Private Members' Business. - Export Market for Irish Whiskey— Motion.

I move:—

That, in view of the failure to secure an adequate market abroad for Irish whiskey under present production conditions and the necessity for safeguarding our national economy by building up our export trade, particularly in hard currency areas, Dáil Éireann is of the opinion that steps should be taken, if necessary by the setting up of a State-sponsored company, to produce a suitably blended whiskey; Dáil Éireann further considers that these steps should be taken at once in view of the very beneficial effect that the increased barley production would have on agriculture and the extra employment that would be afforded generally.

Some time ago I tabled a motion in connection with proposals for expanding our distilling industry and that motion is worded in such a way as to give an opportunity to the Minister to take the necessary steps to expand the industry, though not necessarily on the lines suggested in the motion itself. I have pointed out that steps should be taken to set up a State-sponsored company to produce a suitably blended whiskey and it is a matter for the Minister and his Department to decide whether or not it is essential that such a State-sponsored company should be established.

In the course of my remarks I propose to give my reasons as to why I consider it essential to set up this State-sponsored company in order to bring about the expansion that is so necessary. If the Minister is in a position to suggest a sound alternative, then I am prepared to listen to reason.

I am sure there are many Deputies who have not the vaguest idea of the distilling industry in general. Most of them have a knowledge of the different types of whiskey available, but I am sure if they were asked about distillation and the different types that are produced—patent, grain or potstill—they would not be able to tell the difference between any of them. If the distillers were doing their duty to the State, there would be no need for me to table this motion and Deputies would not have to suffer here listening to the reasons I propose to give as to why we should take the steps outlined in the motion.

I think it is generally admitted that the distilling industry could be of tremendous importance to the nation in the economic sphere and in the returns gained by an expansion of the trade abroad, particularly in the hard currency areas. It is realised publicly that the whiskey industry, if properly developed, could be a very important industrial arm of our agricultural economy. Although that is generally believed and agreed upon by the public and by those who represent the public, Deputies and Parties, no concrete steps have been taken in the last few years to ensure this necessary expansion. I have heard in the House on a number of occassions Deputies for whom I have a great deal of respect putting up a very sound defence for the actions of the distillers in regard to this important industry. All I want to say at this stage is that I am convinced—and I have enough evidence to prove that I am correct—that these Deputies, although acting in all sincerity, were misled and misguided in their attempts to back up the case made by the distillers.

I believe that for the last 70 years our distillers have been prepared to jog along, that they have been satisfied with the home market. Their cry is and has been that their product is the best whiskey in the world. While they adopt this line and live in this cuckoo-land, the Scotch have swept the decks with their blended products. To-day, the Irish distillers strongly oppose the introduction of a blended product, just as they opposed it 70 years ago.

I do not wish to weary the House, but there are volumes of evidence available for any Deputy who wishes to check the remarks I have to make with regard to the hostility shown by the Irish distillers in the last 70 years towards the production in Ireland of a blended whiskey. I propose, however, to make certain evidence available and to produce references so that any Deputy who is interested may check them. I propose to prove that back to the year 1874 the Irish distillers used every means in their power to prevent a patent whiskey from even being described as whiskey.

In 1908 the Irish pot-still distillers and a number of distillers in England and Scotland brought such pressure to bear that the British Government at the time set up a Royal Commission to inquire into whether what was known as a patent whiskey was entitled by law to be described as such. That Royal Commission sat for a considerable period in 1908 and took volumes of evidence from trade associations, farmers, producers of patent whiskey, the Irish distillers, who were so keen on the pot still and, at the end of a long session, they issued a very valuable report which I will deal with at a later stage.

It is very interesting to read that report and to see the evidence given by prominent Irish distillers, when asked their views in 1908, about the merits of blended products. In this report one of the proprietors of what is known as Powers to-day, Mr. James Talbot Power, who was described in the report as the chairman and principal proprietor of Sir John Power & Sons, was questioned with regard to his idea of what whiskey was. He was asked for a definition and he said: "I am satisfied that whiskey cannot be produced except in a pot still." He went on to say that Irish whiskey should be confined as a trade description to pot-still whiskey. He went further and said: "In my opinion it is a definite fraud to sell as whiskey patent spirit with a small addition of pot still."

For the benefit of Deputies who do not understand the difference between a patent whiskey and pot still let me say that Scotch whiskeys to-day are a blend of pot still and patent, the ranges of the blend varying from 60 per cent. patent and 40 per cent. pot still. Some of the Scotch whiskeys are 80 per cent. patent and 20 per cent. pot still. That was the type of whiskey described by James Talbot Power, in 1908, when he said that it was a definite fraud to sell as whiskey patent spirit with a small addition of pot still. He went on to criticise the Revenue Commissioners for allowing this to happen.

He was supported in his evidence by Mr. Andrew Jameson who was described as managing director of that distillery. Mr. Jameson was questioned by the chairman as follows:—

"Did Jameson, in conjunction with three other Dublin distillers, issue a pamphlet in 1876, and another in 1878, calling attention to the use of blended patent still by blenders of Irish whiskey and denouncing this blending as a fraud on the public?"

The reply of Mr. Jameson was: "Yes".

He was further questioned:

"Your firm has consistently opposed the sale of Irish whiskey containing any product of a patent still?"

His reply was:

"We always have done."

That was 1908 and that is the position in 1954. Anyone who still has doubts about the feelings of the Irish distillers towards the blended product would find it beneficial to consult Hansard in the year 1876 because the matter was then raised repeatedly in the British House of Commons by the Irish members. Naturally, the Irish members acted in all sincerity but they were prompted and advised by the Irish distillers. I do not propose to go into that in any detail. I will just refer to one particular matter that took place in the British House of Commons. On 5th April, 1876, there was a discussion on a motion in the House of Commons which was put forward by W.H. O'Sullivan, an Irish member. The argument put forward by Mr. O'Sullivan was that the practice of blending between pot still and patent was a fraud and should not be permitted. Mr. O'Sullivan petitioned for a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the matter. His motion was defeated by 149 votes to 69. The interesting part of that debate was that one of the speakers against the motion, naturally enough, was a Scotsman, a Mr. Anderson, from Glasgow. I am afraid he fairly tore the Irish members asunder in that debate. He said that the whole object of the motion was "an attempt on the part of the Irish distillers, who found that their trade had been slipping away, to get it back again. They found they could not get the extravagant prices which they used to get years ago for it had been discovered that malted spirit could be made by another process and at a considerably lower price."

I had better point out that the other process that was available for the making of the malted spirit, known as the Coffey process, was an invention by an Irishman named Coffey. It was able to do in one operation what takes three operations in the pot-still work. When Coffey's invention was brought before the Irish distillers they pooh-poohed the idea and would not accept it, but to our misfortune Mr. Coffey went to Scotland and put his idea before the Scotch distillers. They adopted the Coffey method of distillation, with the result to-day that we have the Scotch sweeping the market.

It would be only fair to go back again to Mr. Andrew Jameson in his evidence before the Royal Commission. He said:—

"For as long as I remember and before that, the expense of making whiskey in the pot still has always been held up to us as a mistake on our part. Many persons have come to us and tried to show us how to make our pot-still whiskey cheaper and eventually when the Coffey still was discovered they discovered a cheap method of making the article which, as we know, can be mixed up with the pot-still whiskey and that produces a cheaper product."

Mr. Jameson was well aware, as you can see from that evidence, of the tremendous importance that was being attached to this new method of distillation invented by Mr. Coffey. Even so, the distillers in 1908 were prepared to say: "We know what is best and we do not approve of this idea of allowing a blended product on the market." Mr. Jameson was questioned again as follows:—

"Whatever may be the result, Mr. Jameson, you would not allow the patent still whiskey to be sold as whiskey at all."

Mr. Jameson said:—

"Certainly not."

That will give you an idea of the mentality of our distillers up to 1908. Perhaps at this stage I should mention that when the Irish distillers were asked for a definition of Irish whiskey, the following answer was given by all the distillers in Ireland:—

"Irish whiskey is a spirit distilled in a pot still which should go through at least two or three distillations and is made from a mash that comes from cereals grown in Ireland."

It will be seen from that that the impression is given by the distillers that the distinctive flavour of Irish whiskey is due in great measure to the fact that its constituent parts are produced in Ireland. In the course of the evidence given by other people before this commission, they go to grave pains to emphasise that the flavour that was given to Irish whiskey was in great part due to the fact that the constituents of that whiskey were grown in Ireland. A very prominent man gave evidence before the commission, not on behalf of the distillers but on behalf of the farming community. I refer to Sir Horace Plunkett. His evidence before the commission is well worth having on the records of this House. He said:—

"Speaking of barley, it happens to be one of the crops we grow best and if anything was done to discourage Irish barley growers it would have serious effects on the whole agricultural economy of Ireland. I may say that while I was in the Department of Agriculture all my advisers were agreed that we ought to pay special attention to what we call the industrial crops, the most important being barley. We conducted a large number of experiments in the cultivation of barley all over Ireland in conjunction with Guinness's Brewery and some of the distillers. We kept a special expert to deal with that crop alone and these experiments are still being continued. This action was not taken in the interest of the whiskey trade, but it so happened that this crop had a very important bearing upon the whole of our agricultural economy and it would have very disastrous results if anything were done at a time when it is most important to increase the area under tillage, if the lands that are now growing barley were largely to go back to grass."

