Turf Development Bill, 1953— Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The objects of this Bill are threefold. They are, first, to authorise an increase to £14,000,000 in the present statutory limit of repayable advances which may be made to Bord na Móna from the Central Fund for the purposes of carrying out the two development programmes which it has undertaken. The present statutory limit is £8,270,000; secondly, to make additional provision for the board's housing schemes; and, thirdly, to effect certain changes of an organisational character consequential on the now accepted permanency of the board's operations. These changes include the making of superannuation schemes for the permanent staff of the board and its whole-time members, and to provide for the making of a contract of service with the managing director of the board.

Deputies, I think, are aware that Bord na Móna was authorised to proceed with two development programmes, each designed towards the annual production at the end of a ten year development period of 1,000,000 tons of machined turf. Provision was made in the two earlier Acts to finance the board's activities during the development periods by means of repayable advances from the Central Fund. The amount authorised under these Acts was intended to cover the full development of the first programme but only the preliminary development of the second. The financial provisions in the earlier Acts were, however,based upon estimates made in 1947 and increases in the cost of labour and materials and increased mechanisation of production which had led to the introduction of machines, not contemplated when the 1947 estimate was being prepared, have necessitated a further revision of the estimated cost of the first development programme, and it is proposed under this Bill to provide an additional £1,480,000, thus making a total of £7,000,000, for that programme, which should be sufficient to complete it. It is proposed also to bring the total amount available for the second programme up to £7,000,000 by the additional provision of £4,250,000. It is, however, now proposed that the output of the second development programme will be about 2,500,000 tons of milled peat instead of 1,000,000 tons of sod turf and it will be necessary at a later date to make further provision for that second programme.

As regards the housing provisions of the Bill, the board has been authorised to construct houses for its workers. The Turf Development Act, 1950, provided for the financing of the board's schemes by free grants out of voted moneys and repayable advances from the Central Fund. It was intended that the free grant of £180 per house which was authorised under the 1950 Act would be supplemented by similar grants of £400 per house from the Transition Development Fund. That fund was, however, as Deputies opposite will remember, wound up on the 31st March, 1951, before Bord na Móna was in a position to avail of its provisions. It was always intended that the board should receive the same assistance as was available to housing authorities in rural areas and it is, therefore, proposed under this Bill to increase the amount of the grant to £570 per house, which is equivalent to the grant now provided from State funds to rural housing authorities.

The aggregate amount of £420,000 which it is now proposed to make available by way of grant is sufficient to cover the board's housing programme up to date and for the next few years. The balance of the cost of the houses is met by repayable advances from theCentral Fund. The existing provision for repayable advances is adequate for the board's housing programme for the next few years.

The Turf Development Act, 1946, under which Bord na Móna was constituted, provides for the appointment by the Government of members of the board, including the managing director, for such period not exceeding five years as may be fixed by the Government. The present managing director of Bord na Móna holds a permanent post as a principal officer in the Department of Industry and Commerce but he has been seconded almost continuously since 1934 for whole-time work with the Turf Development Board and later with Bord na Móna and it is felt that the time has come to regularise that position. The Bill, therefore, provides that the Minister for Industry and Commerce may, with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance and the approval of the Government, enter into a contract of service with the managing director for such period not exceeding five years as may be determined. The provision in this Bill is similar to that which was made in the Industrial Development Authority Act, 1950, by which that authority was constituted.

Not under the same threat.

These things do not always work out.

I know, happily.

It is also proposed to make provision whereby the Minister for Industry and Commerce may prepare a scheme for the payment of superannuation benefits on retirement to whole-time members of the board. Each scheme will be subject to the concurrence of the Minister for Finance and the Dáil will have an opportunity of approving or rejecting any such scheme which is laid before it.

Provision is also being made for the establishment of superannuation schemes on a contributory basis for the permanent employees of the board, for the setting up of superannuation fundsand for their administration and management and for machinery for the settlement of disputes arising out of these schemes. The establishment now of such schemes may be regarded as an indication that the policy of developing and utilising the country's peat resources is of a long-term nature which will be consistently pursued, irrespective of whatever Government may be in power. The assurance of permanence and of security for the future which these schemes will provide for the board's staff should help to ensure the continuance of that spirit of service and co-operation which is so essential to the success of the pioneer work which the board has undertaken.

Investigation of the cost and the nature of the proposed schemes has not yet been completed but it is intended that they should be on the same general lines as those which already exist for the staffs of other State-aided bodies. These schemes will also be submitted to the Dáil and the Dáil will be given an opportunity of approving or rejecting them.

A provision has been included which empowers the trustees of superannuation funds which may be set up to lend moneys to the board and for the board to borrow from such funds, if it so desires, for its general purposes. That provision is purely permissive and is in fact on the same lines as the provisions in the E.S.B. Superannuation Act, 1942. I might mention that in the case of the fund set up under that Act the E.S.B. and the trustees of the fund have found that the existence of such a power is mutually advantageous.

The introduction of the Bill affords a suitable opportunity for reviewing briefly what Bord na Móna has already acheieved and, indeed, an opportunity of paying a well deserved tribute to the success of its operations as well as of giving an outline of what it is hoped to achieve with the assistance of the additional moneys which this Bill will make available to the board.

The first development programme of Bord na Móna was set out in the White Paper which was published in 1946 and that programme was designed toachieve the development of 24 bogs with a view to obtaining an annual output of 1,000,000 tons of machine-won turf per year by 1956, together with an annual output of 20,000 tons of briquettes from the briquetting plant at Lullymore. By last year, 1952, the output of machine turf and briquettes had reached 568,000 tons. Of the 24 bogs referred to in that 1946 White Paper, 20 have now reached the production stage. Three of the remaining four are in Offaly. They were originally intended for the production of machine turf but are now being developed for the production of milled peat for use in an electricity generating station.

The 1946 White Paper estimated production of briquettes at Lullymore at 20,000 tons per year. Production during the year now ended, the year ended on the 31st March, 1953, was almost 30,000 tons and it is proposed to increase the output of milled peat at Lullymore so that up to 35,000 tons may be produced when certain further improvements have been made in the factory there.

The board have for some time been investigating alternative methods of drying milled peat for briquette production. A system of fluidised drying which was developed experimentally by the United States Bureau of Mines is at present under consideration by the board and limited tests of the process have already been carried out in the United States by the United States Bureau under a technical assistance project. The system appears to offer considerable advantages in simpler operation, higher efficiency of drying and much smaller capital cost but it has not yet been brought to the commercial stage. The board hope to arrange for the visit of an American expert from the bureau of mines to this country during the present year to see the Lullymore factory and to discuss the erection of a suitable fluidised drying pilot plant there.

The 1946 White Paper also estimated the output from the Kilberry peat moss factory at 50,000 bales per annum but that output has been considerably exceeded during each of the past four years. Annual production has averaged 70,000 bales, of which 75 per cent. hasbeen exported. Over two-thirds of these exports have been sold in the dollar market and represent a not inconsiderable addition to our dollar earnings.

