Committee on Finance. - Vote 50—Industry and Commerce.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £5,371,560 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

In considering the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce for 1955-56, Deputies will have regard to the Supplementary Estimate for 1954-55 amounting to £250,000 which was issued after the Estimates volume for 1955-56 had been printed. The Estimate for 1955-56 thus shows a reduction of £1,182,680 as compared with the total Estimate for 1954-55. The principal decreases in the Estimate are in the provisions under sub-head J (1) for food subsidies, sub-head L (1), mineral prospecting and sub-head M (2), grants to Bord na Móna for housing. A sum of £84,650 was provided in 1954-55 for the repayment of advances for rural electrification. For reasons which I will explain later, no provision is being made for this item this year.

Taking into account the Supplementary Estimate for 1954-55, the reduction in the food subsidies for the year 1955-56 amounts to £1,053,000. As explained by the Minister for Finance, when presenting the Vote on Account for 1955-56, the decrease in the food subsidies arises from the reduced prices for home-grown wheat which have been fixed by the Government. Notwithstanding the reduction in the price the amount per ton paid for Irish wheat is in excess of the price at which foreign wheat can be imported. Another factor contributing to the reduction is that it is anticipated that the flour millers will obtain increased receipts from the sales of flour offals.

When speaking on the Supplementary Estimate I explained the position which has been reached concerning the exploratory work by Mianraí Teoranta at Avoca. The total provision for grants to Mianraí Teoranta in the year 1954-55, including the Supplementary Estimate, amounted to £89,000. The provision for 1955-56 is £40,000 representing a reduction of £49,000. The 1955-56 provision takes account of the fact that exploratory work on the present scale will continue only until 30th June, 1955. I have already referred to the possibility of arranging for the commercial exploitation of the deposits by that date.

Allowing for the Supplementary Estimate, there is a reduction of £39,410 on sub-head M (2)—Grants for housing erected by Bord na Móna. This reduction is due to the fact that the schemes undertaken by Bord na Móna for the erection of a number of houses for workers on the bogs are nearing completion. The amount of £11,400 provided in 1955-56 is estimated to be sufficient to pay all commitments which will be likely to arise during the year on these schemes.

Having dealt with the main features of the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce I propose to give a general review of the operations of my Department. As regards industrial development, Deputies may be interested to learn that, during the last year, 82 firms came to notice as having begun business or as having extended their production into one or more new lines. The number of new industrial approaches made during the same period was about 240. The total number of industrial proposals at present before the Department and the Industrial Development Authority is about 215. These proposals cover a wide range of industries and are at present in varying stages of consideration and examination. Some of them have reached an advanced stage and may reasonably be expected at an early date to result in the setting up of new factories or the extension of existing factories.

One of the more important industrial developments to which I wish to make reference is the recent development in regard to the setting up of an oil refinery. This is a matter which has engaged the attention of the Government for many years. Some years ago the Industrial Development Authority were asked to investigate the possibility of having a refinery established here. Within the last couple of months the authority have reported that the three major distributing companies, Caltex, Esso and Shell, had agreed to form a company for the erection and operation of a jointly owned refinery. Detailed proposals from the companies are now awaited.

Petroleum products are our largest single imports item, imports in 1954 being almost 241,000,000 gallons of oils and spirits at a value of over £12,500,000 and over 600,000 tons of other items, such as tar and bitumen mixture, at a value of over £900,000. It is not expected, however, that every one of the imported commodities will be produced by the new refinery— aviation spirit is one that may not, for instance—but we may expect that the bulk of them will be produced.

The advantages to the country of an oil refinery are many. Firstly, this is practically the only country in Western Europe without its own refinery and we are, I think, entitled to have one established from the point of view of national prestige alone. Apart from this, however, it would be bound to be of value in time of war, since we would be relieved of our dependence on the refined product—a vital commodity— which, at such a time, would obviously be more difficult to obtain than crude supplies.

It will create considerable employment both in the erection of the plant and later in its operation; it should also provide openings for a number of science and engineering graduates. It should provide the nucleus for the development of chemical technology and might, possibly, provide the basis for a small petro-chemical industry, or the manufacture of other specialised products. It should lead to the establishment of an Irish tanker fleet and it would certainly be of considerable benefit in our balance of payment.

Representations have been made from many quarters regarding the suitability of particular locations for the refinery, but I have refrained from making approaches to the companies in this regard as I consider that the matter of location is primarily one for the parties who are putting up the capital, particularly in view of the technical complexities involved in the erection and operation of an oil refinery. When matters have reached a more advanced stage I hope to make a further announcement.

Apart from the proposed establishment of an oil refinery in the country and other projects which are under consideration, industrial progress still continues. A few official figures will illustrate the progress that has been made in recent years. In the year 1938 the census of industrial production showed a net output of £35,500,000 in all industries and services and a total employment of 166,000 persons. Net output increased to £75,000,000 in 1948, £84,000,000 in 1949, £93,000,000 in 1950, £101,000,000 in 1951 and £106,000,000 in 1952; employment was 197,000 in 1948, 206,000 in 1949, 219,000 in 1950, 226,000 in 1951 and 221,000 in 1952. The census of production figures for the years 1953 and 1954 are not yet available but the provisional figures of the numbers engaged in industry and services amounted to 224,000 in 1953 and 228,000 in 1954. The net output of industries engaged in the manufacture of transportable goods was £25,000,000 in 1938, £53,000,000 in 1948, £60,000,000 in 1949, £67,000,000 in 1950, £73,000,000 in 1951, £76,000,000 in 1952, an estimated £84,000,000 in 1953 and an estimated £86,000,000 in 1954.

The number employed in these industries during the same period was 100,000 in 1938, 123,000 in 1948, 129,000 in 1949, 137,000 in 1950, 144,000 in 1951, 140,000 in 1952, an estimated 142,000 in 1953, and an estimated figure of 147,000 in 1954. The numbers employed in each quarter of 1954 were 144,000 in March quarter, 147,000 persons in June quarter, 148,000 persons in September quarter, and 150,000 persons in December quarter. Allowing for the changes in the value of money, the index figure of the volume of production in industries producing transportable goods increased from 99 in 1938 to 131 in 1948, 174 in 1951, and to an estimated figure of 192 in 1954. Taking all industries and services together, the corresponding figures are 105 in 1938, 134 in 1948, 176 in 1951, and 194 in 1954. These figures are most encouraging but it is my hope that figures for the years to come will show still better results. We must rely to a large extent on industrial progress to help to reduce the amount of unemployment in the country. I must, however, sound a note of warning that, in many industries, we have reached the position that home production is sufficient to meet the full requirements of the home market. In those industries further development can only come if an export trade is developed.

I feel confident that, given the necessary zeal, drive and enthusiasm, we can export successfully. In view of the highly competitive conditions which obtain, however, it is essential that firms anxious to get an export market should ensure that their productive organisation is highly efficient. One of the most satisfactory methods to ensure this is the engagement of experts in the particular industry to make a detailed study of production techniques, lay-out, etc. If the industry finds itself unable to meet the total cost of such expert advice, the State will be prepared to give assistance in paying for suitable technical assistance projects.

I desire to take this opportunity of bringing to the notice of industrialists the facilities that are available. Under the agreement between this country and the Government of the United States, in connection with the Counterpart Fund deposited by this country under the Marshall Aid programme, a sum of £350,000 has been set aside for the financing of schemes of technical assistance for industry and agriculture.

A technical assistance project should, as far as possible, cover a whole industry so that all the firms in that industry may be in a position to benefit from the advice received. This would enable them to take steps to remove any defects in their organisation which may be revealed by expert examination. I would appeal particularly to associations of manufacturers to give serious consideration to the formulation of technical assistance projects for the industries which they represent. I address this appeal not only to associations representing industries interested in the export trade, but also to associations representing industries which are still concerned chiefly with production for the home market.

While technical assistance projects in which industry-wide participation is not proposed, may be considered, such projects will normally be considered only where the remaining firms in the industry have failed to show any interest in such a project. It is hoped, however, that such cases will be exceptional and that every firm in a particular industry for which a technical assistance project may be planned will be alive to the importance of participating in it.

Apart from the function of general industrial development by my Department, special provision has been made by the Oireachtas to encourage the establishment of industries in the undeveloped areas. This provision was made under the Undeveloped Areas Act 1952, which established An Foras Tionscal with power to give grants to persons for the purpose of establishing industry in these areas. Grants approved by An Foras Tionscal to date in the current financial year amount to £232,000. This brings the total grants approved so far under the Act to £496,000. The projects for which these grants have been approved represent a total capital investment in industrial project of approximately £1,500,000. Some time necessarily elapses between the approval of grants and their payment, as it is the practice of An Foras Tionscal to make payment only when the factories have been almost completed. For this reason, payments to date by the body amount to only £109,000.

Projects assisted by An Foras Tionscal which are already in production include woollen yarns, berets, garment labels, clay drain pipes, electrical plugs and sockets, clay tiles, buttons, knitwear and leather gloves. Other projects, covering a fairly wide field of manufacturing activity, are in various stages of development and there continues to be a steady flow of inquiries to An Foras Tionscal, which indicates that there is likely to be continuing progress in the development of industrial activities in the undeveloped areas. The progress made to date has not been spectacular, but it must be remembered that the problem of securing industries in the undeveloped areas had previously been intractable. Consequently, the progress made must be regarded as satisfactory in all the circumstances.

In addition to the special assistance available for undeveloped areas, industrialists all over the country can avail of assistance from the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Acts. These Acts enable firms to obtain loans, the repayment of which is guaranteed by the State. During the year, the demand by industrialists for assistance under these Acts to enable them to expand their output continued to grow and it was necessary to provide by legislation for a further £1,000,000 for trade loans. I do not propose to deal at length with this aspect as there was a very full discussion on the matter when the recent Trade Loans Act was under consideration by the Dáil.

During the year, a particular group of manufacturers were concerned at the prospect that imports of low-priced articles from Far Eastern countries would damage their industry. I informed them that it was my intention to provide adequate protection for Irish industry against unfair competition in the form of low-priced goods from Far Eastern countries. I should like to make it clear that, if it is established that any Irish industry is threatened by imports of this kind, I will be prepared to recommend to the Government that adequate measures be taken to protect Irish investment and employment. I think it is only fair to warn importers handling these goods that, if it is necessary to introduce special protective measures, import facilities will not be granted for such goods, whether or not the orders placed by them have been backed by letters of credit or otherwise.