You can see Sir Horace Plunkett's idea was that barley was the main constituent for the making of whiskey, and he was anxious to see that no harm would be done to the distilling industry, because if harm were done the agricultural angle of the business, the production of malting barley, would suffer and the farmers of Ireland would suffer as a consequence. The distillers went to great pains to run down the patent whiskey on the grounds that the patent whiskey was being produced from maize. Their evidence at the time was that there was harm being done to the farmers of Ireland if blended whiskey were allowed on the market, that this patent and blended whiskey was being produced from constituents not grown in the country, and that maize was the main constituent of the patent whiskey. It was a very clever approach to have a man with the intelligence and knowledge of Sir Horace Plunkett giving evidence before the commission on the importance of the barley industry in the agricultural economy here. Sir Horace Plunkett in his evidence on behalf of the barley growers showed that he was under the impression all through that the raw material for the making of patent whiskey came from abroad. In other words, the impression that Sir Horace Plunkett had was that maize was the main constituent of the patent whiskey. As far as the making of patent whiskey is concerned, it is made to-day and always has been made—to a great extent made in Scotland—from the same constituents as the pot-still whiskey. At times maize was used in it, depending of course on the price in comparison to barley. At the present time there is no reason whatever for using maize, because Irish barley can produce the patent whiskey and is equally as good for the patent whiskey as it is for the pot still. It is interesting to see how worried at the time the distillers showed themselves about the agricultural picture.

Later on in their evidence, at a later stage before this commission, the distillers forgot their former definition of Irish whiskey. One of the members of the commission questioned Mr. Jameson. He said:—

"Mr. Jameson, you say that your firm uses materials of the best native quality which money can buy. Does that mean grain grown exclusively in Ireland?"

Mr. Jameson's reply to the question was:—

"No, it does not. We use Scotch barley and English barley. I do not think we have used Scotch oats but rye is a very difficult thing to buy nowadays grown in Ireland."

Here, we have the distillers admitting that they themselves did not depend entirely on the home-grown barley for the production of pot-still whiskey although they described Irish pot-still whiskey's flavour as being derived from the home-produced cereals. Yet, all through the years, we know that they were importing large quantities of foreign barley, oats and rye for the manufacture of Irish pot-still whiskey.

Some people may not think it is necessary to go back this far but I think, in view of the importance of the matter under discussion and the tremendous opposition that is put forward by the distillers, it is necessary for the members of this House to realise how the growth of the distilling industry took place in Scotland and how we in Ireland gradually faded out of the picture.

The evidence that was taken by this Royal Commission was sifted and decisions were then made. I think the recommendations made by that commission in 1908 are just as important to-day as they were in that particular year. One of the findings of the commission was that the pronounced flavour of each individual whiskey suits the taste of a comparatively limited number of consumers whereas the blended whiskey, especially in England, appeals to a larger number. "Individual whiskey" means individual pot-still whiskey and, in 1908, the report was that only a limited number of people favoured that particular type of whiskey.

Another finding was that blending with patent still whiskey cheapens production because the patent still whiskey costs less to manufacture than the pot still. That is reasonable. "The blend, therefore, produces a more mildly-flavoured and generally cheaper article than the individual pot-still whiskey. The market for blended whiskeys is greater than that for individual whiskeys, so much so that it would probably be safe to say that the majority of Englishmen who drink whiskey seldom drink anything but a blend."

A further report which they issued at that time states: "The proportion of the different whiskeys to be employed in blending is controlled by an influence stronger than that of the law. The taste of the consumer creates the demand which ultimately controls the trade." They go on to say: "The public purchase the whiskey that meets its taste." Is that not proof enough that, in the past 48 to 50 years, the public taste—and I am referring to the public taste outside the limited market available in Ireland—is in favour of a milder type of whiskey, a blended whiskey? In spite of that fact, our distillers have made no effort whatever to meet that trade.

It must be evident from the remarks I have made and the evidence that is available that, even in 1908, the blended whiskey was going to be the successful product. Even then, it was felt that pot-still whiskey, by itself, was a bit too strongly-flavoured for most people, especially those in indoor sedentary occupations, and that the demand for something milder in flavour and more suitable to the conditions of life at that time could best be met by the blended products. Despite all the evidence available and all the good, sound business reasons that existed, the Irish distillers stubbornly and pig-headedly refused to adapt themselves to changing world tastes and conditions with the consequent disastrous results we have to-day so far as the Irish product is concerned.

It might be no harm to give a contrast between the position in Ireland and the position in Scotland at the present time. In the first nine months of 1954, the export of Scotch whiskey was worth over £28,000,000, and the value of Irish whiskey exported in the same period—the first nine months of this year—was £150,000. In the distilling season of 1906-7 there were 27 distilleries working in Ireland. This season, we shall probably be lucky to have five—and the five working in Ireland will be working only on a limited basis. It may possibly be the last time that one or two of these distilleries will function as such, unless changes are made.

While the position in Ireland shows a reduction from 27 flourishing distilleries in 1906 to five, working on a limited basis, in 1954, what is the picture in regard to Scotland? I have here some of the magazines which deal with the trade in Scotland at the moment. Listen to what Harpers Wine and Spirit Gazette states: “There is a complete absence of pessimism at the Scotch distilleries, whose new season coincided with the beginning of this month. Fat filling orders indicate that bonders, and indeed all sections of the trade, expect further expansion in the world-demand for Scotch. The dread spectre of recession is not allowed to haunt the Highland glens and bens these days. Everywhere an air of optimism is in evidence, coupled with a determination to see the customer satisfied—even if the stills have to work into the summer to do so. Despite the labour famine, the distilleries are going full out three shifts a day.” That is the position in Scotland: why the reverse in Ireland?

Would it not be wonderful if we could have here in Ireland employment on work available in Scotland at the present time in the distilling industry? I want to emphasise this point. So important, indeed, has the distilling industry become in Britain that, last year, Scotch whiskey was actually the largest single dollar earner of any of the industries in Britain.

We hear talk from the distillers at the present time to the effect that they are going all-out to sell their products abroad. That type of talk may fool the public for a limited period but I think it is necessary for us to show that it is merely talk and that the facts are otherwise. In 1952 the total value of Irish whiskey exported was a little under £500,000 for that year. Scotch whiskey exports in the same year were worth £30,000,000. In 1953, our exports of whiskey dropped from the £500,000 mark to less than £300,000, that is, a drop of over £200,000 in one year in the value and quantity of the export. The figures, as I have given them for the first nine months of this year, reveal a disastrous state of affairs as far as our exports are concerned. We all know that in regard to the export trade in the distilling industry the first six months of the year show the bigger sales in exports and in the later months the export drive tails off. In the first nine months, as I have said, our export of Irish whiskey was worth £150,000. That leaves us only three months to go so that this year it would be safe to assume that we would be lucky if we exported whiskey to the total value of £200,000, while it would be safe to assume the Scotch export sales in the same 12 months will be in the region of £40,000,000.

We had several people here in this country in recent years inquiring into the development of Irish industry and giving us, especially the Americans, the benefit of their advice in technical matters and on the type of industry that they felt would meet with a ready market in America. The report of the I.B.E.C., which is known as the Industrial Potential of Ireland, made several recommendations with regard to the distilling industry and these recommendations are to be found on pages 47, 60 and 89 of the report. In the first part on page 47 the American experts say:—

"Everything considered this would appear to be one of the most promising fields for export development."

Further on, they criticise the activities of Irish distillers as follows:—

"The methods used in this industry do not lend themselves particularly well to volume output and the product requires a particularly long period for proper ageing."

These people were naturally speaking very delicately. They did not like to tread on people's toes, but anybody with common sense will realise that that statement by the American experts was a kick in the pants to Irish distillers and rightly so. Further on the report states:—

"Every effort should be made to find ways of increasing the export market in category——"

that is, the distilling industry

"——since it has proved itself susceptible both to making a substantial contribution to the average of national output and to generating much-needed foreign exchange."

Here is a final item from that report, and I think it is of great importance. They are dealing with export problems in the distilling industry and they say:—

"Success in this field, vitally important to Ireland's interest, will depend, too, upon vigorous and determined will on the part of the Irish distillers to learn about and meet foreign market requirements, as to quality, style, specification, sales procedure, delivery guarantees and like matters."

That report was made, I think, in 1950 and so far we have seen no evidence whatever of its being put into effect by our distillers. Actually our export sales have decreased year after year in spite of all the admonitions and advice given to those people. I think it is not unreasonable to state that the distilling industry has steadily lost ground over the last 50 years in Ireland. From the beginning of this century the world trend has been away from the pure pot-still and down the years the blended products have been winning the consumer steadily. If we are going to treat this matter seriously in Ireland we will have to tackle the problem on the basis that we give the consumers what they desire, not what we feel they should take or what the distillers feel they should take. This naturally means that we will have to produce suitable blends of whiskey for the export market and the aim of this motion is to establish a body that would be charged with this responsibility. Some people may think that this is fantastic but I say with a full sense of responsibility that if the distilling industry were properly developed it would rival our cattle trade in its importance to our economy. That would not and could not happen overnight but within a few short years we could build up an important export trade provided the necessary steps are now taken.

