I do not think they have yet been provided by the Department. But in 1936 the actual facts show that the new industrial development had not increased to any extent the proportion of workers under 18. In regard to the employment of females as compared with males, in 1936 about one-quarter of the workers were women, as compared with 17 per cent. in 1926. In the United Kingdom the proportion was approximately the same. It is comforting to note that our new industries have neither resulted in a large increase in the employment of females as compared with males, nor have they tended to an increased employment of children or young persons.
We hear a lot about industrial disputes in this country, and it is interesting in that connection to examine the wage levels here. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that regard in so far as a considerable number of our industries are concerned. I have here a statement from the International Labour Office journal of 1939 as to the comparative wages in this country and in the United Kingdom. If wages in a number of industries in London and Dublin are compared—London being the highest wage area in the United Kingdom, and Dublin being the highest wage area in Ireland—it will be seen that in all but one of 16 classifications of employment the wages in London were about 10 to 30 per cent. less than the wages in Dublin. The figures show that, in respect of organised industries here, there can be no suggestion that the workers are paid at an excessively low level.
Of course, we have to bear in mind one fact—it has been made obvious to us during this war—that, just as in other countries, the proportion of raw materials imported for our new industries is very high. Out of about £47,000,000 worth of raw materials used in our industries in 1936, at least £23,000,000 worth were imported. If one were to eliminate from that figure the importation of wheat for flour milling, it would be correspondingly reduced. When the members of the Opposition refer to the fact that many of our raw materials are imported, it must be remembered that that proportion of about 50 per cent. is no greater than in many other countries. The proportion of national income in Denmark which arises from industry is something over 30 per cent.—a fact which is unknown to many people—and most of the raw materials for Danish industries are imported; they have very few raw materials of their own. There is nothing to be ashamed of, then, if we have established industries in this country which are using a large percentage of imported raw materials, provided we can manufacture goods at a price which the people can afford to pay. But the fact that we have imported raw materials to the value of 50 per cent. of our total raw materials for industry does suggest that, if we could develop industrial exports on a larger scale, particularly when the war has ended, it would be to the advantage of industry. We have a very small market in this country for many of our industries, and that is one of the problems which the Minister for Industry and Commerce will have to face in the future. That is revealed by the fact that a very large number of our factories enjoy what might be described as virtual monopolies. No monopoly has been conferred on them by law, or by any action of the Department of Industry and Commerce, but the market is just large enough for the products of one factory only. Although a second factory may at any time be started, provided the Control of Manufactures Act is observed, if that second factory is started, one or other of them is likely to go out of production because of the limited nature of the market. I have compiled a list of at least 40 quite important products which are made in single factories, not by reason of a legal monopoly, but simply owing to the circumstances of our economy. There is, as the House knows, a very limited number of legal monopolies. They are restricted, I think, to about five commodities altogether.
With regard to the price at which our products are sold, I think it should be stated in this House that as soon as our workers became more accustomed to the new forms of production, and partly owing to the revision of tariffs which occurred at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the price of goods produced in this country in a great number of instances has become more and more equivalent to English prices. At the beginning of this war, and before the whole price situation changed completely owing to war conditions, a very creditable number of industries here were producing goods at prices near the English prices. That is a fairly good criterion to work on— if we can approximate to the English prices we are doing very well. It must also be remembered that there was a great deal of leeway to be made up, because many of our new plants were manned by workers unaccustomed to production. I think it is also important to note that there had been what might be described as disciplinary action, in so far as industry is concerned, before this war took place. In addition to the 23 tariffs which were reduced at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, there were modifications of tariffs under that Agreement in, I should say—I have not the exact figures with me—at least 20 other industries. It is a fine thing to be able to record that in most cases these industries managed to survive. Some of them had to face a reduction of tariffs, and in some cases they ceased to produce certain classes of goods and were able to manufacture other goods here at a lower cost and more efficiently. There might have been adverse effects from the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and we might not have been so successful were it not for the activities of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Great credit is due, in my opinion, to the Prices Commission, that section of which operates under the Department of Industry and Commerce, for the way in which they conducted negotiations between the parties concerned and the manner in which they allowed Irish and British groups of manufacturers, producers, and so on, to get together, and thus, perhaps, avoid the necessity for examination and delay. I think the greatest credit is due to the Department for that work.