In the last few years, however, competition from continental countries in dollar markets has become very intensive and it has become increasingly difficult to secure an economic price there. Exports were continued for a period with a view to retaining a hold on these markets although this involved heavy losses and contributed appreciably to the deficit on the operation of the works. There has, however, been an increasing demand for this peat moss in the home market and in Britain and the Six Counties. Prospects in these areas are good and both output and sales for the current year are likely to show a further increase Should it be necessary, an annual output of 150,000 bales can be achieved with very little addition to existing plant.

It is now estimated that in 1956, the original target date, production under the first programme will amount to 712,000 tons of machine-won turf together with 280,000 tons of milled peat and 35,000 tons of briquettes. Production of peat moss in that year will depend largely on the demand for the product but present prospects are encouraging and it is hoped at least to maintain the present rate of output and possibly to increase it. Of the machined turf, at least 390,000 tons will be required for the existing turf-fired electricity generating stations at Portarlington and Allenwood and a further 90,000 tons for a station to be erected near Lanesboro'. The balance, together with the briquettes, will be available for commercial sale. The 280,000 tons of milled peat from the Boora area will be used in the proposed turf-fired station near Ferbane which is expected to come into partial operation in 1956 and which will be expanded according as further supplies of milled peat become available from other bogs in the area under the board's second development programme.

I am glad to be able to report that the financial results of the board's operations have been equally encouraging.The board is entering on a profit-making period. There is still a debit balance amounting to £30,211 on the profit and loss account, at least there was that debit balance shown in the accounts for the year ended 31st March, 1952, but it is anticipated that the accounts for the year ended 31st March last will show a further reduction in this deficit. The board has discharged all its financial obligations to the State as well as making reasonable provision for depreciation of its assets. The obligations which had to be met by the board were mainly those which had been incurred by its predecessor, the Turf Development Board, Limited, and for which Bord na Móna was required to assume liability under the provisions of the 1946 Act. These liabilities included the repayable advances which the Turf Development Board received from the Exchequer for the development of various bogs. The net liability assumed by the board in respect of these repayable advances was £434,561, of which £358,742 represented capital advances and the balance interest. By the 1st April, 1952, the capital sum outstanding had been reduced to £261,713. That sum has now been funded and will be repaid by a half-yearly annuity of £9,227 10s. 0d. over 25 years. The first instalment was paid on 1st October, 1952.

The exemption from interest charges on advances for the first development programme made prior to 21st June, 1951, which the board enjoyed under the earlier legislation, is no longer in operation and the board has become liable for the payment of interest on these advances from 1st October, 1952.

How much did that amount to?

I will give you that figure. The interest on advances made up to 21st June, 1951, was fixed at 2½ per cent. per annum and the rate of interest payable on any advance made since that date is the rate that was current when the advance was made. The interest paid to date amounts to £109,042. When regard is had to the many difficulties which the board has experienced because of the novel anddifficult nature of the work, the unavoidable delays in securing plant and machinery and the constant rise in the level of production costs, I think Deputies will agree that the board's management of its financial affairs has been as satisfactory as its production achievements. Now that all first programme advances are liable to interest, the board's financial obligations will be much heavier than heretofore and, may I say, will represent a substantial annual contribution to the Exchequer. It is estimated that in the year ending 31st March next payments to the Exchequer by the board will amount to at least £184,000 and of course will show a progressive increase in each year thereafter.

In the board's second development programme, for which an additional provision of £4,250,000 is included in this Bill, 13 bogs are at present scheduled for development, but other bogs may be included in the programme later. The greater part of the output of this second programme will be in the form of milled peat for use in electricity generating stations. It is hoped to achieve full production of 2,250,000 tons by 1960. The original target was 1,000,000 tons of sod turf, but the decision to change over to milled peat has necessitated its revision. Part of the output will be available from 1956 onwards for use in the generating stations which will be coming into commission gradually during these years.

In addition to milled peat, machined turf output from the second production programme bogs is estimated to reach 162,000 tons by 1960, but part of this output will be available from 1955 onwards. By 1960 therefore, when the board's second programme bogs are expected to be in full production, the total output from all the board's bogs will be as follows:—

Machined turf, 874,000 tons, of which at least 390,000 tons will be used in the generating stations at Portarlington, Allenwood and Lanesboro'; milled peat, 2,500,000 tons, all of which will be used in electricity generating stations to be erected at Derrynagreenagh, Bangor Erris and Oweninny, Gowlanand Ferbane; 35,000 tons of briquettes per annum and 100,000 to 150,000 bales of peat moss per annum at Kilberry.

As regards the housing programme, considerable progress has been made in the provision of houses for the board's employees. Already 366 houses have been completed. As a matter of interest, I may mention that the board has received nearly 600 applications for tenancies from persons not employed by them. It is the board's policy, however, to grant tenancies only to actual employees and applicants for houses must become employees of the board before they are considered for tenancies. At present, 104 houses are under construction and further building will be undertaken according as the need arises. The amount of employment afforded by the board is, of course, considerable and will become larger when full production is attained under the two development programmes. The board is actively recruiting workers at present and is in a position to offer employment to an additional 500 or 600 workers.

I mentioned that in the board's second development programme, the main emphasis is on the winning of turf in the form of milled peat for use in generating stations. The decision to concentrate on milled peat was taken in the light of the many advantages which that form of production offers as compared with sod peat. Its winning lends itself more easily to mechanisation; less manual labour is required and it is cheaper to produce per calorie than so turf; it can be burned at a higher moisture content; the necessary preliminary development work in the bogs is less elaborate and can be done more quickly. Over all, it is cheaper and more easily produced fuel than sod turf.

The Government have decided that the increase in the E.S.B.'s generating plant which will be required for the next ten years to meet the increase in demand for electricity will be based to the greatest possible extent on the utilisation of our water and peat resources. Our available water resources, however, when fully generated, will, it is estimated,provide only about 1,000,000,000 units of electricity annually, which is less than our present consumption. That output must therefore be supplemented by steam stations. It has been decided that these steam stations will be designed to use turf as a fuel and that further steam stations using imported fuels will be constructed only when the native water and peat resources have been fully exploited.

In connection with the turf-fired station arrangements, a very close liason is being maintained between Bord na Móna and the E.S.B., and a joint technical committee consisting of representatives of both boards has been established. That committee discusses matters of common interest with a view to co-ordinating their activities.

The plans of the E.S.B. for the provision of additional generating capacity will come before the House in greater detail in connection with a Bill which will shortly be introduced. For the moment I think it is sufficient to say that of the total installed capacity which the E.S.B. expect to have by 1961, two-fifths will be in turf-fired stations. Deputies may be interested to learn of the success which has attended the operations of the two existing turf-fired stations since they were brought into commission. The Portarlington station, which was designed to produce annually approximately 90,000,000 units of electricity from 120,000 tons of turf, actually produced 164,000,000 units from 200,000 tons of turf in the year ended 31st March last. The Allenwood station has not yet been in full production for a complete year, as the second set at that station came into commission only at the end of September, 1952. It was designed to produce annually 135,000,000 units of electricity from 180,000 tons of turf; in the year ended 31st March last it produced over 158,000,000 units from 193,000 tons of turf.