Notwithstanding the industrial progress which has been made, there are certain fields of manufacture in which we still have to depend entirely on imports. In order to have many of these items manufactured at home, considerable investment of capital and particular technical skills would be required. I have already referred in public statements to the need for attracting investment of foreign capital and more especially technical skills in Irish industrial enterprises so as to expand industrial production into these fields. Subject to national safeguards, however, it is, in my view, essential that the investment of foreign capital and technical competence in our economy should be given more active encouragement than was considered necessary in the past when opportunities for industrial expansion were more readily available.

This country has very special advantages to offer to the external investor. Our geographical situation is favourable for easy access to markets in Britain and on the Continent and we have trade agreements with most European countries. Goods of Irish origin are, in most cases, exempt from customs duties on entry into Britain and they receive preferential tariff treatment in British Commonwealth countries. I am making arrangements to have these and other obvious advantages brought directly to the notice of manufacturing interests in the United States and in European countries.

I have had discussions with the Industrial Development Authority on the question of visiting countries abroad to discuss the possibility of interesting foreign industrialists in establishing industries in this country. At the moment, two members of the authority are visiting Sweden for this purpose, and arrangements are being made for a similar visit to Western Germany in the near future. It is expected that other European countries will be visited later on, and the question of a visit to the United States of America has been the subject of consideration and discussion.

Production of industrial alcohol by Ceimicí Teoranta is being continued at the Cooley and Carndonagh factories and the former alcohol factories at Labbadish and Corroy are being converted for liquid glucose production, which is expected to commence during the coming summer. Efforts to find an alternative use for the Carrickmacross factory have not so far been successful. Ceimicí Teoranta have completed their investigation of the possibilities of establishing an industry for the production of nitrogenous fertiliser and their report is being examined by the various Government Departments concerned.

In addition to industrial development, every effort will be made to discover minerals which are capable of commercial development. A technical assistance project for minerals exploration has been in operation for some time past. This project is intended to cover three mineralised areas in the country, and exploration has already been completed in two of these. One of the areas was Abbeytown, County Sligo, where there are State-owned deposits of lead and zinc. A drilling programme on these deposits had satisfactory results which enabled the operating company to undertake a development programme to exploit the further deposits which were discovered. The second area was Murvey, County Galway, where there are State-owned deposits of molybdenite; the material is the principal source of the metal molybdenum which is used in the manufacture of high-speed tool steel. The drilling programme carried out at Murvey failed to establish the existence of the minimum quantity of ore of a grade which would be suitable for commercial development. However, traces of molybdenite have also been found in an area adjacent to Murvey and a preliminary examination is being undertaken in this area to determine whether a drilling programme there would be justified.

A final decision has not yet been taken as to the third and final area to be selected for investigation under this technical assistance project. It had been hoped to start exploration work during the year, but this did not prove possible. I hope, however, that it will be possible to start exploration work at an early date.

In pursuing industrial progress, we must be careful to ensure that the interests of the workers are not neglected. For this purpose, there is at present before the Dáil a long overdue Bill to codify and extend the Factories and Workshops Acts. The object of the new legislation is to bring the protection provisions of the law more into line with modern thinking on this vital subject. It is scarcely necessary for me to make any further reference to this point; it was discussed at some length during the debates on the Bill, and doubtless will come up for discussion again during the stages of the Bill which yet remain to be taken.

Deputies will remember that during the Second Reading of this Bill, I undertook to examine the possibility of providing similar protection for workers in offices. Office workers are the only large class now left unprotected by law. Shop workers enjoy the protection of the Shops (Conditions of Employment) Act, and it may be that our first step towards putting an end to the kind of working conditions that some office workers have now to endure will be a simple extension to offices of the provisions of the Shops Act or of provisions of the same general kind.

The subject, however, will require extensive examination, and, although a good deal of work has been done, I would not like to give a definite date for the introduction of legislation. In the interval between now and the enactment of the legislation associations of employers and associations of workers can do much to put an end to the abuses with which the legislation will deal and I hope that they will do so. It should, I think, be the aim not only of associations of workers but of associations of employers as well to secure that in every place where people are employed, whether in factories, in shops or in offices, working conditions are as healthy and comfortable as they can be made. It does not cost much to keep an office clean, to keep it resonably warm and properly ventilated or to provide washing facilities for the staff, and it is a reflection on the outlook and attitude of those responsible that legislation should be needed to secure that these things are done.

The reforms which are necessary should be introduced in advance of the legislation, and if, during the next two or three months, the different associations in which employers are organised give a little attention to the subject of accommodation for office workers, it may be that, when the legislative proposals are brought before the Dáil, many of the associations will be able to say that the proposals are not coercive in effect since the standards obtaining in offices are at least as high as the minimum standards which it is proposed to prescribe by legislation.

A full delegation, representative of the Government, employers and workers in this country attended the International Labour Conference which was held in Geneva, in June, 1954, under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation. The conference approved a recommendation on holidays with pay for industrial and commercial workers generally. The principal feature of the recommendation was a proposal for a minimum annual paid holiday of a fortnight for these workers. These provisions are being examined in my Department in conjunction with other proposals for the amendment of the Holidays Act, 1939, made to my Department by representatives of workers.

The European Regional Conference of the International Labour Office was held in January, 1955, and Ireland was again represented by a full delegation. The problems discussed at this conference were the role of workers and employers in programmes to raise productivity in Europe, the age of retirement, and the financing of social security.

Having regard to the protection which is given by the State to industrial enterprise, it is obviously necessary that there should also be an effective system for controlling the prices and the profits of those enterprises so as to ensure that the consuming public gets a fair deal. There was a full discussion on prices and the cost of living during the recent debate on the Supplies and Services Act, and I do not, therefore, think it is necessary again to refer to the subject at this stage.

With some fluctuations, world prices show a slight tendency to harden since the end of 1953. The import price index for December, 1954, was 289.9 as compared with 286.3 for December, 1953. The internal wholesale price index, however, shows a decline over the same period, the average for 1954 being 293.6 compared with 299.1 for 1953.

During the year 1954 the Prices Advisory Body held 41 private meetings and eight public sittings. I am satisfied that the Prices Advisory Body performs a very useful and, indeed, essential function, by turning the searchlight of publicity on the reasons for suggested price increases. As I have already indicated, it is my intention to introduce permanent legislation for the control of prices as soon as possible. I have not yet arrived at final conclusions as to the nature and extent of the improvements which it would be desirable to make in the existing machinery of price control.

The work of the Fair Trade Commision is complementary to the work of the Prices Advisory Body. I feel that the House will agree that the Fair Trade Commission has done very useful work in the short time since it was established. It has turned the spotlight on the question of restrictive practices and has also intervened in individual cases, as a result of which traders who had previously been excluded from regular channels of supply are now receiving supplies. The commission has completed its public inquiries in relation to the supply and distribution of radio sets, building materials and motor cars. I have received reports of the inquiries relating to radio sets and building materials. I hope to present these reports to the Oireachtas and to have them published at an early date.

A fourth inquiry into the supply and distribution of proprietary and patent medicines, infant foods and medical and toilet preparations, has also been initiated by the commission, but has not yet been completed.

The commission recently announced its intention to hold an inquiry into the supply and distribution of grocery goods and provisions. The commission has also made fair trading rules in relation to a number of commodities or groups of commodities.

The work in progress on the development programme of Bord na Móna has been well maintained. Despite the very adverse weather conditions which we experienced in the 1954 season, the board's output of turf amounted to about 600,000 tons. The board's development programmes are coordinated with the plans of the E.S.B. for increased electricity generating capacity based on native resources. Two power stations (one at Clonsast and one at Allenwood) are already in full operation on sod peat. The first of the bog power stations at Ferbane, Offaly, designed to burn milled peat, is due to come into operation this year. Several more are planned in the major bog areas which were once derelict wastes. By the year 1960 Bord na Móna expects that its total annual output of sod peat will be about 920,000 tons, while output of milled peat will be over 2,800,000. Five hundred and eighty thousand tons of the sod peat will be used in the electricity generating stations and the remaining 340,000 tons will be available for industrial and domestic consumers. With the exception of 130,000 tons which will be used for the manufacture of briquettes, all of the milled peat produced will be used for the generation of electricity.

The operations of Bord na Móna afforded employment to over 6,200 men during the peak production period last year. It is expected that peak employment will rise to a figure of 9,000 men in 1960, while constant all the year round employment will be available for nearly 5,000 men by that time.

Progress has also been made in the erection by the E.S.B. of four small electricity generating stations which will operate on hand-won peat. These stations are designed to use 30,000 tons each annually and will ensure a market in the areas concerned for hand-won turf produced surplus to local needs. It is expected that the stations in Counties Clare and Galway will be ready to come into operation in the early part of 1956 and that the stations in Counties Donegal and Kerry will be ready later in that year.

There is also a provision in the Estimates for a grant towards the work in the experimental and research station conducted by Bord na Móna. The station has made a valuable contribution to the more efficient production and utilisation of turf and turf products.

In the Estimates for the year 1954-55 a sum of £84,600 was provided for the repayment of advances for rural electrification. No provision is made in 1955-56 for a payment of this nature as it is considered that the need for State assistance from voted moneys in pushing forward with the work of rural electrification has passed. It is intended that the E.S.B. should in future meet the total cost of rural electrification from their own resources. The financial position of the board is sound and expanding sales of electricity will ensure that this position will be maintained. The board's financial position is such that they will be able to meet the cost of rural electrification without impeding the rate of progress of the scheme. It is hoped to extend rural electrification to all areas by about 1959. Sixty areas were developed in 1953-54, but the rate of development has been increased substantially and work is now proceeding at a rate of 100 areas annually.

The decision to terminate State assistance from voted moneys for rural electrification will necessitate amending legislation which is being prepared at present and which I hope to introduce at an early date. Provision will also be included in this legislation for additional capital which will be required for rural electrification over the next few years. Investment in rural electrification will reach £16,000,000 this year and it will be necessary to provide for such sums as will enable the scheme to progress for the next few years.

Total investment in the electricity undertaking is expected to increase to between £130,000,000 and £140,000,000 by the year 1961. The demand for electricity is increasing steadily as will be evident from the fact that in the year 1939 total output was 378,000,000 units, while in 1954 total output had reached 1,295,000,000 units. Total employment is afforded by the E.S.B. to approximately 8,600 persons, of whom 2,400 are engaged in rural electrification.

