Industrial Efficiency and Prices Bill, 1947—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. In introducing this Bill, it might be well if I removed some possible misunderstanding of its provisions arising out of Press comments on them. It is not altogether correct to describe this Bill as a proposal to confer on the Government greater powers for the control of prices than it now possesses. The powers which are at present exercisable by the Government under the Supplies and Services Act, powers which were exercised during the war years under the Emergency Powers Act, are very considerable, and during the whole of the period since the commencement of the war they have been used fully and continuously. This Bill is not intended to be a temporary measure to deal with emergency conditions. It is a proposal for permanent legislation. It has two main purposes.

The first is to extend into permanent legislation, so far as is necessary, the powers now exercisable under the Supplies and Services Acts. The House is aware that it has been the policy of the Government to translate into permanent legislation any of the Orders which were made under the Supplies and Services Act and ultimately reach a stage at which that Act can be entirely dispensed with. The introduction of this Bill at the present time is part of the process of transforming into permanent legislation provisions which now have the force of law under temporary legislation. Its second purpose is to amend the existing permanent legislation relating to price control, that is the Control of Prices Act, 1937, which has been in abeyance since the beginning of the war, to the extent that it has been shown to be in need of amendment, both arising out of our prewar experience of the operation of that permanent measure and our war-time experience of the exercise of the wider powers.

It was recognised at the beginning of the war that price problems of an acute kind would probably arise during its course, that the powers to handle price problems conferred by the Control of Prices Act, 1937, would be inadequate, and that special temporary legislation conferring powers of an exceptional kind would be needed. The Control of Prices Act, 1937, was framed to deal with the price problems of what I might call normal times, periods in which price movements of any consequence were slow in development and much less violent in their operation than in periods of great economic disturbance. It is, of course, clearly recognised that the emergency conditions which began with the war and which necessitated emergency legislation still exist and that it is still necessary to regard the provisions of the Control of Prices Act, 1937, as inadequate to cope with the problems of the present times. It is still necessary for the Government to retain power to act with speed in matters affecting prices, to act without prior examination of the circumstances of a particular case, to maintain a position unchanged pending such detailed examination, and all the powers of prompt and effective action which were conferred upon the Government by the Orders made under the Emergency Powers Act are retained in this Bill.

At some stage, there will be a return to what we might call normal conditions, the restoration of circumstances in which scarcities will not be affecting prices, which will enable these exceptional powers to fall into disuse. It is intended that in normal times these exceptional powers should fall into disuse and be revived only when some unusual or abnormal development affects the distribution of supplies or operates to promote a temporary scarcity. When that stage is reached, when normal supplies of all commodities are available, it will be the ordinary practice to operate through the commission which it is proposed in the Bill should be established and to make Orders affecting prices only after prior examination by the commission and on the recommendation of the commission.

For the time being, so long as there are abnormal circumstances or scarcities, this measure will permit of a form of dual control, or rather I might say that the system of control for which it provides can be operated by two alternative methods. On the one hand, there will be the Minister for Industry and Commerce, utilising the powers conferred on him by Part III of the Bill, making Orders on his own initiative and without waiting on a recommendation from the commission, acting at once when he thinks action is necessary. On the other hand, there will be the commission dealing with long-term problems, carrying out its investigations and making its recommendations to the Minister who will act thereon. It is necessary, I think, that Deputies should note the existence of that dual system if the manner in which the Bill is to be operated in the immediate future is to be understood. So long as there is a scarcity of supplies or interference with normal methods of trading or any circumstances which might create a possibility of unduly high prices being charged, the powers conferred by the Bill will be exercised by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on his own initiative and on his own responsibility and not through the Prices Commission.

There is probably no subject on which there is more misunderstanding than on the aims, the methods and the limitations of price control—particularly on the limitations of price control. The purpose of any system of controlling prices is to prevent prices rising unnecessarily or unjustifiably. I think that it is necessary that that fact should be clearly appreciated by Deputies who wish to give constructive help in the framing of this measure. No system of control, exercised under permanent legislation or through emergency powers, can prevent a rise in prices when costs of production are rising or when import prices are rising. In time of scarcities, price regulation is operated to limit rises to proven increases in costs and must be directed, not merely to ensure that no excessive margins are taken by traders or manufacturers, but also to ensure that trade will continue to be carried on. That is a function of price control which many Deputies and other who speak about it frequently ignore.

It is axiomatic that there would be no black market if there was no price control. Without controls of any kind, every commodity would be sold in the open market at the highest price at which the available supply would be purchased. The danger of the development of black market increases with the severity of price control. If traders' margins are so curtailed that they are insufficient to cover traders' costs, then the danger of illegal sales at illegal prices is enhanced. If the margins are very restrictive, the probable result will be that all supplies will disappear from the channels of legitimate trade.

Many people speak of price control as if a reduction in price was merely a matter of making an Order fixing a lower price, and enforcing that Order. They, I think, very frequently, too frequently, forget that whoever is responsible for the operation of price control has also responsibility not merely to keep margins within reasonable limits, but also to ensure that normal trade channels will remain open and that supplies of goods will continue to be available.

It is easy to see the dangers of excessive restriction on prices in relation to imported goods, because, if the prices fixed for imported goods are too low in relation to the cost of importing them, then traders just will not import. Everybody knows that we cannot get the things we wish to buy on the world market at the price we would like to pay for them. We have got to pay whatever prices will procure them, prices which other people are prepared to pay. In present scarcities these prices are high and are still continuing to rise. Clearly, if we do not pay the prices prevailing in the world's markets, prices which other countries are prepared to pay for these goods, then the only result is that we shall not get the goods. If on the other hand we pay these prices and they are at any time above the prices at which we purchased these goods previously, then the retail prices must rise also. It is the cost at which goods can be imported which determines the retail prices at which they can be sold. If the cost of importing goods rises, then the retail cost must rise also.

What I have said in relation to imported goods applies also to goods produced at home, although not quite so obviously. An unduly restrictive policy in relation to prices may not merely divert goods from legitimate channels into the black market, but can equally operate to discourage or to limit production. The purpose of price control, any intelligent system of price control, must be not only to ensure that prices do not rise, but that they are fixed on a basis which will enable trade to continue, ensuring, of course, that they do not rise to an extent greater than is necessary for that purpose or than can be justified.

The aim of price control policy must be, therefore, as I have said, to maintain a proper balance between the policy of price limitation and the maintenance of inducements to producers and traders to maximise production and sales.

Of course, the best, and by far the most effective, method of controlling prices is by competition. The method of competition operates not merely effectively but speedily and automatically.

And all the time.

It is, however, known that competition disappears in times of scarcity. The greater the scarcity, the less the element of competitive trading that remains. It is in times of scarcity, in times when the automatic method of control by competition is not operative, that other forms of control become necessary. That is the essence of our present problem. It is very necessary to recognise that competition can also disappear because of organisation amongst producers and traders designed to limit the total supply of goods available for sale or to confine trading in these goods to particular traders. Some of the provisions of this Bill are directed to secure prevention of restrictive practices of that nature.

The aim of that part of the Bill is to ensure, in so far as it can be ensured by legal measures of this kind, that when possible and where possible, competition will have full play. I have said that the purpose of price control and therefore the purpose of this Bill is to limit prices in relation to actual production and distribution costs, with reasonable margins for producers and distributors, and to permit of increases in prices only when it is proven that production or distribution costs have risen, either by reason of higher wages, dearer materials or other factors. If in any case prices are to be brought lower than present costs would allow, it can be done only by means of Government subsidy. It may be possible to do something in that direction also by reorganisation of production and distribution methods and we have that possibility very fully in mind. The Government, as the House is aware, is at present applying the policy of subsidy out of State funds to some goods, but one of the purposes of this Bill is to ensure that every possibility of reducing costs by better management, by better machinery, by rationalising production or distribution, will be expertly examined, and if found practicable will be fully utilised.

It is perhaps necessary that I should say at this stage that the Government does not believe that the economic development of this country can be advanced by any system of State socialism. We do not want to extend the area of State control of business activity, or to interfere unduly in the operation of private commercial enterprise. We believe that at the present stage of our development private enterprise will give speedier and more satisfactory expansion of our economy than would be possible by any system of State trading or Governmental direction of industry and commerce. If that point of view of the Government is shared by members of this House, then it is necessary that they should recognise, as the Government recognises, that private enterprise works through the profit motive. It will not work otherwise. If we want to stimulate individual initiative and enterprise in industry and to keep private trading functioning smoothly, we must be prepared so to operate any exceptional powers of control which we may be given over industry and commerce during exceptional times like the war or post-war periods so as to leave a sufficient profit inducement to keep it functioning, and we must also be prepared to operate the less extensive powers applicable to more normal times so as to attract enterprise.

In circumstances of full and effective competition, capacity to make profit is a proof of efficiency. It may not be the sole proof, and perhaps not even the best proof, but it is good enough in normal circumstances. In times such as those through which we are now passing and in regard to goods which are scarce, we have to impose limitations and checks of one kind or another which may even operate to penalise efficiency by giving it no greater financial rewards than incompetence can secure. That is one of the misfortunes imposed upon us by the emergency and it is well that the Government's attitude in that regard should be made clear for fear the strengthening of our powers of control at this stage as proposed by this Bill might be interpreted as expressing an attitude of mind which would deny to an efficient industry or an efficient business operating in normal competitive conditions the opportunity of adequate financial rewards.

It has, of course, been said, and is, I think, believed in many quarters, that during the war many firms and many individuals made more money than would have been possible in normal competitive conditions. That is almost invariably the case in times of rising prices, and, so far as I can investigate what has happened elsewhere, no system of control has been devised which can be completely effective in eliminating it. In times of rising prices and scarcities, stocks tend to rise in value because if prices are to be fixed in a manner which will enable trade to be carried on, they must be fixed on the basis of current costs of production or current costs of importation, as otherwise goods will not be produced or imported, and consequently holders of stocks of goods sometimes reap exceptional benefit.

Unless it happens to be tea.

It sometimes happens the other way.

The price of tea dropped by 1/8 per lb. a few days ago.

In times of scarcity such as those through which we are passing, other factors are operating. All stocks practically become saleable; bad debts are eliminated by selective sales; and extended credit does not have to be given. In every respect, the normal risks of business are minimised.

It is, however, very easy to exaggerate that position and also easy to look upon one side of the picture and to ignore the other side, to ignore the traders who took risks on the importation of goods from abroad and who lost, and to ignore also the factories which during a large part of the emergency period were closed down completely and the other factories which during all that period had to be operated on a very restricted scale. The purpose of these remarks is to impress upon Deputies in their consideration of this Bill the limitation of what can be done by price control.

There are also limits to the methods of price control which can be operated.

This Bill proposes to confer upon the Minister for Industry and Commerce powers to make two different kinds of price Orders, one kind being Orders which fix maximum prices at which goods described in the Orders may be offered for sale, and the other being Orders fixing maximum margins which may be added to the cost of goods by traders on resale. The former method, the method of fixing maximum prices, can be applied only to certain classes of goods, to goods which are easily identifiable in terms of quality and quantity by the average citizen, and where the average purchaser can determine for himself whether the conditions of the Government Order are being observed. It is quite a simple method to apply to goods which are sold all over the country in standard qualities, such as flour, sugar or cement. It is, however, not practicable at all where goods are sold in a wide variety of qualities which only experts could distinguish, or where there are such variations in the quantities or methods of sale that control by means of fixed maximum prices cannot be made effective. In these cases it is proposed to adopt a method of control, not on the basis of fixing maximum prices, but on the basis of fixing maximum margins to traders. Neither is it practicable at present, in the case of some other classes of goods ordinarily sold in standard qualities, to fix uniformly applicable maximum prices, because those goods are being imported in precisely the same qualities from different countries at widely different prices. That problem is, for example, particularly acute at present in relation to bar steel, where some supplies are available from Great Britain at one price and other supplies are available from Belgium and other sources at substantially higher prices. In many other cases which I could mention control can be exercised only by means of regulating the additions to the actual cost to the trader which he may make in fixing his retail price. If Deputies can suggest any other system of regulating the selling prices of commodities, I will be very glad to hear about it.

I may say that all the proposals of the Bill for the establishment of a Prices Commission are similar to those in the Control of Prices Act, 1937. I do not propose to make detailed reference to these machinery sections, if I may so describe them. There was circulated with the Bill a White Paper explanatory of its provisions which, I presume, Deputies have read. The main difference between this Bill and the 1937 Act is the proposal to give new power to the commission in relation to the efficiency of protected industries. The commission operating under the 1937 Act had no such powers and that proposal arises out of our experience of the operation of that Act. The commission set up by the Act of 1937 was concerned with prices and profits only. That Act laid the whole emphasis on price control by means of profit limitation. The commission could not at any time express an opinion within the terms of the Act on the possibility of reducing prices by means of business reorganisation or other steps to greater efficiency. Of two firms in the same industry, one making good profits and highly competent, the other incompetent and making no profits, the commission could investigate the competent firm only and could not deal with the incompetent firm at all.

It is, in my view, far better that the problem of the price of goods produced by protected industries should be dealt with by tackling their methods of operation and their production costs rather than by mere profit restriction. It is my belief, one which I have repeatedly expressed in recent years, that if Irish industrial firms are producing goods efficiently and putting them on sale at prices which are no higher than those charged for similar goods produced under comparable conditions in other countries, we should not be concerned at all with the profits they may earn. This Bill has been framed upon the basis of that belief. It is intended that the pressure should be towards reducing the cost of the goods by greater efficiency in their production rather than by arbitrarily cutting the profits made by the producing firms.

Deputies may be perturbed by the provisions of Part V of the Bill. These provisions, in print, may appear to give the commission and the Government rather drastic powers to issue directions to private industrial firms and to penalise them if they fail to comply with these directions. It is my intention that the commission should ordinarily operate in the fulfilment of its duty to promote industrial efficiency by means of informal consultations with industrial representatives, helping them by means of expert technical advice, by making available to them the services of recognised technical experts from within or without this country, by helping them in any organisational problems they may have through the summoning of meetings of representatives of different branches of the same industry and, generally, by discussion and exhortation, to secure such improvements as the commission considers to be practicable.

Surely not under Part V? That would be under Part VI. Part V deals with the examination of recommendations and Part VI deals with development councils for industry.

I am dealing with Part V now.

But there is no provision in Part V for the consultations of which the Minister speaks.

I do not think the Deputy can have read it very carefully.

I read it with the greatest possible care and I suggest that the Minister is confounding two Parts of his own Bill.

It is intended that the commission, through its chairman, shall exercise a continuous supervision over the efficiency of undertakings and industries to which the Part applies and shall seek to obtain improvement in the efficiency of such undertakings and industries. For the purposes of his functions under the Part, the chairman may consult with persons carrying on undertakings to which the Part applies and advise on matters related to industrial efficiency and may make available to such persons the services of officers of the commission on such terms as the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance thinks fit.

But not for consultations.

Certainly—all that relates to consultations and it is intended to give legal expression to what I have just said. It is only where consultations and exhortations have failed to produce results, where it is obvious they will continue to fail to produce results, that the Bill contemplates that other methods will be adopted to secure improvements which are considered practicable. It is in that event that the chairman of the commission may propose to the Minister that a formal inquiry into the efficiency of any industry should be made. If the Minister agrees, that formal inquiry will be held, but the result of the inquiry will not be made public. The report is communicated to the people engaged in the industry and followed, if necessary, by directions from the Minister as to the changes he wishes to have effected arising out of the report.

Again, it is only if there is definite and continued refusal to effect improvements, to carry out the changes considered practicable and indicated in the directions given by the Minister, that the other provisions of the Act come into force. If there is such a continued refusal, the report of the commission on the efficiency or otherwise of the industry will be published to the Dáil and, following its publication, the various penalties for which the Act provides may be applied.

Where are the penalties announced?

In Section 51.

They are not described as penalties.

Nevertheless, it would be an accurate description.

Which, I think, makes it unconstitutional, certainly as to (a).

I do not think it can fairly be argued, as some people have argued, that the provisions of that Part of the Bill give too much power of interference with private business. These powers are conferred on the commission and on the Government only in relation to protected industries; and where an industry receives help in that form from the community, I think it must be prepared to give to the community reasonable safeguards that it is not unduly exploiting that position for the private benefit of individuals or failing to take any reasonable measures to give the community efficient service. Certainly, I cannot understand the contention that there is unreasonable interference with private business in the case of these protected industries merely because power is acquired to investigate the use which these businesses are making of the protection.