I think that in connection with the more recent development of industry that has occurred since the war began, it is very important that the public should be aware of the fact that prices of imported raw materials have increased enormously, and a very good answer could be found to Deputy McGilligan's rejoinders regarding the prices of certain worsted and woollen goods in connection with the economic indices, 1938-41, in the June number of theIrish Trade Journal. Every single person in this State who buys an imported article, or an article manufactured from imported raw materials, should be aware of the fact that the import price index, based on the prices of various categories of imported goods, was, in September, 1939, 89.5, in September, 1940, 134.2, and that in April, 1941, that figure had risen to 147.3—an increase in price which was out of our control and for which we cannot be held responsible, but which must affect the prices of all commodities. I am not trying to argue from that, that price control is necessarily effective, or that it could not be improved, or that profiteering has not occurred, but I am arguing that there have been very large increases in the prices of imported goods which we cannot possibly control ourselves. In actual fact, to give a comparison that would be of interest to agriculture, the agricultural export price figure—that is, not the whole figure—on the 1930 basis of 100, stood, in August, 1939, at 86.6, and in April, 1941, it was 164.7, showing a very considerable increase. The figure for the whole agricultural price index, covering goods sold in this country as well as abroad, did not increase to the same extent. That figure, which was based on the 1911-13 figure of 100, was in August, 1939, 116.3, and in April, 1941, it was 166.1.
I think it is useful at this time to review our industrial production and reiterate what has been done generally, giving briefly the value of our new industries, their value to the economy of the country, and at the same time point out the dangers that may arise and the reactions that may take place as a result of any new policy, with a view to having such deally ficiencies corrected now and in the future. I should say that the first and most important reason for industrial development in this country is a factor that has not been sufficiently considered, and that is the rural exodus from the country to the towns all over the world, in every State, and in particular the States where there has been a notable increase in agricultural prosperity.
There have been certain States which were famous for efficiency in agricultural production and where, for reasons that are hard to tell, they managed to maintain a sufficient number of agricultural workers and to maintain agricultural employment, but it would seem, generally, that when a State becomes prosperous agriculturally, it may give a certain amount of employment to begin with, but after that people tend to leave the land and go into districts where they can service the agricultural community. In the smaller cities and towns, for instance, they can operate a greater amount of transport for a greater amount of agricultural produce; they secure employment in factories processing agricultural products, and at the docks and in ships helping to transport agricultural produce. There is no hope that I can see in the future, with all these precedents that we have before us, of our being able to give largely increased and permanent employment on the land of this country as a result of the development of agricultural prosperity. The employment will have to come, as I have said, through transport services, through the processing of agricultural products, and through industrial employment generally increasing as a result of there being a greater consumption.
One of the most notable facts about the rural exodus is that in all countries people move out of the country districts much more quickly when there is work available for them. I am not arguing that we have really begun even to consider proper methods for bringing about agricultural prosperity, but I am saying that even in countries where there were no disturbances such as an economic war, where there was stable government, it has been found necessary to take artificial measures and the State has had to interfere in order to produce employment for people who leave the rural areas, even though, apparently, there may be no economic necessity for their leaving them. Therefore, I suggest that the securing of employment in industry is a vital factor. It will be a limited factor, so far as this country is concerned, and will never be able to give more than a limited amount of employment. Nevertheless, it is necessary to provide employment to deal with the rural exodus that is going to continue, and it is vitally important for us to vary our economy by increasing our secondary and primary industries, and by making everything that we can for ourselves, whether of raw material imported, or home-produced, in order to provide employment for these people.
I think that a second important reason for the establishment of these industries lies in the fact that we have certainly a very large number of potentially intelligent persons who are naturally addicted, if I might put it that way, to industry—people who desire employment of a technical kind in the towns and cities, and who refuse to remain agricultural labourers, and the only way we can find employment for them is by increasing industrial production by every means possible. Going through the country, it is quite obvious —aside altogether from the depression, or the war, or anything of that kind— that there is an enormous number of people who, through having relatives or friends in England, can manage to find work there, and who would remain here, possibly, if we could provide work for them, and therefore the more work we can provide for them the better.