These achievements should dispose of any doubts which may still be entertained regarding the practicability of using turf for electricity generation. They also show that in abnormally dry years, such as we experienced in 1952,or when other types of fuel cannot be easily obtained, turf-fired stations are just as capable of coping with the demand as are coal or oil-fired stations. In fact, it has now become the practice, in the case of the steam stations, to give the maximum possible load to those which are turf-fired, leaving the balance to be taken by the coal and oil stations.

Although not strictly relevant to the present Bill, I think some mention should be made of Bord na Móna's experimental station at Droichead Nua in County Kildare. The station deals with the investigation of problems connected with the production and the utilisation of turf, and close contact is maintained with developments in the turf industry in other countries. A great deal of attention has been devoted to the mechanisation of development and of production operations and considerable economics in manpower requirements have been secured as a result of the work at the station. For instance, drainage operations have been almost completely mechanised. The work is constantly proceeding on the design and construction of experimental machines of various types to cope with the problems which are experienced in the board's bogs. Particular attention has been devoted to methods of securing the most economic and efficient utilisation of turf for domestic heating and for industrial power purposes. It is worth while mentioning that considerable results have been achieved in both these fields. A number of Irish manufacturers have, as a result of co-operation with the board, succeeded in producing domestic turf-burning appliances which are not only highly efficient but which are also attractive in design and finish.

Recently the station has designed a special method of burning turf in industrial installations and several factories have adopted it. This method which the board has devised not only secures a high degree of combustion efficiency but also a saving in costs as compared with installations using coal or oil. The position in which Irish industries in country areas were handicapped by high fuel costs has now been completelyreversed. So far as fuel costs are concerned, the location of an industry in a turf area is now a very definite commercial advantage. That is an achievement on which the board and the staff deserve to be congratulated. I may say that the services of the board's staff are always available and will be very gladly offered to any industrial user who requires advice and assistance on any problems connected with the handling and utilisation of turf.

Since the systematic and scientific development of our turf resources was commenced, experience has shown that the most economic method of using turf on a large scale is in electricity generating stations. The details which I have given in regard to the operations of our existing turf-fired stations support that view. Large-scale development has other obvious advantages. It is desirable from the point of view of national security and it provides opportunities for employment in areas in which employment is normally difficult to provide. The erection of power stations in the more remote and undeveloped areas should facilitate the extension to those areas of rural electrification and should also provide an incentive for the establishment of industries in those areas. That in turn should help An Foras Tionscal in carrying out work which was entrusted to it under the Undeveloped Areas Act.

Finally, if we could succeed in effecting a reduction in our need for imported fuel by providing a greater proportion of our energy requirements from native sources, it would help considerably to redress our adverse balance of trade.

I have stressed that the services of Bord na Móna's technical staff are freely available to industrialists requiring advice and assistance in the handling and burning of turf. I am unable to understand the persistence of the tendency among some industries and institutions in the turf burning areas which formerly depended on turf, to change over to installations using imported fuel. Many of these industries owe their existence to facilities granted to them by the State and it is notunreasonable to expect that in return they should co-operate in the policy of utilising our native resources as much as possible. It was stated in the 1946 White Paper that assistance to industries located in areas where the use of turf fuel was economic would be conditional upon that fuel being used and I have recently had to refuse to consider applications for protection, by way of tariff or for the amendment of existing tariffs, from concerns which had not considered the utilisation of turf as fuel or had changed over from turf to fuel oil. In each case the firm concerned, on having its attention directed to the availability of an efficient fuel locally and to the methods by which that fuel could be used economically, found that they could turn back to turf with a saving in costs. Every consideration of self-interest and national security demands that we should develop and utilise our turf fuel resources and in that work it is expected that we shall have the co-operation of industrial undertakings and of public authorities responsible for the control of institutions, particularly in the turf areas. Bord na Móna has been entrusted with the development of our turf resources and the success which has been achieved in its operation so far gives every reason to hope that it will make a considerable contribution towards supplying the requirements of fuel and power from our own resources. As that is an objective of national policy which is universally accepted, I recommend the Bill to the House confident that it will secure approval here.

I should like to say that I welcome this Bill. I think I can also say that the House has listened with pleasure to the survey which the Minister has made of the satisfactory advances which have been made by Bord na Móna over the years. The Bill seeks as the Minister said, firstly, to give power to make very substantial financial provision for the carrying out of the schemes laid down by the board. It also provides for further financial provision for the erection of additional houses for those employed by the board. It provides further for the regularisation if Imight so term it, of the position of the managing director. I think that provision is not before its time. It was quite wrong, in my opinion, that the chief officer of this national undertaking should have had to continue over a period of nearly 20 years merely as a seconded officer from the Department of Industry and Commerce. The Bill also provides for a superannuation scheme for the board, the staff and the employees. I think all of us will welcome these provisions.

I should like, with the Minister, to pay my tribute to those who are, and who have been, responsible for the satisfactory development, organisation and utilisation of the fuel resources of the country. I agree entirely with the Minister that this is a national project, that it is a permanent structure, and that it is not going to be influenced by any change of Government. May I say here and now that I at any rate would like to see a national organisation, such as this is, removed entirely, or as far as it can possibly be removed from Party politics or from the possibility of one Party or one set of individuals trying to utilise it to get some particular credit for themselves. We should have passed that stage. I think we have been fortunate in the organisation that we have in Bord na Móna.

I do not think I am going too far in saying that we were fortunate in the personnel we had there because I think those on whom the responsibility fell for being the main driving force in that organisation were themselves keenly interested in the development of turf and it was not just merely a job to them. At the same time I think we should be quite conscious of one fact. I suppose it is a good thing that out of evil circumstances good sometimes does come. I think we were helped very considerably rather than hindered by the war situation. There is no doubt at all about that but perhaps the most revolutionary change which has taken place, a change which will enable the board enormously to expand its activities, was the perfection of the milled peat scheme. I want to say for the last time, apropos of what I said a moment ago, that when Deputies state, as some Deputies like tostate: "We developed the bogs in Mayo and elsewhere; nobody else had anything whatever to do with it," let it be clear that these huge bog areas in Mayo could not possibly have been developed for the generation of electricity if we were not able to do it through the milled peat process. They could not possibly have been developed with the sod turf process. Having said that, I shall never return to the matter again.

I am glad that the Minister did not even think it necessary to say that the milled peat process has now been proven to be entirely satisfactory—I mean that it is entirely removed from the experimental stage, that it is accepted as a sound commercial proposition and that not merely does it involve the development of enormous stretches of bog, particularly in areas where we are anxious to give employment, but it enables us to do it more economically than we could do it and are doing it under the sod turf process.