It may, of course, be contended that the Government always have the power to withdraw protection in any individual case. That is precisely the difficulty of the situation. If, in an industry needing protection, there are some inefficient and some efficient units, then it would be wrong to penalise the efficient ones in order to eliminate the inefficient. In any event, even if the whole of an industry was not, in our view, being properly organised or properly run, the withdrawal of necessary protection which might mean the termination of activity in the industry would penalise others than the proprietors. It would probably deprive of their employment the workers in the industry, who could not of their own power remedy the matters which were the subject of complaint. It is in the hope that it may be possible to apply effective sanctions to secure the growth of industrial efficiency, other than the withdrawal of protective duties, that Section 51 was framed. If Deputies have suggestions for other methods of making recalcitrant protected firms modernise their plant or improve their methods of production or sale, I shall be very glad. But I should think that the writing off of an industry completely, at the cost of the unemployment of the workers engaged in it, and the abandonment of the effort to get it. established on an efficient basis here should be the last rather than the first method tried.

There is, however, in this Bill provision for the establishment of what we propose to call "development councils". These development councils as defined in the Bill are not designed merely to provide formal means by which the problems of different industries may be discussed as a whole, but also to bring workers in the industry in a position in which they can lend their help in the solution of the problems of the industry, in the improvement of the efficiency of its methods of production and management, the improvement in the methods of utilising labour, in such matters as the extension of training facilities, the improvement of factory design and factory-working conditions, and in regard to the rationalisation of production. The establishment of these development councils would, we think, express in visible form the reality of the partnership between management and workers, express their common interest in the welfare and development of the industry in which they are engaged and provide means—which, in most cases, were lacking heretofore—by which they might discuss these matters which I have mentioned from two viewpoints and achieve useful results by so doing.

A la Stafford Cripps.

The idea of such development councils with workers' representatives sitting on them may be a shock to the older type of industrial proprietor, but it is in accord with modern ideas of industrial organisation and, arising out of Deputy Dillon's interjection, I think it is true to say that they have been exceptionally useful wherever they have been tried.

Probably.

I think they can yield a very distinct gain to factory managements, to the workers in industry and to the community generally.

They can do no harm, in any case.

Most of the remaining provisions of this Bill, those relating to the display of price lists and so forth, merely represent the re-enactment of the corresponding provisions of the Control of Prices Act, 1937, which is being repealed. Provision is being made in the Bill for the continuing in force of price Orders which were made under the Emergency Powers Acts or under the Supplies and Services Act after the Bill comes into force and before new Orders affecting the same commodities are made under the authority of the Bill. That provision is necessary to ensure that there will be no interruption of price control by reason of its transfer to a new authority or the enactment of new legislation regarding it.

That is the Bill. At various times during the course of the past few years, on discussions for the Estimates for the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Supplies, I have expressed disappointment at the lack of co-operation from Parties in the Dáil in matters relating to price control. I spoke here frequently at great length upon the complexities of the problem and outlined the very many difficulties which I encountered. In inviting the Dáil to give me the benefit of their constructive suggestions as to how a system of control should be improved or how a specific problem might be handled, I rarely got anything more effective than very general criticism. I do not claim that the existing legislation has worked perfectly. The introduction of this Bill at this stage is in itself an admission that the legislation under which we have been proceeding in the past has been defective. It is here now before the Dáil for discussion and Deputies who are seriously interested in this problem, and who are anxious to make the machinery of price regulation effective, have now an opportunity of putting forward their considered views as to how the machinery can be improved or as to the principles on which the machinery should work.

The Bill represents, in my opinion, an effective method of control, a method that will prove not merely effective in the present period of scarcities and abnormal economic conditions but also in the less difficult times which we hope will come at some stage in the future. The Bill can possibly be improved and I invite Deputies of all Parties to do their best to improve it. Certainly, if this Bill passes through the Dáil and becomes law, Deputies will not be free to criticise the operation of price control merely because of any defect in the legislation in force. You can make the legislation right now. The problems of administration are difficult and administration may always present openings for criticism. If the foundation of the legislation is right the opportunities for criticism are likely to be less, but the Dáil now has the opportunity of making criticisms, and I promise that every practical suggestion produced in regard to this Bill, as far as I am concerned, will be fully and sympathetically considered.

I had serious doubts as to the admissibility of the amendment proposed by Deputy Dillon to the Second Reading of this Bill because its phraseology would suggest that its object could be attained by deleting the particular provisions of the Bill on the Committee Stage. A reasoned amendment may not relate to detailed provisions which would be amended in Committee. Neither can it be equivalent to a direct negative to the principle of the Bill. An amendment to the Second Reading should normally give reasons for rejecting the Bill as a whole and those reasons should be germane to the Bill generally. This amendment is exceptional and I have decided to allow it because while it does not attack the whole Bill the principle or provisions it attacks are of a fundamental nature and it could be contended that a detailed amendment in Committee might not meet the case.

In putting down the amendment I was concerned to realise the very object which the Minister has in mind. He invited the Dáil to consult with him in relation to effective methods of price control. There are nine parts and a schedule; eight are in regard to price control; one is in regard to this astonishing brain child of a bureaucracy—industrial efficiency— so called. I want to delete from our discussions this manifest absurdity of Part V so that we may approach the remaining eight parts in an atmosphere of reality. At this stage I deliberately eschew any reference to the general question of price control and to the methods provided in Part IV and in the part dealing with relative matters.

On a point of order, the motion——

The matters must be discussed together and a Deputy may only speak once. The amendment will be put first for discussion.

It is a pity because if we dropped Part V we could discuss other matters and deal with Part V in a separate Bill. Part V is crazy.

That is the established order.

It is extremely dangerous and will involve the country in endless trouble. It will make the carrying on of any business enterprise by a person who is not prepared to become a hanger-on of the Department of Industry and Commerce an impossibility. If any respectable man asked my advice whether he should venture capital in an industrial enterprise in this country, if Part V becomes law, my advice would be, as long as this Government or any other Government remained in office: "if you are not prepared to constitute yourself the servant and the serf of the string-pullers of the Party in power you will risk your capital recklessly." For there are powers in Part V of this Bill to enable the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the time being to ruin any business to which he chooses to direct the powers of the Prices Commission —as I think I shall be able to demonstrate to this House. Under Section 5 the Prices Commission is the body which is to function and the chairman is the executive officer, but under Section 45, the chairman, with the approval of the Minister, may for a particular purpose delegate his powers under this Part to another member of the commission. Now, what is it proposed to empower him to do? First the types of business to which he can direct his attention are defined. They must be protected by tariff and they must be engaged in certain occupations set out in Section 42 (a) (b), and (c). But to that general direction certain exclusions are made as set out in paragraphs 1 and 2; and in line 38 of the Bill there is a third exclusion from the province of this commission's purviews:—

"an undertaking constituted by statute being an undertaking which is carried by or on behalf of the State or the directors of which are appointed by Government or by a Minister of the State."

If you are going to claim the right to walk into the premises of any private citizen of this State and set in motion this whole machinery which may secure for him such publicity and dislocation as will destroy his business whether in fact it is efficient or not, why do you exclude those particular kind of undertakings where inefficiency is more likely to arise—State-owned monopolies the destiny of a number of which could not be materially altered by an inquiry of this character?

If Cement, Limited, is a monopoly functioning here and the Minister asks an inquiry into it, it is not going to close up because there is nowhere else you can go for cement. But if you bring the commission of inquiry into a furniture factory or a boot factory it is brought to the notice of the whole community on which this factory depends for business that its efficiency is suspect and that the Minister has reason to suspect that that individual firm is charging its customers too much for goods. Whatever the ultimate finding, the public are going to say that there is never smoke without fire, that that fellow is not giving good value and we will move our custom elsewhere. The fact of an inquiry taking place may do that damage to a private firm. It is proposed to provide the power to do that with any private firm in the country, if so disposed, but we must never do it with a Government firm, which, prima facie, is much more likely to be inefficient, because it is a monopoly and which, certainly, can suffer no injury as a result of such an inquiry being instituted. Under Section 44:—

"the chairman shall exercise a continuous supervision over the efficiency of undertakings and industries to which this Part applies."

Where, in the name of common sense, is the know-all to be found who will supervise the efficiency of furniture factories, boot factories, breweries, mills, tin-tack factories, nail factories, shipyards, and biscuit factories. Is it not fantastic for this House to envisage the appointment of an individual charged with that responsibility? His second function is to:—

"seek to obtain improvement in the efficiency of such undertakings and industries."

What on earth will he know about them? Section 45 is designed to answer that question. He can delegate his function. Section 5 of this Bill is to be recommended to us because the chairman is to be a Daniel come to Judgment, a sort of mixture of Moses and Socrates. When it is pointed out that, no matter how wise or good he is, he cannot know and understand every industrial process conceivable to the mind of man, we are told, "That is provided for under Section 45." Under that section, Moses can delegate his work to the next best boy but even prophets are not always very good judges of human personality. We may, in our collective wisdom, choose a Moses but God knows whom Moses will choose. To judge from some of the Moses I have had to deal with in the past 15 years, if you are a Fianna Fáil bulrush, he will rest on you very lightly. But you will be a very crushed and crippled bulrush when he has finished resting on you if you are a supporter of Fine Gael or the Labour Party, and you will be uprooted completely if you have the reputation of being a supporter of Coras na Poblachta.

You do not support any of these Parties.

I can assure you that that does not make me any more popular with your distinguished Leader in the Front Bench.

They would not have you.

As regards Section 46, the Minister has mixed up in his own mind the provisions of that section with his intentions in respect of Part VI. He inadvertently misled the House when he stated that Part V was designed to provide for consultations amongst groups of industrialists, together with the members of the commission generally, for the purpose of reviewing the conditions of the industry in which they were interested so as to improve its general efficiency and rationalise it. There is no such power in Part V of this Bill. These powers and activities are provided for in Part VI, to which my amendment has no reference.

Look at Section 47. I deliberately allege that sub-section (4) of Section 47 is a blackmailing sub-section. We have no right in justice to give any Government Department, or any delegate of the State, the right to go into a man's establishment and say: "We think that such and such a thing is wrong; unless you submit to our view in that matter, we shall put the whole machinery of Section 47 in operation against you. But, if you submit, willingly or unwillingly, to our demands, as here set out, we shall postpone this whole question of inquiry for 12 months and, perhaps, for ever." That is common blackmail. What is a man to do who honestly believes that the proposals made to him by the chairman or his delegate are unsound? He will go to his board of directors and say: "These fools want us to do so and so. It is thoroughly unsound and utterly wrong but, if we refuse to do it, they have announced their intention of holding an inquiry under Section 47. This may cost us £7,000 or £8,000 but, if we resist their proposal, it may cost us our whole business, if they release the full fury of Part V against us; I think we had better pay the blackmail". Life in the community becomes utterly intolerable if the very State itself claims the right to use, and announces its intention of using, against ourselves the instrument of blackmail. "The commission, with the consent of the Minister, may, in the course of an inquiry"—mark the words; the thumbscrew has begun to grip—"adjourn the inquiry"—untwist the thumbscrew—"for a single period not exceeding 12 months if they are of opinion that the adjournment will lead to a sufficient improvement in the efficiency of the undertaking or industry which is the subject of the inquiry". In every jail in eastern Europe at this moment there are men under torture by the State because the evidence they are prepared to tender in an impending trial is not efficient for the purpose for which it is required, and in every one of those jails the jailer or his delegate is authorised to say to the prisoner: "We will adjourn this procedure for an indefinite period provided we are of opinion that the adjournment will lead to a sufficient improvement in the efficiency of the evidence that you intend to give on the matter which is the subject of the trial to take place to-morrow or the day after". That is the method whereby they got evidence for trials as a result of which such men at Petkoff were murdered. We call that blackmail and judicial murder. Many a man may be wiped out of existence in business by this procedure.

Sub-section (4) of Section 47 puts every individual in this State who invests his money in a protected industry in peril of that experience. But I have gone one step too far. I said "every individual." Not "every individual." The Minister for Agriculture is exempted if he goes canning, processing or disposing of vegetables. If he disposes of canned vegetables he is exempted from everything. Now, why? If every citizen of this State is subject to an inquisition of that kind why should the Minister for Agriculture be exempted? I do not know. It is the hallmark of the bureaucratic outlook that it wants to plan everybody— but you must not plan the bureaucrat. That would be the "Trahison des Clercs." The bureaucrat says: "Let me plan everybody else, but do not plan me." I have never yet met a planner in five continents who ever contemplated anyone planning him while he on the other hand was always filled with the fury of a missionary to plan his errant neighbours. Even the ardent members of our own Labour Party in this country dream dreams of planning everything in the silly pursuit of a prosperous proletariat raised to the level of a universal bourgeoisie. But let anybody propose to Deputy Martin O'Sullivan that I should plan him and the poor man would get a nervous breakdown—and he would be perfectly right. Can the members of this House imagine the feelings of an individual who has invested his capital in an industrial undertaking in this country: spent his years learning as he thinks how best to run it: proud of his own particular processes: contemplating those of his neighbours and saying to himself: "Well, I learned my trade. I know how to do it in my own way and good wine needs no bush. I do not have to waste money on advertising or anything else. People come to my door for my goods because I produce them the right way." He gets a postcard some morning to say that Moses is coming round to visit him—with Section 49 in his fist. In due course, Moses comes in and announces that he has made a report to the Minister, having conducted an inquiry at this man's residence or place where he carries on his business, and that the Minister now desires Moses to convey information to the victim, the bulrush, that he has made a direction in respect of the poor bulrush's business requiring the bulrush to make, in accordance with the Minister's direction, such changes in relation to the undertaking as appear to the Minister to be necessary to promote general efficiency, whether in respect of products, materials used, method of production, equipment, premises, management, methods of purchasing, selling, or marketing, recruitment, training, or employment of labour, costs of production, distribution, overhead expenses, capital structure, or otherwise. Have the members of this House ever heard such fantastic rubbish in their lives? Some tulip who was born in Rathmines, educated in Synge Street, who never travelled further afield than Kildare Street and Merrion Street, or maybe got as far as the Castle, is quite prepared to drop down into any man's business, North, South, East, or West, and say: "Now, look. You are a bit old-fashioned. I am from Merrion Street. I know it all."

Can you picture the warrior going down to the Claremorris or the Castlebar Bacon Factory and telling them that he was born in the Coombe, right beside Donnelly's? He knows all about bacon. He has been smelling it since he was born. "That is not the right way to cure bacon. That is not the way they do it in the Coombe." Are we all going out of our minds? Of course, the Minister will reply: "This is an extravagant description of my intentions under this perfectly simple section. I do not intend to interfere where I do not do good". But, thanks be to God, unless this is passed, if anyone goes into Mr. Pierce's premises to teach him his business he can take a running kick at him and put him out and tell him to go home and to mind his own business. However, when this is passed, when the gentleman from Merrion Street with the cock in his hat tells Mr. Pierce in Wexford how to run his own business Mr. Pierce must bow down before him and be very respectful. Otherwise he will not get the benefit of sub-section (4) of Section 47, and I can tell you that when he is finished going through the wringer of Section 49 he will be a mild man. The denizen of Merrion Street with the cock in his hat will be like the Czar of Russia—anyone who vexes him, off with his head. Sometimes I found it hard to believe when I was reading through this Bill that it was conceivably possible that any responsible Minister would make such proposals. Look at Section 51. The Minister himself understands paragraph (a) to be a penalty which, of course, it is not. These are merely solicitous provisions empowering the Minister to make certain reservations for the protection of the industrialist himself. It is not until he gets down to sub-section (4) that there is talk about penalties. Under paragraph (a), if Moses comes down from Merrion Street and fails to flatten the poor bulrush completely and if it shows any prospect whatever of standing up out of the mire in which it is trampled, Section 51 begins to follow. The whole story is laid before the Oireachtas. That is in order to suggest to us here that if we think the Minister has acted with undue severity we can intervene. Once it is laid before the Oireachtas, if we want to do anything about it we will be told it is none of our business. The Minister has laid it before the Oireachtas and that is all about it. Now he is going down to throttle the boy below who vexes him. The first thing he does is to walk into the premises of a person in this country and because the person will not accept his advice—in fact, because he would not lick the feet of the cock-sparrow from Merrion Street —the Minister will not allow him to distribute his profits. Where are we going in this country?