One thing that is obvious is that, were it not for the industries that have been established here, we would not have been able to provide ourselves with many of the commodities that are manufactured from home produce and which now, owing to the war, it would be impossible for us to have otherwise. For instance, it would have been a frightful thing if we did not have our flour mills in full operation. Notwithstanding the criticisms that have been made by Deputy Dillon as to profiteering, and so on, whether they are true or not, the fact that we have modern grain mills in this country and that, for the first time, we have grain-drying plants capable of drying grain that might be produced in a poor agricultural season, is of vital importance at the present time. The fact that we are able to produce our own cement from our own home-manufactured or produced material is of equal importance, not only in continuing employment in the industry itself but in helping to keep going whatever housing or building is possible at the moment.
I could go through a whole list of articles which we now provide and which we can maintain, if we can obtain certain quantities of processing materials. Take, for instance, the boot and shoe industry. With the leather industries included, it employs thousands of people, and if we can get certain processing materials, that industry will continue. Were it not for that fact, there would be a serious scarcity of footwear at the moment. As a matter of fact, people have been over here in this country trying to buy footwear from us, because there is a scarcity in England. I could give many cases where, as a result of bombardment or other causes, English importers have come to us for goods, some of which we have been unable to supply them with, because we needed them ourselves, although in other cases we were able to supply them. There is abundant proof that the manufacture from home-produced or foreign raw materials of goods here in this country has been of immense advantage to us in this war.
There is another reason for satisfaction in our industrial development, and that is in relation to what may occur after this war if, as a result of war action, our external income collapses. We have about £300,000,000 invested abroad, and we receive from that an income of over £13,000,000 per year. We also receive from emigrants an ever declining remittance which has gone down from about £4,000,000 to £2,500,000 in the last ten years. We also received money for the Sweepstakes, whose existence is extremely hazardous, and the loss of that external income has made an enormous difference in the standard of living to-day. It has made a difference such as that between a Balkan State and a country with a high standard of living for a large number of people. Whether we should have done something with part of that external income in advance of this war is a matter which is nowpost mortem. We know, at least, that as a result of the war it is unlikely that that income will remain at the same level, and the more units of production we have, by means of which we can export to other countries, the better.
I refuse to accept the position that at the end of this war it will be impossible for us to export linen and cotton goods to Brazil solely because the output of the industry is about 15 per cent. too low to enable us to compete efficiently. I believe that the Government will have to take steps at the end of the war to correct output in industries where there is a possibility of export and that industries which are receiving high protection and are capable of exporting will have to be summoned before the Department of Industry and Commerce, and they will have to discuss how far they will be able to export if we have the capacity to make an international agreement in order to compensate them. Inevitably our whole industry may have to be mobilised to export as far as possible. I know there are enormous difficulties. I am aware that in very new industries, where our workers and employers are still without experience, the possibility of export is limited. But I certainly believe that, in so far as textiles, preserved foods, and hand-woven goods are concerned, we can develop exports to a considerable degree.
I have noted cases of export in industries which were entirely new. For example, before the war we were just about to export electric lamp bulbs to Brazil, which may seem strange to those people who are too easily cynical about such exports. We were exporting bakelite goods made from casein obtained from a co-operative company in North Cork on a large scale before the war. I think it is a matter of genius, skill, organisation and initiative on the part of the people concerned aided by the Government by every means possible, and that the existence of our industries will be vital in the post-war period if we lose part of our external income.
I have described as far as I could the positive results of industrial development in this country and the fine work done by the Department in developing industry. It is essential, in order to maintain industry and to give encouragement to the Department, that we should examine some of the adverse reactions. For the last 15 years the total national income of this country has been stagnant; it has hardly changed. If it is weighted according to some price factor and the price changes examined in relation to any change in the income, it will be seen that it has remained almost exactly the same. The reasons for that are known to everybody. We had to get through the economic war and the increase in the industrial income which took place in that period was offset by an almost corresponding decrease in agricultural income. That is the one difficulty we have to face in the future. We have to preserve the tremendous advantage of our new industrial development and, at the same time, we must, shall I say, dovetail agricultural and industrial development so that one does no harm to the other but that one stimulates the other.