The need for developing our native resources of fuel is demonstrated by experience during the past winter. Supplies of coal were well maintained over the greater part of the year but owing to the disruption of British shipments there were some shortages in the early part of 1955 aggravated by the poor hand-cut turf harvest last year. These deficiencies were adequately met by drawing from the stocks of American coal held by Fuel Importers, Limited, but it is clear that the maximum development of our turf resources is not only good national housekeeping but is essential as an insurance against such dislocations.

Deputies will have noted from the trade returns that the upward trend in the value of exports continued during 1954. The value of exports in 1954 was £115.1 million, an increase of £1,000,000 over 1953. Apart from the rise in value the volume of exports in 1954 was 3 per cent. higher than in 1953. Imports for 1954 were £179.9 million as against £182.7 million for 1953, and, as a result of these movements, the adverse balance of trade fell from £68.6 million to £64.8 million.

With a view to providing markets abroad for Irish goods it has been the policy of the Government to make and maintain trade agreements with the countries to which our exports are mainly directed. In pursuance of this policy our trade agreement with France was renewed during the year. Under trade agreements, already in existence with Germany, Finland, Spain and Norway undertakings were obtained for the grant by these countries of special import facilities for goods still subject to import control. It must be understood that the value of any trade agreement depends on the ability and willingness of Irish manufacturers to exploit to the full the opportunities for additional trade so provided. Trade fairs and exhibitions abroad afford a useful opportunity to expand exports and Irish manufacturers are encouraged to participate to the maximum extent possible in such fairs. A permanent Irish pavilion is maintained at the Frankfurt Trade Fair at which many Irish manufacturers exhibit their goods.

The cost of such participation to the manufacturer is low. An Irish exhibitor at the recent Spring Fair at Frankfurt informed me that he anticipates a substantial expansion of his exports to European countries as a result. This experience confirms the experience of other manufacturers who exhibited at the Canadian International Trade Fair at Toronto in June last, and which led to a noticeable expansion in our dollar exports.

During the year it was decided to authorise Córas Tráchtála Teoranta to extend its activities to cover other areas. Córas Tráchtála Teoranta was originally set up to promote exports to the dollar area, but it was considered that the experience it has acquired in promoting exports to the American market would be of considerable value to exporters to other countries. In view of the special circumstances which govern trade between Ireland and Great Britain it was not thought necessary to include trade with that country within the scope of the new arrangements. It is worthy of note that since Córas Tráchtála was established, exports of manufactured goods to the dollar area have increased substantially. There has also been a noticeable increase in the export-mindedness of our manufacturers due in no small measure to the activities of Córas Tráchtála Teoranta. It must, of course, be borne in mind that the success of this organisation, Córas Tráchtála Teoranta, cannot be judged entirely on the amount of immediate increases shown in exports. The fruits of the steady work which the company is performing will not be evident for some time.

It will be recalled that in November last there was a full debate in the Dáil on the possibility of finding export markets for Irish whiskey. In general, I think it was agreed that the best prospect for an immediate increase in Irish whiskey exports lay in the production of a suitably blended whiskey and, at that time, I expressed the hope that it would be possible to increase the exports of Irish whiskey. I have taken a keen interest in expanding our whiskey exports and Deputies will have seen the recent Press announcement of the formation of a new Irish company which will undertake, in association with American interests, the production of a blended whiskey specially suited to the American taste. A particularly welcome feature of this most recent development is that, as well as the production of the whiskey itself, the bottling and packing of the product will be undertaken here. Additional employment will also be provided in the ancillary industries producing the bottles and cases.

As I have stated on earlier occasions, it is not intended, nor would it be desirable, that the new product should displace the traditional Irish product which, with adequate advertising of its quality, can find an expanding sale in the American market. I see no reason why it should do so. On the contrary, there is reason to believe that the publicity associated with the introduction of the new Irish product to the American market may lead to increased sales there of the traditional Irish potstill whiskey, as well as of the other blended Irish whiskeys, the export of which has developed in the past few years.

With the object of encouraging exports it is my policy to remove all emergency controls on exports as quickly as possible. There was a further substantial relaxation of export controls during the year. The few controls which now remain are necessary either to ensure that certain raw materials required by home industries will continue to be available to them or to comply with international obligations in regard to strategic materials. These controls are kept under constant review and as circumstances permit they will be abolished.

The control of exports is at present exercised mainly under powers conferred by the Supplies and Services Act. It is my intention to present legislation to the Dáil in the near future which will put these powers on a more regular basis and so render reliance on the Supplies and Services Act unnecessary.

The Estimate for Aviation and Meteorological Services amounts to £323,000, showing a decrease of £91,530 as compared with last year. £55,400 of this represents an expected increase in revenue mainly from aircraft landings and from the catering service at the Shannon Airport.

It will be observed that there is no provision in the Estimate for subsidy to Aer Lingus. I am hopeful that it will not be necessary to make provision at any time for such a subsidy provided Aer Lingus continues to progress. As I pointed out last year, the British Government had indicated that they were anxious to have the bilateral air agreements amended. There have been informal talks and correspondence on this subject with the British Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation during the past year. I expect that the formal discussions will be resumed soon. I cannot at this stage make any statement as to the possible outcome but I am hopeful that it will not be such as to interrupt the progress of Aer Lingus. It was necessary last year to sound a warning about problems that were arising in connection with the financial position of this company. At that time the company estimated that they would lose £105,000 in the year 1953-54 and £220,000 in 1954-55. This picture, however, has undergone a change for the better.

Losses for 1953-54 were £62,000 as against the estimate of £105,000. Present indications are that the loss for the year 1954-55 will be less than £62,000 as against an estimate of £220,000. This change is a very welcome and encouraging one. The energetic and efficient way in which the directors and management of the company and their staffs have worked during the past year has helped to bring about the improvement in the company's financial position.

During the summer of 1954 Aer Lingus operated a regular service to Lourdes for the first time. It proved so popular that it has been decided to expand it next summer by extending some of the flights to Barcelona. On some of the flights Biarritz will be a transit stop. Aer Rianta continue to manage Dublin Airport. In the year ended 31st March, 1954, they showed a surplus of £24,201 on the management of the airport and a surplus of £20,900 is expected for this year. These surpluses are surrendered to the Exchequer but they do not indicate that the airport is being run at a profit. The management account does not carry the cost of the various technical services provided by the State. Neither is there any provision in it for depreciation and interest on the State's capital investment in the airport. The actual deficit on the operation of the airport for the year ended 31st March, 1954, when the cost of various services provided by the State is taken into account, was £64,038. The additional charges for depreciation and interest on the State's capital investment and pension liability would bring this figure to a total of £206,871.

The number of aircraft landing at Dublin Airport increased from 9,108 in 1953 to 9,256 in 1954. The total number of passengers using the airport increased from 303,997 in 1953 to 342,890 in 1954. Proposals for extending the airport buildings to cope with increased traffic in Dublin have been under consideration. At first it had been thought that a very extensive and costly scheme of reconstruction would be necessary. On further close study of the matter, however, by Aer Rianta and my Department it was found that a comparatively modest scheme would meet requirements for many years to come. Certain parts of the scheme have already been carried out. Some further work on the extension and adaptation of the buildings will be carried out during the coming year.

Shannon Airport continues to be one of the main airports on the North Atlantic route even though bigger and faster aircraft which are capable of flying non-stop from North America to Europe have been introduced in increasing numbers by the operating companies. In 1954, 8,208 aircraft landed at the airport as against 7,111 in 1953. Passengers passing through the airport numbered 304,540 in 1954 as against 262,767 in 1953. There is no sign that the future of the airport will be endangered by any developments that may take place in the foreseeable future. There is evidence now, in fact, that even when the operating companies may not have technical reasons for bringing their aircraft into Shannon they have to take account of the attractions which Shannon Airport provides for passengers. It is understood that many passengers express a desire to make a stop at Shannon on their journey to or from America. This is a very satisfactory state of affairs. The scheme introduced in 1951 for the sale of duty-free wines, spirits and tobacco to passengers in transit is proving increasingly popular. The total dollar receipts from the sales made by the catering comptroller at Shannon Airport during the year 1954 amounted to $1,048,350 as compared with $806,062 in 1953 and $585,063 in 1952.

The existing accommodation in the terminal building at Shannon has been barely adequate to cope with the traffic passing through in 1954. In order to cope with the expected increased traffic it will be necessary to expand the restaurant and other facilities provided there. A beginning is being made on these extensions almost at once.

There is a reduction shown in the Estimate of £40,000 for constructional works at Shannon and Dublin Airports. This is not to be taken as an indication of any lack of interest in the development of the airports. As I have already indicated it is my intention to effect extensions both at Dublin and at Shannon Airports. Experience has shown, however, that payments arising out of constructional alterations do not fall due for some time after the alterations have been undertaken. Accordingly, the Estimate makes provision only for the payments which it is anticipated will arise during the year 1955-56.

The cost to the State of operating Shannon Airport is, of course, very heavy. The net deficit on this operation for the year ended 31st March, 1954, was £102,327. If depreciation and interest on the State's capital investment and pension liability are taken into account this figure would be £362,348.

I am satisfied that apart from the benefits derived by travellers and by those who are exporting or importing goods by air the community in general is receiving very substantial benefits in return for the heavy expenditure on Dublin and Shannon Airports.

The Estimate for Transport and Marine Services shows a reduction of £384,770 as compared with the year 1954-55. The reduction is due principally to a reduction in the provision for C.I.E. The board of C.I.E. estimate that as a result of the change to diesel traction and the general reorganisation programme C.I.E. will within a few years be in a position to meet from their resources revenue charges other than interest on transport stock. The prospects for complete solvency within a few further years appear to be good. Accordingly, the Government does not think it necessary that C.I.E. should continue to receive subsidy from the Exchequer to meet operating losses. The relatively small sums likely to be needed to cover losses within the next few years should be found by shortterm borrowing. These borrowings will be guaranteed as necessary by the Minister for Finance under the Transport Act, 1950. Accordingly, no provision has been made in the Estimate this year for the payment of subsidy to meet operation losses. The provision that was made in the Vote for 1954-55 for this item will not be utilised. It is clear, however, that C.I.E. will not be able for some time to come to meet the interest on transport stock. It will be necessary to meet this cost from the Central Fund and the Central Fund must be reimbursed for this expenditure. The Estimate contains provisions for the repayment of stock interest met out of the Central Fund in 1954-55 to the amount of £602,000.