You remember the days when the Taoiseach came in here with the black suit and the funereal air to introduce the Constitution. He was in his episcopal mood that day, more a bishop than a Taoiseach, and he was laying down the Constitutional foundations for this State, all closely related to the divine laws, and there were pious aphorisms about the sacred nature of the right to own private property antecedent to all positive law and the heads over on the Fianna Fáil Benches were all nodding with solemnity. It was blasphemy to sneeze while these solemn words were being uttered by the episcopal Taoiseach. But the flighty Tánaiste, when he gets on the wing, if you cross him, he will turn a key in the cash desk and woe betide you if you take out 6d. for a half-ounce of snuff. Not a penny you own shall remain within your dominion. He will take over the whole shooting match. Private property. Private property, my foot.

The further dispositions that he proposes to arrogate to himself of my property or some other fellow's property in this country are set out in (b), (c), (d) and (e). The only one amongst them that has anything to commend it is (e) and he has that already. He never was without it, but he has never used it. It is the only intelligent part of this section. It is the only device that he has never, in 15 years, employed.

There is a penalty section, sub-section (4), and that sends you back to Sections 8, 9 and 10. Wait until you hear what will happen to you if you vex the cock-sparrow from Merrion Street. You will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £10 for each day after the date of such first-mentioned conviction on which the act remains unperformed by you or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months. But that is not all. Under Section 8, if you commit an offence by vexing the cock-sparrow, you are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500 together with a fine of £10 for every day in respect of which the court finds that you are committing a continuing offence or, at the court's discretion, 12 months' imprisonment or 12 months' imprisonment and such fine together. If the cock-sparrow is really vexed and proceeds against you by way of indictment, you are liable to a fine of £5,000 for vexing him, together with a fine of £50 for every day that you go on vexing him and, if that does not cure you, to 10 years' penal servitude.

There is nobody in this country who will be able to show his nose, shortly, to a cock-sparrow from Merrion Street. Remember, the only crime for which the victim is being penalised is that he is running his business in the way in which he thinks it ought to be run and that he continues to think that he knows more about his own business than Moses or the cock-sparrow. Ten years' penal servitude, £5,000 fine and £50 a day until he comes out and says: "Whereas I was blind, now I see. All my lifetime of study of my own business was an illusion, a mistake. Moses and the cock-sparrow know all about it. I knew nothing."

It reminds me so much of the trials in Moscow: "We have spent a lifetime under the Bolshevik rule. For the last five years we believed we were doing Lenin's will but whereas we were blind, now we see. We are ignorant, treacherous, vile, corrupt, stinking, loathsome, debased, traitors and we implore the court to extend the mercy to us of penal servitude for life although we know we deserve immediate execution."

I can picture Mr. Philip Pierce saying: "I am 40 years in the agricultural implement trade. I have laboured under the shameful, degrading, scandalous, vile and treasonable illusion that I knew how to make a plough. I now cheerfully admit that Moses and the cock-sparrow are the men who know how to make a plough. I humbly apologise for ever pretending that I knew how to make a plough and I do solemnly undertake that hereafter I will make the plough in whatever way Moses and the cock-sparrow tell me and then I will humbly crave of them that, instead of sending me to jail for ten years' penal servitude and fining me £5,000, they will content themselves with locking me up just for 12 months and the £500 fine."

Have we all gone stark, staring mad? Of course, the usual reply will be made: "We do not intend ever to do the like of that." But why should we give them power to do it? What rights have we to give any Minister, any public servant, however scrupulous, however careful, however trustworthy, the power to come to me or to Philip Pierce or to any man engaged in trade or industry in this country and treat him in the way you would not treat a ticket-of-leave man released from Maryborough jail?

Why should a Bill of this kind be disfigured by a travesty of legislation such as is incorporated in Part V? We have the same thing in the Public Health Act, where there is this accursed Part III, which fixes the Lord God Almighty with notice that He slipped up when He was instituting the family and that Dr. Ryan, the Minister for Health, is going to put Him right. The rest of that Act is virtually noncontentious. Everyone was anxious to weigh-in and help in every way they could to make it more effective and to assist in its operation. Now we have this Bill, eight parts of which, although they may give rise to controversy in regard to minor details, in principle would be agreed on virtually all sides of the House, and we are invited to enter into an acrimonious tangle and wrangle about the codology contained in Part V. God only knows why. I suggest to the Minister that he should take out Part V, which seems to me to stand quite apart from the rest of the Bill, and to bring it in as a separate Bill and let us discuss it on its merits divorced from the mass of non-controversial matter that is in this Bill. I suggest to him that if he seriously proposes that there should be a constructive discussion on price control, the only means of doing it is to remove Part V, and let us discuss the balance of the Bill on its merits.

So far as price control is concerned, I have said repeatedly to the Minister for Industry and Commerce over the last 15 years that under a system founded on tariffs you will have corruption, overcharging, the exploitation of consumers and growing inefficiency. That is true in this country and in every other country in the world where a system of high tariffs has been instituted. There is no such thing as price control which will defeat the tariff racketeer when he wants to exploit the consuming public which he is supposed to serve. It is the nature of the tariff racketeer to rob the consumers who are delivered over into his clutches. Even in times of scarcity, as I have repeatedly pointed out to this House, it is utterly impossible to extend an effective system of price control to the generality of merchandise in general distribution. The only possible way in which you can effect control of prices is to pick out certain essential commodities such as bread, utility clothing for the child, the man and the woman, milk, meat, and other essentials—the fewer the better—and, if necessary, have the distribution of these things taken over completely by a central authority. Have them distributed through the authorised agents of that authority in the various centres of consumption. Take them out of the ordinary trade channels completely.

The retail trade is not designed and is not competent to effect distribution with that degree of rigid control and equitable division of available supplies that ought to characterise the distribution of essentials in times of scarcity. Having provided effective control—and the operative word is "effective"—of essential commodities, let the others rip. It is a complete illusion to imagine that when you let the others rip it means a steady ascending spiral in the matter of prices. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What will happen is that at first you will have a wild upsurge in prices, but when that upsurge will have passed the point of peak demand some of the cute boys who have been hoarding will get their fingers burned. The next time that supplies of a commodity come on the market, instead of watching the consumer they will be watching one another. They will say they got their fingers burned the last time and were left to hold the baby. They will resolve to unload it this time before the fellow across the street does so. In that way, a fair price will obtain, not, of course, the same as if there was a surplus. The salutary principle of competition will function but not in the identical way in which it functions when there is an abundant supply. In its own particular way that would be infinitely more effective than the attempt to control prices when you do not control supplies and the channels of distribution. I admit at once that it does not impose a sufficient check to keep down the price of essentials because the desire and the need of the consumer are so great that the hoarder can hoard in safety, knowing that hunger and cold will eventually drive the consumer in nolens volens. When a commodity ceases to belong to the category of absolute essentials, the tendency of the hoarder is first to force the price beyond the capacity of the most ardent consumer to pay, but, having once burnt his fingers, it is not competition in the ordinary sense of the word that proceeds to operate but a very special form of anxiety not to get left holding the baby.

What is the use of my trying to explain that to the Minister for Industry and Commerce? I have been for 25 years in the distributive trade. I have seen it function in great cities and small towns, in rural communities and in great urban communities, and many of the things I have tried to tell this House I know by instinct. I do not believe the Minister ever in his life stood for a day behind a shop counter. I do not believe that a single officer in his Department ever had a day's practical experience in the distributive trade, wholesale or retail, and yet they cheerfully undertake the burden of controlling the profit margin on every item in the retail trade in this country.

Do Deputies know that, outside the drapery and boot trade, there never was a price fixed by the Department yet which did not concede to the distributor a margin of profit far in excess of anything that he was allowed by the ordinary operation of competition before the war? If one were to go to any experienced distributor and ask him to make out the costings for the distribution of Indian meal, I would undertake to demonstrate to the House on paper that he must have a profit of 1/1½d. on it. A former member of the House, Deputy Hickey, was a great man at making out the cost of living. He could prove to anybody that a man, his wife and three children must starve if the head of the family had less than £6 a week, despite the fact that at that time you had seven-eighths of the population living on £3 a week. The point is that you can prove anything on paper. I sold Indian meal in this country for 20 years at a retail profit of 3d. per cwt. It did not matter whether the cost of the meal went down to 4/- a cwt. or up to 15/- per cwt., my retail profit was 3d. per cwt., and my wholesale profit was 1¼ per cent. I had to pay the miller in seven days although some of my customers did not pay me for seven months. If I had not the Indian meal for my customers they would not come into my shop to buy other things from me. They must bring their cart to the place where there is Indian meal and when they bought Indian meal there they bought everything else.

Ninety per cent. of the sugar sold in this country was sold with no profit at all; 90 per cent. of the sugar sold across the grocer's counter was sold for cost. It was not sold for love of the people's lovely blue eyes, but because if you did not charge the lowest price for sugar the customers bought their tea elsewhere. Up to a point you could recover the loss on sugar by putting it on to tea, but, like everything else, if you shoved on too much, the people began to say: "So-and-so's tea is getting very black. There is much better tea to be had up the street" and you were mighty careful to put the "tip" back into it.

When the Minister and his advisers, with the best intentions, called his trade consultants in to find what would be a fair margin of profit, they made out the case on paper that you could not distribute Indian meal at much less than 1/- per cwt. and as they went down the stairs they were breaking their hearts laughing, every one of them knowing that in 40 years no man ever got more than 3d. I make as much profit now on one bag of Indian meal as I made on four or five normally.

Moses came down and told me I did not know how to run my business; that he would teach me and that he would fix a price.

Why did not you tell him?

Would it not be a terrible heresy to tell Moses that he was wrong?

You could sell under the fixed price.

If it suits me, I will make no apology to Moses or the Government, or anyone else. So long as any citizen conducts his business within the law, he has not to explain his activities to anyone. But a situation is beginning to develop in this country and an attitude of mind is beginning to grow that any man who makes his living without sucking the Government for it is suspect. He is a queer fellow. "There is a fellow who does not want a tariff, who does not want a licence, who does not want a dole, and who does not want a pension. That is a queer fellow. He must be in the black market or something else."

The Bill does not apply to him then.

Does not apply to whom?

The man who does not want a tariff or protection.

Supposing a man gets a tariff whether he wants it or not? I know an industry in this country that begged the Minister not to put on a tariff, but the Minister said: "You are not the only cock on the dunghill. There are others who want to get into this business and to get into it they must have a tariff. They cannot get on without it." Now, the other fellow who has been in the business for 60 years without any tariff——

In the retail trade?

No, in the manufacturing trade. He finds that he is brought in under the blessings of Part V of this Bill. Guinness' brewery is brought in under Part V of the Bill, because there is a restriction on the import of beer. Jacob's biscuit factory is now subject to its liege lord, the Moses from Merrion Street. Harland and Wolff's, if we had the blessings of a united Ireland, would be told how to build transatlantic liners by a cock-sparrow in Merrion Street, and if they did not build them as he told them how to build them, the penalty would be ten years' penal servitude and a fine of £5,000. Did you ever hear such fantastic codology in regard to anything that was ever brought before this House? Can you imagine a warrior stumping down James's Street to Guinness' brewery to tell the chief brewer how to make porter and, if they did not toe the line, down with the general manager to Maryborough for ten years?

Of course when you talk in terms of great men like Lord Iveagh and the general manager of Guinness', Fianna Fáil grow pale at such a sacrilegious conversation. They only mean to use this Bill in connection with common little fellows from the West and South of Ireland—the plain people. I happen to be one of the common little fellows.

Selling pins and needles.

Pins and needles, bacon and calico. That is what I made my money out of.

The Bill does not apply to you.

It applies to people like me. The great men can look after themselves. I am worrying about the ordinary simple individual whose only crime is that he can earn a living, feed his family, and clothe himself without running to Deputy Allen or Senator Quirke or any of the other members of the Fianna Fáil Party to lead him by the hand into the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, or anywhere else, because there is nothing in the gift of the Government that that individual wants except his freedom to earn his living within the law.

Because tariffs are a curse, because they are the seed bed of corruption and exploitation, of vileness and dishonesty, let it not be said that there is no means of stimulating industry where it is desired to do so. If you want to stimulate an industry and at the same time to ensure that the silent, unsleeping, supremely efficient price control of competition will operate upon that industry to keep prices within reasonable bounds, you can declare that in respect of each unit of production that a factory manufactures in this country the State will pay it a stated subsidy; if it is producing ploughs, that on every plough produced in this country the State will pay the manufacturer 30/- or £2. Therefore, when he has completed that plough and it costs him £4, if he complains to the Government that it is possible to produce a similar plough in England for £3 owing to increased output and demand, the Government can say: "You state that you cannot compete with the English plough because it only costs £3 to produce and your costs you £4. You say that yours is as good as the English plough, but because it costs only £3 you cannot compete. Very well, we will give you a subsidy of 30/- on every plough. The Englishman's plough is costing £3 to produce and yours will only cost £2 10s. 0d. Now, go into competition and sell". That has the dual advantage that from year to year the community knows what the maintenance of the industry is costing.

Secondly it means that if at any time in season or out of season, that manufacturer tries to exploit the consuming public in this country, the consuming public have somewhere to turn to, where they can get the one instrument to control him—competition. They can bring in a plough from Great Britain, Czecho-Slovakia or wherever else it may be found. The same thing applies to artificial manures, to feeding stuffs and to almost every commodity that could conceivably be produced in this country. It ensures that a ceaseless and uniquely effective price control, competition, will function in defence of the consuming community, night and day, year in, year out. There is no other effective means of control in normal times, no matter how devised or how administered. It is all pure "cod" to be roasting the Minister or roasting his officials for their failure to control prices. They cannot control them. Their crime is, not the crime of failing to do that which they tried to do; the crime of which they are guilty is that of undertaking to do before the Dáil that which they knew they could not do and that which they must now know, no rational person could ever hope to do.

I have indicated the methods that I would employ in times of scarcity which constitute a special problem. The observations which I have just made relate to what is ordinarily understood to be normalcy. Part VII of the Bill, so far as the marking of prices and charges on the goods themselves is concerned, is first class, the best you ever did. The marking of a fixed price on a shirt or other article for retail distribution, where that is practicable, is a wise device There will be rascals who will change the price dockets, but in 999 cases out of 1,000 it is the best protection the consuming public can have. In regard to Part IV of the Bill, this is the first attempt by any Government to introduce some device for controlling cartels, monopolies and trusts and I congratulate the Minister on endeavouring to grapple with that problem. I shall suspend judgment on the merits of that until I see it in operation. If it is fairly and equitably operated, it will be an instrument of great good to prevent price agreements and trade groups establishing monopolies.

There is nothing else, in my opinion, which constitutes a matter of principle in the Bill. There is nothing else in the Bill which could not be made workable and acceptable to 95 per cent. of all reasonable people in the country except that accursed Part V. I do not believe that you can make the administration of price control work in this way. I am quite prepared to help in any way I can to try to make the best of a bad job in regard to the administration of price control, but I think that, in the last resort, we shall have to fall back on direct competition, qualified by subsidies for selected industries. I want to see the Bill appreciated and cherished by the community at large. I should like to see a non-controversial measure discussed in this House in the spirit envisaged by the Minister, in the spirit in which all of us could legitimately feel that the measure had left the House as something to the completion of which we made our contribution. If the Minister wishes to maintain Part V in the Bill, unless the spirit of the House has sunk to one of mere common depravity, that collaboration cannot long survive. I do not want the Minister to reverse engines, but I would suggest to the Minister that he should postpone Part V, pluck it out, and bring it in as a Bill by itself, the merits of which we can argue and discuss from the right angle.