As I have already said, Scotch whiskey sales on the dollar market netted £38,000,000 last year. In the same period, Irish whiskey sales brought in less than £300,000. When we look at the American market we find that the consumption of whiskey in America amounts to over £600,000,000 per annum. The Scots sold last year £38,000,000 of that market so that their sales only represent less than 5 per cent. of the consumption of whiskey in America. I am not going to ask any mathematician in this House to make up what percentage the Irish sales were out of that £600,000,000. It was a negligible fraction of 1 per cent.

Surely, with our large Irish population in America, by giving the right commodity, producing the properly blended whiskey that will suit the American palate, we should be able to get a proper footing in that market. If the Scots can do it I do not see any reason why we could not do it. The tragedy as far as I am concerned is that we have wasted so much valuable time. By superior business methods, by studying and ministering to the needs of potential customers, by persistent, relentless propaganda of an attractive and artistic nature, the Scot has wiped our eye.

All sorts of excuses will be put forward by the distillers or by their spokesmen to save their faces. They will blame this Government and that Government. They will blame the consumer. They will blame everybody but themselves for the position that obtains at the present time.

Some months ago, when the distillers began to get hot under the collar at certain criticisms levelled at them— criticisms which they could no longer afford to disdainfully ignore—they rushed into print in their own defence. That was a sorry day for them as I will prove before I conclude on this. I will go back to the year 1953. In October of that year we had a number of letters published in the daily papers by spokesmen of the distillers. A Major Kirkwood, secretary of the Distillers' Association, in print in the Irish Times of May the 28th, 1953, stated that:—

"Far from being apathetic the distillers were working strenously to increase their exports. One distillery was exporting to about 70 different countries and in most of the countries was advertising its whiskey."

He then goes on to say as regards the United States that:—

"During the war the Government restricted exports when there was a golden opportunity, owing to the shortage of whiskey in the States, to procure a wide distribution."

This gentleman, who is the honorary secretary of the Distillers' Association, was backed up in October, 1953, by Commander J. Howe, director of Jamesons. He made a statement, when questioned, that we were now exporting to 74 countries, many of them in the dollar area. That is a statement made with the full sense of responsibility by a director of a distillery outfit, and so is the other statement made by the secretary of the Distillers' Association. They were exporting to 74 countries. What is the position?

In 1953, we exported to 39 countries. We never exported to 74 countries at any time. It would be worth listening to some of the export figures in regard to the 39 countries. In 1953, we exported to the British West Indies eight gallons of whiskey, four gallons to British Honduras, eight gallons to the Netherlands, two gallons to Switzerland, eight gallons to Italy and 28 gallons to Algeria. We exported to French Indo-China less than 54 gallons. These are just some of the countries to which we exported whiskey and in which the big drive was taking place according to the sponsored spokesman of the Irish distillers.

I forgot to mention Australia. In 1953 our export trade to Australia consisted of one gallon of Irish whiskey. I have known many Deputies in this House who kept more than that to entertain their friends. For the first nine months of 1954, we did not export but then to make up for that we exported nine gallons to the Fiji Islands. I am sure it will be a consolation to the Minister to know that.

The reason I mention all this is because we have it in print from the spokesman of the distillers that we are now exporting to 74 countries many of which are in the dollar area. I call that a damn lie. This idea of the American experts, persistent and relentless salesmanship, is not being followed up by the distillers even with regard to their own pot-still whiskey. Where this country's exports last year ranged from two gallons to 100 gallone this year the figures are down in those countries because they have not followed up the drive that took place for the sale of that limited quantity last year.

With regard to the second part of the criticism levelled by the secretary of the Distillers' Association when he points out that the Government restricted exports during the war years when there was a great chance of getting a hold on the American market, I want to say—I am not defending the action of any Government—that that statement of the distillers does not hold water when we examine the position prior to the war.

Prior to the last war, there was a golden opportunity of expanding our sales in America. I do not know whether many people in this House are aware that in 1934, on the repeal of prohibition in America, the then Irish Minister to the States succeeded in getting a quota for the import of Irish whiskey into America. The Irish distillers at that time said they could not fulfil the quota as they wanted all their stocks for the home market. Let me emphasise that the quota obtained by the Irish representative in America in 1934 was a generous one and that that quota was granted to Ireland a month before the Scotch got their quota.

In spite of that we know the position. There is no use in listening to the distillers' representatives telling us the Government is to blame. If the distillers go into print and put up an argument we must be in a position to argue with them. The secretary of the association went on in his remarks in the papers to say:—

"We would expect our Government to assist rather than handicap the industry as they have done by the crushing weight of taxation imposed on it."

I say that is more nonsense on the part of the distillers. The suggestion is that the poor distillers are overtaxed and cannot afford to compete with the Scotch because the Government is bleeding them with regard to the duties levied on the distilling industry. What is the position? It is a fact that the spirit duty to-day in Great Britain is much higher than in this country but that did not prevent the Scots from selling £38,000,000 worth of whiskey last year. If we are going to get a real picture of the minds of the distillers let us read the final remarks of the secretary of the Distillers' Association. He says:—

"In the long run, the industry must depend on the home market as the export market is problematical in those times."

There was conveyed in that sentence the mentality of the distillers in Ireland from 1870 to 1954. That shows they are not interested in world markets as long as they are doing all right here in Ireland as distillers. The export market and Irish agriculture does not worry them. That sentence of the secretary, I think, sums up the so-called progressive outlook of our distillers, and it is necessary for us in the interests of the people of this country to ensure that they are not let away with that outlook. I find—I suppose it is regrettable to have to say it—that I think this industry, which is one of the most important in the country, can no longer be left solely in the hands of these distillers. I do not mean that we should take the distilleries over or that we should close down these people, but I think we will have to organise another means of producing the right product for world markets if the distillers are not prepared to do it.

People will say that this is a dangerous line to travel. I am sure people inside and outside this House will describe my views on this as extremely dangerous—I do not care whether they do or not. I do not care what you call the outlook that I have shown exists, but I believe we must be completely ruthless with the distillers in the interests of our community. The leaders in this House in private enterprise have always put up the argument that private enterprise is more enterprising than State concerns and that that is the big advantage of private enterprise. I say when private enterprise shows itself to be lacking, as it shows itself in this industry, that the State must take action. We have plenty of examples in this country of State and semi-State sponsored concerns showing more initiative and enterprise than any private concern. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of the distilling industry from the agricultural point of view. I think when we have a man with the knowledge of agriculture that Sir Horace Plunkett had, that we should listen to his views and accept them even though these were given 50 years ago. I see that many prominent people at debating societies are quoting Sir Horace Plunkett as their bible on agriculture, and I think his views on barley growing are such as should meet the approval of this House. It could be the most important means of expanding industry here, and yet no industrial concern in the country has been subject to the same neglect. It is beyond contradiction that all the products of the land should be processed to the last degree by Irish workers. That is, I think, admitted by all. The distilling industry has as its foundation malting barley, and if there is barley for the maltster there is a rich cash crop for the farmer, constant work and security for the worker; there is whiskey for export and there is a residue to grain to feed the farmers' live stock. To my mind, the distilling industry is a cycle of industrial perfection.

I do not know whether this motion will commend itself to the Minister but I can assure him that I am not alone in the views I have expressed here regarding the necessity for producing blended whiskey. I raised this matter of blended whiskey in the House before with particular reference to June, 1953, when on the Adjournment Debate the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, now Deputy Lemass, intervened and at column 732, Volume 139, of the Official Report, said:—

"The predominance of Scotch whiskey in the world export markets did not begin this year or last year, or even during the recent war: it began 50 years ago."

He did not bother the House as I did by dealing with the reasons why it was so successful since, but he goes on to say:—

"The world market is for a Scotch type of whiskey. That is my view."

At the time the then Minister had hopes that the distillers and Córas Tráchtála between them would hammer out some arrangement by which a blended whiskey would be produced but so far we see no evidence that anything of a satisfactory nature will come of the constant meetings and discussions that take place between the distillers and Córas Tráchtála. I want the Minister to let us know, if he is not prepared to accept the motion as it stands, what alternative he has to offer; whether in recent months the distillers have again refused point blank to co-operate in the production of a blended whiskey. We have at the present moment a number of individual distillers—I am not going to mention them—who are now, as I would describe it, tinkering with the idea of producing their own blended whiskey and they all want to be backed by the State to sell their particular product abroad. I know they are planning to produce and I have seen the particular blended whiskey produced by two or three of them and personally I think that although their efforts as individuals should be commended we are not going to get anywhere by having one or two distillers nibbling at the problem. It is going to take a great deal of money to develop markets and anybody with a knowledge of the American market realises that unless you pour money in for advertising you are not going to get sales.

It is a well-known fact that the Scottish distillers spend more money in one year in advertising their products than we get from the entire export of Irish whiskey. They spend more on advertising their products alone than we draw into our country for the sale of whiskey. It is essential that the thing be tackled on a large scale and there is no use in individual distillers spending the next five or ten years telling us that they are about to get into the market.

I will say no more at the moment except that I will be waiting to hear what views the Minister has in connection with the motion itself.

Is there a seconder for the motion?

Mr. Lemass

We will second it anyway.

My seconder has not yet come in.