Deputies will recall that in the Budget statement last year reference was made to a pending financial adjustment between C.I.E. and the Exchequer in respect of apparent over-payments of subsidy in the years 1952-53 and 1953-54. This adjustment was expected to be of the order of £1,000,000 or so and arose out of the charging of certain expenditure of a capital nature against subsidy rather than against the £2,500,000 stock issue made by C.I.E. in May, 1953. Details of this adjustment have since been settled, the figure being agreed at £829,000 and C.I.E. have repaid this sum to the Exchequer out of the unexpended proceeds of the stock issue.

The position of the G.N.R. Board is not as good as that of C.I.E. The G.N.R. Board assumed responsibility for the operation of the G.N.R. railway system on 1st September, 1953. The first accounting period ended on 30th September, 1954. Owing to an inevitable delay involved in settling details of the scheme for ascertainment and apportionment of profits and losses and, secondly, the form in which the accounts should be published, the audited accounts and annual report for the first accounting period are not yet available. Estimates, however, indicate that the losses on the operation of the system from 1st September, 1953, to 30th September, 1954, amounted to £677,000. Of this amount £188,000 being our share of the loss will have to be defrayed from the Exchequer. In the year ended 31st December, 1952, which was the last full year of operation by the company prior to its acquisition by the G.N.R. Board the losses were £671,000. Of this amount approximately £225,000 fell to be met from the Exchequer.

Capital expenditure by the board up to 30th September, 1954, amounted to £243,000. Of this sum £195,000 will be met by issues from the Exchequer. The capital expenditure includes a sum of £150,000 for road vehicles which will be used exclusively in the State. The heavy losses incurred by the board in both areas have convinced the board that the only hope of operating the railway without substantial losses lies in changing to diesel traction and modernising rolling stock. As part of the reorganisation the purchase of 24 diesel rail cars has been authorised.

The operation of the railway as a joint undertaking involves regular consultation between my Department and the Ministry of Commerce in Belfast. This applied particularly to the past year when the settlement of the scheme of ascertainment and apportionment of the profits and losses of the board and other matters pertaining especially to this initial period necessitated frequent discussions and considerable correspondence. I myself had discussions with the Minister of Commerce during the year. I am happy to say that these consultations were conducted in an atmosphere of mutual co-operation.

The Estimate includes a provision of £390,010 for grants to improvement works at harbours including approximately £50,000 for dredging. This is less than the sum voted in 1954. The reason is that many of the larger improvement schemes have been completed or are nearing completion. Payments from the Vote for 1954-55 amounted to £429,000 approximately. I should emphasise that the reduced provision does not mean that there has been a curtailment in the degree of assistance for the improvement of harbour works. The reduced provision represents the amount which in the light of experience over a number of years is likely to be actually spent during the year 1955-56.

As regards mercantile shipping, I wish to mention that the present fleet of Irish Shipping, Limited, numbers nine vessels of 56,684 tons dead weight. During the year the company took delivery of two vessels; one a tanker of 3,350 tons, and the other a collier of 1,397 tons. At present there are nine vessels being constructed for the company. These vessels consist of four dry cargo vessels of 9,500 tons each, two similar vessels of 9,000 tons each and three coaster vessels of 2,000 tons each. One of these coasters is on order from Liffey Dockyard. It is expected that the last of these vessels will be delivered before the middle of 1957. When the deliveries are completed the company will have 17 dry cargo vessels of 115,334 tons total cargo capacity, together with a coastal tanker of 3,350 tons. Irish Shipping, Limited, at my request are at present examining the possibilities of entering the transatlantic passenger trade and of extra Irish participation in the cross-Channel trade. Proposals for the acquisition of deep-sea tanker tonnage are also under consideration. These matters require very careful and detailed examination and it will be some time before I will be able to make any further statement on them.

The amount of cargo carried by Irish Shipping showed an increase for the year ended 30th June, 1954, as compared with the previous year. Owing, however, to a decline in certain freight rates and because of increased operation costs the profit for 1954 was only £107,420 as compared with £193,396 in 1953. Ocean freight rates fell steadily through 1953 and the first half of 1954 but have since returned to 1952 levels. The higher rates will be reflected in due course in the trading results of the company. The company provides employment for approximately 500 personnel ashore and afloat. During the year its vessels travelled as far afield as Australia, Cuba, Canada and Western and Central American ports.

Whilst the Tourist Traffic Bill, 1955, was under consideration in the Dáil there was a very full discussion on all aspects of tourism. Accordingly, I do not propose to traverse the same ground on this Estimate. The Estimate for 1955-56 provides a sum of £400,000 as compared with £478,000 for 1954-55. This, however, does not mean that the Government is endeavouring to economise on the expenditure on tourism. The actual expenditure in 1954-55 is estimated to be less than £400,000. The provision for 1955-56 is, therefore, greater than the actual expenditure this year. Moreover, the main object of the recent legislation was to amalgamate the two existing tourist organisations. It is expected that this amalgamation will promote greater efficiency by eliminating the overlapping of functions and the duplication of staff, transport and premises. I am satisfied that the provision of £400,000 will be adequate to enable still greater progress to be made with the development and publicising of the tourist industry than was made in 1954-55.

I am not satisfied that in the past the potentialities of the Irish tourist industry have been exploited to the full. An essential prerequisite to the further expansion of the industry is the appointment to a new board of persons who will work together as a team and who will display drive and imagination in the discharge of their functions. I hope to get together a board of persons who will have these qualities. I will make it clear to the persons whom I am appointing to the new board that I will expect them to make an all-out effort to expand the tourist trade and to encourage the provision here of the amenities which are necessary to attract tourists and to encourage our own people to spend their holidays at home.

Considerable public interest was aroused last year in the possibility of developing river passenger services on the Shannon. I asked C.I.E. to investigate the possibilities of such services being provided by the board. I now understand that the board have acquired a vessel for this purpose and are negotiating for the acquisition of a second vessel with a view to inaugurating holiday and tourist services on the River Shannon during the coming summer.

When the Tourist Traffic Bill was being debated in the Oireachtas I made it clear that An Tóstal had my full support and the full support of the Government. An Tóstal is however essentially a communal effort and if it is to be fully successful every section of the community must co-operate wholeheartedly with the official tourist organisations in preparing a colourful programme of events for the festival. I would, therefore, urge local Tóstal councils, hoteliers and business people generally to do their utmost to ensure that An Tóstal in 1955 will be even more successful than it was in previous years.

I explained the position about vessels on the Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead route very fully during the course of the debate on the Tourist Traffic Bill. Officers of my Department have had further discussions to-day with officials of British Railways so as to ensure that a really adequate service will be provided on the route during the coming summer. The question of improved facilities for the transport of tourist cars on the Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead route is also being discussed with British Railways.

It is scarcely necessary for me to refer to the Vote for the Industrial and Commercial Property Registration Office. There are no major changes in the Vote as compared with last year but there is a slight decrease of £510 in the provision, which is due to recruitment of officers at lower points on their salary scales.

I think that covers a review of the activities of my Department for the past 12 months, but if there are any points which require elucidation or clarification during the course of the debate I shall be happy to try and assist in providing the necessary elucidation.

Mr. Lemass

At the beginning of his statement the Minister referred, with an air of complacent satisfaction, to the reductions which are anticipated in expenditure under various sub-heads of the Estimate. May I say, straightway, that there are very few of these reductions that I, as Minister, would be happy to announce to the Dáil? In so far as they are an indication of policy they are to be deplored. Apart from the reduced provision for flour and bread subsidy, the reductions to be made in the main Estimate come under the following headings: provision for mineral prospecting; housing grants to Bord na Móna; grants to Foras Tionscal for industrial development in western areas; technical assistance, and rural electrification. Some of these reductions are, no doubt, due to the termination of works started previously or to a reduction in their scale. But there is, I think, little ground for satisfaction that the activities of the Department are likely to be curtailed under any of these headings.

The main reduction, however, is in respect of the provision for flour and bread subsidy, and that reduction is achieved in two ways: firstly, by cutting the price to be paid to Irish farmers for wheat delivered to flour millers, and, secondly, by increasing the price which the farmers have to pay for wheat offals. We have discussed already at some length the justification for reducing the guaranteed price for Irish wheat in the circumstances of this year and I do not want to go over that ground again. I think the Minister should give the House a division of the figure under the two headings: How much of the reduction is to be attributed to the lowering of the guaranteed price for wheat? How much of it is to be attributed to the increase in the price for offals? The figures which he gave for last year would suggest that the saving due to the increased price of offals is quite considerable.

The Minister in his statement passed with unbecoming haste over the question of prices. I do not think that the Dáil will fail to bring him back to that subject again during the course of this debate and force him to deal with it at somewhat greater length when he is replying. He thinks it is not necessary to refer to it now but when he was introducing the Estimate last year, his first effort as Minister for Industry and Commerce to secure the approval of the Dáil for the Estimate of the Department, he said it was his policy to take all possible steps to reduce the cost of living and he added, in particular, to effect a reduction in the price of essential foodstuffs. A year has gone since then and will the Minister tell the Dáil what single action he has taken to reduce the cost of living or to bring down the price of any essential foodstuffs? Last year with his election speeches fresh in his memory he was eloquent about his policy. This year he skips over it with a casual statement that it is not necessary to refer to it. I think it is very necessary.

Had we not a fort-night's discussion on it?

Mr. Lemass

No, we had not.

On the Supplies and Services Bill. Somebody is suffering from an aberration.

Mr. Lemass

We are dealing with the Minister's Department and the Minister's policy and his failure to reduce the cost of living. If that policy is not a failure why is it that, notwithstanding the expectation of the Minister last year, the cost of living went up, the consumer price index number is now two points higher than it was this time a year ago. Last year he told us he had under consideration the need for introducing legislation to establish on a permanent basis the Prices Advisory Body with wider powers. This year he tells us he still has it under consideration. I do not know whom the Minister thinks he is fooling, but it certainly is not the members of the Dáil. They know that nothing has been done by him as Minister to alter in the slightest degree the operations of the Department of Industry and Commerce in respect of price control, to effect the reduction of a single price which would not have gone down of its own accord, or to bring to a stage fit for presentation to the Dáil proposals for legislation dealing with price control. There was a Bill dealing with permanent arrangements for price regulation in the Minister's Department when he entered it and with that there as a basis upon which to work there should not have been a year's consideration necessary to enable the Minister to announce that here to-day, the preparation of the Bill is still being examined by him and his officers.