So far as Part V is concerned I shall fight every section of it. I shall exhaust every constitutional right of which I can avail to obstruct its passage. I shall conspire with and assist any member of the House who will collaborate with me in exhausting every device we can employ to prevent Part V being put on the Statute Book of the country, as part of the machinery of price control. It is no such thing. It is a shameless and idiotic attempt to set up in this country an inquisition, the principal function of which will be to blackmail those who are not prepared to be the lick-spittles of the administration in office for the time being. Let us fight that issue another day. If the Minister will go so far to meet us, we can have a useful and profitable discussion of the balance of the Bill.

I realise the complexity of the problem of price control, and the fact that to some extent it may be closely related to industrial development or industrial efficiency, but I cannot agree that the proposals in the Bill, which make it a joint Bill and involve two distinct matters, should be considered simultaneously. Frankly, I do not know why it was deemed desirable to introduce Part V or Part VI. I admit that Part V is the more effective and for that reason the more contentious part of the Bill. Nevertheless, Parts V and VI hang together and are both related to industrial efficiency. The great weakness of price control at present and indeed at any time, one to which reference has been made by the Minister, is the difficulty of making such control effective. The Minister more or less complained that in the past he never received adequate co-operation from the different Parties in the Dáil, to make whatever measures the Government or his Department put forward effective and to enable the officials of his Department to investigate breaches of price control regulations. One of the reasons possibly for that lack of co-operation, not, I imagine, that it was in any way meant to be lack of co-operation, in making price control effective, is the fact that most people in this House regard the powers which the Minister has had as being unjustified, in so far as they were operated at the discretion of the Minister and his Department. At the same time in many cases those charged with breaches of price control had to run the gauntlet of appearing before a court.

I believe that an effective price control tribunal or commission should be independent, that it should have, if possible, something comparable with judicial status or, at any rate, that the members of it should be independent, and that, having made recommendations, the implementation of those recommendations might then properly come within the province of the Department of Industry and Commerce. But, under Part III, the proposed prices commission is, in my view, too closely allied with the Department and too great a discretion is given to the Minister. It is highly undesirable—this referred particularly to the emergency, but, in view of the continuance of price control, must inevitably refer to the post-emergency period—that if a person is charged before a court in connection with a breach of a regulation relating to price control and is acquitted, the Minister, despite that acquittal, should exercise an overriding power to penalise that individual in a particular way. If a judicial body composed of members with a fixed tenure of office were set up it would, I believe, be likely to secure more general acceptance and, whether or not it secured general acceptance, the House would not object to placing adequate powers in the hands of the Minister for the enforcement of whatever prices or fixed margins such a body decided on.

As price control operated during the emergency—I admit that to some extent is was of an ad hoc nature—there was no fixed system. In some cases, and almost in all cases, prices were fixed after investigation by the Minister's Department and after the Minister had considered the matter. If an independent body were set up, a body with ample powers to investigate and inquire into the prices charged, with power to consider not merely the price to the consumer but the margin of profit allowed at each stage—to the producer, the wholesaler and retailer—and if, then, the Minister had discretion as to the manner in which his inspectors should carry out investigations, the House might not object; but when there is a double operation of the same power, as has been the case heretofore, it is not a desirable system and up to the present has not met with the general approval of the House.

Section 22 which sets up this commission gives the Minister that continued discretion to direct the commission as to the scope and nature of its inquiries. I believe that that is undesirable and I believe that the possession of this wide power is contrary to the normal and proper functions of the Department. It is significant that, while the Minister did say that the Government did not favour State socialism, the predominant theme of the Bill, if not State socialism, is certainly State interference. All people in business, whether farmers or industrialists, resent interference by civil servants. Time and again, criticism of bureaucratic interference is, in my opinion, unjustified, but the Civil Service was never intended to be possessed of powers which it has in recent times come to possess.

Civil servants are efficient, competent and reliable as administrators in Government Departments, but civil servants, under many recent enactments—and this applies to an alarming degree to certain semi-State companies which have been set up—have so extended their sphere of influence that they now find themselves engaging in work which their training, their experience and their whole make-up leave them unfitted to engage in. It is no criticism of any civil servant that he should not have, and, for that matter, should not be expected to have, the knowledge or experience which would equip him to engage in ordinary business. The civil servant's training does not lend itself to that rapidity of decision, that rapidity of judgment, which, in the normal way, people in business and commerce must have, in order to compete successfully with their competitors and retain their place in trade or industry.

My primary purpose in stating that is to point out that it is extremely undesirable that the Bill should be framed to exempt, as it does exempt in Section 42, any statutory undertaking. In considering what is a statutory undertaking, my mind ran over a number of different State companies. Surely if we are anxious to develop industry and to improve industrial efficiency, there should be no such exemption. Whatever case can be made for inquiring into the efficiency of an industry or undertaking which has the benefit of a tariff, or is in some way protected by the State, surely if we are going to inquire into the efficiency or the operations of such a company, it is because it receives some State protection or some State benefit and because we want to ensure that the public will not be mulcted or held up to ransom because the particular undertaking or business is protected, benefits by a State subsidy or enjoys a monopoly. The whole idea behind the Bill, so far as I can see, is to protect the public against being fleeced by excessive prices and to ensure that when State money or State protection is given to an industry or other enterprise, it will comply with what the country and the Dáil regard as a reasonable standard of efficiency.

We find, on the other hand, that companies which are the largest beneficiaries, which get the maximum assistance from the State and which in many cases have not merely a monopoly but are, by statute, the only bodies permitted to engage in that business, are all free from examination, free of any control or compliance with any particular set of standards.

That is not correct. I think the Deputy is misreading the section. The undertakings constituted by statute are subject to the section unless they are carried on for a Minister of State.

It is difficult to know how many of them are carried on by the Government or by a Minister of State.

Very few.

Take a company like Córas Iompair Éireann. That is a statutory company. It is not carried on by a Minister, I agree, but it is a statutory company. One director is appointed by the Government and there is provision made whereby, in certain eventualities, advances may be made. If you take Aer Linte or Aer Lingus, they are granted a monopoly. I do not know whether the Minister intends these companies to be subject to the section.

They would not be subject, anyhow; they are not manufacturing protected commodities.

They are not, but it is possible that either of them might be manufacturing certain equipment and that equipment or part of it would be protected, possibly not when they get it, but at an early stage. Certain cases come to my mind. That is one matter I would like to have cleared up, because some of these companies differ considerably in their formation. As the Minister said, some of them are not under the direct control of a Minister, but they are, nevertheless, under the control of the Government and they have the advantages in certain cases of a monopoly. It is highly undesirable that any State undertaking, any undertaking which gets benefit from the State in the form of public funds or a monopoly, should be granted exemption.

In so far as these companies that may come under Section 22 are concerned, it is essential, before the section is adopted, that there should be an amendment. If there is to be a law empowering this commission to inquire into a company's efficiency or otherwise, it should operate freely over the whole field and inquire into the activities of semi-State and private concerns.

There is one matter in the Bill to which attention was drawn by Deputy Dillon and, since the Bill was published, has given many people much to think about. That is the type of individual who is expected to fulfil adequately the position which the chairman must occupy if the provisions of the Bill are to remain in their present form. I cannot imagine where the Minister or the Government expects to get a person with the knowledge, experience and capacity outlined in Section 45 and succeeding sections. There is not in this country, taking even the largest industrial undertakings, an individual available who would be adequately equipped. For many reasons this country has had a limited class of industrialist to draw from. We have had limited opportunities for training and equipping our people with the knowledge and experience available in better equipped industrial countries.

If, as is laid down in the Bill, the chairman must have certain power, knowledge and experience to fit him for the work that will be imposed upon him, I cannot imagine where such a person will be found. I know it may be said that it is possible for the chairman to delegate these powers and functions and appoint an officer of the commission or, with the approval of the Minister, another member. That prompts the question, has any consideration been given to the extent of the staff which will be necessary to operate this Bill? It is an extraordinary thing that a measure of this kind is introduced without giving us any indication of its possible repercussions. Under Section 45 and succeeding sections, where the chairman has wide powers, and where it is expected the deputy-chairman or the other members will carry out investigations, how is it expected they will have the knowledge or experience for carrying on that work? The Civil Service was never intended for many of the functions which have in recent times been imposed upon it.

One of the greatest difficulties they are experiencing in England is due to the fact that there they banked on industrial councils and on many other bodies operating without fully realising the difficulty of securing an adequately trained personnel. It is true that some of these industrial councils worked well. I am quite sure that it was never the intention of the promoters of these councils in England to comply with the teachings in the Papal Encyclicals or with the recommendations contained in the Encyclicals for permitting both sides in industrial and commercial undertakings to have a share in the profits and the management.

One of the most difficult problems here will be to have available a personnel equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to carry out impartially investigations which would be deemed proper and essential to the efficient working of an industry. That knowledge and experience the Civil Service, by reason of its limited training and functions, cannot be expected to have.

Under Part V there is, in Section 51, power given to the Minister, after the report of the commission has been laid on the Table of the House under Section 50, to recommend to the Government, and the Government may then make certain Orders. These Orders are extremely wide and possibly they may conflict with the right of private property. Section 51 (1) (a) gives the Minister power to prohibit the distribution of the profits of an undertaking. In Section 52 there is the unprecedented provision that a sum over and above what would be regarded as the permitted profit will be paid to the Minister, or can be recovered by him in any court of competent jurisdiction. I believe that these two powers—in Section 51 (1) (a) and Section 52—are a grave infringement of the right of private property and one which was never contemplated up to the present. I cannot understand why, in framing this measure, the Government did not keep separate the problems of price control and industrial efficiency. Price control has, for a long time and particularly in recent years, affected intimately every citizen in the State. The measures which were taken have not proved effective, for many reasons. One reason was that there never was a sufficiently rigid system of rationing; and price control on essential commodities can operate only if there is.

It is true that rationing was effective in the case of certain commodities, but in many cases the price control has not been effective. An example that comes to my mind is that of meat. Unless meat is subsidised and adequately controlled, it will not be possible for people to continue buying it. Every essential article that is in short supply, or the price of which shows an undue tendency to rise, should be rationed and, if necessary, subsidised. There has not been here an adequate system of rationing, with adequate machinery to control not merely the actual price but the distribution; and the net effect is that the prices fixed in many cases have granted too large a margin of profit, or some device has been adopted to nullify the effect of the actual price fixed.

I suppose it is only reasonable that certain traders, particularly in the drapery business, will be able to sell a particular commodity at less than the fixed price. People then come to the conclusion, when they see the fixed price on the article, that it allows too great a margin of profit. On the other hand, it is common knowledge amongst business people that, while they may be prepared to accept a lower margin or no margin on a particular commodity, the traders concerned know they can make it up on a different article. That is not true of every single commodity in relation to which price control Orders were made and unless the Government is prepared to ration and at the same time impose maximum prices, I believe that the system of price control which has operated and which, even under this Bill, is likely to operate will not be as effective or as efficient as it should be.

Price control is useless and only helps the black market, permitting the diversion of many commodities into the black market, where it is not effective. Unless it is accompanied by an effective rationing system, it is responsible in many cases for making commodities scarce or driving them into the black market. Consequently, the price control is not only ineffective but adds the further disability of tending to make certain goods appear to be in short supply, where in fact they are not so.

In Section 51, an absolute discretion is given to the Government concerning the margin of profit. Here again I say it is undesirable that price control and industrial efficiency should be mixed up. If the Government is to retain this wide discretion, this absolute power, surely the Minister's statement that this is not State socialism, that the Government believes in private enterprise, does not hold water? While the Minister might believe one thing and while the Government may feel they are not really State socialists, in fact the large number of powers and the large area of discretion which this Bill gives to the Minister and the Government permit no other conclusion than that, inadvertently or advertently, they are committed to, if not State socialism, State interference on a large scale. For that reason, the Minister would be well advised to reconsider this Bill. No matter how we examine it, we will find these two questions of price control and industrial efficiency being mixed up. The House could devote itself in a useful way and with considerable enthusiasm to considerations of industrial efficiency and the methods by which industry might be assisted and developed. If, however, we have brought in also price control which is naturally uppermost in the minds of many people at the moment and has been so for some years past, having been under discussion here and elsewhere, we will lose sight of the possible limitations of price control and will also considerably injure what might otherwise be a profitable consideration of industrial development and efficiency.

There are some sections which will require very close consideration on the Committee Stage, particularly Section 22, which gives the prices Commission power to inquire into any commodity or service, irrespective of whether or not that commodity or service enjoys protection or is subject to import restrictions. We must compare that with the reference in Part V to the obligations of industrial efficiency in undertakings working under protection. I believe these are interrelated problems to some extent, but the actual sphere of price control should be considered separately and it would assist the easier passage of the Bill and certainly the Minister's chances of getting a reasoned discussion here if Part V and Part VI were taken out and put into a separate measure. Even if that were done, I cannot see that, as they are, they would meet with anything like general agreement.

Everyone wishes to see industrial efficiency developed to the highest possible level. In particular, the people are entitled to expect, where public money is voted or where the laws of this State assist, by means of tariffs or otherwise, an industry or undertaking, that the public will get value for their money. Section 47 gives power to hold an inquiry into any particular undertaking—this is followed by a threat of suspension of any particular benefits, quotas or tariffs, if the undertaking does not show the efficiency which is considered necessary. I believe that if, after an investigation has been held, an undertaking is found to be inefficient, the actual formality of withdrawing benefits or assistance should lie with the Minister. There is a most undesirable form of cat-and-mouse power in the Bill so far as the commission is concerned by which permission to continue operations can be given.

It is true that we had here last year an Industrial Standards Bill. Under this measure wide power is given and a large field opened for investigation respecting standards which the bodies set up under that Act may consider desirable. I believe it is undesirable to have two bodies operating in what might be called the same area. Under Parts V and VI there are powers for investigation into industrial efficiency and powers for the provision of development councils, while Sections 55 and 53 deal with standards. I think it is essential—and this House is, I think, of that opinion—that these standards be fixed, but it is wholly undesirable that one body under the Industrial Standards Act, and another under this measure could investigate those conditions. Consideration of Parts V and VI lead to the inevitable conclusion that they would be better in a separate measure. In that measure, we might review the activities of the Industrial Standards Act and the functions of any proposed development councils which it might be advisable to set up.

I do not know whether it was decided to bring in this measure in some haste or after short consideration. I am aware that price control has been under consideration for a long time, but mixing up and confusing the House and, possibly, also those engaged in industry between the powers which in the normal way would fall under the prices commission, and those for industrial efficiency is, in our view, undesirable. For that reason I recommend to the House to drop Parts V and VI. We could then have a more satisfactory discussion on price control and on all which that may connote. If Parts V and VI go through as they are or if they are allowed to remain after the Second Reading, it is obvious that Sections 51 and 52 will permit of unprecedented interference with the rights of individuals to own and dispose of property and the profits of property. I would be strongly opposed to giving that power to the Government. Some of the powers given to the Department of Industry and Commerce during the war were given to deal with an emergency situation and with difficulties which arose due to circumstances which necessitated rapid action or which called for immediate interference by the Minister or his Department which had full powers and full knowledge of the circumstances. As the situation developed, we seemed to be carrying on powers which were only given to deal with an emergency. If such powers are necessary, if goods have to be rationed and distribution controlled, if restrictions are considered essential in the interests of the community, there are ample powers in the Supplies and Services Act for this purpose.

In the earlier parts of this Bill— which I deem essential in order to make price control effective and which I hope they will couple with the Supplies and Services Act—the Government and the Minister have ample power for controlling and rationing goods and ensuring that the consumer will not be charged excessively for essential commodities which are in short supply.

When we consider the question of industrial development, tariffs and quotas —though the functions of the commission might not engage the whole-time services of the chairman and two ordinary members—nevertheless, it would be better to incur the expense of a separate tribunal which would be independent. The term of office of the chairman and members should be fixed. It is true that it is fixed under this Act for five years. But there is always the suggestion that the person appointed would be anxious to please whatever Minister was in office while he was appointed for whatever Minister was likely to be in office when his reappointment fell due. On the other hand, no individual is available in this country who could adequately deal with industrial efficiency as laid down in Parts V and VI. While the industrial councils may work satisfactorily, unless the chairman is advised, and is made by statute to accept that advice, it is idle to imagine that we can get a person equipped with the necessary knowledge and experience. The result of the measure as it stands will inevitably be to extend State control and interference.