I do not think at this stage we are likely to gain anything by an examination of the earlier controversies between the Irish pot-still whiskeys and the blended whiskeys, nor would anything good, I think, at this stage come from an attempt to place the responsibility on those who many years ago determined what was the ultimate course of our whiskey production pattern. I would like to say to Deputy McQuillan, however, that this matter has been given constant attention by the Government for some years past and on many occasions during that period. In order to show that this matter has been a live issue with the inter-Party Government from 1948 to 1951, with the last Government from 1951 to 1954 and has again been actively considered by the present Government, some facts proving that might be of interest.

In September, 1949, the Government of that time suggested that this question of expanding our sales in the dollar market should be discussed with the Industrial Development Authority, and they were asked to consider and report on the matter. The Industrial Development Authority at that time discussed the matter with the Irish pot-still distillers, and explained to them the desire of the Government of the period that our whiskey exports should be expanded; but the attitude adopted by the distillers then was that they were reluctant to expand production in the absence of a guaranteed market. They explained the difficulties of capital costs of stocks between the date of distillation and the date upon which these stocks reached maturity, but all this discussion produced this main view, as representative of the point of view of the distillers, that, in the main, they were opposed to the proposal which was made to them at that time by the Industrial Development Authority to set up a separate patent still distillery.

Their attitude was that they wanted to keep to the traditional pattern of whiskey production in this country: they wanted, in short, to keep to the pot-still whiskey. They felt that their prosperity had been built on that and that their future lay in maintaining the production of the pot-still whiskey in the home market and for such exports as it was possible to secure in various parts of the world. Their overriding fear was that we could not possibly compete with Scotch whiskey on the American market. Suggestions were made to the distillers that the alcohol factories, which were capable of producing pure alcohol, which can be the base for a number of types of whiskey, might be converted to making a patent still whiskey; but again the distillers showed no interest in a proposition of that kind.

In May, 1950, the matter was further considered by a Government sub-committee. They suggested that the Industrial Development Authority should approach a particular distillery to see if they were interested in securing the entire output of patent still whiskey from one of the alcohol factories, and whether they would be interested in leasing one of the factories, but the distillery approached at that time said that they had no interest in leasing the factory and that they proposed to establish some machinery for producing a patent still whiskey themselves.

The matter was considered again by the Government in September, 1952. Another approach was then made to the distilleries and, as a result of that approach probably, one firm which itself was not a distillery decided that it would produce a blend whiskey for the American market. That firm has since produced this particular type of blend whiskey. It is now engaged in promoting the sales of that whiskey on the American market. It is not possible to say what success will attend its efforts, but I think everybody concerned with the expansion of our whiskey exports will wish that particular firm well. It does not happen to be an Irish firm, but its enterprise deserves, in my opinion, all the commendation that we can confer upon it.

Again, in June, 1953, my predecessor directed that Córas Tráchtála should be asked to initiate a scheme with the distillers with a view to developing an export trade in blended Irish whiskey. Discussions took place between Córas Tráchtála and the distillers. At that time, Córas Tráchtála indicated to the distillers that it was undertaking a survey of the American market to ascertain Irish whiskey possibilities on that market. They had engaged a particular research organisation in America to undertake this survey and the report of this survey at that time is of interest as showing the difficulties which have to be surmounted before we can get a foothold of any dimensions on the American market for our own whiskey of the traditional type, or for any new type of whiskey which we may blend.

The information furnished by that market research organisation was that, while the distribution of Irish whiskey throughout the United States is good, it does not sell well because whiskey drinkers are not interested in it. It was added by the research organisation that 50 per cent. of the whiskey drinkers questioned in the United States had never even heard of Irish whiskey. That gives a picture of the problem confronting us. The survey which was then made included taste testing for pot-still whiskey and for whiskey blended with grain spirit. The conclusion arrived at was that it would be rash to decide against the traditional whiskey with its established market which is capable of expansion.

So far as American taste is concerned, a preference was shown, in actual taste tests for whiskey, for blended over the pot-still whiskey and the conclusions to be drawn from the investigations might be summarised as follows. A promotional campaign of an order not hitherto contemplated is needed to expand the sales of Irish whiskey in the United States. That requires co-operative education, advertising and publicity as an essential part of such promotion. There was a view expressed that Irish pot-still whiskey sales were capable of expansion in the United States and Canada and that a considerable volume of sales might be expected from a light-blended Irish whiskey. That promotional survey was brought to the notice of the distillers, but, although it was indicated to them that there was a market in the United States for a blended Irish whiskey in particular, and although they were encouraged in every possible way by the inter-Party Government, by the last Government and even by this Government, through Córas Tráchtála, they have so far shown no disposition, as a distillery industry, to go into the question of producing a blended whiskey for the American market. Their attitude is that they know more about the business, that they know how to make what they call pot-stillers' traditional whiskey that they have good contacts in the United States and that they can sell that whiskey there. Their attitude towards blended whiskey is that they are not interested in it. They fear it cannot be sold there in competition with Scotch. As I said, their main interest is in the home market.

I do not accept these views of the distillers in any respect. I believe there is a market in America for blended whiskey and I believe, at the same time, it is possible to sell in America the traditional pot-still whiskey of the Irish distillers. What the distillers have to do is to take note of the whole trend in connection with whiskey exports. Unless something is done, and done with some alertness, we shall have no export of whiskey at all and the Irish whiskey industry will, if it follows its present pattern, be merely an industry for supplying the home market.

In a report which has been made to me on this subject by Córas Tráchtala, which has done excellent work in trying to persuade the distillers to recognise the possibilities of the American market, they say that our whiskey exports go almost entirely to Britain, the Six Counties and the dollar area. The rest of the world takes only about 1 to 2 per cent. of our exports. Exports to Britain and to the Six Counties, which are of greater importance to the distillers than the dollar area, have fallen off from 220,000 cases in the year 1952 to 107,000 cases in 1953. In the eight months of 1954, only 38,000 cases have been recorded for export. So that from 220,000 cases exported in the year 1952, we get down to 38,000 cases in the eight months of 1954.

The position in respect to dollar sales is equally alarming. For the months from January to August, 1953, exports to the dollar area were 13,000 cases. In 1954, during the same period, exports were only 8,000 cases, showing that here again on the dollar market and on the British and Six County markets, there has been a substantial diminution in exports. That is a situation with which the distillers should be concerned. That is a situation with which the House will be concerned and with which any Government, no matter of what political complexion, must be concerned, but the one impression left on everybody who discusses, with the distillers, the possibilities of exporting to the dollar markets and expanding export overseas, is that their overriding consideration is the home market. In a way, that is not surprising, because consumption in the home market represents approximately 450,000 cases per year. I am convinced, like many others who look on the problem objectively, without heat, passion or other feeling, that we can, through promotional activity, offer traditionally produced whiskey itself and, by the production of blended whiskey, secure a very substantial market overseas, if we can go after the export markets which I think are available.

I mentioned that my predecessor asked C.T.T. to discuss the question of establishing a new company for the purpose of promoting exports. That proposal was made to the distillers by C.T.T. and the kind of company contemplated was explained to them but none of the distillers supported the idea of establishing a company to promote exports of Irish whiskey to the dollar markets. They did indicate that, if State moneys were made available to them, they would be willing to take State moneys and advertise themselves but apparently they were not prepared to work in a pool with other companies for the purpose of their, themselves, generating an advertising campaign for Irish whiskey in America. If they were to pool at all, they would pool by the attraction of whatever moneys the State might make available to them. The clear impression which the distillers gave C.T.T. was that they were entirely opposed to the idea of an export company and that they had no desire to merge their individual identities in a company so constructed.

The problem now before us is the problem of what can be done to step up our exports to the American and other markets. The American market appears to offer the greatest attraction. Quite frankly, I think we were entitled to expect more co-operation from the distillers. It is not unreasonable to say to them, with the product they have to market, that they should themselves push the sale of these products. They are not now able to maintain their foothold on the American market or on the British market, not even on the market available in the Six Counties. I have some figures here which show the exports of Irish whiskey to Great Britain and the Six Counties in 1948 were 305,000 proof gallons. Five years later, in 1953, the figure was 160,000 proof gallons. That is a situation which obviously should cause concern to the distilleries but there is no evidence before me, and there is certainly no evidence furnished to C.T.T. that the distilleries are alive, not merely to finding an expanding market but even to retaining the foothold which they now have on some markets, slender and falling though that foothold now is.

This problem is one which I think must be tackled. One would wish that the distillers would co-operate to the full. I know of no way in which they can do that better than by forming a company with a view to promoting the sale of Irish whiskey, wherever it is possible to sell that commodity. I think they are unwise not to recognise the fact that there is a market in America for a light blended whiskey which suits the American palate. There is abundant evidence that the American palate does not want the heavier, stronger Irish whiskey. There may be, as I say, a limited market for the heavy Irish whiskey in America but it is an extremely limited market. There is a very considerable market there for the lighter type of blended whiskey. Even the Americans themselves who were producing a whiskey heavier than the present type of whiskey on sale have been compelled to move on to a lighter type of whiskey, even from their own distilleries, in order to cater for the desire of the American consuming public for a lighter type of whiskey.

