief reference to matters of major impor tance or particular interest which arose during the 12 months since the Estimate for the Department was previously before the Dáil. The work of the Department in the promotion and development of industrial activities is still the most important part of its programme. Many new industries were established during the past year, and also during that period plans were prepared and completed which will result in the establishment of an additional number of new industrial enterprises during the coming 12 months. Perhaps it is not necessary, it is probably even not practicable, to refer to these developments in detail, but it is, I think, noteworthy that there has been no evidence of any slackening of interest in the industrial possibilities of this country. Quite the contrary.
It is true that during the earlier portion of this year the uncertainty which was created by the prolongation of the negotiations in London had a considerable adverse effect upon industrial output and industrial employment, which did not entirely disappear when the Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom was signed and published, due to the inaccurate statements which were published in the Press from industrialists and others, which had the effect of continuing the state of uncertainty, with its consequential ill effects. It is only now that a clear understanding of the position has been obtained in trading circles and the resumption of trade upon a more normal basis is taking place. Conditions here were also affected to some extent, and perhaps are still being affected, by international circumstances, which have produced in some countries a marked recession in industrial outlook and activity. It is to be hoped that the disimprovement in world conditions is only temporary. The new circumstances existing here make it possible for us, in any case, to face the future with confidence, in the belief that we will be able to overcome our difficulties and ensure a continuance of our industrial activities and industrial expansion.
The outstanding event of the year was, of course, the conclusion of a Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom. It is, perhaps, not necessary to refer to that Trade Agreement in detail. The details of it are, I think, well known to Deputies, and it was debated here on more than one occasion within the past couple of months. The length of the period during which the negotiations were in progress, and my preoccupation and the preoccupation of the senior officials of my Department with the conduct of the negotiations, upset the Department's programme to a considerable extent, and necessitated delay in respect of many matters, some legislative and some administrative, on which I had intended early action to be taken. The general election which took place last month was a further cause of upset, and it may be some time before we will be able to make up arrears of work on that programme.
During the course of the year, efforts were also made to put on a better basis our trade relations with the United States of America, with Australia, New Zealand, the Argentine, Brazil, and with certain other countries. There has been some evidence of a tendency on the part of some of our new industrial establishments to look abroad for outlets for their surplus production, and that tendency has increased our interest in concluding trade agreements with countries to which we exported very little heretofore. During the course of the year, also, efforts were made, by administrative action and otherwise, to secure an improvement in the quality and the variety of goods manufactured in Ireland.
In that connection I might make particular reference to the establishment of an advisory commission on industrial design. That advisory commission held its first meeting in November last. I do not think the importance of the work of that commission can be overstressed, and I suggest that the thanks of the Dáil are due to the many busy people who voluntarily agreed to act upon that commission, and who are devoting a considerable proportion of their time to its work.
The work of the Turf Development Board, which is also financed in this Estimate, proceeded during the year according to plan. Possibly the best compliment which could be paid to the board is to say that its work proceeded according to plan. As Deputies are aware, the Turraun Peat Works was acquired by the board in 1935, and has since been in regular production. The development of the bog at Clonsast, near Portarlington, which was commenced in 1936, is proceeding, and it is possible one machine will be in operation there towards the end of the coming production season. Another at Lyrecrompane, in County Kerry, commenced production during the present season. The board also co-operates in marketing hand-won turf produced by co-operative societies, but that function will be gradually relinquished by it and transferred to the co-operative societies themselves. During the next few years a considerable amount of attention will be paid to the survey of large bogs to determine their suitability for machine production, and in suitable cases the preliminary drainage of these bogs will be put in hands.
I do not know if the Dáil would wish me to give any detailed review of the Department's activities under the Factories and Workshops Acts, the Trade Board Acts, the Apprenticeship Act or the Conditions of Employment Act. Such a review might take a long time. But if any Deputy desires to raise any point in relation to the administration of these statutes I will deal with it in my reply. Similarly the operation of the Control of Prices Act might call for some comment. The new Act has barely begun to operate. I am glad to be able to report that there is some substantial evidence of increased public interest in the protection afforded through the powers of the Prices Commission and the Controller of Prices. The commission has been occupied with an investigation into bacon prices, and they are now, of course, facing the volume of new work falling upon them under the terms of the Agreement with the United Kingdom. Provision is also made in this Estimate for the Industrial Research Council. I do not propose to refer to that matter in detail as the report of the council will be available shortly. This deals fully with its activities under its various heads. There are, of course, many other activities of the Department of which Deputies are aware. If there is any desire to get any information concerning them or to raise any point concerning them I will be prepared to deal fully with such points when replying. I am merely at this stage drawing attention to the outstanding features of the Estimate and I formally submit the motion to the Dáil leaving for discussion later any matters in which Deputies might be particularly interested.