There is one aspect of this matter that does give some little concern but to some extent what the Minister said with regard to his policy in relation to the use of turf by industry has lessened my concern. As far as I understand the Minister, the ultimate aim is somewhere about 850,000 tons of sod turf, of which approximately half will be utilised for the generation of electricity, leaving us with roughly 500,000 tons to be disposed of for domestic or industrial use. That causes me some little concern as to whether or not we will be able to dispose of 500,000 tons of turf produced by Bord na Móna in addition to the 3,000,000 or 3,250,000 approximately that is supposed to be produced by the private producers. That is an important matter and that again will, of course, to a large extent be determined on the question of quality and competitive prices at the time. In relation to that, I think our dependence will have to be in the main on the continued good work that is being done and has been done by the experimental station at New-bridge.

When this Bill becomes law provisionwill have to be made to a maximum of £14,000,000. I would like to emphasise, if I may, what the Minister has said in that connection because it is, as the Americans say, very hard to get this across to the public. There are still great numbers who believe that Bord na Móna is just a State institution, costing the taxpayers enormous sums of money by way of annual grants, when in fact Bord na Móna is to a large extent at the moment, has in the past, and will certainly in the future operate almost entirely on the same basis as the E.S.B.; not merely will it have to repay the advances which have been made and the further advances which will be made when this Bill becomes law but it will have to repay them with interest sufficiently high at least to cover all that money. I merely want to reiterate what the Minister said in that connection because there are great numbers of our people who still think Bord na Móna is just something that is being kept there and is costing the taxpayers enormous sums of money.

There is one very important aspect of this development to which the Minister did not refer. It is an aspect in relation to which I would like the Minister to give us some picture, if not at this stage, certainly before the Bill finally passes into law. It is a secondary consideration, but it is a close second. I refer to the land which is reclaimed as a result of the cutting away and clearing of our bogs. I know that Bord na Móna is doing its best scientifically to drain and cut the bogs in order to leave the reclaimed land, if possible, suitable for agricultural development or, if not suitable for agricultural development, at least suitable for forestry development. That is of very great importance and may be of very great and very lasting benefit to the nation. It is a factor that must always be taken into the cost of turf production, or any other sort of fuel produced by Bord na Móna, although it has not always been taken into consideration in the past or, indeed, given any consideration by other State bodies even, much less by people outside. When one thinks of thousands of acres of land, not merelyalong the western seaboard but even in the heart of the country, that have been lying there entirely useless and that we are now getting an opportunity of reclaiming and putting to some useful purpose, that is an aspect of the matter with which we ought to make ourselves fully conversant. I think I am right in saying that in Germany in the development of their peat resources there reclamation was not a secondary consideration. It was the primary consideration since their need for peat as fuel was not and is not as great as ours.

I was glad to hear the Minister tell us about the extremely satisfactory development in Clonsast and Allenwood. It is very satisfactory indeed but, of course, the increased output will shorten the life of these bogs very much. However, we are not likely to run short of turf in the country anyway.

I want now to make some reference to peat moss. I have always felt—I know the difficulties—that there is a really enormous market in America for peat moss. I do not know if there is such a market in Canada or, if there is, how extensive it is, but there is no doubt at all that some of the European countries have a tremendous export of peat moss to America. I know that Bord na Móna finds it very difficult, if not impossible, to put peat moss on the American market in present circumstances at competitive prices. I am not so sure as to the extent to which our handling and transport costs at this side of the water are responsible for that and to what extent, if any, these costs of handling, packing and transporting from the bog to the ship can be influenced by ourselves. I do not know whether or not things could be so organised that some of our own ships could be used at certain periods for the transport of peat moss. Of course, I know very well that when one is going into a competitive market one cannot deliver as one would wish to do. One must deliver as and when required by the buyer. It does seem to me, however, and I did at one period to make extensive inquiries into this because I thought there was something in it that would give us avaluable dollar export that this is a matter worthy of every attention that can be given to it. It would not be a question of only 100,000 or 150,000 tons, or anything like that. It could be ten and 20 times that amount. If we can get in at competitive prices the market is undoubtedly there. I understand the American imports run into very, very large figures indeed.

With regard to housing, I am glad that the Minister is taking the necessary powers to make available to Bord na Móna grants on the same basis as the grants made available to local authorities for the provision of similar houses. I think that housing scheme is a very good idea. As a matter of fact, it is a necessity. I think you can attract first-class workers to Bord na Móna and, provided you give them the necessary accommodation and reasonable remuneration, you can ensure not merely adequate skilled labour for the present but also for the future.

I want to ask the Minister—this may be a small point but, perhaps, it is an important one—how the rents of these houses that are already built and tenanted have been assessed in the absence of that additional £400 per house and whether the rents were based on the only grant which was available at the time—£180?

It is retrospective.

That is the point I want to get at. Let me put it this way. Were the rents which were charged and which are being paid by the tenants fixed in anticipation of this?

That is all right. I agree entirely again with the Minister on this question of the utilisation of native fuel by industries which are only brought into existence and kept in existence by State help provided, of course, that the switch-over, if a switch-over is necessary, to the utilisation of turf does not involve a capital expenditure that would be unreasonable and provided they can get at least the same power from the utilisation of turf as they would from imported fuel-Perhaps,I would not even go so far as that but let me leave it as it is for the moment. I fail to see, even from the purely selfish point of view and having regard to all the protection for the continuous operation of the particular plant in times of emergency, why industrialists would not opt, even if it cost a little more, for the utilisation of native fuel.

That, I think, is particularly true where the fuel used is fuel oil. The danger would not even be so great from the point of view of steam generated from coal. I think we are inclined not merely in respect of our industries but in other respects also to place ourselves too much at the mercy of what is our most vulnerable point, fuel oil. I know that the experimental station has been invaluable not merely from the point of view of improving and adapting existing machinery but also in the actual inventing and producing of machines of their own for further mechanisation in regard to the production and saving of turf. I know the experimental station. The staff there have done very excellent work. They carried out experiments in relation to the by-products of turf. They produced quite a number of by-products, including wax. I would like if the Minister could tell us what the position is in relation to those efforts if he is in a position to do so.

On the question of employment, I am very glad, as I say, to see the provision that is being made here for superannuation for employees. Strangely enough, one of the greatest obstacles to greater progress and greater output which Bord na Móna has had to face in recent years, notwithstanding our large number of registered unemployed, is the fact that not in any one year have they been able to get the full number of men for whom they had work available. This may help. I am not as conversant with present-day rates of remuneration, allowances and so on as I was some years ago but if the rates have progressed during the last two or three years and kept step at least with the rates in outside firms— so far as I know the rates and conditionsoffered by Bord na Móna are reasonably good. I will not put it any further than that. I think they are reasonable—it does seem very strange, to say the least of it, that some of our people are not prepared to work on bogs in Kildare, Offaly or Mayo where they are reasonably housed from what I saw on a couple of occasions. They are even more than reasonably fed. They are given reasonable wages. Yet it is an extraordinary thing that they are not prepared to accept work in those places under those conditions but are apparently prepared to go to England and go down into a mine.