I think we are entitled to expect some co-operation from the distilleries. I think we are entitled to expect them to pool their ideas, their wisdom and their experience of whiskey production in order to establish a company capable of dealing with the promotion of the sale of Irish whiskey in America and elsewhere. If they can be induced to do that it may be possible to provide some means by which their activities can be supplemented by the State. While that might give us a better sales and export organisation than we have at the moment, I still do not think that that is sufficient.

If our distillers were wise they would recognise that there is a market abroad for this lighter type of blended whiskey. They have all the alcohol they want here to provide that particular commodity if they will only set about the task. Now some of our distilleries have not much whiskey for export and it would be some years before some of them would have any noticeable quantity for export. Others have whiskey for export. One particular distillery has whiskey here for which it cannot find a market locally but for which it could find an export market provided it re-distilled the product for which there is no easy sale here.

The chief difficulty I see from what I know of the problem and from what I have seen of it is that the big people who have the capital and the resources seem to be utterly uninterested in producing a blended whiskey. Some of the smaller distilleries are interested. Three of them are at present experimenting with or producing a lighter type of blended whiskey for the American market. The product of one of them is available for sale in America at the moment. The others are near the stage at which their products will go on that market. But their resources are relatively small, and it is difficult for them to meet the heavy promotional expenses where these expenses fall on the individual, small distilleries. If all the distilleries pooled their resources they could advertise this Irish lighter blended whiskey and in that way get better value for the money spent in promotional activities. While protecting the traditional pot-still whiskey of this country, I think the real solution lies in a serious approach by the distilleries towards coming together and establishing a separate factory for the production of patent still whiskey.

Let the existing distilleries sell their existing products here. Let them export their existing products to Britain, America or elsewhere, if they can find a market for them, but there is abundant scope for the establishment of a new distillery to produce a lighter blended whiskey to suit the American palate. I do not imagine that the establishment of such a distillery would enable us to shoot into the first place as whiskey producers and exporters overnight, but from all the information at my disposal, information gathered by C.T.T. after the expenditure of considerable effort, I believe there is a good prospect that if we establish a distillery here for the production of a specially blended whiskey for the export market we will find an export market for that commodity.

I have been giving a good deal of thought to this matter lately. I have seen C.T.T. on many occasions and discussed with them ways and means by which we might enlist the goodwill of the distilleries. So far I have not found any great enthusiasm among the big distillers. A few small ones are now showing evidence that they are anxious to get into this export market and I hope they will be able to infect the larger distillers with the same enthusiasm.

As I said, I do not think it is too much to expect the distillers to come together and establish a separate distillery for the purpose of catering for a particular export market. I would prefer to see it done in that way. They have got the talent, experience and tradition; if the organisation for the production of whiskey is there, then obviously that organisation should be used before we try some other type.

I think, therefore, that I must say to Deputy McQuillan that he has now had from me a statement of what successive Governments have done. He has had an indication of my views in this matter. He has had an indication of the policy I intend to pursue so far as the establishment of a distillery for the purpose of supplying the external market is concerned. I recently had a discussion with a prominent person who knows the American market very well. He is in a business organisation in America which distils and sells a variety of whiskeys in that market. That person is satisfied that we can produce and sell in America a blended whiskey and, while it would be premature at this stage to reveal the nature of the discussions or indicate the targets that are in view, I am not without hope that such discussions as have taken place so far will ultimately fructify in some arrangement whereby we can induce the distillers here to produce the type of whiskey required for the American market. We may be able to avail of a first-class American organisation for the sale of that whiskey over the length and breadth of the United States. That may be a vain hope.

I trust it is not and the discussions have proceeded on the basis that it may be possible to do something here to produce that particular grade of whiskey. That whiskey could be bottled here and exported and spun into a nation-wide selling and distributing organisation and it could not but have very beneficial effects on the distilling industry and on the barley and grain-growing activities of our farmers and other ancillary occupations.

Could the Minister tell us what the time factor is? How long will it take?

Business could be done on that basis with the type of spirits that are available here, or that could be imported here temporarily if necessary, within 12 months. The person with whom I discussed this matter is of the same opinion as I am, namely, that considerable expenditure will be involved in promoting the sale of Irish whiskey; C.T.T. have estimated that it would take approximately 200,000 dollars a year for a period of five years. The other individual with whom I discussed the matter indicated that in his expert view it would be necessary to spend 1,000,000 dollars over a period of five years. Perhaps there could be a slowing-down in advertising if the initial campaign were successful, but we cannot get into the America market merely by wishing ourselves into it.

We cannot get the Americans to drink Irish whiskey, whether pot-still or blended, merely by hoping they will order it. If we want to get into the American market we shall have to sell ourselves into it and that will involve an expenditure of one kind or another by one organisation or another. If we intend to have exports to America of blended whiskey and maintain our foothold there for pot-still whiskey, then that expenditure is inevitable. How that money can be found, how it should be found, how it should be spent and the way in which it should be spent are all factors which will have to be decided in connection with the future plan to be pursued in relation to this matter.

Deputy McQuillan can have from me an assurance, if he wishes, that, so far as I am concerned, I will pursue this matter with a view to endeavouring to find markets for our exports and to induce the distillers to recognise that their real interest lies in finding markets for the products they now produce and producing a product which external markets will take. I do not say that we should stop at relying on the distilleries, if there is no other way of getting the whiskey produced for export.

I do not know, therefore, what Deputy McQuillan proposes to do with this motion. My suggestion is that, having heard this explanation from me, he might be satisfied and if after a period of 12 months he does not see that progress has been made then he has permission to re-enter his motion any time he likes and have further discussion on the matter then. Passing the motion will not accelerate in any way what I am trying to do. Defeating it will not in any way slacken my efforts in what I am trying to do. Having heard the situation explained, perhaps Deputy McQuillan in the circumstances would take this as a progress report and he can return to the subject any time he likes.

Having heard the suggestion made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, I do not know what I should do but I propose to approach the motion directly and to deal with the difficulties of establishing a State-sponsored company to produce Irish whiskey for export. I believe that Deputy McQuillan put forward this motion very sincerely and that he thought good could be done by creating a State-sponsored company to stimulate exports of whiskey. I believe that he does not realise the magnitude of the task he would set before this company. I do not believe that in a generation there would come a number of workers into the industry and into the company who would be capable of producing the whiskey which he wants. The brewing and distilling industry in this country is one of its oldest and most respected.

It pays the highest wages. It derives no subsidisation and no protection. In the field of distilling, their efforts may not have met with the success that we may have desired but I do believe that they have done their very best. The decision 50 years ago to produce a pot-still whiskey rather than a blend may have been a mistake, but the decision of 50 years ago is something over which Deputy McQuillan or I have no control.

It is no harm to change now after 50 years.

Deputy McQuillan cannot change what happened 50 years ago and I would like the Deputy to picture exactly what the position was 50 years ago. The position was that, unfortunately, there was a very great British Empire stretching all over the world. In every army canteen from Australia to India and Africa there was served up Scotch whiskey and Irish whiskey was excluded from that market. Whiskey is an acquired taste. Just like a bottle of beer, the first one you take you do not like, and the whiskey that you get more often is the whiskey you prefer.

I should also like Deputy McQuillan to consider the position at present where it would be impossible for him to get ten hogshead of certain whiskeys in Dublin for export. That is quite true. He should remember that the good quality ten-year-old whiskeys that he would like to get on a market, blended or otherwise, are now not available for export because of deliberate Government action in 1944. Posterity will judge whether that Government action was correct or not. We did produce just enough food to feed us during the war, but the facts are that the maximum price allowed for barley, the raw material of the whiskey industry, in 1941 was 30/- a barrel, whereas the price for wheat in the same year was 40/- a barrel. In 1942, the percentage difference increased, inasmuch as the maximum price for barley was 35/- a barrel and the maximum price for wheat was 50/-a barrel. In 1943, the same situation existed. In 1944, the difference was £1 as wheat was at 55/- a barrel. That continued right on to 1947, when the price of barley was increased to 40/-and wheat stood at 55/-.

I have personal experience of how difficult it was for the brewing and distilling industries to get barley at that time, because I happen to be a barley agent. I know that I could not get barley at 35/-. The Northern Ireland distillers bought it in my constituency and smuggled it across the Border and, as a result, in 1954, you cannot get the top quality Irish whiskeys.

A contributory factor to this enforced decline in production in the war years was the fact that we cannot use Irish anthracite in the production of whiskey. Unfortunately, Irish anthracite contains a percentage of arsenic and cannot be used in the ordinary kiln to dry corn in this country or to malt barley for the production of whiskey. Therefore, the industries had to work right through the war years with a very meagre ration of coal.

There were two other factors, and one of them still exists, which have militated for the last 20 years against our capturing the export market. One was insufficient control of exports and the other was too much control of exports. With regard to the first—insufficient control of exports—right through the war and until the present day it is possible to export from this country whiskey that is three years of age while it is not possible to sell whiskey within the country until it reaches the age of five years. We seem to be adhering to the American idea of eat what you can and can what you can't. We seem to believe that the people whom we are trying to get to buy our whiskey abroad will do with it at three years' old when we will not consume it ourselves until it is five years.

You cannot sell it in America at three years.

You are allowed to export whiskey from this country at three years of age.

Mr. Lemass

Not to America.

Not to America.