This is not going to be a Fianna Fáil Bill. Of course the Bill you left is a Fianna Fáil Bill. I am not interested in that.

Mr. Lemass

Is there going to be any Bill?

You will see a Bill from this Government in due course, but it will not be a Fianna Fáil Bill.

Mr. Lemass

In due course we will have a Bill. You told us last year it was under consideration; it is still under consideration and no doubt next year it will be still under consideration. If ever it is produced we will see the amazing difference between a Labour Party Bill or a Coalition Bill and a Fianna Fáil Bill. I know the proposals which I left for the Minister's consideration were effective proposals, and I shall be surprised if he can improve on them. I do not know whether he is trying to improve on them or not. We have here before us, however, a Minister who when presenting the Estimate for his Department last year said it was his policy to bring down the cost of living and particularly to effect reductions in the price of essential foodstuffs, and who this year skips hurriedly over that question with the casual observation that it is not necessary to refer to it. Now if there are Deputies opposite sitting behind the Minister who have any concern at all for the people whom they represent, the people to whom they themselves as individuals made promises of a reduction in the cost of living, they cannot let the Minister away with that. Before this debate concludes they must join me in pressing the Minister to put into operation the policy which he announced last year and has forgotten since.

The main function of the Department of Industry and Commerce is to promote the development of industry, to secure the progress of our industrial development. The Minister's speech was extraordinarily uninformative in that regard. Last year he mentioned that a number of tariff reviews were about to be undertaken by the Industrial Development Authority. Have these reviews been undertaken? What particular tariffs were reviewed? What was the result of the review? One would have thought the Minister would have felt obliged to give some information on that point to the House. This year he did refer to some particular projects to which I want also to refer. He forgot to refer to a number of others to which I think he should have referred.

The Minister did, however, make a statement about the need for attracting foreign capital under certain conditions into Irish industry. It was a very vague statement. If there is one thing upon which the Minister for Industry and Commerce should not be vague it is matters of that kind. A vague statement which leaves the Minister's intentions uncertain is bound to produce a feeling of insecurity amongst those who are engaged in industry, to produce speculation which may have undesirable consequences, or may even operate to deter particular projects promoted by private enterprise until the Minister's intentions are better known.

If the Minister believes that foreign capital should be given more active encouragement he should give the House as definite an indication as possible what type of encouragement he has in mind. Is it going to be the encouragement of a tax concession? Is it going to take the form of an amendment or the repeal of the Control of Manufactures Act? Does he contemplate that foreign capital coming into Irish industry will be better treated than native capital?

Questions will be asked and the Minister cannot avoid answering them. Vagueness in matters of this kind is the worst possible course for the Minister to adopt. He says that foreign capital is to be encouraged subject to national safeguards. What does that mean? What are national safeguards in relation to investment of foreign capital in Irish industry? These platitudes in an important matter of this kind where the Minister's statement will affect, one way or the other, decisions of numerous people regarding investment in industrial projects, should be avoided.

The Minister referred to the oil refinery. Earlier, in this House, I criticised the Minister for what I regard as a premature announcement regarding that particular project. This idea of establishing an oil refinery in this country is an old one. I was associated with a project of that character before the war. That project went so far that not merely was a company formed, but the construction of buildings for the purposes of the refinery was undertaken. That project met with the bitter opposition of those companies who are now going to be associated with the establishment of a refinery here. It met with opposition from other quarters, including many Deputies in this House, and some of the Parties represented in this House. At that time there was a policy generally followed by the great oil companies to establish refineries as closely as possible to the oil wells. They saw that if this country succeeded in establishing a refinery here, and making a go of it, other European countries would insist on following suit. They fought our proposal bitterly with every tactic at their disposal, including personal attacks upon the individuals who were associated with it, some of whom were, I believe, forced to withdraw from commercial life because of these attacks. It was the outbreak of war that eventually defeated it.

After the war, however, there was a change of policy. Oil companies began to realise that there were advantages in investing in refineries in the countries of consumption rather than in the countries where the oil wells were located. The council of O.E.E.C. recommended to all European countries that they should promote and encourage refineries within their areas. Developments at Abadan finally sent these oil companies in a flurry to get the refinery plants away from the troubled areas in which the oil wells were located, and into the countries of Europe, and other countries where the products of the oil refineries were being consumed. When I came into office in 1951 the Industrial Development Authority was instructed to go again into this matter of the establishment of an oil refinery here. Considerable progress was made. There were, however, outstanding questions left to be settled: whether these companies would act in concert with one another in the establishment of the refinery, the size of the refinery, the agreement with the Government as to the amount to be invested, and the prices to be charged for its products. I considered it wise to refrain, even during the election campaign, from making any reference to the progress which was made, because I felt that any announcement would commit the Government, and thereby weaken its bargaining power in negotiations with the oil companies when the agreement was being negotiated.

I think the Minister should have withheld this announcement until that agreement had been concluded, or at any rate he should keep in the field the other parties who are interested in the establishment of a refinery here. There were other people who were prepared to put up proposals to the Industrial Development Authority in that regard. The effect of his announcement was to clear the other parties away, remove the competitive element from the bargaining, and commit himself, because everybody knows that he will be in political difficulties if this project does not proceed, in a way of which these oil companies will take full advantage in the negotiations, unless they have changed their character completely since I had dealings with them.

I want to refer to the desirability of directing, encouraging and assisting Irish Shipping, Limited in acquiring deep sea tanker tonnage. This is a matter in which I have been interested for a long time. Might I say that the acquisition of tanker tonnage is independent of the oil refinery project. No doubt the prospect of commercial success in the operation of tankers by Irish Shipping, Limited is greatly improved by the prospect of a refinery here, but the successful operation of tanker tonnage could be contemplated even if there were no refinery development. It is far more important from every point of view, including the point of view of national security, that Irish Shipping, Limited should get into this tanker business, rather than they should waste time examining the preposterous idea of getting into the transatlantic passenger trade. Why does the Minister persist in pretending that is a serious proposition? He knows there is not the slightest prospect of the successful operation of passenger tonnage by Irish Shipping, Limited. Is it not fantastic that the Government which killed the Irish transatlantic airline development should now be talking of getting into the transatlantic shipping business? I presume the Minister is not talking about sailing boats or paddle boats.

Is there a Deputy in this House who does not believe that air transport will be the normal method of meeting transatlantic traffic in the future? Why are they, at this stage, having killed the transatlantic air company, talking of getting into transatlantic passenger boats? I suppose a passenger boat would cost about £200 per ton to build, and a small transatlantic boat, one that would only take the cheapest type of tourist traffic, say, a 10,000 ton boat, would cost, therefore, a couple of million pounds to build apart altogether from the cost of operation. The Minister should stop talking about that matter, and see that the time of the board of the Irish Shipping Company is given to the far more important and urgent business of developing its tanker fleet.

The Minister made a somewhat misleading reference to the project for the manufacture in this country of nitrogenous fertiliser. He said that the Board of Ceimicí Teoranta had completed its investigation of the possibilities by 1953, and had reported to the Fianna Fáil Government upon these possibilities. Its report was accepted and approved by the Fianna Fáil Government. They reported that the most suitable type of nitrogenous fertiliser to be manufactured in this country would consist of a granulated mixture consisting of 60 per cent. nitrate of ammonia and 40 per cent. limestone. The advantages, they said, of planning for the production of that type of nitrogenous fertiliser were: first, that all the raw materials were available within the country; secondly, that it could be located in an area which would facilitate its distribution and keep down distribution costs; thirdly, it could be manufactured here at a lower price than we were then paying for imported fertiliser.

On the basis of that recommendation, the Fianna Fáil Government felt obliged to give an expeditious approval of the project and allocated to Ceimicí Teoranta a grant of £15,000 to cover two further investigations they had to make: (1) an investigation to enable them to decide on which particular process of gasification would be used and (2) the preparation of a detailed plan for the works themselves. Ceimicí Teoranta got that £15,000 before the change of Government and presumably has expended it for these purposes. The report on the possibilities was received long ago. What should now be available to the Minister is a detailed plan for the establishment of that important new industry which the Board of Ceimicí Teoranta recommended should be located generally in the area of Banagher or Shannonbridge in the Midlands. There was a recommendation that the plant should be established with a capacity of 100,000 tons per year.

In this country we do not use 100,000 tons of nitrogenous fertilisers: we should but we do not. However, there was confidence in the minds of those responsible for the preparation of the plan that by judicious propaganda amongst farmers—and bearing in mind the experience of other countries—the bringing up of the utilisation of nitrogenous fertilisers to 100,000 tons could quickly be achieved. Every Deputy familiar with the problem will appreciate its importance. To manufacture nitrogenous fertilisers in this country from native materials so as to provide them at lower costs than we have been paying for the imported nitrogenous fertilisers is very desirable and there is no reason why the project should be delayed. The plans are there and the approval of the previous Government to the plans was given. So far as I know it requires only the green light from the present Government to enable the project to proceed.

We have had a number of questions to-day as to the position in the leather trades, in the tanneries and in those factories which use leather as raw material. The Minister has announced that he is placing restrictions on the importation of substitute soiling. That is all right as far as it goes, but so far as I know there is no power in the Minister to prevent anybody in this country from manufacturing this synthetic soling—and I do not think there is any difficulty in doing it. Any effect of the restrictions on the importation of substitute soling can only be very short-lived. Our Irish tanners and boot factories established quite significant export trades during the years when we controlled the price at which Irish hides were sold to them and placed restrictions upon the export of hides. The policy of restricting the export of hides and regulating prices of hides to the tanners was frequently attacked here, so frequently that I felt we could not maintain it. Eventually, arrangements were made which resulted in the termination of the operation of that policy some time towards the end of last year. I think, however, it is a policy we should reconsider.