As I said earlier, it is essential that, if public money or the resources of the State are made available to people in industry or agriculture, whatever form that assistance may take, certain minimum requirements should be laid down before it is forthcoming. At the same time, we should preserve the freedom and liberty which individuals and undertakings should get. Unless we can avoid putting those people who are receiving benefits under the control or surveillance of the Civil Service, I do not believe that the desirable measure of freedom will be assured. Unless there is an entire alteration in the recruitment and training of the Civil Service and unless a separate section is established for work of this kind, it is fantastic to imagine that this measure can be given satisfactory effect. The Civil Service receives unmerited criticism on many occasions because it was never intended that it should do the work which it is called upon to do. The Civil Service was established as an administrative machine. To place on the Civil Service, or even on particular persons recruited on a temporary basis, work of this kind is to impose upon them an unreasonable task. Unless civil servants are so trained as to ensure that they have the special knowledge and experience required, an extension of such intervention as is proposed will lead only to unfortunate and unproductive results, as has happened in other cases. Because these disabilities are inherent in the Civil Service machine, it is unreasonable to expect that civil servants will in the immediate future be in a position to give the technical service which is required under this measure and similar measures. It would be wise, therefore, to delete from this measure Parts V and VI.

While related to the operation of price control, they are an entirely separate matter and call for entirely separate consideration. If the measure remains as it is and these parts form portion of a composite Bill, there is no doubt that discussion here will be confused and clouded by the mixing of two independent and normally separate interests. For those reasons, I suggest that the measure should, before Committee Stage, be divided as I have indicated. If it is divided, I can assure the Minister that there will be a profitable discussion on price control. Parts V and VI are obnoxious, not merely to many members of the House, but to large groups of industrialists and manufacturers.

In so far as this Bill purports to rectify a position which is weighing extremely heavily on the community in recent times, we, on these benches, support it, subject to certain amendments to be moved in Committee. Much has been said regarding the provisions in Part V. I fail to see what grievance any firm which enjoys the benefits of tariffs, or other privileges of that character, can have if it fails in its fundamental purpose, which is to give as good an article as can be imported at a fair price to the consumer. It would be idle to pretend that there have not been unsatisfactory experiences in respect of some of those people who obtained those special privileges. Exception has been taken to the manner in which inquiries can be made under Part V. I direct the Minister's attention to the fact that is is not clearly indicated in the Bill at what stage the chairman of the commission can justify his entry, so to speak. I hope that that will be clarified in the Minister's reply.

In connection with the Prices Tribunal, I should like to put the point of view that if the personnel of the commission remains as it is—a chairman and two permanent members—I am afraid that, bearing in mind the extremely heavy tasks the commission will be confronted with for a considerable period, the public will read into this Bill the idea that there is no serious intention of carrying out the operations indicated in it. It is manifest, from the position we see around us and the amount of work to be done, that it will be physically impossible for the chairman and two members to deal with the business of the tribunal as satisfactorily as the public would like. There is the added disadvantage that, while the commission is intended to be permanent, there is no indication in the Bill that the members are to be whole-time. That was one of the difficulties in the case of the old Prices Commission. Here, might I put the analogy of the Industrial Relations Act? The suggestion that the basis of the commission under that Act should be widened was adopted, with very good effect, and I suggest that there is room for similar action here.

I am particularly glad to see, in connection with Part IV, that action is to be taken in relation to certain associations who have been attempting to regulate, if not actually regulating, retail prices. I point to what would seem to be a difficulty—that the restrictive provisions in the Bill are intended to apply to "associations". Where do manufacturing firms come in—people making boots, soap, pipes or other commodities? Will they not be curtailed in their activities in the same way as institutions which are designated "associations"? On the question of development councils, the Minister was perfectly correct when he stated, by way of interjection, that he was adopting this section as a result of something that happened on the other side and that what happened on the other side had had satisfactory results. The bodies set up by Sir Stafford Cripps have had a profound influence on industry in England and there is no evidence that big business has found them disadvantageous. There have been no protests. I welcome the introduction of the section providing for development councils. I am sorry that it is confined, apparently, to the firms covered by Part V—those in receipt of tariffs.

It is a pity that we have not had a wider extension of the principles so far as industry in general is concerned. I am in pretty close contact with the trade union movement in this country for quite a long number of years and I have long since recognised that the trade union movement has firmly established itself in the social and economic structure of our country. I have often wondered why even the leaders themselves, knowing that their position was established, so to speak by right, have not moved away from what might be considered the old concepts or objectives which were strictly confined to the question of wages and bad conditions.

In the first step of that move away I have always envisaged that it would be good work for the trade unions if they made as their next target or objective the question of their right to have some share in the industry to which they are attached. In so far as there is a first step along this road in the development councils I should say it will be particularly welcome within the trade unions. The Minister knows as well as members of the trade union movement know that there is and has been for a number of years a certain estrangement between managements of large concerns and their employees. There is a sense of detachment which is not good for the industry itself and, as has been proved at the other side, I am quite satisfied that when these development councils are set up on a proper basis they will tend to a better appreciation on the part of the workers of all the difficulties of the industry itself and, incidentally, lead to a better position so far as the trade union movement as a whole is concerned.

My last point will be the one to which Deputy Cosgrave referred. Will the Minister indicate how it is proposed to set up the necessary staff under this prices control, more particularly in connection with Part V of this Bill? There it is merely baldly stated that the chairman shall exercise a continuous supervision over the efficiency of the undertakings and industries to which Part V applies. Of course, provision is made for delegation. Obviously it would be impossible for one man, even with a substitute, to carry out what is envisaged in the Bill and we should like to hear from the Minister what staff—particularly what technical staff—will be placed at the disposal of the tribunal to give effect to what is set out. As I have indicated, broadly speaking, we think this measure is overdue. Having regard to the liberty which has been exercised by certain traders in this country for a number of years, we feel that at long last this is a serious effort to curtail such activities and anything that does that and protects the consuming public is something that will meet with the support of this House—certainly with the support of the members of these benches.

I agree with the Minister that there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject of price control. A certain number of consumers in this country seem to think that if prices were controlled their troubles would be at an end. There is no perfect system of price control. Even with the greatest co-operation of producers and consumers I do not think it would be possible for any Government in any country to operate the perfect system of price control. The British apparently succeeded better than any other country in operating control during the war. Despite that, however, the ramifications of the black market were very widespread in that country. In this country during the emergency price control operated fairly successfully on the whole despite the fact that we have a land frontier which complicated and added to our difficulties in carrying it through. I think it is time the minds of the public were disabused about the benefits likely to be conferred on them when this Bill becomes law. No commission, even though the members are supermen, will succeed in controlling prices rigidly in this or in any other country for that matter.

The Minister is to set up a prices commission. After all, the fact that the Minister has reverted to a prices commission shows he has learned something from the experience of his predecessors. The prices commission is to be composed of a chairman and two other members with the right to add or to appoint substitutes thereto. I wonder, after all, if we will be able to find three men in this country who will be capable of carrying out the functions under this Bill. I remember on one occasion when the managerial system was first mooted, before the present Government came into office, a very high official asking where we were going to find sufficient men in this country capable of carrying out the managerial system. I think I can very well ask the same question in this connection.

Where are we going to find the men to carry out successfully all the functions which they will have to carry out under this Bill? They would need to be supermen—that is no exaggeration. It is true that the chairman can delegate his functions but if he is properly to do his work he will want to be acquainted with all the tariffed industries in this country, with their ramifications, their needs, their requirements, technical, scientific and otherwise. Where, I ask the members of this House, is there a man in this country with such a wide knowledge and such an amazing grasp of affairs as to be able to perform such functions as he is expected to under this Bill? I assume that the same qualifications will be expected from the other members of the commission and, likewise, the officials who will be assisting them. I would be very interested to hear the Minister in his reply dealing exhaustively with that particular point. This is a question which is asked by industrialists who are very concerned about this Bill. Where are we going to find these men? Probably I can think of one, two or three men in this country who have a very wide knowledge and experience of business but they are outside the Civil Service. I would like to hear from the Minister if he is going to confine the selection of the members of this tribunal to the Civil Service or if he is going outside the Civil Service to select men who have had great success in business in this country or outside. I do not think the Minister should be limited to Irish nationals if he wants to find the man with that wide range of experience which he must possess if this Bill is to operate successfully. Seemingly the Government is less enamoured of the protected industry than in 1932 which is a sign of healthy development and progress. The prices commission, we are told, will give special attention to the promotion of efficiency in industries or undertakings producing protected commodities and if any such industry refuses to comply with the terms of the Bill for the purpose of securing greater efficiency the Minister for Industry and Commerce may prohibit the distribution of profits or suspend any customs duty which favours that industry.

Up to recently it would have been regarded as the act of a saboteur to suggest that certain protected industries were costing the country too much. It is alleged that there are some industries at present that are providing lucrative employment which may be profitable for those operating them but it is thought by people of experience— it is not my experience—that it would be cheaper from the point of view of the State if the employees and the directors concerned were superannuated.

Personally, I am glad that the Minister is taking power to deal rigidly with the people who are benefiting by tariffs and ensuring that those engaged in industry will give full value to the State and that those industries that are not likely to be profitable will be eliminated and industries likely to be a source of strength in our industrial position will be encouraged. Personally, I approve of those particular clauses of the Bill because I believe that if there are industries benefiting by tariffs, which is really another way of saying subsidy, it is right that the Government should ensure that such industries are operated efficiently and that those in control of them give value for the benefits they derive from the State.

My main objection to the Bill is that the machinery is too cumbersome and that it will be exceedingly difficult to operate. I cannot offer any suggestion of a simpler method of dealing with the problem unless the Government were prepared to lower the tariffs and let these industries bear the breeze of healthy competition. It would be a very good thing for some of these industries. We will not be able to judge what industries of ours would be able to stand on their own legs, without the aid of tariffs, until tariffs are lowered and until healthy competition makes itself felt. However, there is no provision for that in this particular Bill but it is a suggestion that I offer to the Minister in all sincerity and I hope that between now and the Report Stage he will consider if such a suggestion can be given effect to in legislation.

The new Bill proposes to prevent combinations of traders. I agree with and approve of the Minister's intention but I do not see how it would be possible for a prices commission or any other commission, for that matter, to prevent such combinations. We know that there are rings in this country in respect of the supply of certain commodities. We know that if a certain retailer writes to a certain wholesaler and the wholesaler will not supply him with the particular goods he wants that there is no use in his writing to another wholesaler in the same line of business. Because of the operation of the ring, he will not get the supplies from the other wholesaler. If he should have had a dispute with the wholesaler who usually supplies him he will have to wait for supplies until he makes his peace with that wholesaler. We want more free competition in industry to-day and I would certainly welcome legislation which would put an end to that type of ring, which is bad for industry and which is particularly bad for the community. But, although I have read the sections of the Bill very carefully, I do not see in them anything that will have the effect of ending that type of ring or that type of attitude on the part of certain traders. Their numbers are few and hence the difficulty in dealing with them.

Councils of industry are to be established, to consist of manufacturers, workers and independent persons. There are also to be development boards for protected industries and levies may be imposed for the maintenance of these bodies. This is indicated in the explanatory memorandum. We have sufficient boards and councils in this country to run an empire and, personally, I am not in the least bit enthusiastic about the establishment of additional boards and councils. I know that industrial councils are beloved of theorists and although the Minister quotes Great Britain as one country where such councils have been established, I would refer him to the fact that one of the leading British industrialists admitted that he was not enthusiastic about them. They may be useful up to a point but beyond that they perform no useful function.

Anybody associated with business in this country must appreciate that the success of most businesses depends on one man and the more freedom he has the greater success he makes of the business. I am sure the Minister knows that most of the big businesses in this country and in Great Britain were successful because the one man who started them or who was put in control at a later stage was given a free hand and was not subject to the control of directors or councils or any such bodies. I do think that the Minister should be very careful about the type of council he forms and that he should limit the formation of councils to the barest possible minimum. Industrial councils may perform a useful function. Any movement which brings business people and workers into closer contact to-day ought to be good for the country. I am associated with a certain business and I have received very useful and helpful suggestions from the employees in that business and if industrial councils composed of workers and industrialists and directors were formed and worked in the right spirit, they would be of benefit to the country and to the State and they would help to smooth out the difficulties which sometimes arise because of lack of harmony due very often to lack of proper contact between the parties concerned.

Considerable stress is laid on the word "efficiency" in this Bill and it is used in a number of sections. Who is to be the judge of efficiency and what standards are to be applied? Neither in the Bill nor in the explanatory memorandum is there any indication beyond vague reference such as one finds very often in the reports of industrial concerns. I would be very interested to know from the Minister when he is replying what standard of efficiency he has in mind and who is to be the judge. That is a very essential point.

The Minister knows that there is a great deal of uneasiness throughout the country about this Bill. There are many people associated with industry who feel that this Bill is an attempt to give the State more and more control over their businesses. The Minister owes it to these people to give a full and clear explanation as to how these particular sections of the Bill will operate. A business-man whom I met yesterday said that he felt it was an attempt at bureaucratic interference with business and with industry. He used even stronger expressions. Uneasiness does prevail and the Minister should allay that uneasiness as far as he can.

The new Bill, like all other Bills of this character, will add to the regiment of public functionaries who are increasing the complications of life for our diminishing population. The prices commission will consist of a chairman, two permanent members and temporary members and I assume there will be the customary number of inspectors and other officials, all adding to the cost of living. I have a suspicion that with all this elaborate machinery things will go on pretty much as they went on during the years of the emergency. A man, say, charging one halfpenny extra for a packet of cigarettes or one penny extra for a pocket-handkerchief was taken into court and fined and in some cases deprived of his licence but the people who are operating the black market on a big scale got away scot-free.

I am afraid that, despite all this elaborate machinery and all this array of officials, it is the small man who will suffer, and that the big operator will get away with it just as he did during the years of the emergency. We want to be assured that when this Bill becomes law, it is really going to be effective in respect of price control, and, further, that the operations which were carried out on a rather extensive scale during the emergency in many areas will not be allowed to continue. We trust, too, that there will be no discrimination between the small man and the big operator—that both will be treated alike.

Personally I think the public will be disappointed if they expect too much from this Bill. As the Minister has stated, and as I have emphasised over and over again not only in writings but from public platforms, competition is the only cure for high prices. It is only when one gets back to the old competitive basis that costs and wages will fall. That is the position whether we like it or not. For that reason I suggest that there should be a time limit imposed in regard to this type of legislation. The sooner we get away from controls and prohibitions the healthier will our industrial life become. I hope that the Minister, when he is replying, will indicate how long he thinks it will be necessary to enforce the provisions of this Bill as well as when we may expect an end to the situation which has given rise to this legislation. There are many clauses in the Bill which are likely to operate, and to operate perhaps seriously, against the success of industrial enterprise. When the Bill becomes law it will be the Minister's responsibility to operate it.

At this stage he should make it clear to the public that it is not intended to be a penal measure but rather that the intention is to operate it only while the existing world conditions prevail and that, as soon as these are at an end, there will be no further need for legislation of this character. Industrialists will need to be assured that Sections 5 and 6 will not be operated against them, and that the machinery now designed to control protected industries will not be operated unless it can be established beyond yea or nay that it is necessary for the State, in its own interests, to step in and take a hand in the management of protected industries.

I am frankly of opinion that any scheme of price control that is devised will be ineffective unless there is public co-operation behind it. That has been so up to the present. In order to have an effective scheme of price control, you must have the backing of the public behind it. We did not get that in connection with the legislation that was enacted here in the past. At any rate, we did not get to the extent that one would expect. I agree that we got a lot of talk about abnormal prices and about profiteering, but very little in the way of concrete assistance from the general public to enable the things that were stated to be occurring to be dealt with. I have heard a lot of talk here and in other places from time to time about the black market. I have heard complaints from various people about it, but when I looked for information that would enable me, as a public representative, to try and get to the bottom of the black-marketing that it was suggested was going on—when I looked for help to try to get the black-marketeers punished—it was not available for me. I would not be given names, particulars or anything else to enable an investigation to be made through the machinery that is available for the public at present in connection with these matters.