Right through the war it was exported. I had an experience immediately after the cessation of hostilities when I attended a football match in Scotland. I went to a naval base at Rosyth. Lying off Rosyth were two American destroyers and one cruiser. There must have been a complement of 6,000 men in these three ships, all liable to come to the nearest bar and ask for whiskey. I went into that bar with two other men and they asked for whiskey and they were told that they could get only bulk Irish whiskey. I asked what bulk Irish whiskey was and I was told it was Irish whiskey of indeterminate quality which had been bought at a whiskey auction. I asked was it legal to sell that whiskey and they said it was. I said: "Would it be legal to sell indeterminate quality Scotch whiskey across the same bar?" They said: "No, we have to watch our whiskey sales." There you have a situation right at the end of the war where it was possible for 6,000 potential American customers to enter a bar and get bad quality Irish whiskey. We must insist on quality, even in the case of pot-still.

During the war the Irish distillers were not allowed to export great quantities of whiskey. I see Deputy Lemass smiling but I would like to read for him his 1941 Emergency Powers (Export of Whiskey) Order, which says:—

"It appearing to me to be necessary for maintaining supplies essential to the life of the community so to do, I, Seán F. Lemass, Minister for Supplies, in exercise of the powers conferred on me ...hereby order ...that ...any person ... who wishes to export whiskey by way of trade must apply to the Secretary, Department of Supplies, Dublin, and state the quantity of whiskey exported by the applicant during each of (certain) years."

In Great Britain and all over the world for ten years many more people than ever before were able to buy whiskey. You had ex-servicemen away from their homes who could buy whiskey because they had the money. You were cutting off supplies from those people and leaving them that they could not get it. At the same time, Scotch whiskey was being exported and you could not get a bottle of it in Britain unless you paid £7 or £8 for it on the blackmarket. Irish whiskey being an acquired taste, I hold that more harm was done during those ten years to the Irish whiskey industry than was done in 50 years before.

The answer lies in one thing and one thing only, and that is quality. We cannot speed up matters in a short period of months or even of years. If the high-grade whiskey which we want to produce must be ten years old, then there definitely must be a long-term policy. I do not believe a State-sponsored company would aid the project. I believe the answer lies with the distillers themselves, and it must be a very slow answer. Hope has been given to us by the Minister when he tells us (1) that an important sales organisation in the U.S.A. is interested, and (2) that a few small distilleries are interested in the production of a blended whiskey. We do not know whether that £200,000 a year for five years which was spoken of would have the same effect if it were applied to the sales of pot-still whiskey as it would have if it were applied to the potential sales of blended whiskey. If we adopt the motto festina lente and do our very best to instil into the distillers, if I may use a rather pert phrase, the idea that it is most necessary to the future of the nation that they capture the export market, and instil it in gentlemanly fashion without doing it, if I might quote Deputy McQuillan's adverbs as applied to the distillers, “stubbornly and pig-headedly”, we will have done more than we would by proposing motions in Dáil Éireann which would only irritate those men who did their best and who are doing their best.

I will close by giving a few figures. The Irish whiskey trade is a small one. Deputy McQuillan has given us the figures for production and sales of Scotch whiskey. Our Irish whiskey trade has not really declined. If we take the 10 years about which I was speaking, we see that in 1944 a total quantity of 707,774 gallons was released from bond and sold. In the year 1951 —which is the last year for which I have got figures, a total of 1,224,928 gallons was released and sold. This was made up in 1944 of 111,332 gallons for export and 596,000 odd for home consumption; and in 1951 of 438,000 for export and 786,000 for home consumption. Therefore, our Irish whiskey trade has made some progress.

If it had been possible during the war to put more whiskey into bond it would probably be possible now to withdraw from bond whiskeys ten years old and blend them for the American market. The whole thing against that, however, is the question of acquired taste. I am sure it would be possible for Deputy McQuillan and myself to go out and buy several half-ones and produce blended whiskey, with the addition of distilled water, which would give that mild taste that the American palate demands. When we have created the taste, however, could we be sure that this day ten years we could still supply the demand?

The problem is a complex one and I believe that Deputy McQuillan's motion is not an approach to it which would bear any fruit. The question must be left to the distillers. The Minister and his organisations in constant contact with them will eventually break into the market and put the Irish whiskey industry on a par or nearly so with the Scotch counterpart. I do not think that the motion is a concrete contribution. I believe that everything lies with the distillers and that the matter is so complex that it should be left to them and our very good Minister.

I think Deputy McQuillan's motion is a good one and that he has made a very good case for the solution of this problem. In fact, he made so good a case that I thought there must be a catch in it somewhere. I do not know what the trouble is—for if Deputy McQuillan is right and if the Minister is right, the distillers must be fools. What is wrong there? Have the distillers paid too much attention to quality? Have we gone too far in that direction and, if we have, is that a bad thing? I am not sure to what extent the distillers work with one another. I do not like the solution that the Minister proposed, that the distillers would appoint some anonymous organisation or distillery or group which would then start to make something which they were ashamed to make themselves. I do not like the idea of the one year product. I do not know what the law in foreign countries is regarding the age of whiskey. I could not see us being able to produce in a year's time enough for a current year's crop and keep on producing it year after year.

There is no suggestion of exporting it after one year.

When would it be proposed to export?

There would be sufficient stocks in the country to put this on the market next year.

And keep it on the market?

And we would have to keep it for how long? At any rate, that seems to be a headache for the distillers. I know that the Scotch distillers advertise in American periodicals and magazines. If you take up the New Yorker you will see 24 or 25 advertisements for separate named brands of whiskey. I understand there is combined marketing for Scotch whiskey, but in that combine they maintain the name of the firm making that whiskey for many years. That is important from the consumer angle. I am not a judge of Scotch whiskey, but I know a good deal about Irish. I do not know to what extent this Scotch whiskey varies, but it is quite obvious that the Scotch people, by advertising or by the quality or by giving it the kind of flavour the Americans like, have got very much further than we have got or are likely to get in the near future.

The Minister seems to be quite unsure and has not got a solution to this bad state of affairs. I do not think his predecessor had any solution either. The disturbing thing that emerges from the whole discussion is apparently that the distillers have not got a solution, either. With a declining trade— and it is extraordinary that it has declined—the production and output give us a headache. It seems to be a contradiction in terms.

Mr. Lemass

I did not intend to intervene in this debate because I felt that I had not a great deal to contribute to it, but some aspects of the matter are being ignored. Deputy McQuillan gave us a very interesting account of the efforts made 50 years ago by the Irish distillers to secure the consent of a British Royal Commission to the making of a law prohibiting the use of the word "whiskey" except in association with pot-still whiskey. I think they were right to try it. The great majority of Irish whiskey drinkers will hold the view that the only drink worthy of being described as "whiskey" is pot-still whiskey. The distillers who tried to convince the British Royal Commission 50 years ago that that was right failed in their efforts. The British Royal Commission agreed to allow the word "whiskey" to be used in association with patent still whiskey. I think mankind has lost a great deal because of that foolish decision by a British Royal Commission. It would have been far better for the world if the name "whiskey" had been kept for the decent product produced by pot-still distillers in this country instead of being allowed to be associated with this semi-synthetic product which passes under the name of "Scotch." However, we have got to recognise that, since then, the world's taste has been debased and is now mainly directed towards procuring this inferior product which comes from the whiskey blenders who use a mixture of mature and immature spirit and pass it off as whiskey instead of the proper beverage, the pot-still product, to which that name should be applied.

I can well understand the reluctance of the main Irish distillers—who, for many years, have been producing good pot-still whiskey—to turn now to the production of an inferior product if there is any prospect at all of their being able to get back the market for the good product and educating the taste of the whiskey drinkers of the world, or any part of the world, in favour of good whiskey instead of the inferior blended product. We have to recognise, however, that the bulk of the export market in the world is for blended whiskey—the lighter type of whiskey which is now sold mainly as Scotch whiskey.

When, last year, I asked Córas Tráchtála, Teó., as the Minister has just mentioned, to arrange a conference between the distillers and Ceimici Teóranta and the Whiskey Exporters' Association to prepare a policy for an attack upon the American market with a blended whiskey I was fully convinced that that was the road to success. I am not as convinced now as I was then because, since then, we have had carried out by an expert organisation a market survey in the United States. We cannot ignore the outcome of that survey. These experts went round many cities in the U.S.A. asking bar keepers, bar workers and individual customers in bars to express their view upon the quality of Irish whiskey and to indicate their preferences in regard to whiskey. Their view is that it is still a very open question whether or not we are likely to succeed better in the American market with the traditional Irish pot-still whiskey than with a blended product. Before I left office, I did not see the full report which was submitted as a result of that survey. I saw only a partial report. I have seen since in the annual report of Córas Tráchtála, Teó., that the survey included taste-testing with pot-still and blended Irish whiskeys. The report continues: "The conclusion was that it would be rash to decide against the traditional whiskey with its established market, which as indicated above could well be extended."

A very small part of the American whiskey market would represent very big trade for us. It is true that all the imported whiskeys, both Irish and Scotch, are sold only in what could be described as the luxury market of the U.S.A. The Americans themselves mainly drink a product called rye whiskey, which Irishmen would call poison. We cannot hope to cure them of that very bad habit and get them to drink a proper product such as we have available for them but in the luxury market of the U.S.A. there is an opening for imported whiskey. That is mainly met by Scotch whiskey now. Big and all as the Scotch whiskey trade is in the U.S.A., it represents only 5 per cent. of the total American consumption of whiskey. One per cent. would do us. Is it possible to develop an educated taste for good pot-still whiskey in America which would secure for Irish whiskey 1 per cent. of the American whiskey market?