There is no justification in economic theory or in fact for the assertion frequently made here by the present Minister for Agriculture and others, that the effect of restricting the export of hides and regulating the price of hides is to lower the price which the producer of cattle gets. Having regard to the present price of cattle, it would not worry him very much, anyway, even if it were. We can avoid any such loss to the producer of the cattle or the person handling the hide if we will reopen the question of the elimination of the warble fly. We had a compulsory scheme for its elimination in operation before the war. That scheme was attacked vigorously at the time by Fine Gael. It had to be dropped when the war started as the officers and organisation responsible for the operation of the Warble Fly Order were required for other work. We did not take it up again after the war.

Reliance has been placed by the Department of Agriculture on some voluntary committee that undertakes, spasmodically, some propaganda work amongst farmers in regard to the desirability of dressing their cattle so as to kill the larvæ. This country is losing over £1,000,000 a year in the value of hides handled by the tanners by reason of the operations of the warble fly. If we can do what every other country in Europe has done by applying the policy which we had attempted before the war, we can eliminate the warble fly altogether in two or three years. Any losses that might be felt by the producers of cattle or the handlers of hides by reason of controlling their export could more than be compensated for by the higher value of these hides after we had eliminated the warble fly. All my colleagues may not agree with this view that it is now and always will be good policy to this country to concentrate upon exporting whatever products we are capable of manufacturing from native materials in the most highly processed form and that it is far better for us to export leather or boots made of leather than to export hides.

Whatever offsetting disadvantages there may be in controlling the export of Irish hides and in getting the price of Irish hides to a level that will permit of the development of our tanning and footwear industries, we should do it for the reason of the increased value of our exports and for the reason of the increased employment which we can give to our people. It is wrong to think that the problem of our tanners and boot factories is due entirely to the emergence of this synthetic soling material. There have been synthetic soling materials on the market for many years. The real problem has been the loss of the competitive advantages they had during the period when that control over hide exports was in operation.

They have to pay market value for them now.

Mr. Lemass

And the result is what I have said—a narrowing down of the number of tanners, the disappearance of the export trade in footwear and the disemployment of hundreds of persons in our footwear factories. From the viewpoint of national advantage, which is the better? Is it better that we should have market value—whatever it may be—for a warbled hide or that we should try to increase the value of the hide by eliminating the fly and securing the raw materials for these industries?

Is the producer not entitled to market value?

Mr. Lemass

It does not affect the producer to the extent of one halfpenny. Is the Deputy seriously trying to suggest that when somebody goes to a fair to buy a beast his calculation is based upon the price the hide will realise? Not at all.

It is what he will get for the beast.

Mr. Lemass

However, there is the suggestion which I am putting forward —and it is a constructive suggestion— for handling what will be a very serious problem in a number of important Irish tanneries and footwear factories.

I do not know what significance is to be attached to the reduction in the grant to An Foras Tionscal under the Estimate. Is it that An Foras Tionscal have told the Minister they do not expect to get new projects for their consideration during the year which will involve expenditure upon a higher scale than that provided by the Estimate? Or are they being told they must not consider projects which will involve grants on the same scale as last year?

That is not true.

Mr. Lemass

Is that why the Estimate is down £25,000? Which is the explanation?

Because they found they could not spend the money.

Mr. Lemass

The explanation, therefore, is that they do not anticipate that new proposals for industries in western counties will come forward at a rate which will enable them to spend the same sum as was provided last year.

Or because projects had not developed sufficiently to enable them to pay out more. I wish they would develop more quickly. If they do, it is all to the good.

Mr. Lemass

I asked which was the explanation? I am told that is the explanation now, that it is expected there will be a slowing down of industrial development under that Act in the western counties.

No. It may take longer to enable the schemes to mature, as it took longer in the last two years than was anticipated.

Mr. Lemass

Anyway, the House is entitled to some explanation of why the Minister thinks it necessary to provide £25,000 less this year than was provided last year for grants to An Foras Tionscal. That is the explanation which he has given now. This policy of industrial development in the West is one to which the whole House attached considerable importance. When I brought that Undeveloped Areas Bill here on Second Reading, I was very much impressed by the fact that it received support not merely from Deputies of Parties, not merely from Deputies representing the counties likely to benefit from it, but from Deputies representing every part of Ireland, all of whom realised that there was a national advantage to be gained, apart altogether from local advantages, in encouraging the movement of industry west of the Shannon. We deplore very much any lack of enthusiasm for that policy, or the placing of any unnecessary barriers to the activities of An Foras Tionscal in securing the emergence of proposals of that character.

No barrier is being placed in their way. I wish they could absorb more money.

Mr. Lemass

Thank you. What is the position concerning Minfhéir Teoranta, the statutory company set up to reclaim virgin bog in Bangor-Erris and develop it for the production of grass meal? I have said already—and I want to repeat here, for the purpose of getting a statement from the Minister— that I have heard perturbing accounts from that district. The initial capital development contemplated there was completed some time ago—and it was completed, I am told, at about 75 per cent. of the estimated cost; but since then no further progress has taken place. The workers have not been disemployed, they are being continued in employment, doing unnecessary capital development work, adding unnecessarily to the capital burden of the undertaking. What is the intention of the Government in that regard? Are they trying to discredit it by loading it down with unnecessary capital charges, or are they going to allow it to proceed? The policy of the Government in relation to that industry should be clearly stated.

The Minister referred here to coal supplies and some Deputy asked him a question to-day concerning the American coal still held in the dumps. It is quite obvious that this year but for that American coal we might have had to ration coal. Difficulty was experienced, and is still being experienced, in getting adequate supplies from Britain. It is quite clear that those difficulties are going to grow instead of lessen in the future. Not merely is the cost of coal from Britain going to increase but the volume of British coal available for export is going to decrease and year by year— as I attempted to foretell here two or three years ago—we are going to find increasing difficulty in getting our coal requirements met from British sources. That is going to place some problems at the door of the Government. The dump of American coal, which is at present being used to help, was very largely accidental. It was coal that was ordered when we were unable to get even our minimum requirements from Britain and it was still in the pipeline when suddenly the British changed their policy and made plentiful supplies available to us. The coal which was in transit, or loaded at the time, had to be taken and was put into dumps here. It is being drawn to a substantial extent this year to meet current needs. I think that the Government will have to consider the desirability of maintaining reserve supplies of coal somewhere every year. Even the British have to do it; even the British in their own country are constrained to accumulate reserve stocks during the summer to meet the heavier winter needs; even the British are arranging to import coal from America. We may be forced to supplement our imports from Great Britain by coal from other sources, but we cannot be certain of getting it when we need it.

The coal trade of this country was built up on the assumption that supplies of coal would arrive daily from Britain. Every coal merchant here has only that yardage accommodation and those trading methods which are suitable on the basis of that assumption. In any circumstances under which coal from Britain could be cut off, there is no commercial organisation which will ensure that, nevertheless, the requirements of Irish industry and Irish coal consumers will be met. It is that special circumstance attaching to the coal trade which made it essential for the Government, during the war and post-war years, to create an organisation for itself and by itself, to hold reserve stocks of coal against the danger of occasional interruption due to labour troubles or other causes in Great Britain and against the known difficulties of meeting our full requirements during the winter periods.

I think the Government will have to think again about the need for establishing such a reserve somewhere, by creating an organisation to maintain a reserve stock of coal against next winter—since the experience of last winter is likely to be repeated next winter and we are likely to have then, perhaps, a more acute problem than we experienced this year. It was fortunate for the country—even though it was an accident—that we had these reserve stocks of American coal held on Government account this year.

The Minister has referred to the financial position of C.I.E. It was a matter of considerable amusement to me—and I am sure it will be eventually to all Fianna Fáil Deputies—to hear the Minister's reference. Last year when Deputy MacEntee, then Minister for Finance, came here to the House with his Budget statement and said he was deleting the provision from the Estimates for meeting the operating loss of C.I.E. and was proposing to ask C.I.E. to repay £1,000,000 which they had charged against revenue, having previously charged it against a capital issue, Deputies of the Coalition Parties waxed eloquent in denunciation of that proposal. During the election campaign, I happened to be driving through the town of Cavan and I passed the outskirts of a meeting addressed by the present Taoiseach, Deputy Costello, and I could hear him cry: "Where is C.I.E. going to get £1,000,000?—haw, haw, haw." His laughter rang round the streets when he was ridiculing this suggestion that C.I.E. could help to meet the Budget situation by repaying £1,000,000. They did it—and the man who made them do it was the present Minister for Industry and Commerce.

He and his colleague, the Minister for Finance, went into the position and found it was correct, apparently, that C.I.E. had charged capital expenditure against revenue, thereby inflating the amount they drew against subsidy, and that they owed that money to the Exchequer and accordingly the money has been repaid to the extent of £820,000. Despite the fact that there was no provision in the Estimates for meeting operating losses, no Supplementary Estimate was required for C.I.E. and there is no provision in this year's Estimate for C.I.E. operating losses. If there are losses, they are going to be met by short-term borrowings and carried forward as a liability of the undertaking.

I had the idea at one time that that would be a practical arrangement, but the C.I.E. Board made a strong case against it, so strong that they convinced me that the weight of argument was on their side, and C.I.E. convinced my colleagues on the Fianna Fáil Government. It had been my idea at one time that these present losses should be capitalised, but we dropped that proposal in the light of the case made by the board of C.I.E., which seemed to demonstrate that all these economies which they are proposing to make and the expansions of revenue which they expect to get under their new programme will merely balance one with the other and that there will be no surplus to offset against past losses.

I am, however, very much surprised by the fact that the Minister has not found it necessary before this to produce legislation relating to C.I.E. finances. I am not at all convinced by his statement, in reply to a Dáil question, that C.I.E. is in no difficulty by reason of the delay in producing that legislation. They must certainly have entered into capital commitments far in excess of the present statutory limit. There was, under the old Act, about £2,500,000, if I remember correctly, of unused borrowing power, of which £1,000,000 has now been absorbed in repaying this amount due to the Exchequer. The order for diesel locomotives alone amounted to very close on £5,000,000. I think it is very wrong that C.I.E. should be allowed to enter into commitments beyond the limit fixed by the Dáil, without the Dáil being informed of it and without proposals for amending the legislation being brought here for debate. I do not believe that that situation can be allowed to continue without creating real difficulties for C.I.E.

One of the problems which naturally concerned the Government when this reorganisation scheme for C.I.E. was being considered was the possible effect on employment and we were greatly relieved when, on an examination of the position, we found that C.I.E. could certify that there would be no unemployment due to redundancy, provided that, simultaneously with the capital reorganisation, the construction of these turf and oil locomotives was proceeded with and provided they were able to undertake the manufacture at their works of parts of locomotives and wagons and carriages which were then imported; and if C.I.E. have not got, as they cannot have in sight, the capital resources to enable these things to be done, then I think that in that fact is to be found the explanation of the redundancy about which some Deputies have been asking questions during the present year.