I remember when I was sitting where the Minister is now sitting and dealing with this matter and complaining that we could not get people from the western counties where they knew all about cutting and saving turf to come as far as Kildare and take up employment, I was asked by a member of the then Opposition whether I wanted them to go from Galway to Kildare at a time when they were going from Galway to Hull and Lancashire. However, that will probably be got over.

I do not want to drag out this discussion unduly but there is one thing to which I should like to pay a tribute in passing. It is not covered by this Bill. It is probably not very relevant to it although it is very clearly allied to the whole matter we are dealing with here. I refer to the experiments in bog conversion, if I might call it so, carried out by the Sugar Company. I think those efforts are worthy of our encouragement. I sincerely hope that the experiments which they are carrying out at present will be successful because, if not, I am afraid that the future of the sugar factory in Tuam will not be very secure. There has been difficulty over the years in getting a sufficient supply of beet in that area.

I noticed that during the week the Minister opened a new plant for the production or processing of grass meal from what is grown on what I have already described as largely useless stretches of our country. In so far as those efforts can be successful it will be a tremendous achievement. I donot think there is any other point I want to make at the moment except to pay my tribute to the work that has been done and which continues to be done. I am very glad, indeed, that the Minister is making in this Bill provision for those who were the pioneers of it and for those who have carried on under extremely difficult circumstances. It ought also, of course, be remembered that, apart altogether from the board and the staff, the employees have had to work under extremely unfavourable conditions. The work was done and well done. It had to be done during hard weather, often on a three-shift day, working through the night under artificial light. Taking everything into consideration, I think the work was well done.

Let me say this before I sit down. If we are going to succeed to the extent that I hope we shall succeed in the development of the peat resources of the country I would like the Minister and the E.S.B. to take another look at what they are doing or propose to do in relation to the development of the remaining water power of the country. Let us not go too far in one direction or another. I am given to understand that the board, whether at the Minister's behest or on their own initiative I do not know, are surveying our small rivers. I speak, of course, on this with all the ignorance of a layman, but I doubt very much if the development of the number of units that we will produce from some of those small rivers will be really worth it. However, that is a matter for the Minister and his expert advisers.

Does that arise on the Bill?

It does. The Minister himself mentioned it in the course of his speech, and in any event I do not think I would have much trouble in showing that it was in order on the Second Reading of this Bill. I am not going to deal further with it except to say that people outside—perhaps some of them have vested interests—have expressed their concern, for instance,about the threatened destruction of valuable salmon and sea trout fisheries. That, of course, would be all right if you were dealing with a river like the Erne, but when you come to deal with very small rivers the return by way of generated energy from them would be comparatively small. It appears to me that the necessity of doing that is not now so great since we have got this milled peat process. In the past I suppose we had not much option except to go ahead with the fullest possible development of our water-power resources unless proposed schemes were shown to be entirely uneconomic.

As I have said, I welcome the Bill. There may be one or two small points which I may have to raise on the Committee Stage but generally I welcome what is in the Bill. I think it is something which should be done. I should like to join with the Minister in paying tribute to the people who have put us in the position that we are in to-day in regard to the development of our native fuel.

I, like Deputy Morrissey, also welcome this Bill because I believe it will give hope to speed up development work in the utilisation of our native resources for generating purposes. One important aspect has been mentioned in connection with this Bill. It was the question of a market for the extra machine-won turf that will be produced here within the next few years. I am sure that is something which is worrying the Minister and the board at the present time, especially when we consider the fact that during the last 12 months we have had here a considerable quantity of surplus machine-won turf in the hands of Bord na Móna. If we have that surplus at present for which there is no economic market available, what is the position going to be in 1956 or later? How are we going to ensure that there will be a market available for the increased supplies of turf then being produced?

That is one aspect of the matter with which I propose to deal. I suggest to the Minister that the time is now ripe for planning ahead so thatthis market for the turf will be available. The first thing that I would like to point out to him and to the House is that if Bord na Móna in the past had planned their campaign properly with regard to machine-won turf, this problem of surplus turf would not have arisen to-day. I think it is an extraordinary thing that in a country like this, with huge undeveloped peat resources, we should be importing annually considerable quantities of foreign fuel. Within the last six months, the State Guarantees Bill was passed in this House. That Act covered Fuel Importers Limited to the tune of £4,000,000 for the purpose of importing fuel into this country. It might also be of interest to the House and to the general public to know that last year we paid £128,000 in interest alone on the overdraft in respect of accommodation for Fuel Importers Limited. These figures cannot be contradicted.

While that is the position, how can we expect a market to be available for the first-class fuel that is being produced here? In the last five or six years, large sums of money have been handed over to Bord na Móna for the development of our peat resources. I would like to say that the programme of supplying the generating stations with peat is an excellent one. The criticism, if I may so describe it, that I have to offer in connection with that programme is that it is painfully slow. I think that Deputies on all sides of the House are in agreement on the use of peat for generating electricity. We have not, however, reached agreement on the speed with which this programme should be carried out. I am not the only one who has criticised both Bord na Móna and the E.S.B. for their slow rate of expansion in this regard. Recently, we had some American experts in this country who stated in their report that the progress of Bord na Móna in its development work was painfully slow.

Did they know that to drain a bog alone it takes three years?

I am pointing outthat this was levelled by alleged experts who came to this country on the invitation of the Government. I am quite sure that when they came here they were given all possible information by the experts in Bord na Móna with regard to the problems of drainage and development and that, consequently, they were given full information with regard to the length of times it takes to drain a bog.

It might interest Deputy Morrissey to learn that it takes more than three years to drain some bogs in order to get the proper return when you start on a first-class fuel production programme.

I always use understatement.

We are not going to get very far in this House with regard to getting results in connection with the expansion of the activities of Bord na Móna or hurrying them up in their large-scale programme of development for generating stations but I think that, with regard to the first problem I mentioned, the question of the supply of machine-won turf for the home market is one that should meet with careful consideration. In order to get a proper idea of the areas where turf can be sold I think it is essential that a proper section be set up within Bord na Móna. If you like, you can call it a marketing section. I understand that such a section exists there at the present time—that is the information at my disposal—but I am afraid it exists only in name if we are to judge by the results or lack of results in the past 12 months.

Some time ago I put down a question to the Minister in connection with the setting-up of a proper marketing board within the framework of Bord na Móna in order to get over the difficulties of prospective purchasers in rural areas who have found it difficult to obtain Bord na Móna turf in reasonable quantities. The Minister replied that he had no information that difficulties had been experienced by prospective customers in obtaining supplies of turf whether produced by Bord na Móna or by private producers. I had hoped, atthat time, to raise this matter on the Adjournment but I was ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle. I am glad, therefore, of this opportunity of bringing the matter to the Minister's attention.