I do not think we should abandon the idea of extending the market for pot-still whiskey in the U.S.A. I do not think we have now to take that decision, as I was disposed to take some 12 months ago, in favour of concentrating our efforts on a blended product. I believe we can, if we devise the right approach, help to retain and develop the market for pot-still whiskey and develop also an Irish product which will sell in America as a Scotch type of whiskey and get some of that trade for us.

There is, however, this to be recognised. It is mainly a question of how much we are prepared to put into the promotion. One appalling factor revealed by that American survey was that some 50 per cent. of the individuals approached by the market surveyors had never heard of Irish whiskey. The question was asked here —and it is a proper question—whether we would do as well in the American market with Irish pot-still whiskey, without having argument and trouble here, if we spent the same amount of money on it as is now suggested we should spend on a blended whiskey. I think that we might. It must be quite clear that we cannot develop a trade in whiskey in the American market unless we are prepared to spend a great deal of money. But who will spend it? I do not think there is any prospect whatever that the whiskey distillers here could, from their own resources, put up the money required and maintain the expenditure at the level required for a long period.

Can they put up the whiskey, even?

Mr. Lemass

I have no doubt whatever about that. Perhaps I should deal with that, to some extent. The Deputy spoke about restrictions placed upon whiskey exports during the war. That is true. We decided that it would be the best policy, during the war, to make sure of our own supplies and to export the surplus. The British Government, for another reason, preferred to leave their own people without any whiskey and to export it all. I think we took the right decision—certainly from the point of view of those who wanted the supply of whiskey and also from the point of view of the Revenue Commissioners, and I do not think we took the wrong decision from the point of view of the publicans. In due course, these restrictions upon the export of whiskey were removed. I think I had the pleasure last year of signing the Order which removed the last of them, finally. However, long before the war was over, I met the distillers' representatives and told them I was prepared to facilitate them if they were prepared to increase their distillations. Now, that did not mean trade in 1945, 1946 and 1947. The Irish distillers export whiskey at seven years old which meant trade in 1951, 1952 or 1953, and they were reluctant to undertake the financial commitment involved in that expansion, the substantial increase in distillation in 1944 and 1945 to deal with the particular situation seven years hence which they could not foresee. If there is to be any encouragement to distillers to increase their distillations now, in anticipation of a growing trade seven years hence, then, to some extent, the Government must underwrite their commitments. I do not see any alternative to that.

Our law requires that whiskey cannot be sold here unless it is five years old. The American law says we cannot export whiskey to the United States at any lesser maturity than we allow it to be sold at home and there is a factor which we must take into account when considering the possibility of breaking in on the Scotch trade in the United States. The Scottish law permits whiskey to be sold in Scotland when it is three years old. If we were to compete with the Scottish blenders and exporters of Scotch type whiskey we would be at the initial disadvantage that our exporters here would have to trade in whiskey which was not less than five years old, and therefore would cost more money to mature, against the Scotch exporter who can trade in whiskey at not less than three years old. Should we change the law and permit of the sale here of whiskey of three years maturity? That is a very large question of policy and, from the point of view of the interests of distillers, I have grave doubts whether we should or not because, up to the present, at any rate, the law has operated to give our distillers a certain protection in the Irish market that they could not otherwise get and their position here would be weakened and, consequently, their ability to extend anywhere might be reduced if we were to change that law. That situation will change as time goes on and it is a matter that can be considered again and again but up to the present I am satisfied that it would have been a mistake to have changed the law here to permit of the sale in the home market of three-year-old whiskey.

There is plenty of whiskey in the country and if we are thinking of a blended product there is a prospect of increasing the production of whiskey for blending. As a matter of fact when I left office some months ago there was at that time a prospect that the alcohol factory at Carrickmacross might be sold to one firm that was interested in converting it to the production of patent-still whiskey. They had made inquiries regarding the distillery and had inspected it. I think Deputies know that a very small capital expenditure would convert any of these industrial alcohol factories into whiskey distilleries for the production of patent-still whiskey and there is available in the stocks of the other distilleries in the country sufficient pot-still whiskey to enable substantial quantities of the blended product to be sold if there was more Irish patent-still whiskey available.

The difficulty would not be in getting sufficient pot-still whiskey to meet an expanded trade in blended whiskey. It would be to secure an increased production of patent still whiskey and that can be done if plans are made for converting one of the industrial alcohol factories. I thought for a time about the desirability of the Government or a Government organisation doing it but I think, on the whole that it is undesirable that the State should go into the whiskey distillery business or that State funds should be tied up in stocks of whiskey being held to maturity. I believe—and this is an argument against one part of Deputy McQuillan's motion—that a State organisation trying to sell whiskey in the United States would run into real difficulties. There is in America a certain prejudice against State trading and in any event a State organisation could not undertake the trade promotion methods that must be used if there is to be an expansion secured there.

I think Deputy McQuillan was unfair to existing distillers. There are two main distillers in this country. As I understand the situation, one of them is not much interested in export markets at the moment because its home trade is extending sufficiently to take care of the supplies of maturing whiskey which it can see ahead for some years. The other distillery is very much interested in the export trade and when I was in New York last year I met their representative there and learned something of the very strenuous efforts they were making to expand their trade in that section of the United States market, around the eastern seaboard, and that their company was spending a great deal of money on an advertising campaign, but that the campaign was barely noticed in the American Press. When one thinks of publicity in America one has to think in terms of enormous sums of money.

I met the Irish Whiskey Exporters' Association, a new association formed last year, and I told them that, when I invited them to put up a scheme for the development of an export trade in blended whiskey, I was not ruling out the possibility of Government financial aid. I told the Dáil at the time, and I still think, that many of the people on that deputation I met, members of that association, were people who just had stocks of whiskey on their hands and were thinking of selling these stocks to a Government organisation and that their interest in the export trade did not extend very far beyond getting rid of the immediate stocks that were worrying them. So far as I know they did not produce any scheme such as I invited them to prepare.

My experience with the members of that deputation—the deputation included some of the smaller distillers, as well as bonders, blenders and exporters who were not distillers— convinced me that if we are to try to develop a whiskey market without having the full co-operation and very active support of the main distillers we are not going to get very far. They are fairly conservative in their outlook. That is true; they are perhaps too conservative. They are, I think, unduly influenced by their recollection of another large distillery which some 25 years ago went into liquidation, and too determined to avoid the fate of the D.W.D. They can avoid that fate by the conservative policy they are following but we can, I think, induce them to go further provided we are prepared to take from them some part of the very substantial risk which is involved in the expansion of their production with export trade in mind. That risk is considerable and it is no good minimising it. A man who is making boots or clothing is making them this year to sell next year at the latest. The man who is making whiskey is making it to sell seven years hence. No one can forecast with any certainty what market conditions will be or what trade possibilities are going to exist in seven years' time. However, by some arrangement to give State assistance I think we can get some part of our trade back. We must do it. Whiskey exports are important to this country. As Deputy McQuillan pointed out, they are falling off very substantially. Exports this year are dropping below last year. All our export trade is important. Every possibility of increasing our export trade must be investigated and the existing export trade must not be allowed to diminish.

I was glad to hear that the Minister is interesting himself in the question of the distillery industry. It is an important industry which had significant and substantial export business in the past. We must give it every possible encouragement to fight to maintain that business, and while I would rule out State trading in any sense in that commodity, I think State aid will be required and I would like to leave open the very old question, whether the main effort should be directed towards increasing trade in the traditional pot-still Irish whiskey or a blended product, or whether investigations should be made to see if it was possible to do both. That possibility may not be there. Many years ago I tried to do some trade promotional efforts for Irish whiskey in Canada. I thought it might be easier there because there was a Government monopoly in whiskey in some of the Canadian States, but we found there was a very bad whiskey exported from Belfast with more shamrocks, round towers and greyhounds on the label than you would see in the whole of Connemara. It had so prejudiced public opinion against Irish whiskey that you just could not get them to look at Irish whiskey. I am afraid that is still the case to some extent. There is bad whiskey being sold as Irish whiskey and sometimes as "Irish type" whiskey. Only a small part of it is Irish whiskey. It is only by very effective trade promotional efforts and advertising that you can remove misunderstanding, break down prejudice and get a market for the good product we have to sell, and it is a good product. It is as a good product and high-grade beverage that we can get sale for it. That is the market we are after and it is the only market available to us.

I want to suggest to Deputy Lemass that it is most unreasonable for him or any other Deputy in this House to put up the case that no whiskey in the world can touch Irish whiskey and that the pot-still Irish whiskey is the whiskey.

Mr. Lemass

It is the best whiskey.