There has been no redundancy of any permanent employees at all.

Mr. Lemass

I do not suppose it matters to an individual who has lost his job whether he was classed as a permanent employee or not.

Only a small number of people were taken on for temporary work and these have been paid off.

Mr. Lemass

There is no good reason for the delay in producing the legislation. The whole scheme for reorganisation has been accepted by the present Government and the necessary legal backing for that should be given as quickly as possible.

So it will—before it is due or needed.

Mr. Lemass

It is overdue. Is it not correct that C.I.E. has entered into capital commitments in excess of its statutory powers at present?

C.I.E. will get all the money it wants by the time it is due to pay it.

Mr. Lemass

You mean that they have actually not to part with the cash?

I mean what I say. There is no need for anxiety.

Mr. Lemass

What I say is that this Dáil, on the proposition of another Coalition Minister, placed a statutory limit on the borrowing powers of C.I.E., and C.I.E. has, in effect, exceeded that limit by the process of entering into commitments which it cannot meet unless the Dáil agrees to raise the limit.

The position of the G.N.R. is also going to cause the Minister concern. I do not know if he saw the recent press references to the possibility of a policy being adopted in the Six Counties of closing down all but the main railway lines there. If that policy is followed—and presumably it is entirely a matter, subject to certain provisions of the inter-Government agreement, for the Ulster Transport Authority what policy is followed—it will have its repercussions upon the output of and employment in the Dundalk workshops.

The main feature of that agreement from our point of view was the retention of the Dundalk workshops as the main workshops of the system and any curtailment in scope of railway working in either area is bound to have an effect there. I think that consideration should be given now to the possible effect on Dundalk of the operation of any such policy by the Ulster Transport Authority, with a view to minimising or offsetting any ill effects, if necessary, by arranging for the doing at Dundalk by the G.N.R. of work for C.I.E. under contract. The big capital development programme which C.I.E. has undertaken is likely to utilise its productive capacity to the limit and there may be some surplus which can be transferred to Dundalk. Alternatively, the introduction of a dieselisation programme on the G.N.R. system could also be utilised for the benefit of Dundalk.

The Minister has stated that 24 diesel railcars are being acquired by the G.N.R. I told the Board of C.I.E. that when sanction was given to them for the purchase of, I think, 60 or 70 railcars for the C.I.E. system, they were to produce proposals and proceed on the assumption that, after they had been initially equipped with that number, the construction of future railcars should be carried out in their own works and I think it is undesirable that we should continue to import these railcars completely manufactured from abroad. We can do it here, and certainly if the two companies operate a similar type of equipment, the present requirements and annual replacement demands should be sufficient to permit of economical manufacture, either at Dundalk or in Dublin.

Now I want to say a few words about this amazing decision of the Government in regard to rural electrification. I do not know if Deputies understand the full significance of what is taking place. The E.S.B. was invited by the Government many years ago to prepare a scheme for rural electrification. They prepared a scheme which was submitted to and accepted by the Government and eventually brought by the Government to the Dáil. The basis of that scheme was this, that, subject to the Government providing half the capital cost of erecting the rural network, free of interest or repayment charges, the E.S.B. would supply electricity to rural consumers under the scheme at its recognised rural tariff rates.

It was clear that, without that capital subvention, the cost of current to consumers under the rural electrification scheme would make it prohibitive and would make the scheme impracticable from the start. That scheme which was submitted in detail to the Dáil was approved of by the Dáil without opposition from any Party and the E.S.B. was told to proceed with the rural electrification scheme, on the assurance of the Dáil that it would receive from the Exchequer a capital grant equivalent to half of the cost of erecting the network. Now, of its own decision and apparently without the concurrence of the E.S.B., the Government has not merely reneged upon that agreement, but it is attempting to do so retrospectively. It has not got the power to do so—it will have to seek that power by legislation from the House.

It is proposing to go to the E.S.B., as I understand the position, and to demand from the E.S.B., the repayment to it of the £5,000,000 approximately already given to the board as a free grant. The exact amount is £4,825,000. That sum of £4,825,000, which was given with the authority of the Dáil by the Government to the E.S.B. as a capital grant for the erection of the rural network is now being recalled. The E.S.B. is being required to repay it and in order to enable the E.S.B. to repay it, the E.S.B. revenue is being taxed to the extent of £250,000 a year. That is what the Government has done and I want Deputies to understand the significance of what the Government has done in relation to all the circumstances.

The E.S.B. was established by an Act of this Dáil as an independent authority. In particular, it is independent in regard to its charges. There is on it an obligation under the law so to regulate its charges that, taking one year with another, its receipts from the sale of electricity will balance, and no more than balance, its lawful outgoings. That law has not been changed, although the Minister told us that if the E.S.B. attempted to increase its rural electricity scheme rates, because of the withdrawal of the capital subsidy, he would get into a fret about it. That is not good enough. Not merely is it preposterous to suggest that there is a sufficient safeguard but it is asking the E.S.B. to ignore the law under which they were set up. Under that law their obligation is to so fix these charges that the revenue from the sale of current will meet their outgoings. It would be, I think, a very retrograde step at this stage to take that power and discretion away from the E.S.B. and bring them back again under the close thumb of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

This repudiation of an agreement entered into with the approval of the Dáil by the Government of the day lawfully in office to the detriment of the rural electricity consumers in this country is one of the worst things the Government has done so far. Eventually, it is certain to mean higher charges to rural consumers and consumers generally. It is certain to mean a slowing down of rural development. It is certain to mean that all those borderline areas into which the board is reluctant at the present time to bring the rural electrification scheme at all will now never be developed and will never get the benefit of that well-conceived scheme.

For what purpose? In order to produce a false impression in the Book of Estimates that economies have been made. The arrangement under which the advances from the Exchequer for rural electrification were being paid was that in each year the Dáil was asked to vote a sum representing one-thirtieth of the advances to date. I think one-thirtieth was the amount. The aim was to repay to the Exchequer out of voted moneys the grants to the E.S.B. over a period of 30 years. No provision has been made at all this year. In future, in respect of advances already made the E.S.B. will have to repay them.

The Government gains both ways. It eliminates from the Estimates of expenditure the £85,000 that appeared there last year to repay these advances for rural electrification and they will get from the E.S.B. over £250,000 in interest and repayment charges. That is a mean trick. It is a matter which will have to be reconsidered when there is a change of Government. It is certain to mean that the benefits of rural electrification are going to be denied to wide parts of the country where they are certainly required. Nobody can compel the board to take rural electrification into any areas where it does not pay. There are many areas, even under the old scheme, into which the E.S.B. were going with reluctance. They are out of this permanently because of this welshing on undertakings, demanding the repayment of money that was given as a grant just because the Government has the power to do so. No wonder the Minister was reluctant to tell the Dáil what the E.S.B. said. I do not know what they said. If they are fulfilling their duties properly as directors of that undertaking they should not have minced their words when speaking to the Minister.

The Minister referred to Aer Lingus. There is nothing very much that I want to say in that regard. The discussions with the Ministry of Civil Aviation concerning the future of the Air Agreement have apparently not proceeded very far. The Minister has nothing to report in that respect. The financial position of Aer Lingus has proved to be, as I forecast, not nearly as serious as the Minister suggested last year and there is no reason to be talking in terms of a subsidy.

What is the position of the Cork airport? Is that project dead? As the House is aware, the proposal for the establishment of a civil airport at Cork was approved by the previous Government and arrangements were made for the necessary site survey before work on the construction of the airport commenced. That site survey should have been completed by July of last year. When I last dealt with the matter, I think it was in the month of March, it was assumed that the site survey operations would be completed in four months from that date. The Minister has got the result of that survey. Everything was ready to start work upon the construction of a civil airport at Cork unless the Government has decided there is going to be none.

Had not the Deputy everything ready before the by-election?

Mr. Lemass

We had decided in principle on the establishment of an airport.

The actual sum of money was printed.

Mr. Lemass

A rough estimate. Is it in the mind of the Government that Cork should not have an airport, that Cork is just a backward place that should be denied the benefit of modern transport facilities?

The Deputy had 15 years.

Mr. Lemass

Does the Deputy agree?

Had not the Deputy 19 years to put up an airport himself?

Mr. Lemass

So far as I am concerned, I secured an agreement for the establishment of an airport in Cork in 1939, and if the Minister looks up the matter he will find that there was even held out at that time a prospect of contributions from the local authorities in Cork. Work was suspended during the war. After the war, a new survey was carried out and that took a great deal longer than I expected. The survey in regard to the incidence of fog lasted about three years and those conducting the survey were not prepared to give an authoritative opinion without three years' experience. As soon as we got the result we took our decision and made arrangements to have that decision carried into effect. Is it dead or not? That is all I want to know. Have the Cork Deputies conspired with the Minister for Industry and Commerce to kill this project, or is it going to proceed?

The traffic survey carried out by Aer Lingus established that the operation by Aer Lingus of air services from Cork would be quite profitable. The Minister will find available in his Department the report of Aer Lingus upon the practicability and profitability of the operation of services from Cork to centres in Britain and ultimately to centres elsewhere. The only thing required to enable these services to be provided is an airport. That airport has to be provided as a State airport just as the airports in Dublin and Shannon. One would have thought that the Minister would have given some hint on the position in that regard in his opening statement. I am asking him to give a hint in his concluding statement to allay the Cork Deputies' anxiety.

They have been against it all the time. They expressed publicly that they were against it.

Mr. Lemass

The Minister and I are both due to speak at a function of the Dublin Vocational Committee on the subject of apprenticeship training. Therefore, I do not want to forestall either what he or I will say on that occasion by referring to the need for apprenticeship legislation. It is clear that we need in this country apprenticeship legislation. The existing Apprenticeship Act is very largely ineffective. I had taken steps to secure the preparation of that legislation in consultation with the Trade Union Congresses and the Employers' Federation. The Congress of Irish Unions asked me to postpone consultations with them pending the outcome of the negotiations for unity in the trade union movement. I agreed to that course but the preparation of the heads of legislation was undertaken in the Department and should be available to the Minister.