The proposals in this Bill will be effective or ineffective in proportion to the co-operation that will be forthcoming from the citizens of the country. I agree with what the last speaker said, that it is practically impossible to devise a watertight system of price control in any country. There are in this Bill, as there are in the old Prices Act provisions with regard to the public display of price lists in all shops. That is a very important matter, but I do not know if these provisions are being observed to the extent that would be desirable. It is important that provisions of this sort should be enforced under the new Bill. It might be possible for the Stationery Office to print price list cards and supply them, at a small charge, to all business people. There are some business associations printing those cards at the moment, but I think it would be preferable if you had the same kind of card displayed in every shop, showing the cost of the commodities sold there. There is another part of the Bill which is intended to control rings—people or groups of firms that get together and lay down prices to be charged for certain commodities. That is all to the good, and I hope it will succeed in its objective.

With regard to Parts V and VI of the Bill, some of the Deputies seemed to speak on these with two voices. Even the last speaker did so to a certain extent, though I admit he tried to make a constructive contribution in regard to protected industries. We have been hearing here from time out of mind denunciations of tariff racketeers, of people who established industries under protection. I have not so far come across any glaring instance—in fact any instance at all—of the racketeering spoken of in connection with protected industries. In my opinion those new industries which were established were of immense value to the country and to the community from the point of view of providing the people with their requirements as well as remunerative employment for the operatives engaged, in whatever capacity, in those industries.

Deputy Roddy suggested that there were some industries that it would pay the State to close down and superannuate the employees, they were so useless and inefficient. That is, at least, what I gathered from him. We are talking around the subject and there is no one coming to the point and specifying what are these industries. There is no use talking around the subject. If anyone believes that there are such industries why has he not the courage to say what they are? When I was a young fellow I was taught to support native industries. I was associated with an organisation for the support of Irish industries in preference to buying foreign articles. That was at a time when the Irish industries we had were struggling against dumping and unfair competition from outside. The teaching that those of us who believed in Irish industry imbibed was to buy Irish commodities even if you had to pay more for them. Those of us who were associated with that organisation did that, but the people who were prepared to do that were few and far between. The time came, however, when these home-manufactured articles had to be purchased by everyone because the foreign articles were not available.

In connection with protected industries there should be efficiency and the community should get from these industries a fair and square deal. They should be able to provide a good article at a fair price to the people and it should be produced under reasonably decent conditions for the employees. That, I think, is all that is provided for in Part V of the Bill with regard to industrial efficiency. We have in this House and outside an inferiority complex with regard to Irish products which I do not think is justified. My belief, at any rate, is that it is not justified; that the products produced here under the industrial expansion we have seen over the past 15 years or so are just as good as the products we used to import before we started to manufacture here and that they can stand on their own. But, if there are any industries which are not giving satisfaction, it is only fair that efforts should be made to improve them and to ensure greater efficiency in the operation of those industries.

I do not think any good industrialist need fear anything from Part V of this measure. In spite of what we hear from time to time about tariff racketeers, I think that the greater proportion of the industries established under protection are operating just as efficiently and as satisfactorily as the industries outside that supplied us before these new industries were established. But, none of these industries should fear any examination of their activities in the interests of the community as a whole. After all, they are depending for their existence on the community and the community are entitled to a certain protection in regard to the prices charged and the value they get for the money they expend.

There is not any great change in that? part of the measure dealing with price control. That is something we had already under the 1932 Act. The effect of that Act was vitiated to a great extent, for reasons that those on the opposite benches should be well aware of. The 1937 Act was more effective. Of course, during the emergency, price control was carried out by Emergency Powers Orders. This measure does not contain any great changes from the 1937 Act so far as I can understand and I hope it will be effective. With all the talk that we hear about increased prices nowadays one would imagine that things have gone beyond control altogether. I will give three instances of commodities that I remember myself during World War No. 1, where the prices were far away in excess of anything reached during this war. The price of butter was 3/6 per lb. during that war, when it could be got, and there was no rationing and no control then. The price of sugar was controlled at 1/3 a lb. The price of Indian meal was £4 per sack of 20 stones. None of these commodities has reached anything like that level of prices so far.

In so far as this measure will ensure that the public will know what they are being charged and what they should pay and that the public will understand that there is machinery which they can avail of if they think they are being wronged by any unscrupulous trader—they are few and far between, no matter what may be said—that will be all to the good. With regard to the industrial efficiency side of the Bill I do not think there is anything very serious in it, except for the inefficient firm. The industrialist who does his work well, who provides a good article at a fair price under fair conditions I do not think has anything to fear, and I do not see why there should be this feeling of insecurity amongst industrialists which has been referred to here.

In so far as this Bill proposes to continue the functions of the body known as the Prices Commission I think the House will approve of that portion of the Bill. Since 1932, practically, we have had some form of prices commission, but as far as the consumer is concerned, I think that the protection given to him has been of a very limited nature. People undoubtedly have been fleeced in regard to various commodities, particularly those commodities which became scarce since the emergency. The best and most effective price controller is competition. As long as commodities are in short supply it will be extremely difficult to exercise a really rigid control over prices. As the Minister pointed out, the more rigid the control over goods in short supply, the greater the danger of promoting operations in the black market. The first and most necessary step, therefore, towards ensuring that the consumer will get justice is to promote production, to promote private enterprise, and to promote competition. These are the things that will in the long run protect the consumer most effectively.

The prices commission, in my opinion, can service a useful purpose, not so much by fixing definite ceilings but particularly when conditions become normal, by making known to the public what are the production costs in various industries and what is the margin of profit. If the public are well informed on those matters and if useful information can be circulated—in formation which I think can be provided not only under this Bill but under another Act dealing with supplies, the Standards and Specifications Act—they will be provided with a valuable safeguard. The Act to which I have just referred makes provision for what is most important of all, the fixing of standards. I think it is in regard to standards more than anything else that consumers are robbed. Frequently when the ordinary individual goes in to purchase a commodity, he is told that there are two articles, one of a low price and the other of a high price. He naturally assumes, if he is not well informed, that the higher priced article is immeasurably better than the other —an assumption which is not always correct. He is inclined to judge articles according to the scale of prices attached to them. If there was any public service which would distribute useful information amongst the public in regard to standards of quality of various articles offered for sale, I think it would be a very effective means of safeguarding the public.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce hardly ever speaks upon industrial or economic matters without emphatically declaring that he stands for private enterprise and the protection of private property. Nevertheless, I think there is no man in this State who has made greater inroads on private enterprise during his tenure of office than the present Minister. I think the louder he protests that he is wholeheartedly in favour of private enterprise, the more we are inclined to suspect that he is definitely directing all his policy towards State enterprise on an ever-increasing scale. It will be acknowledged that, where protection of a far-reaching nature is given a particular industry, the State should be entitled to inquire into the manner in which that industry is run and into the profits which it is making.

If an industrialist wishes to have complete independence in the management of his industry, he should spurn protection either by a tariff, subsidy or any other form. But if he demands a protective tariff, I think he cannot object to the State intervening to see how his industry is run. Industries, however, whose products have to compete openly with the products of other countries, which are not given any protection whatever and which are able even to export to foreign markets, have a right to insist that they should not be interfered with by the State. Certainly no efficiency expert from the Department of Industry and Commerce or from the prices commission should be sent down to dictate to the owner of such an industry. If the prices commission or the Department of Industry and Commerce are of the opinion that such an industry could be better run, they can consult the owners of that industry and advise them, but to take compulsory powers in connection with such an industry, is, in my opinion, going too far.

I remember taking part in a discussion on one occasion with a number of agricultural students. They were potential agricultural instructors, most of them young men of 20 or thereabouts. They were well-informed young men in regard to agriculture and they had a very strong feeling that those engaged in agriculture were not availing of the best and most scientific knowledge available. They thought that steps should be taken to insist upon farmers availing of such instruction and help and that certain compulsory powers should be given to the Department of Agriculture to make farmers more efficient. I strongly opposed that view and reasoned with those young men. They finally came to the conclusion that it would be undesirable to exercise compulsion but, as a compromise, they suggested that whenever farmers are in financial difficulty and apply to the State for very special credit facilities, those credit facilities, if granted, should be accompanied by an insistence on the farmers accepting the instruction and technical help provided by the Department of Agriculture.

In the same way I think that an industry which goes to the Department of Industry and Commerce for help should be ready to accept even a certain measure of dictation in the running of that particular industry but, over and above all, the man who feels that he can compete with the whole world in whatever line of production he is engaged, should not be interfered with. His methods of production or manufacture may be capable of improvement, but the improvement should not be imposed compulsorily upon him. The man who feels that he can act independently should be allowed to do so whether he is doing it in the most efficient manner or not. He is asking nothing from anybody and he should be left alone.

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Briain was very emphatic in his defence of Irish industries and Irish industrialists. I think there is no body of people who deserve greater credit than those who have launched out into manufacturing industries which were entirely new to them and of which they have made a success. Even where a certain measure of protection has been necessary, that has been justified wherever the products have been of good quality and the price has not been excessive. Deputy Ó Briain challenges every member of the House to state definite instances where Irish industrialists have exploited the community and have taken a very unfair advantage of the protective tariffs afforded them. It is difficult for the ordinary layman, the man who is not engaged in retail, wholesale or manufacturing business, to put his finger on cases of profiteering, but there came into my possession, as an ordinary reader of the Independent and of the other daily papers, some information which, I think, requires to be digested by everyone interested in industrial development.

A firm known as John Rawson & Sons issued a prospectus which appeared in the Irish Independent and the other daily papers on 17th April last. They were seeking new capital, to the extent of, I think, nearly £400,000, and they gave in their prospectus particulars of the manner in which the company had been run. It was established in 1932—I assume, after the coming into operation of protective tariffs—for the manufacture of boots and shoes and the original capital was something in the nature of £21,000.

The company continued to operate until November, 1939, when a sum of £60,000 was added to the capital of the company out of its profits. That sum appears to me to be an enormous profit for a company to make, over and above whatever was paid in dividends. They do not state what the dividends were for those years, but the ordinary observer is very often fooled by the manner in which companies' dividends and profits are announced. Here we had a case in which £60,000 was added to the capital—not paid out in dividends—and, so far as the ordinary citizen could observe, that amount of money would not appear in the profits of the company. On that new capital, that greatly enlarged capital, that capital which had been enlarged out of profits, the company proceeded to pay a dividend of 12½ per cent., free of income tax. That 12½ per cent. is not 12½ per cent. on the capital but 12½ per cent. on the capital increased by this addition. It is in this way that ordinary people are cheated in trying to estimate what the profits of a company may be. The £60,000 added to the capital would represent an average dividend of 70 per cent. tax free.

Another transaction was announced in this prospectus which must puzzle the ordinary citizen—I do not pretend to be an expert in these matters. A sum of £30,000, representing 7/6 per share of £1 each, was returned to the ordinary shareholders. That seems to be an extraordinary transaction. I suppose that would amount to a reduction in the capital of the company, but, to the ordinary shareholder, it would represent an additional dividend.

The shares of the company were brought back a few months after to the original figure and the money necessary to bring the shares back was taken again out of undistributed profits. In this way, the small number of shareholders who subscribed the original £21,000 received, for the period ending 7th October, 1939, an average annual profit of £32,000, or a total of £161,000. For the six years ending 6th October, 1945, the average annual profits were £35,000, or a total of £214,000. The aggregate for the eleven years came to the grand total of approximately £376,000, that is, £376,000 profit on an invested capital of £21,000. That seems an extraordinary profit for one company to be able to make.

There was no question of inefficiency or anything else in connection with this company. It is owned by a man named Rawson who has also a firm of the same name in Leicestershire. The company, I am certain, was very well run, but a profit of £376,000 on an invested capital of £21,000 appears to me to be exceptionally high and I think there is need for some inquiry, some investigation, into such a condition of affairs. In a matter of this kind, there is only one real protection for the community. If a firm such as that is exploiting the community by making excessive profits, the only remedy is to withdraw from it the benefit of the protective tariff which has enabled it to reap such profit, because, if the Minister's contention is that this company made this enormous profit because of its very high standard of efficiency, is it not quite certain that such a standard of efficiency would enable it to operate without any protection whatever? If the man who is in charge of the prices commission is not like Moses or some other prophet, if he is in earnest and is a sincere man, with the interests of Irish industry and the interests of the Irish community at heart, he will achieve a very useful purpose and will serve the community well.

I agree with other Deputies who suggest that this prices commission should be of a judicial and an independent nature. When I say it should be of a judicial nature, I do not mean that it should be in any way associated with the legal profession, but it should be regarded as an independent, judicial body, not tied to a Government Department or controlled by a Minister. It may require very careful thinking out to set up an independent body which could perform all the functions required without having day to day control by the Minister, but I think the needs are so great, and the danger of having a Department wielding the powers envisaged in this Bill are so great, that whatever difficulties may confront us, we should aim at making this prices commission an independent, disinterested body, able to give its decisions without having any pressure exercised upon it by the Department.

There is at present too much of a tendency towards what is called Departmental justice, Government Departments setting themselves up over the rest of the community and deciding questions of grave importance as between one individual and another. There will always be scope for undue and unjust pressure being exercised on a Government Department by one firm as against another. If a powerful, influential firm comes before this tribunal it may have a chance of securing a better hearing than a small, unimportant industry.

It is to ensure that the smallest manufacturer or producer shall get justice equal to that given to the very largest in the nation that it is necessary to have this tribunal independent. A large manufacturing concern might enjoy certain immunity by reason of its far-reaching power and influence. The Minister for Industry and Commerce— and in this case the Minister will control the prices commission—might feel disinclined to give the same decision in regard to a big firm as he would give to a firm that could not wield so much power and influence throughout the State. For that reason I think the Minister will agree that it is necessary that the prices commission should not only have extensive power, but should also enjoy as far as possible the same immunity from interference as the courts enjoy.

I recognise, as everybody must, the difficulties that the Minister or the Government has to face in controlling prices. I will pay the Minister the compliment that so far as the activities of his Department were concerned during the emergency, he managed to make as good a job of control as anybody in his position could have done. As the Minister stated, the public do not understand the difficulties of price control. With regard to imported articles, the price is largely governed by outside costs, which are beyond the control of anybody here. Most of the public do not conceive the extent of those costs, how high they can be. If the Minister arranges the control of such prices, he has to see that the margin of profit is such that somebody will import the goods. One realises all that, and realises also that however perfect the system of control of prices is, there will be some loophole out of which some person will make money. You cannot control everything.

My particular interest in this debate is in relation to agricultural goods. With regard to purely manufactured industrial articles, there is this difference, that there is greater organisaton and a more accurate presentation of the cost of production given by industrialists than it is possible for the Minister or anyone else to obtain in regard to articles manufactured from agricultural products.

For years we have been promised a measure setting out some system of costing for the agriculturist. It has not arrived yet. As to the danger of price control when applied to agriculture, there are some instances well within everybody's knowledge. Deputy Ó Briain mentioned that in the first world war butter reached a much higher price than in the last war, and sugar and various articles of agricultural production fetched a much greater price than in the last war. Control of prices was more effective during the recent emergency than it was in the 1914-18 war, but that control was, perhaps, too effective. That was due, not to any antipathy that the Minister might have to agriculturists, but to the lack of sound information as to agricultural costings.

One article that has assumed great prominence lately is bacon. A good case could be made why bacon is scarce, but as good a case could not be made as to why the consumption of bacon in this country is so restricted. So far as statistics are of any use to us, we find that we have now about half the number of pigs that we had before the last war. At that particular period, we exported half the bacon we produced, so it is obvious that if we have only half the pig population now we should have sufficient bacon for our own consumption. We have not—and the Minister had to make recently the candid admission that he did not know where the bacon had gone.

Everyone knows where the bacon has gone. The bacon production is only one-third.

What the Minister should have said was: "Where have the pigs gone?" He did not say that, as he was not as careful in his language as the Minister for Industry and Commerce is. If we were able to export half the production before, we should have enough to eat now, but we have not. That is an example of the danger of price control as applied to agricultural goods. The price control on bacon is such, as regards the available quantity of pigs, that the bacon curers cannot get enough, as they cannot pay a price sufficient to secure the pigs. In fact, they are not allowed to do so and they are not allowed to charge a price that would give them a margin of profit. Therefore there is at least one and probably more bacon curers going out of production at the moment. I cannot recall such a thing happening in any industrial manufacture, though it may have happened. I am afraid that any extension of the powers of control that this Bill gives may be applied adversely to agriculture. Agricultural goods may be controlled to a point that would endanger either production or subsequent factory treatment.