Deputy Lemass is entitled to his views on this. The Americans are entitled to their views. The Scotch are entitled to their views, and I personally am entitled to my views, but the facts for the last 50 years have proved that in spite of the fact that the distillers maintain there is no whiskey in the world to beat their product yet their whiskey is not selling and has not sold, and less and less of it will be sold each year. That is the plain fact. If we get it into our heads that it is the customers we must please and not ourselves, then we will get somewhere with this matter. There is no good in the Ceann Comhairle or I suggesting that this is a great commodity if the customer shrugs his shoulders or wriggles his spine after letting down a glass of Irish whiskey and says: "I do not like that." What is the use of trying to sell it to him then? How many years are we going to wait until his taste so develops that he will care for that commodity? Nobody suggests that we close down the pot-still outfits at all. They can cater for the home market. Deputy Lemass let the cat out of the bag, even though he feels himself that the Irish pot-still is the best product on the market, when he says the fact that we cannot sell Irish whiskey unless it is five years old helps to protect the Irish distillers from Scotch competition. We know that if the five-year period was raised to-morrow morning the Irish distillers were sunk. The Scotch can sell their whiskey at three years old and they do so in America, but the Irish whiskey cannot be sold until it is five. If we produce a blended commodity and change our laws with regard to America we will have to allow the Scotch to come in here and the Irish whiskey in competition will not stand a pup's chance.

Deputy Donegan from Louth, and now Deputy Lemass, are all keen to bolster up the case of the distillers, and their sole argument in favour of the distillers is that this whiskey is the best whiskey produced in the world. It is like everything else that we do in this country. Everything produced in Ireland is the best in the world. We live in a kind of cuckoo land here. We say no country in the world is like us. Perhaps, it is a great way to live, putting a shell round ourselves like that.

I did not deal in detail with the by-products that are available in the distilling industry. I wonder how many Deputies realise that at the present time in America several of the distillers could give away the whiskey and make a substantial profit on the by-products, that the whiskey itself is actually only a side line in the distilling with these American outfits? The benefits conferred on the American agricultural community from the by-products available from the distilling industry are tremendous. Not alone have farmers all these by-products available for feeding stuffs but they are available in the field of medicine, in the industrial sphere, in the plastic world and so forth. The by-products of the distilling industry are now being fully utilised so that from the moment the barley goes into the ground until the final processes are finished there is not the slightest bit of waste in all that takes place.

There is an advantage to the community as a whole. The Minister has suggested that the distillers have indicated their willingness to accept Government aid to back their own commodity. I am not a bit surprised at that. That is practically the suggestion Deputy Lemass is making to the Minister, that the distillers who have for 50 years failed to get an export drive going should now be backed up to the extent of practically 200,000 dollars per annum to sell a commodity that will not be bought by Americans or anybody else.

Let us go back to the report issued by Córas Tráchtála and let us make our minds up to this that the distillers —I will not say all of them but individuals—made use of every possible means available abroad to ensure that pot-still whiskey would appear in the most beneficial light when the reports would be discussed in this House. I will not go any further into that.

As far as the investigation that was carried out on the American market with regard to the possibility of developing an export trade, at the time Córas Tráchtála started that investigation it was rather significant that an Irish distiller had its own agents over there and carried out its own investigations. That was the first time they thought of it. They reported naturally enough that the pot-still whiskey was the whiskey to sell in the American market. It all boils down to this. Are we going to give to the customers what they want or ram down their throats what we want them to take? Because a few people in this country since 1870 have said that the Irish pot-still whiskey is the best, are we going to keep up that outlook to-day when we see the evidence that our sales are falling year after year? It is even admitted by the spokesman of the distillers in this House that if the present restriction on the five year period was removed the Irish distillers would be in a bad spot in their own country.

Quite a number of people would get out of drinking the pot-still whiskey.

Do I understand that the Scotch whiskey sold here is older than the same blend sold in Scotland and England?

As far as the sale of whiskey in Ireland is concerned our limit is five years.

Irish whiskey?

Mr. Lemass

Any whiskey.

As far as American laws are concerned, no whiskey can be imported into America at an earlier age than that at which it is sold in the country of production. In other words, if we sell whiskey in Ireland at a five year period it must be five years old before the Americans will buy it from us, but if our laws allowed whiskey to be sold in Ireland at three years' maturing period then we would be entitled to export that whiskey to America. The Scottish exporters are exporting to America at three years.

I am not going to delay the House. The Tánaiste has pointed out that the inter-Party Government from 1948-1951 got down on their knees to the distillers and were as nice as could be to them——

In case silence might be assumed to be consent I want to assure the House that we did no such purgatorial exercises for the distillers.

I will put it another way. The inter-Party Government in their concern to see the distilling industry expanded, consulted these gentlemen and suggested to them that the time had arrived when they would have to take more active steps in order to ensure the desirable expansion and that these gentlemen listened in a courteous fashion to the advice and admonitions of the inter-Party Ministers and having heard them, let it in one ear and out the other and disappeared: that this went on from 1948 to 1951, and in 1951 we had a change of Government and the same admonitions and good advice were given again to the distillers but there was a different spokesman—Deputy Lemass as he now is. Then, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, he requested the distillers to take all possible steps to increase their export trade. In 1953 we find, after all the efforts made by both Governments, that we are selling less whiskey abroad than we were in 1948, prior to the advice being given to these men.

It is admitted by the Tánaiste and by the former Minister for Industry and Commerce that this is an industry that could be of tremendous importance to the country and yet neither of them has a solution. Are we to take it from the Tánaiste that if this 12 months' period that he mentions is given and at the end of 12 months we find the situation is the same, he has made up his mind to take the necessary steps at the end of that period? The motion I have here states that steps should be taken immediately.

What kind of steps?

The steps outlined in the motion. At the very beginning of the discussion I emphasised that the words "if necessary" left the Minister plenty of scope. I am convinced from what he said and from having listened also to Deputy Lemass that it is necessary to set up this company because these individual distillers have flouted the different Governments and there is no use in saying we cannot touch these people, that we need their services. There are three other distillers in the country who are prepared to work and co-operate and it is these small groups who have acted as pioneers in producing blended whiskey. There are two excellent blended products available at the moment. Why not get a group of distillers who are willing to get together? Why not get as many as possible if we cannot get them all, and get them to pool their resources because that is what is necessary. Otherwise, in the long run, this State will be forking out valuable dollars to back up one or two distillers who are now adopting, as I would describe it, a pig-headed, stubborn attitude. These people will get spokesmen in this House to back them up for the next 50 years. Deputies will come in and say on their behalf as an excuse, that they could not build up an export trade because Fianna Fáil during the war years prevented them from selling whiskey in America. That is just "bull". I do not know if that is parliamentary language or not.

I want the Deputy from Louth who mentioned this particular business to know this—that in 1934, well before the war, the Irish distillers got first preference from President Roosevelt to sell Irish whiskey in America and were given their quota a month before it was given to the Scottish distillers when prohibition was repealed. The answer given by a prominent member of the Seanad who was a member of one of the distilling organisations at the time was: "I want all my whiskey for my customers at home. I cannot supply American customers." That answer can be given in full if necessary and the Minister who got the quota was the Irish Minister in America at that time.

Through the Chair— it takes ten years to produce it, and how could it be ready in a month?

I am not giving way at all. I just want to explain that prior to this debate other Deputies have come in defending the distillers and I had to quote back to 1876 when in the British House of Commons Irish M.P.s allowed themselves to be used by Irish distillers then in order to get special terms for themselves.

I never met one of the Irish distillers.

I see no advantage in putting this motion to the House because I know I will be left on my own. It was put down to find out what the reactions are, and I thought it would be much better to clarify the situation. I am sorry that the Tánaiste, although he has agreed right down the line with everything I have said about the distilling industry and the need for taking active steps, can only tell me that he is going to make further appeals to the distillers to remember their responsibilities, after six years' experience of them and knowing he is going to get the same answer in 12 months' time. Why are we allowing invaluable time to slip by while not a day in the week passes that we are not told of the absolute necessity of increasing our earnings in the dollar area?

I can see that if this particular matter were allowed to develop as it has developed for the last six years we will have another election in three or four years' time and there will be another motion before the House by some other Deputy, and he will be pushed off with the same skill that the present Tánaiste displayed in this debate to-night.

I want this motion to be put to the House unless the Tánaiste is prepared to give me a guarantee that if this company is not established by the distillers themselves within 12 months he will accept this motion and have such a company set up by the State at the expiration of that time.

Might I say to the Deputy that I have put all my cards on the table and turned them face up, so that he can see what my line of policy is?

There is a Joker somewhere.

It is not on these benches; it is over there, I think. I have indicated that I am trying a method by which it may be possible to get this whiskey blended here and sold in America, as a result of the latest contact, but the Deputy has to have some trust. I cannot say whether this will materialise but, if it does not, we will have to fish again and perhaps in other waters. It is unreasonable to ask me at this stage to give a guarantee, or even to say, without advertence to circumstances, that I will do certain things, because one does not know what the situation will be 12 months hence. In any case, the motion would commit us to setting up a State factory to produce blended whiskey, even for the Irish market, and nobody wants to do that.

The Tánaiste is not looking for an excuse to get out of it?

I am trying to pull the Deputy back from the abyss, but, if he wants to dive in, I cannot help him.

If the Minister wants to pursue that line, let him show me where this motion is going to interfere here at home. It is for the export market and it is specifically mentioned in the motion that it is for the export market.

Is the Deputy withdrawing his motion?

What is the use? It is like everything else in this House— pure waste of time.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.