I do not know what the position is regarding these unity negotiations, whether there is any prospect they will come to an end soon or what the attitude of the Congress of Irish Unions is at the present time to the need for doing something in the matter of improving our apprenticeship legislation. I think it is one that should receive the early attention of the Minireceive the early attention of the Minister.

There is another matter in that Labour Court was set up under the Industrial Relations Act for the purpose of minimising, and, if possible, eliminating trade disputes. It was set up without powers. That was done deliberately in the belief and expectation that in the process of time it would develop a moral authority which would be far more effective than any legal power the Dáil could give it; and it seemed to me that the Labour Court was building up that moral authority very successfully, so much so that in only a very small proportion of the cases which came under its attention did a stoppage of work ever eventuate. In the great majority of cases its recommendation was accepted, whether with a good grace or a bad grace, by the parties to the dispute.

Now that position of the Labour Court was created only when it was made clear to everybody likely to be concerned in trade disputes that there was no appeal from the court; that neither the Minister, nor the Lord Mayor, nor any other authority would intervene after the Labour Court had dealt with a dispute and issued a recommendation in regard to it. I advise the Minister to maintain that position because he knows better than I do that no trade union leader can stand up against a demand from his members, who have had an adverse recommendation from the Labour Court, to use other channels if there is the slightest prospect that by going beyond the Labour Court to a Minister, or to any other authority of any sort whatsoever, a better award can be secured. The only way the Labour Court's awards can be made effective is when it becomes clear to everybody that it is the final word and that its findings have either to be accepted or there is a situation which nobody can resolve or which cannot be resolved without a stoppage of work.

If there is any appeal, officially or unofficially, from the recommendation of the Labour Court that appeal will always be availed of and there will always be pressure by trade union members on their leaders before finally acquiescing in any proposal relating to their conditions of employment. I was concerned to notice that a tendency to take a case from the Labour Court on appeal to somebody else was developing during the last year and, unless the Minister sets his face against that, it will eventually mean the disappearance altogether of the utility of the Labour Court.

The Minister has spoken recently about unemployment and has shown what I have already described as a certain complacency in that regard. I think there is reason to be very much concerned about unemployment statistics. It is true that the total number on the live register is less than it was last year but the number of those who have become recently unemployed and who, because they were recently unemployed, are entitled to unemployment insurance benefit is significantly higher than it was last year. That indicates that something is happening in the employment situation that requires attention. The total number on the live register is not a figure of any very great significance at all: it is the number of men who are in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit, the men who have recently lost their jobs, that is the significant figure.

Now the Minister has said that we have got to rely upon industry mainly for an expansion of employment here. I have been at some pains to try to discredit that idea, unless we can get in relation to industry a new approach which will give results far exceeding anything that we have secured up to this. Go through the trade and shipping statistics and pick out the manufactured commodities which are now being imported and which could in any conceivable circumstances be manufactured here on the basis of supplying the home market requirements, give the most optimistic interpretation to economic practicability here and I think you will find that the total value of all the goods that are now being imported which could conceivably by some means be manufactured here on the basis of home market sales will not exceed about £50,000,000 per annum; roughly speaking, £2,000 in gross output represents one man employed; consequently the utmost we can hope to get by way of additional employment in manufacturing industry through an extension of industry based upon the home market is 25,000 new jobs.

If we did that in ten years it would be a tremendous achievement but it would mean an increase of only 2,500 jobs per annum and, indeed, employment in industry has been increasing at roughly that rate. But we need about 15,000 new jobs per annum to hold our natural increase in population, to eliminate abnormal unemployment and to reduce emigration; it is clear that merely developing industry on the basis of the home market alone will not achieve a sufficient expansion in jobs to enable us to cope with that problem. The main task of the Government, whatever Government is in office, is to organise the resources of the country so as to get that expansion of 15,000 a year in the number of jobs available for our people, whatever kind of jobs they may be, whether jobs involving wages or employment for people working on their own account.

It is far more important that the Government should recognise how far short we are of the minimum necessary to give us security in that regard than that the Minister should be going around talking complacently about how satisfactory the employment position is. It is far from satisfactory. It was not satisfactory last year or in the previous year. I had responsibility as Minister for Industry and Commerce and I often had to speak here in relation to these unemployment figures; I never pretended at any time that there was in that situation something with which one could be satisfied. I always tried to make the Dáil appreciate how much further we had to go, no matter how far we had come, before we could be justified in being complacent about the unemployment situation. However important industry may be, and industry can make a very big contribution no doubt, it alone cannot give us the expansion we require in employment. That is something which needs a co-ordinated Government policy stretching over every field of Government activity, and that is one thing a Coalition Government cannot give us.

In the Estimate presented to us the Minister has covered in very great detail all the activities of his Department and expressed his opinion as to what may be the position in the coming year. Following on the Minister's statement we had the advantage of listening to Deputy Lemass, who was himself Minister for Industry and Commerce for many years. I have no intention of following the line adopted by Deputy Lemass because repetition will get us nowhere. Recently we spent a considerable time here discussing the question of prices. The views of the Labour Party were made very clear. Let me say now to Deputy Lemass and to those who sit behind him that, to say the least of it, it is a bit of cheek for him to come in here and seriously suggest that those of us on these benches should share with him, as he said himself, in his insistence on the Minister doing certain things. It is very important that we should, as it were, have it out with Deputy Lemass and those who sit behind him on this question of the introduction of foreign capital.

Many of the members may not have been listening to Deputy Lemass at that time and some of them may not have heard the remarks made by the Minister when speaking on this important problem, but as Deputy Lemass concluded on the note of the importance of the industrialisation programme we also must be prepared not to take it up piecemeal. Let us examine the whole position, because I can recall—and it is not so long ago— when Deputy Lemass said something with which I personally agree, and that was that he was considering the urgent necessity of examining the whole position regarding industry and the question of tariffs. With Deputy Lemass, there are people outside this Chamber who hold the same views. They lift their eyes to heaven in horror, as it were, if anyone is going to suggest the introduction of, or the asking of foreign capitalists to come to this country to help in the industrialisation of it. Apparently, that is a sin for which no penance imposed can be heavy enough to make up for the suggestion of this terrible crime, but at the same time we are entitled to ask one very fair question: If, as a body, Irish industrialists strongly object to the introduction of foreign capital, are they in turn prepared to take the advantages offered to them by each Government in this country and are they in turn prepared to take on themselves the responsibility of the extension of Irish industry?

That is a question that I believe must be answered and the sooner it is answered the better for everyone concerned. After all, where the Irish industrialist is concerned, no section of the community, none of our people, had ever objected to protection, because we all realise the importance of protecting Irish industry. I am sure that with the introduction of this system to enable Irish industry to be built up—a notable development at the time, and one well worth advancing in—nobody believed at that time that it was going to be a system which should be kept in operation in every way possible by the continuance of tariffs all over the place. Deputy Lemass has expressed his views on this and he made it quite clear at one stage that he was not satisfied that in return for the advantages and the protection given that every section of the Irish industrialists' community was in turn giving a fair return for that important measure of protection.

As well as the important feature of protection that is being given by tariffs there is also, as mentioned by the Minister in great detail, the question of technical assistance. Technical assistance in itself, while it may not cost an enormous amount of money, has never been objected to inside or outside this Chamber and the importance of providing this, whether for the home market or for export trade, has been generally recognised. We understand full well that it is of great assistance that such technical advice can be offered. Coupled with that, of course, the Minister has made it quite clear that he will not stand for any system of dumping of foreign articles, manufactured or otherwise, from the Near East or from the Far East which may interfere with industry in this country. That in itself is an indication, whether it comes from a Minister of the present Government or in the past Government, of the general view and of the fact that it is the view of members of this Chamber and of all Parties in it that we are particularly anxious to see that Irish industry is protected. But coupled with all these protections we are still confronted with the appalling fact that even while, as mentioned by the Minister, the number of persons engaged in industrial pursuits has increased greatly, the increase has not yet got us out of the problem with which we are confronted, not alone this year but through all the years, the problem of unemployment.

If Irish industrialists refuse to extend industry or take advantage of any assistances offered why should it be that the same people will insist that we do not offer any facilities to outsiders? God knows it is a hard thing to have to say, but surely it is true that, if we are to go through the various statistical records and see the large amount of money provided for necessary imports, imports of materials or manufactured articles that could have been manufactured here all the time, there is a question suggested which demands an answer from our own industrial group here. It is fantastic, and it is utter rubbish for Deputy Lemass to try to suggest here naïvely with a depth of political insincerity in my opinion, that behind this is a danger that the present Minister and the Government are, as it were, ready to sell out the Irish industrialists, but we do want a reasonable return for the assistance given and if Deputy Lemass is prepared to admit now as he said himself some time ago that that 100 per cent. return for assistance given is not forthcoming surely we will have to say to those people: "We will have to go out and encourage others to come in if you are not going to throw your weight in fully".

Speaking on the question of the overall picture of tariffs, I believe it is well known that while many of our industrialists are undoubtedly in a strong position and are not hanging on to the old system of trying, as it were, to fleece the public, unfortunately there are some, I believe, still who seem to imagine that with the introduction of the tariffs and protection which they got at their infancy some 25 or 30 years ago was a right reserved for them and for them alone. They seem to imagine the consumers must be told to endure a system of incompetency by some industrialists at the expense of the community as a whole. It is important that the Minister would consider this and it is important that we all realise, as did our predecessors, that it is time to examine this whole position regarding tariffs.

These industrialists who will give a good return, who will benefit the country, are entitled to the protection which undoubtedly we are prepared to continue to give them so long as they are doing their utmost to face their responsibilities and give in return a fair measure of satisfaction to the community but we must come to the time of admitting that some of the factories —I do not care whether set up under the inter-Party, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael Governments—that we heard of being established in the past, are nothing but small sweat-houses in small lanes in Dublin and elsewhere, employing a handful of people, protected by tariffs and at the same time charging the consumer-community as a whole exorbitant prices for any stuff produced in these so-called factories. Must it not be admitted that it is a condemnation of our present industrial system generally speaking when the present Minister must come here and say that it is urgently necessary for him to proceed with the Factories Bill to provide legislation to make sure of adequate and proper protection for workers in these factories? Is it not a shocking state of affairs to say that we have to admit that clerical workers in these factories are expected to work under conditions which, I am sure, would not be tolerated in any other country? I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again.