There are many prospective purchasers of Bord na Móna turf who cannot get their requirements and who cannot get them in suitable quantities. If the Minister cares to go to Galway to-morrow morning he will find that it is an impossibility for a person there to purchase a lorry-load of Bord na Móna turf. That has been the position in the past fortnight in Galway City. While that is going on in Galway, Bord na Móna has had to close down a number of its bogs in County Roscommon. On the roadside adjoining those bogs there are thousands of tons of turf—and no market available for them.

It is the same in North Mayo.

So I understand. This is a criticism of the administration. To make things worse, in order to get rid of the turf on hands in Roscommon, Mayo and elsewhere, Bord na Móna turned round in our county and offer the Roscommon County Council 4,000 tons of this turf at 24/- a ton less than it cost to produce. Naturally enough, the ratepayers of Roscommon were delighted to get this opportunity of purchasing Bord na Móna turf at 24/- a ton less than it cost to produce. However, if we look at this from a national point of view, I think we must agree that it was a scandal that Born na Móna should be allowed to sell semi-automatic machine-won turf at that cut-throat price just because they panicked when they found that, as a result of the good weather last year, they had a huge supply of turf on hands for which they had made no effort to obtain a sale.

I believe that the fact that they had so much turf on hands this year is responsible for the decision they took to close so many of these bogs. I believe that that was a retrograde step. I believe that every bog that Bord na Móna worked last year shouldbe in full production this year and that if a proper marketing section is established in Bord na Móna there will be a market available for all the turf that can be produced on these semi-automatic bogs, and even more if we had machines available.

You can picture the situation in my constituency where the county council, through pressure, were forced to purchase this turf. It meant that they were purchasing subsidised turf from Bord na Móna in competition with the hand-won producer. That means that, this year, only a small market is available in the county for the private producer because what he has supplied up to the present has now been supplied by Bord na Móna and the people as a whole—in other words, the taxpayers— are paying for the cheap turf they are getting in Roscommon. It is very unfair that the taxpayer should be asked to vote money for Bord na Móna and to find that that money is utilised to get rid of the surplus turf for which Bord na Móna failed to find a market last year. Personally, I think it is the duty of Bord na Móna to obtain a market for its product.

I do not want to be too critical or sore about it but I think that, when there is too much criticism to-day of State companies and State control, it is up to this particular body to leave no room for criticism. There are so many critics in the country to-day of State schemes and semi-State bodies that it is deplorable that they should leave any room for criticism. In view of the fact that, broadly speaking, the work being done by Bord na Móna is excellent, it is a pity that, in an important aspect such as the marketing of turf, grave inefficiency is shown.

I will give further examples to the Minister of the lack of touch—if I might so describe it—which the Bord na Móna marketing section shows with regard to the present day situation. I have here a cutting from theWaterford Starof the 29th May. The Waterford City Vocational Education Committee after a number of meetings decided to use coal burners for the vocational school. At a meeting before the one in question, they discussed for hours the relative merits of coal, coke and oiland evidently these gentlemen in Waterford never heard of turf. This is a paper published pretty widely in the South. Surely if Bord na Móna were alive to their responsibility they would have pointed out to the vocational committee: “We have burners here, Mona jet burners, that can compete any day in service and cost with the coal, coke or oil burner.”

We have an example in Athlone, where last year the vocational committee decided to install burners operated by turf, this new Mona jet burner. I understand it is on a similar principle to the oil burner. Up to that in Athlone they used coke. The cost per annum of heating the Athlone school with the coke burner was £250. They have installed a turf burner instead and there is just as good heat, it is every bit as satisfactory and they have saved £100 per annum on the fuel cost. That is not made known publicly. There are very few vocational committees in Ireland that realise that. It is quite evident that the Waterford people heard nothing about this new burner. What is the publicity or marketing section doing that they have not brought these things to the notice of public bodies generally?

The Minister has stated, in reference to what I have just been speaking about, that the same thing applies to industrial concerns now, that he is encouraging new industries to utilise native fuel in preference to the foreign commodities. I hope that under the Undeveloped Areas Act any industries coming to the West will get no facilities whatever in the way of loans or grants from the Department unless they give a guarantee to utilise the turf that is available in the West. The Minister could go further and when any new industry is being established, whether in Dublin, Cork or the West, it should be pointed out—there is no question of compulsion—that no trade loans, grants or quota facilities will be given unless they are prepared to utilise native fuel in their factories. In addition, it is time to carry out an investigation into companies already in operation and industrial concerns establishedhere over the last 15 years. They should be given a limited time in which to change over to peat instead of coal or oil. It cannot be done overnight, but every industrial concern enjoying State protection or help, that may have been in existence for the last 15 years, could be ordered to change over within a specified period to peat for heating and energy and could be warned that if they failed to change over, all facilities given to them up to the present would be withdrawn. These are ways in which we can gradually replace coal by the native product.

My own view is that we should give the power to Bord na Móna that already lies in the hands of Fuel Importers to choke off the importation of coal when necessary. The question need never arise in this country of overcharging for turf, if Bord na Móna had power at their disposal to bring in coal. With that threat hanging over the heads of private producers, they would realise there was no good in killing the goose that laid the golden egg. I understand there would be difficulties involved in trade agreements and so forth with regard to implementing that suggestion of mine, that we have not the power in this country by which we could choke off coal, that Britain could come back very quickly with regard to our cattle. That is a deplorable state of affairs, but there is a nicer way, by ensuring that every industrial concern, every housing authority and every public body will have to utilise the native product. In that way we could choke off the market for coal by degrees.

Many people are worried that if we keep on cutting the bogs at the present rate there will be no turf left after a period of years. They think we should conserve our bogs and use the peat supplies only in conjunction with coal. That is only another argument to allow coal in. One need not worry about the bogs being cut away, by making provision now that on the cut-away portion the Department of Forestry will get to work. That type of ground, cut-away bog, is ideal ground for afforestation and when we cut out the turf we could replace it with timber. Thereis no use in taking up that question in 20 years' time. Bord na Móna and the Forestry Department should work hand in hand on this problem; they would do an excellent day's work for the Forestry Department as well as ensuring our future fuel supplies.

In regard to housing, the Minister says that Bord na Móna have constructed 366 houses—I did not get the exact figure—and that there is a big list of applicants who are not Bord na Móna employees. I would like him to tell us how many of the applicants are Bord na Móna employees. That is much more important. I would like him to let us know whether the board can find sufficient applicants to take up residence in all the new houses that have been constructed in Kildare and Lanesboro, from amongst Bord na Móna employees. I met a number of these men myself and they were very dissatisfied with the terms offered by the board. One of the snags in the contract agreement is that if for one reason or another the employee falls out with the board or gets sick and does not want to work any longer with them, he is turfed out of the house and his family along with him. In other words, he is only a tenant of the Bord na Móna house so long as he works for the board. That is the nicest form of blackmail I know of. There is a little threat there, a little intimidation. When it comes to a question of employees looking for an increase in wages, it can always be held over their heads as a threat of dismissal and as a result of dismissal that the turf worker would have to leave his abode, with his family as well. I should like the Minister to let us know whether there has been any trouble in finding tenants for all the houses constructed up to the present.