The Government has gone a long way in coupling price control and subsidy. If you have to control an article that cannot be produced at the right price, I suppose there is only one way and that is to subsidise it; but it may come to the point that, if the control has to be continued in bacon, which is an article everyone wishes to have, we may eventually have to couple subsidies with that control on bacon. We have that at present in regard to butter, where in conjunction with price control we have a subsidy on production. I do not say that everything is right even in that particular method or that a proportion of the butter manufactured does not get into the wrong quarters. I am not at all satisfied that all the butter produced is marketed according to the methods the Minister would wish. Statistics do not reveal that there has been such a reduction in butter that we cannot have at least the consumption we had pre-war. I am afraid it would be very difficult for me to admit, or to get the ordinary consumer in Dublin or other big centres to admit, that we are consuming more butter than we did in the pre-ration period. Pick out any ten average citizens and ask them for their candid opinion as to whether they are eating more butter than before rationing came into operation, and in probably all cases the answer will be: "We are not; we are not getting it." I myself, although I am a farmer producing butter, perhaps a few hundred times my own ration, am rationed by my creamery and do not get as much as I would eat normally. Now, if I do not, the chances of the ordinary general public getting it are very remote.

The point is that control in bacon and butter has not effected a proper distribution of the goods produced. It has not even effected efficiency. The control of prices was intended to keep down the prices. We all know that bacon can be got occasionally in certain channels at prices far beyond the controlled prices. I am not blaming the Minister for that. It is almost impossible to control it effectively and in such a manner as to be fair to everybody. I would almost be tempted to suggest that the control should be lifted from those articles, but I can see the danger of doing so. The prices eventually arranged, by whatever method of investigation is undertaken, should be fair to all the interests concerned. They should not be like the bacon control prices, which had not the effect of increasing the number of pigs but instead put certain curers out of operation. I hope that whatever committee is set up will have proper regard to the difficulties of the situation as applied to agriculture.

In regard to Part V, I agree with a lot of the opposition. I can see the difficulties, if the Minister is to operate complete control over certain manufacturers, but as long as I have been a member of this Dáil I have always been in opposition to any drastic powers being put into a Bill, even though we have the assurance that they may never be used. In various legislation passed in the 20 years I have been in this Dáil, there have been clauses of a very serious nature which might operate against the general public; but we have had the assurance of Ministers time after time that certain penalties or certain sections would never be put into operation. Unfortunately, there have been instances where some Minister was compelled to use some of those clauses for a particular purpose. They are dangerous and I will always be in opposition to any such powers. I believe they may be used in this case to the detriment of some firms.

This House must fully appreciate the difficulties of the problems now facing the Minister. In a situation such as we are experiencing at present and have been experiencing for some years, where the supplies are not sufficient for the requirements of the public, the tendency is always towards black-marketing. As the Minister himself has suggested, when you interfere with a market to the extent of trying to control prices, there are immediately some people who will make an effort to secure margins over and above what is permitted by the control. I have always been struck by the margins that are provided for distributing organisations as against the margins secured by people who are in real production and this has a special reference to agriculture. This is not peculiar to this country but it is a world problem, that the services of the particular people engaged in the most vital work for the community, the people who provide food and upon whom the existence of the community depends, are valued least of all. As far as the distributive pool of production is concerned we are all provided with a ladle in order to live out of the pot and the primary producers get the smallest ladle.

In trying to distribute the national wealth the Minister is making an effort to see that people do not get margins out of all proportions to the services they render and as far as the Bill generally is concerned, it is a fair attempt to face up to the problem. Part V is an outrageous proposal and I do not think that it will prove a practical proposition, but however I will come to that later.

The Minister has dealt in detail with the problems of the availability and distribution of goods and as to how far it is possible to provide machinery to control margins for distribution. In Section 27 powers are taken to deal with marketing organisations and this is very important and applies in a particular way to agriculture. The farmer produces the commodities and, devoting his attention to production, does not worry about marketing but parts with them at the farm gate. He trusts, perhaps, some inefficient organisation and he suffers and the community suffers. Inefficient distribution machinery is responsible.

The Minister rightly pointed out that we must provide margins that will ensure that normal trade will operate, and that as far as imported goods are concerned we must pay the prices which will secure those imports. Often we have to pay prices which in the circumstances appear black-market prices but while goods are in short supply we must foot the bill until normal conditions return. In the circumstances in which we live it is almost impossible to deal effectively with the situation.

At the same time, margins are being taken which are unjustifiable and which ought not be tolerated or permitted. Often the State may arrive at a margin which might not be taken by traders who want to do legitimate business. I am sure the Minister is aware of that. In the past, margins have been fixed which were not justified, and it was possible for the consumer to buy goods at a lower margin. It was often possible to buy shirts and other articles of clothing below the margins fixed. It requires an expert to arrive at a fair margin. I am satisfied that the Minister fixed for the retail bacon trade a margin which was substantially above that to which the retailer was entitled. A number of people who retail bacon have informed me that the margin provided by the fixed price was substantially above what would be necessary under normal trade conditions, though if a business is to be kept going it is inevitable that a trader must get a higher margin when handling smaller quantities. Traders throughout the country have expressed the view that they could handle bacon at a lower margin.

Curers, on the other hand, because of the very limited market, are undercutting each other and are getting nothing out of it. They are forced into the black market because of the Minister's attitude. I know that the number of pigs that are going into the pork market is far above what ought to go into it. Enough fresh meat is available and we should not permit any pigs to be sold as pork, for if a limited number of pigs is available they should be all used for bacon. There is definitely a very big volume of illegitimate trade in pigs, bacon and pork and there is a lot going under the counter. The Minister is aware of that and he is conversant with the problem because the interested parties brought it to his attention, but he has shut his eyes to it.

As far as marketing is concerned I need only give the example of the marketing of fruit and vegetables in the city. It is an urgent problem to provide efficient marketing. A very big field of endeavour is open to provide efficient marketing organisations in this country, to reduce margins which are absolutely unjustifiable and to reduce redundant services. It is obvious to any man that the solution of many of these problems is the normal element of competition. It is the only efficient method of securing conditions that are justifiable and fair to the consumer, and it is the one healthy element.

Deputy Roddy has pointed out to the Minister that the little fellow has suffered as a result of the Orders which he has made fixing prices, and the big fellow who has been in operation on the black market has escaped. That is unfortunate but it is a fact. I referred last week and drew the Minister's attention to the fact that machinery essential for agriculture has been finding its way to the black market. The Minister is aware of that fact. A premium is also taken on every motor car or at least on a high percentage of the motor cars on the market to-day. I want to suggest one provision. It will not protect the market 100 per cent., but there should be a provision in this measure against resale within a specified period. He should have a proper record of sales as well, so that a commodity could be traced. There are persons in this community interested in the sale of agricultural machinery. Agricultural machinery is being sold to a number of people outside who are deliberately putting it into the black market. I believe that both are "standing in". It is deplorable that that should happen, and every effort should be made to stop it. Take the case of a person about to buy a threshing set. That set may be "collared" by an individual who is in a position to do so because he is "standing in" with the distributor. If he has to pay £50 or £60 more than he should for it, it is the small man who has to hire that machine and the consumer who will suffer. The same thing applies to motor cars. If a hackney man has to pay more for a car than he should pay, he has to collect the extra amount from the community. These problems have been present for a considerable time and they have been ignored.

The House would have no hesitation in giving the Minister support in regard to the machinery provided in Part III of the Bill. I am sure that every member of the House will be willing to give any help or assistance possible. However, members of the House are in the difficulty that they have not thought out the problems. That was not their responsibility, as it is the responsibility of the Minister and his Department. In the administration of Emergency Orders, the Minister and his Department have had a number of years' experience. We can, at least, be helpful to this extent: we can give the Minister information as to what is happening. The responsibility will then rest upon him to provide, so far as humanly possible, the machinery to deal with that position. I feel that one provision should be put in regarding trading in machinery, tractors and motor cars—a provision to prevent the immediate resale of these articles.

In the case of the motor car, I appreciate the difficulty. The car will not be licensed and it may be impossible to trace the first man who handled it. While it is a simple matter to put in a provision of this sort into a Bill, in practice it may not have any real value. Where it is definitely discovered that a licensed dealer, or a recognised dealer, has sold an article and that he is interested in the black market, steps should be taken to ensure that he will sell no more. That would be an effective way of dealing with the matter. We have passed through a situation in which our argiculturists did Trojan work in providing food for our people. In the difficult conditions which obtained, we had people in our community watching an opportunity to collect a premium on, and limit, the quantity of essential machinery available.

It was suggested by Deputy O'Broin that we cannot get very far until we get the co-operation of the people. That is true. But you cannot get the co-operation of the buyer in certain circumstances. You have not to examine the problem very fully before you realise the reason why the man who is urgently in need of a machine and who feels that he will be in a "jam" if he does not get it, will pay the premium demanded by the man who "collars" the machine rather than let it go. The premium he pays he will pass on to those who use the machine. If he stands by the law and demands his right, he knows that he will not get the equipment. That has been the experience of a number of people. In a situation where there is an acute shortage of essential machinery, it is extremely difficult to get the co-operation of the public. The publicspirited man, experience has taught, is the sufferer.

I think that Part V of this measure is outrageous and I do not think that it will operate at all. I want to make clear that we are not at all opposed to the investigation of industrial enterprises. As a matter of fact, if a section of the community are, because of the protection they enjoy, getting more for their services—very often inefficient services—than they are entitled to, I am all for discovering some means which will secure efficiency. Deputy O'Broin said that we talked around this question but that nobody had indicated where the inefficient industries are. If Deputy O'Broin is right and if there are no inefficient industries, I am surprised that the Minister has brought in Part V of the Bill. The answer to Deputy O'Broin is that Part V indicates that the Minister is satisfied that there are a number of industries which are run in a grossly inefficient way. If they were not grossly inefficient, the Minister would scarcely have recourse to action so drastic. He would not take the risk of introducing Part V. The powers which are taken are, in our view, completely undemocratic and highly objectionable.

We must remember that Part V applies only to protected industries and excludes, according to Section 42 (iii) (c) an undertaking constituted by statute, being an undertaking which is carried on by or on behalf of the State or the directors of which are appointed by the Government or by a Minister of State. The Minister made no reference to that in his statement and he made no attempt to justify the exclusion of State companies, quasi-state companies and institutions set up by the State. I do not see why we should apply all the rigours of this portion of this measure against the private individual who may have difficulties, and even financial difficulties, so far as efficiency is concerned. Sometimes efficiency is limited by financial considerations. When you have a powerful State enterprise with all the resources of the State behind it and put in machinery of this sort we exclude those industries. One would expect at least that the Minister would make some attempt to justify the exclusion of such industries. The Minister is again giving lip-service to private enterprise. If we expect private individuals to invest their capital under the conditions set out in Part V of this measure we are very optimistic. The Minister is paving the road for National Socialism, for more of the State enterprises which, he tells us, he does not want because he believes that industrial development in this country will be best served by private enterprise. If he believes that, his action does not support him. That part of this measure will eventually kill any further development in this country by private enterprise. The provisions are extraordinary. The more we turn them over in our minds the more astounded we must be that the Minister is introducing them as a piece of legislation.

We are going to have an omniscient and omnipotent chairman of this commission—a man with all knowledge and power: a man with a knowledge of every phase in industrial life who is competent to exercise a continuous supervision over the efficiency of undertakings and industries set out in Part V as follows: "The chairman shall seek to obtain improvement in the efficiency of such undertakings and industries." Section 45 provides: The chairman, with the approval of the Minister, may, for a particular purpose, delegate his powers under this Part to another member or to an officer of the commission. Deputy Dillon's rather amusing description of Moses and the cocksparrow is no great exaggeration. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how members of a commission of this kind who may have some experience or knowledge or qualification to express a view on brewing or the manufacture of furniture or something like that would be competent to judge the efficiency of, say, agricultural machinery in Wexford or be competent to express a view as to the design of a particular machine. Even when we do express a view as to the design of a particular machine we may not always be correct. One particular individual might have in view a design to suit certain conditions in certain circumstances while another individual might consider the matter from a completely different angle and expect the machine to serve in altogether different circumstances. The problem is that once you provide a high measure of protection for an industry that industry may be prepared to sell inefficient goods, inefficient machinery of obsolete designs which, because they enjoy a monopoly, they are not compelled to alter in order to bring it into line with up-to-date designs. Of course the altering of a design is a costly process. It means recasting machinery and so forth. Even if it were possible to operate all this drastic piece of legislation it still does not get over the difficulties.

A Deputy on the other side of the House has tried to convey the impression that we are opposed to industrial development. It is not the first time an attempt was made to give that impression. We are not opposed to industrial development but we are opposed to the type of development that is taking place here. We are opposed to the type of development which increases and throws back burdens on the consuming public and, what is still more objectionable, industrial development which throws burdens and handicaps on other industries—particularly the major industries. If we who are engaged in agriculture have to use equipment that is not as good as is available in other countries then we cannot hope to expand production and compete with other countries. That is what the Minister is up against. That is the difficulty the Minister raised once he began to use his high tariff weapon. With that weapon he has developed industry in this country to the exclusion of any competition. The situation he is trying to fight under this part of the measure is due to the fact, and he knows it well himself, that development, in some lines at all events, is taking place because of protection and because we eliminated completely any element of competition. I believe the best way to face up to this problem is to lower the tariff but not to eliminate it altogether. With the limited scope for industrial development in this country a young industry needs protection and while, at the beginning, it may be substantial it ought to be possible to adjust the tariff as the industry improves and expands. The downward adjustment of the tariff ought all the time to be a compelling factor. It ought to be the most important factor so far as efficiency is concerned. Merely to send in a civil servant from the Minister's Department is not going to promote efficiency. To hold an inquiry is not going to promote efficiency or to do something that appears to be outrageous so far as the appropriation of or the prevention of the distribution of profits is concerned will not promote efficiency.

The Minister has asked for constructive suggestions and I would suggest to him that so far as industrial development in this country is concerned the measure of protection that is provided is all-important. The consumer ought to be protected and every industry which is depending on the article produced is a most important and vital consideration so far as that particular development is concerned. We feel that a measure of protection that will permit a small amount of competition from outside will ensure efficiency and that if an industry is not able to survive here behind a low tariff barrier it is not worth the measures that must be taken to exclude competition completely and give it a monopoly because, inevitably, you will get inefficiency under conditions of that sort.

Section 49 is worth reading:—

"(1) If the report of an enquiry indicates that the commission are of opinion that the efficiency of an undertaking or industry to which this Part applies is below a reasonable standard, the Minister may give a direction to the person carrying on the said undertaking or the person carrying on any undertaking comprised in the said industry, requiring such person to make, in accordance with the direction, such changes in relation to the undertaking as appear to the Minister to be necessary to promote greater efficiency, whether in respect of products, materials used, methods of production, equipment, premises, management, methods of purchasing, selling or marketing, recruitment, training or employment of labour, costs of production or distribution, overhead expenses, capital structure or otherwise.

The whole question is, who is to be the judge? Is it the civil servant from Merrion Street? If a man is catering for a particular interest in the production of a particular commodity and is prepared to defend his technique against anyone, he is entitled to his opinion although other technical experts may not agree with him. Why should another man's will be imposed on him? Why should he be compelled to adopt a method of production in which he does not believe? If he is forced by the powers contained in this Bill to adopt a method which he is not convinced is the right method, he will not make a success of the job. As Deputy Roddy has pointed out, in private enterprise, efficiency and success depend on one man. That applies, not only in this country, but in the world. One Irishman's name will live in the history of industry—Henry Ford. There are other names in industrial history such as Morris.

Henry Ford in his day may have met technicians who would tell him that he was wrong in departing from the traditional type of car, the clutch and gear-box system. It was on the old model T car that he was successful, and I suppose there would scarcely be one technician anywhere at that time who would admit that he was right.