In actual fact the percentage of our national income represented by industry in 1926 was 17 per cent, in 1938 it had risen to 23 per cent. In actual fact industry gained £10,000,000; our national income from industry increased by £10,000,000 in ten years and our agricultural income decreased by £9,000,000. That is a serious problem to face. To my mind, the whole future of industry is inevitably linked up with agricultural production and an increase of agricultural prosperity. I think the biggest problem that faces the country is the fact that, according to the figures given in the June, 1941,Irish Trade Journal, the agricultural output of this country, in spite of every inducement given to it during the past two years, continues to show the same stagnancy.
I think that in considering anything in relation to industry and future industrial production and the reward that can be obtained by employers and workers and the effect of that reward on the costs of agriculturists, we have to consider the agricultural output in this country. The total value of agricultural output in the year 1939-1940 was £60,000,000; in 1929-1930 it was £62,000,000. If we weight that by price and obtain a figure that is independent of price and which represents the volume, we find that the volume of agricultural output in 1929-30 was 100, and in 1939-40 it was 100.2. To my mind, therefore, the principal problem facing Irish industry is to dovetail agricultural development with the development of industry. The £9,000,000 which was lost must somehow be regained before this Government or any Government can say that they have increased the total national income of the people.
Most of us agree that the present war is being fought partly because the nations of the world have discovered that the policy of economic nationalism as such neither gives employment to large numbers of people nor could be said to solve other problems and bring peace and order to the world. One of the difficulties facing the Department of Industry and Commerce is that no matter who wins this war I am absolutely convinced—although there will be a period of chaos in which we shall retreat within ourselves and perhaps export less than we do now for some peculiar reason— as I am sure most Deputies are convinced, that the era of economic nationalism will be at an end, that we shall have to face a period of far stiffer competition, whether we face it under one system of international order or another. Then will come the testing sime when both workers and employers will have to show esprit de corps and a desire to produce efficiently which has not been necessary up to now because the desperate need has not been there. I hope the Department of Industry and Commerce, in so far as it is able, even in the middle of the war with all the other problems it has, is considering that possibility. No matter how much we may wish to preserve high tariffs and the protection system, we may be compelled by negotiation to modify our tariffs, to have freer exchange of goods, and we will at the same time want to preserve the sound industrial development that has taken place. We shall have a very serious problem to face in that connection.
The principal trouble from which our industries suffered before the war was lack of output. The output was insufficient in many industries, and was gravely less in many cases than in corresponding industries elsewhere, although the position has considerably improved. The Department of Industry and Commerce throughout the whole period up to now inevitably has had to interfere more and more with production in industry. The Department decides how many commodities are to be imported, it decides the tariffs on commodities, and it has a right to modify these tariffs. It also has a right to decide conditions of work in industry. It has an enormous amount of power by which it can supervise industry in general. I want the power the Department has, and that it may have to undertake, to be such that it can stimulate output in industry for the specific reason of safeguarding the national economy as a whole. Although I dislike excessive State control, I can see our living in a world of ever-growing State control. I can see that being increased here after the war. The work of constructively increasing output in industry is a very vital one. It deserves prolonged study and I know that the Minister, by his speeches and warnings to industrialists, has obviously given thought to it. I am also aware that the immediate problems of the country have detracted from the amount of thought that should be given to the problem in present circumstances.
I have tried to give, as briefly as possible, a résumé of the problems that have arisen. In that connection I would like to say that the efforts of the Government to improve industrial relations are in the interests of the workers themselves, because we cannot afford to have waste in anything. If we lost 3,000,000 working days in industrial disputes since 1931, after the war we shall not be able to afford that type of economic waste. Although the loss of working days may have had social and beneficial results, let us hope that after the war we shall attain social and beneficial results without the same waste.