I want to emphasise the main problem that worries me—the securing of a market for machine-won turf in our towns. I put a suggestion to the Minister—I do not know what the board thought of it—that, in towns like Roscommon, Ballina, Sligo, Galway and towns in the Midlands and even in the South, Bord na Móna should set up fuel depots—they need not necessarily be closed-in constructions; theycould be big yards—so that if a purchaser wished to obtain turf in one-ton or two-ton lots he could ring up the depot and say that he wanted to buy a ton of Bord na Móna turf, which turf would be delivered to him or could be collected by him. One of the big snags with regard to turf in towns is its bulk. Very few houses have storage accommodation sufficient for more than one ton of turf, so that there is no use in offering turf to people in towns in five and six-ton lots. They should be in a position to buy turf in the very same way as they can buy bread. That may sound somewhat exaggerated but if the public are facilitated in obtaining turf in lots which suit them, far more people will take it. One of the advantages of coal is that it takes up so little space.

In most of the towns the question of the type of chimney does not give rise to much trouble and I do not accept the suggestion made by a number of Dublin Deputies as to the grave danger of fires through the utilisation of turf. Bord na Móna have got over that difficulty within the past six months but it is only when one makes inquiries of Bord na Móna officials that one gets the full information or when some member of Bord na Móna reads a paper to some group or association which gets half a column in the newspapers. That is not sufficient publicity, so far as Bord na Móna is concerned. The board should give first-class publicity to any improvements carried out and to the results of any successful experiments they may have made with regard to chimneys and the utilisation of turf.

I am not suggesting for a moment that turf be poured wholesale into Dublin straightway. There are plenty towns outside of the cities where there is a first-class market for turf, if the proper steps are taken. The Minister may be told by the board that, if Bord na Móna were to set up these fuel depots in towns in the West, they would be completing with hand-won turf. That is nonsense. If the private producer is offered a guaranteed price, in the same way as the whiskey distillers give a guaranteed price for malting barley,and if a man is known in a particular area as a producer of so much hand-won turf for sale per annum, I see nothing wrong with a Bord na Móna depot in Roscommon town stating that they are prepared to purchase 700 or 800 tons of hand-won turf every year at such and such a price. That turf can be sold along with the semi-automatic turf from the very same yard and purchasers will be found for it, in preference often to the machine-won turf. In that regard, no harm will be done to the private producer.

I am convinced that you will not have a full market for all this Bord na Móna turf until Bord na Móna take steps to set up a distribution centre in each town throughout the country. We will be told that the sale of turf is a matter for private enterprise and that Bord na Móna would be stepping too far into that sphere. I do not accept that at all. Every worthwhile development that has taken place in this country took place through State interference. Private enterprise has achieved nothing in this country without first-class State aid or protection, and, if Bord na Móna are to be the primary producers of turf, it is their duty to see that that turf reaches the public, whether they themselves have to take the steps necessary to make it available to the public or are able to reach agreement with the people who up to the present have acted as the principal distributors of the foreign commodity, coal. I do not care what way they do it, but the present system will have to be changed, and my suggestion is that Bord na Móna should enter the distributing business by setting up these fuel depots in each of the towns.

I congratulate the Minister on bringing in the Bill which I know is going to be welcomed by all sides of the House. I hope that, as a result of the encouragement being given by all Parties, Bord na Móna will be spurred on to greater efforts, feeling that they have the entire backing of the House and the country in their desire to expand production and to increase the utilisation of peat instead of the foreign fuel.

Major de Valera

This Bill has beenwelcomed, and rightly so, by everybody in the House. It is in some respects to be regarded as a milestone on the way to very definite progress, because we have now got to the stage at which we are no longer wondering about the potentialities of turf, but talking about its further expansion and development, accepting it for what it is, a national project of prime importance.

The point I particularly want to make is that this project has got to the stage at which it can contribute significantly to power production in this country. It has been pointed out, and rightly so, that there are peculiar advantages attached to this, because not only does it represent a useful employment of resources which heretofore have been unused but an employment of resources which are relatively valuable in a country which unfortunately is fairly poor in that type of resource. It also represents a certain insurance against an emergency, as Deputy Morrissey pointed out, and, in that connection, as I understand the situation—perhaps the Minister would be able to give us figures because sometimes our information is incomplete—during the month of March this year, the cost of power from turf at two of the turf burning stations was less per unit than the cost of power production from oil or other fuels. If we have achieved that situation, it is indeed very satisfactory and it should be a stimulus to go right ahead and develop our power production as far as possible on these lines. In the past we were all used to the argument and, perhaps, a reasonable argument that there are advantages attached to turf and they could be enumerated but, as against that, the bogey of cost was held out and you were told that imported fuel oil or coal would produce far more cheaply. Apparently that argument no longer holds, if the information which I have is correct. Such information as we Deputies get sometime in the course of wandering around is not altogether complete but that is the information which I have come across. If that is the position it is an extremely satisfactory one.

Deputy Morrissey's attitude in thisdebate was a very welcome one indeed and his approach a very proper one. In that approach he has done a great deal to help to keep this debate in its proper perspective and I hope we will be able to keep all discussions on this and kindred subjects in that perspective the rest of the way, no matter how long it may be.

In that regard Deputy Morrissey touched on the question of co-ordination. Seeing that Bord na Móna, of itself, through all the vicissitudes of childhood has now got to the stage of development that it has got itself, this question of over-all co-ordination becomes extremely important, particularly in regard to power. Before mentioning some heads—I have no intention of going into this in any detail— it is perhaps not inappropriate to say that in a modern economy the first requisition is adequate supplies of power at economic rates, whatever that may be. I hesitate to say or to pin it completely to a matter of cheapness but, in a modern economy, power is the first requisite. It is what moves things, what keeps the whole thing going and, whether it is industry or agriculture, power is needed. If we look forward to the development of this country, whether on the industrial side or on the primary agricultural side, we see the need for power. Everybody will appreciate it on the industrial side but it has a very big bearing on our agricultural efficiency as well. It would be a big thing in this country, and it has been pressed ahead under rural electrification, if the mechanical and other facilities that can come to a farmer when he has power laid on and available were universally available to all our farmers. Whether for domestic use or for agricultural and industrial use, power widely distributed all over the country at an economic rate would be a very good social thing also and might help to secure a balance which we feel is necessary as against urban areas and rural areas, but that is a digression.

The point is that the first prerequisite to the development of a modern economy is power and the Governments that have been here have been right in their approach to thisin so far as they have put that as the primary objective as far as weight of effort went.