Under Section 45 the chairman can delegate his power to another member or to an officer of the commission, who, the Minister will tell the House, must be an expert with expert knowledge but, why should he be permitted to impose his will on a man who may have sound ideas but who views the matter from another angle? This State intervention is going too far and the Minister is driven to this because of his policy of high tariffs and monopolies. The moment you mention cases of the kind, you are accused by Deputy Brennan and others like him of wanting to sabotage Irish industry. Criticism is not sabotage. I am sincere in my criticism. I want to be helpful. I have criticised in the past the type of tools that were made in this country, the type of handles that were put into them. They did not go to the trouble of putting good ash into them.

That is a bit outside this measure.

We are talking about efficiency.

It is not industrial development and tariffs generally, surely.

What is it?

The Bill says "efficiency".

What does Part V say, Sir? They are going to watch over their methods of production, if you read Section 48, Sir.

I have read it.

They will report on the quality and price of the products concerned; the quality and suitability of the materials used in production and the manner in which they are purchased; the method of production and the suitability of the equipment and premises used in production; methods of management; methods of recruiting, training and employing labour; sales organisation. I submit I am absolutely in order in what I have said on this measure. I have said that we are not opposed to investigation of industry, scientific examination, if necessary, of those problems that are there and in respect of which it would be in the public interest if solutions were found, but we are opposed to the sort of State examination that is provided for in this measure, and political examination, too, which is worse.

There ought to be an independent body set up to carry out examinations of a judicial character and powers should be vested in that particular body. Throughout this measure, it is the Minister. The Minister is the all-powerful individual. The commission can only make recommendations. The final decision rests with the Minister. The Minister said that Part V of the Bill provides for consultation amongst the groups engaged in industry. It is rather a stretch of the imagination to say the provision is there. It is, if you like, in Section 46 but, if the particular industrialist is not prepared to take the advice of the chairman and persists in his own method and is pushed to the situation where an inquiry is held and an adverse report is brought in and it is tabled in Dáil Éireann, when the statement provided for in Section 50 is laid before each House of the Oireachtas, the Government may by Order do all or any of the following:—

"(a) prohibit, except with the permission of the Minister, the distribution of the profits of the undertaking."

Again you are bringing the politician into play. Leaving out the present Minister altogether, is not it a rotten policy, is not it highly dangerous to vest that particular power in a politician that he can say in a particular case the profits should not be distributed and in another case, because the party involved may be a political supporter of his, that the profits may be distributed? He may act in a completely impartial way but he is leaving himself open to the suggestion that he has not acted in an impartial way, that he has permitted a firm that supports his own particular Party to divide profits while a firm that is not a supporter of his political Party or of the Minister is squelched and estopped from distributing profits. In fact, under Section 52, the profits can be appropriated by the Minister. Flesh and blood could not tolerate that. What sort of community does he think we live in? Have we no manhood or no backbone? Does the Minister think that our people are going to stand for that sort of regimentation and dragooning, or that we are going to invest him with autocratic power to do whatever he likes?

I admit that there is a problem there mainly created by himself. Are we to have any regard to the rights of private property and to what the Constitution has to say about those fundamental rights? It appears to me that the provisions in the Constitution mean nothing.

There is a lot to be said for this measure if the Minister agrees to drop Part V, but it is very hard to discuss it in the manner in which the Minister invited the House to discuss it—that is in a helpful way—while we have that Part before us. In Section 51 we have set out the State sanctions that are to be operated against the individual who does not comply with all the fantastic provisions enumerated. This section, for example, prohibits, except with the permission of the Minister, the distribution of profits of the undertaking, the payment of remuneration, in a case where the undertaking is carried on by a body corporate, to the directors, or to the members in the case of an unincorporated body; the Government may fix the maximum price at which a product of the undertaking may be sold, and it may remove or suspend any customs duty or restriction on an importation from which, in the opinion of the Government, an undertaking benefits.

That is the solution and that is the cure that is suggested. We all know that the real solution of this problem is the use of a low tariff. The provision of a high tariff, and leaving it in operation, is we know going to give the individual industrialist here an absolute monopoly. It is only human to expect that industrialists will take advantage of a situation where they enjoy a complete monopoly, that they are going to charge too much and that the service given will invariably be inefficient.

We know, of course, that unhealthy and unfair competition from powerful interests has too often crushed the small interest in the country. God ordained that there would be competition between individuals. I suggest that the only solution to this problem is to provide a measure of protection that will keep Irish firms in existence. If the articles they produce are not of good quality, then competition from outside will eventually kill them. That, in the last analysis, is the only method by which you can ensure efficient industrial development.

With regard to the provision relating to trade associations, I think that will meet with the approval of the House. It will eliminate undesirable and unrecognised associations. It will mean that whatever associations are recognised will be recognised in law. In that way the Minister will have some control over their operations. That also will eliminate the possibility of cartels being formed. The provision with regard to councils for industrial development can be helpful. So far as the workers and technicians in an industry are concerned, it is only right that their services should be utilised as members of these councils. The provision in Part VI with regard to the provision of funds to carry out investigation and research can also be very helpful so far as the efficiency of industry is concerned. I think that, generally, on the other Parts of the measure the Minister will get the full co-operation of the House. We on this side could not possibly support the drastic and shocking provisions which the Minister is suggesting in Part V.

We made so many efforts by legislation, at all events, to control prices that it is pardonable now for one to be sceptical as to whether a new Bill called a Prices Bill is likely to give us substantially better results than we have had in the past. In so far as this Bill makes an effort to deal with what is a very serious problem so far as the masses of the people are concerned—because the question of prices intimately affects their daily lives and vitally affects their domestic budgets—I welcome the Bill, and the effort which, on the face of it, appears to be made to deal with the problem of price control. But, whilst welcoming the Bill, and welcoming any sincerity that there is behind the effort to control prices effectively, I recognise at the same time that the pivot of this whole Bill is the prices commission. If the prices commission functions satisfactorily, if it is a live body and alert to its duties, and if it is impregnated with the community complex and is determined to make the community's interest paramount over all other considerations, then we could conceivably get a prices commission which, by the utilisation of the powers contained in this Bill, may make a much more effective effort to control prices than has so far been made in that realm of activity. If, however, this prices commission approaches the problem in an easy-going way, if it is prepared to take time over every problem that confronts it and then imagines that the community will continue to bear the blister of high prices indefinitely, then it is going to be a tragic failure.

What we have got to make up our minds on—after all the embroidery of the Bill has been torn away—is this: that the whole pivot of this Bill, is the really vital part of this Bill, is the manner in which the prices commission exercises its functions. If it does a good job we may well get decent price control and effective price control from the point of view of the community. But, if the prices commission falls down on the job, then we are worse than ever, because in the meantime we will have a make-believe price control, the public will continue to suffer, and the prices commission will add another monument to our many monuments of failure effectively to control prices in this country.

The Minister, therefore, in constituting this prices commission must, I think, take steps to ensure that it is composed of people who are alive from the chin up; that they are people with energy, ability and initiative; that they are not just casualties of the last election; that they are not just the supporters, financial or moral, of a particular political Party; that they are people of a high standard of rectitude; that they are energetic people with imagination and with dynamic energy; and that they will set about in a vigorous comprehensive way to deal with this whole problem of price control which, because of the position to which it has deteriorated, is now a much more serious problem than it ever was before.

Admittedly, under this Bill the commission is equipped with very many powers; indeed it can be said with most comprehensive powers. In fact, one is doubtful as to whether a commission charged with all these powers can effectively discharge its functions unless it is provided with a trained and highly competent general headquarters which will act as its ears, its eyes and its brains, and which will implement in an efficient way the directions of a super-efficient prices commission. Nothing else is any use and, in the price conditions in which we find ourselves, unless we get a live, alert commission with a very competent headquarters personnel, I fear we will get into a position in which this effort at price control will be worse than some of those which preceded it.

I would, therefore, earnestly implore the Minister when making his appointments to the commission to be careful in his selection of those who will constitute that body and to make it clear at the outset that the commission will be given all the competent staff necessary for the proper discharge of its duties and that it will not be like the Labour Court when it was first set up, huddled into a back room with a few chairs and a few tables and there trying to face up to the gigantic task set before that body. The Minister ought to make sure that, if the prices commission is to be a really live body, it will get all the competent staff that it needs for the proper discharge of the manifold duties allotted to it under this Bill.

There are some aspects of the Bill in which the Minister has broken new ground and, I think, useful ground. For instance, he takes power in the Bill to eliminate the fixation of minimum prices by trade associations. In that respect the Minister is doing what is a useful thing and preventing the public being held up to ransom by people who think that, because they produce a commodity the public require for their very existence, they are entitled to salt the public in any way they like by the fixation of a high minimum price for the commodity. But I am wondering whether the Minister has completely closed the door to the type of evil with which he proposes to deal. On my present reading of the Bill, it seems to me that it will probably be possible for manufacturing firms which are not a trade association to fix the retail prices of their commodities and, if that loophole is in the Bill, it will be just possible for the firms to do as manufacturing firms in respect of the fixation of minimum prices what they are prevented from doing under the Bill as a trade association.

The Minister is providing in this Bill for the setting up of development councils and in that respect he has modelled Part VI pretty well on the provisions of the British Industrial Act of 1947, which provides for the setting up of statutory development councils. That is a useful development and is in accordance with modern developments in industry, where there has been a growing recognition that workers engaged in an industry are part of the industrial enterprise and that their wide experience and knowledge and their sense of enthusiasm and loyalty are factors which ought to be canalised for the promotion of a more efficient industry and for better conditions in the industry. I think, however, the Minister has drawn the powers of the development councils rather narrowly, and that, when he was modelling Part VI of the Bill on the British Industrial Act, he might have gone as far as that Act went in the allocation of powers to the development councils.

As they will be constituted under this Bill, the development councils will have certain limited functions. I should like to see them given wider functions which would not only be helpful to the development councils, but calculated at the same time to improve the efficiency of the industry. For instance, I think the British Act gives power to the development councils to examine the question of the incidence and the prevention of industrial disease. That is quite clearly a matter which could be usefully dealt with by a development council in an industry, because the incidence of industrial disease imposes a toll on industry and, at the same time, is a loss to the nation, inasmuch as, if we could avoid its incidence and provide for its speedy treatment, the nation could get the service of a worker when he is otherwise incapacitated.

I should, therefore, like to see these development councils given the function of studying and, if possible, providing for the elimination of industrial diseases, which, as the Minister knows, go hand in hand with certain types of industry. I should like to see these councils charged with responsibility for welfare work in the industries. In other words, each industry ought to do its best to provide the best possible conditions for those engaged in it. Everybody recognises that you get the greatest measure of efficiency where the conditions of employment are good. I should also like to see these development councils charged with the responsibility of promoting and perfecting welfare schemes so as to make the conditions under which workers are employed in industries, and particularly in heavy industries, some of which may be a danger to health, made as tolerable and as comfortable as possible and, generally, that the conditions in respect of high standards will be something of which we would all feel justly proud.

I should like to see the development council charged with the responsibility also of devising methods of safer working in an industry so as to eliminate the frequency of accidents, to eliminate the dangers of serious accidents; that the function of the council should be to make the industry as efficient as possible and the conditions as ideal as possible. These, clearly, should be the functions of development councils and they are, I think, the functions of the development councils which are in operation in Britain. I think the additions which I have suggested are not calculated to impede the development councils but rather to give them useful and better work to do.

In Britain, I think it was found desirable to exclude from the purview of the development councils consideration of questions of wages and conditions, it being felt that bodies, constituted as the development councils are, should not be charged with the responsibility of dealing with questions of wages and conditions, which again are matters for discussion and regulation between the unions. on the one hand, who are concerned with particular classes of trades, and the management on the other. It may be said, that since they do not get any powers to deal with questions of wages, it is not necessary to exclude the consideration of these matters from the purview of the development councils, but the British found it necessary, or at all events desirable, to exclude the consideration of wages and conditions from the purview of the development councils.

It may be, of course, urged, too, that since a development council would not have a negotiating licence, it is to be assumed that it would have no power to deal with wages. On the other hand, it could conceivably deal with questions of wages, as you might have an industry owned by one firm and the development council would, therefore, be representative on the one hand of the owners of that particular industry, its being the sole industry of that kind, and of the employees of that particular industry. In that case you would get the house union complex with no need to hold a negotiating licence. Consequently industrial councils of this kind might be said to be qualified to deal with the question of wages. I do not think it a desirable development, however, to permit these councils to do that. I think the Minister might examine the position. It may not be necessary to make an express exclusion; I am only wondering why the British did so and I should be quite satisfied if the Minister decided to examine the matter.

Part V of the Bill has been assailed as being something very drastic, something that is totalitarian, something that is highly undesirable and trampling on the democratic rights of the people. I think that Part V of the Bill is long overdue. It is a Part that commends itself to me particularly because there is not the slighest doubt in the world that when we started off in 1932 with the imposition of high tariffs, we attracted to industry in this country, a whole lot of folk, some of whom had no previous notion of ever running an industry but who had some money. We attracted as well, a collection of very smart lads from overseas, who brought in here a lot of second-hand machinery. In many instances they got any kind of barn they could, and they put this old second-hand machinery into some of these structures. They called that a factory, and they got a very substantial tariff to carry on in that way.

I do not think that is a healthy way in which to start industrial development. If ever there was a speech of the Minister with which I agreed, it was that delivered by the Minister some time ago in which he said we had to get away from the idea of industrial development by way of out-of-date factories and second-hand machinery. I agree that it was not possible to do that in 1932, but do not let our weaknesses and our follies of 1932, guide our future footsteps along the road of industrial development. Many of the industries started in 1932 are excellent undertakings, a credit to the country, giving good employment, turning out splendid products, as good as if not better than similar goods produced in other countries. But quite a number of industries were established here under tariffs with second-hand machinery, set up in bad buildings, in the first instance paying bad wages and imposing bad conditions on their workers. The wages and conditions have been remedied to some extent by trade union action and only by trade union action, but the old machinery is still there and the old barn is still doing service in many instances as a factory. The Minister knows, of course, that the factory legislation we have is perfectly out of date, worthy of the legislation of about 200 years ago. Almost anything could qualify to be a factory under our factory legislations. There is practically no up-to-date factory legislation. The Minister knows, and his officials must know, that you can set up anywhere as a factory and you can comply with all the provisions of the Factory Acts because they are out of date in relation to modern conceptions. They know that many factory owners make the most fragmentary efforts to comply with these Acts.

We recognised the difficulties existing when we set up many of these industries and we gave them tariffs for the purpose of helping to produce at home the goods which the Irish people wanted and to provide employment of which the Irish people stood in dire need. The nation taxed itself to encourage the establishment of these factories and, in some respects, the people are still taxing themselves to encourage their continued existence. When we gave them the tariffs, we did so for two reasons, namely, to give them a chance to develop as young industries and to give them an opportunity of dealing with unfair competition from other countries—unfair competition either in the sense that conditions in industry in other countries were bad, or unfair competition from the standpoint that they might have to compete with industries highly capitalised in highly industrialised countries. We have had now 15 years of these tariffs and I think the Minister and the nation are quite entitled to say: "Look here, you had 15 years to make good, 15 years to equip yourselves to deal with unfair competition from outside, 15 years to train yourselves and the workers in the industry, and the nation now expects you at least to attain a high standard of efficiency. If you do that, carry on; the nation will still give you its custom and take every step necessary to protect you. But understand, the nation is entitled to say now that you must attain efficiency in the production of your goods in order to ensure the continuance of the nation's good will and the nation's custom."

I welcome, therefore, Part V of the Bill as an effort by the Minister, and by the nation I presume, to make sure that our industries in future are going to be built on the most efficient lines. We can never hope to produce goods for export if we produce them by inefficient, sluggish, out-of-date methods, screening them behind tariff walls which may be all right from the point of view of protecting a young industry but ought to have no place in a scheme of industrial development calculated to produce high quality goods capable of being sold on foreign markets in exchange for the other commodities we need. I suggest to the Minister that whilst there are many features in the Bill which are welcome and whilst I personally hope that it will succeed in doing what we have so far failed to do, namely effectively to control prices, this Bill is deficient because it needs a counterpart. The counterpart of this Bill seems to be a development commission to supplement the prices commission because in the long run the best and most effective way of controlling prices in the country is to make the goods available in abundance. Nobody will attempt to deny that, so long as we are living in a period of scarcity, we are bound to have difficulty in regulating prices. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.