The Tourist Board was set up by an Act of the Dáil. It has got certain powers and functions conferred on it by that Act, and it must be quite clear that it is the board, and not the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is responsible for the exercise of these powers and the discharge of these functions. If Deputies desire that that particular type of machinery should work efficiently and should be established in relation to other activities as well, they must be prepared to accept the position that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is not responsible and cannot be questioned concerning the details of the board's activities. Deputy Dillon suggested that the Tourist Board should be asked to undertake a development policy for resorts available to the inhabitants of this country. That is what the Tourist Board was set up for. The Tourist Board was established for that precise purpose. It was given certain powers and certain funds to be utilised for the development of holiday resorts of the country. It is not necessary for me to tell the board it has power to proceed with such works. Deputy Dillon asked why I should resent his asking me to do that. I have a very unhappy recollection of the opposition offered by Deputy Dillon and his colleagues to the enactment of the Bill in 1939 and the many proposals then made that the scheme should be put into cold-storage for the duration of the war.
I had to resist these proposals. I felt that, while the activities of the board during the war period might be somewhat different from those originally contemplated, if a great deal of the preliminary work involved in the acquisition of land, the construction of roads, the clearing of sites and the removal of unsightly obstructions, were undertaken, the board could then emerge from the war period with a complete plan for holiday resort development, to exploit the amenities of the country. A great part of the Act which was passed in 1939 has been inoperative—we had to make it inoperative because of the difficulties created by the war—but this business of planning resort development has not been merely proceeded with but the board has been specially urged by the Government to proceed with the utmost rapidity with the completion of plans for the development of holiday resorts in various parts of the country, to get those plans as far forward as possible, to have all legal difficulties removed, to have the land acquired where land has to be acquired, to have the necessary preparations made as far as possible, and to have the constructional work which is practicable under present circumstances, and with available materials, completed. That has been done.
The Portmarnock development, to which reference has been made and which it is hoped will be proceeded with in the near future, is only the first stage of a much larger scheme of development which is not practicable in present circumstances. Similar projects are in contemplation for other centres which are suitable for development for holiday resorts, and the board is in full activity at the moment in the preparation of plans for that purpose. Plans prepared by the board are submitted for approval. Now, let me be quite clear that the approval does not involve, on the part of the Minister for Industry and Commerce or his Department, examination of the details of the engineering or architectural aspects of the proposals. The board, which is composed of competent persons, is in a position to employ competent technical advice, and it is assumed that the preparation of plans by the board is as efficiently done as it could be done. We have to take account of the financial aspects of those proposals. It is clear that, while the board would normally proceed upon the basis of recovering the capital expenditure incurred by it in the development of the resorts, and making each of its schemes a profit-earning one, it could not do that altogether if it proceeds on the lines I have indicated, that is, doing in advance of the time such work as land acquisition or preliminary development work, and some definite arrangements must be made to enable the board to offset the increased expenditure arising on that account, and to ensure that it will not be chargeable against the scheme as a whole. The board can embark upon certain schemes which will be financed out of State funds. It has been endowed with special capital sums to enable it to do its job, but, in the main, it is hoped that all the resort development schemes on which it embarks will prove to be profitable to the board.
It is clear that, in the case, say, of the Tramore scheme, which involved the development of a large part of the waterfront at Tramore, the board could reasonably hope that all the land which is acquired in the immediate vicinity of the scheme will ultimately appreciate in value, and that when sold by the board it will provide more than sufficient to cover, not merely the initial outlay on land, but the initial cost of the works which resulted in the appreciation of the value of the land. That is the principle on which the board operates. Normally, it is thought that that principle will prove to be sound. The intervention of the circumstances of the emergency, however, has created a situation in which the period during which it could have hoped to recover this expenditure is prolonged. A certain proportion of the expenditure will be unremunerative, in the sense that it would not be undertaken at all if purely commercial standards were applied—that is expenditure on developments which are being undertaken under pressure from the Government in view of the Government's anxiety to have causes of delay affecting the post-war development of those plans removed now, if possible. The Minister for Finance is responsible for the financial provisions for the Tourist Board. That falls within the Estimate for his Department. This Grant-in-Aid to the board is made in accordance with the provisions of the Act to meet the administrative expenses of the organisation.