We have three possible supplies, roughly, in this country in regard to power. Perhaps one could say four. Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle would allow me to enumerate them. I do not think I am trespassing too far. I think it is relevant just to mention them. There is water power. Nobody can deny the value of that. Deputy Morrissey has touched upon it. It is a very important angle for us who are poor in natural power resources. There is the question then of supplementing that by generating stations of the heat type of some form or another. That supplementation will be absolutely necessary, no matter how it is balanced, because of the dependence of hydro-generating stations on weather conditions to some extent. For instance, the last year was a dry year and I think the power production from the hydro-electric schemes was down. When there is more rainfall you can get a better output. There is definitely a need for balance there.

If that is so, the question arises, how? We have two means at present. We are using stations fired with imported fuel and we are using stations fired with domestic fuel, and the domestic fuel, apparently, is now even more economic on a cost basis. Frankly, I think there is need here now for such bodies as the E.S.B. and Bord na Móna to be co-ordinated in the long-term as well as the short-term operations. In the planning there is need for co-ordination here and I presume it is the Minister and his Department who should be the proper co-ordinating influence. It is not a question of cut-throat rivalry between the two. The E.S.B. and Bord na Móna are equally essential and equally important and the work done on both sides is work of prime national importance.

It is only natural, perhaps, that the E.S.B., having started off as largely concerned with hydro-electric schemes and having a bias in that direction, would have a lean towards that. Perhaps an engineer, in particular, would have a lean towards such a type of scheme. Perhaps from a purelydrawing-board calculation point of view, seeing certain difficulties associated with turf, when it comes to supplementation, there may be a leaning towards the view, if one looks at it from the narrow engineering efficiency point of view, that there is a case to be made for the oil-fired station as against others, and so forth. But, the over-all national economic picture should be taken into account, particularly as the situation is as I mentioned and, therefore, joint planning of the two concerns is of some importance. Perhaps it is a matter that should be reviewed at the present moment.

There may be another method of power generation. I do not know. It has been considered in the past but it is not for discussion on this Bill.

The important thing is to use our bogs as far as we can now for this purpose and I would, off the cuff, so to speak, be inclined to agree with Deputy Morrissey that in the production of new stations it might be better to go for more turf-fired stations, suitably located, than to go too far on the hydro-electric side, if you have not got a likely return from it. It is a matter for balance, a matter for careful consideration, one that cannot simply be dismissed in a few words. I do think it is important and I would like the Minister to tell us what the prospects are for development on that line.

The next thing is co-ordination again. It is a question of co-ordination with the development of the land. The grass meal project in Galway has been mentioned and that seems to be very promising. The question of reclamation of the land for turning it to useful work after the turf has been reaped from it is also important.

This bears on a number of other interests. Deputy McQuillan mentioned forestry. It has also a bearing on agriculture and I wonder whether the necessary co-ordination at the top on a broad basis is getting enough attention. I presume it is, but I think I should mention it at the same time. Then there is another matter arising out of this in regard to employment and houses. It is a very good thing that the board will provide housing,which is one of the difficulties in getting labour because we have a rather exceptional situation in regard to employment in this country which is perturbing and which to some extent has been mentioned by Deputy Morrissey. It seems to be a fact in certain rural areas in connection with work, such as essential work like this in regard to our bogs, which is first-class production work as well, that there is a difficulty in getting employees. In other words, there is a difficulty in getting labour.

It is only within the past month that I was talking to somebody very closely associated with a western county council who informed me that it was impossible for that council to get the labour they required for work on the roads and other local work. The people sign on or register themselves, whatever the mechanism is with regard to the Labour Exchanges but the necessary number could not be found. That seems to be the position in regard to certain areas in the country. On the other hand, we have the very definite problem that in the City of Dublin and in certain other areas there is definite unemployment, particularly so in the building trade. It is very hard to know how to tackle a problem of that nature, but certainly the provision of houses as an inducement to the workers to go there is something of importance.

Deputy Morrissey pointed out and, I think quite rightly, that it is very hard to explain why people will emigrate from the areas where there is no employment to Britain, under worse conditions, rather than go to the areas in the country where work is to be found. That statement would accord with information which has been given to me. The board, in providing these houses, should be able to do something to redress that. Deputy McQuillan also made a point in regard to that. But there is another side to that. If these houses are for the purpose of procuring the necessary labour, some arrangement is necessary whereby the houses will be kept for employees who are going to give a productive return. A terribly important thing is that we are getting production here. We are not merely providing relief schemes. Fromthe employment involved in Bord na Móna and E.S.B. we are getting production of real value to the nation.

There is another thing about this which requires comment. We have had a very large housing drive in this country over a number of years and we have made remarkable progress in 20 years in rehousing our people. But we are now beginning to find in certain areas a problem which was not thought of at that time. The housing situation was so bad when we were starting at it that we did not think of possible complications. But a complication has arisen in a number of areas to my knowledge and it is this. County councils, with State aid, have erected a number of houses in certain localities. From a social point of view that was an excellent and proper thing to do. But it has had the effect of increasing the density of population in a number of restricted areas where there is no employment to absorb the people, so that you have in certain areas densely-populated patches with excellent housing facilities, but the people have to go a long distance from such areas to get employment. That is a complication in the problem. Here we have the two things related. Bord na Móna is providing houses in relation to the employment. That is an important move on the part of the board. But I have often wondered whether some of our transport problems could not be solved in restricted areas, even if it were only by rural electrification locally in connection with the transport of turf.

Does the question of transport arise on this Bill?

Major de Valera

It would certainly arise in regard to the board itself supplying power for it. In Holland and many other countries you see transport of that nature so carried. However, I think the Minister is anxious and we are all anxious that this Bill should not be delayed. It is needed so as to get on with the work. I am gratified to find that there is a move to make provision for an emergency, if it should come. Deputy Morrissey pointed out that being at the mercy of fuel oil is perhaps our weakest point. I could if I were to take the time, go furtheralong that line. I think we will all join in wishing the Minister well with his further scheme for development and that the House will watch it with interest and give him every support in future.

Before Deputy Cogan speaks I should like to make a correction in the order of business to-day. The programme announced this morning provided for the taking of the Local Elections Bill on report after Questions and then the order was to be resumed, which would mean taking this Turf Development Bill. I have engagements in the Seanad and I may not be back in time to deal with the Turf Development Bill. I think, therefore, it would be preferable not to order its resumption after Questions, but that the Local Elections Bill should be taken and that we should then go on with the Estimates which are intended to be taken.

That is what we were told last night.

I am at some disadvantage as I did not hear the Minister's entire statement. It was gratifying, however, to hear Deputy Morrissey express on behalf of the Opposition entire agreement with the Bill's provisions and with what it hopes to achieve. It is very gratifying to know that all opposition to turf production has virtually disappeared, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, by his untiring efforts for the development of native turf production, has ruled out all opposition and that we have on all sides of the House a unanimous endorsement of the policy of this nation to provide, as far as it is possible, for our requirements in fuel supplies. The fact that we imported £12,000,000 worth of coal in 1951 and £10,000,000 worth in 1952 is proof that there is a very big market within this country for our native fuel. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.