That is why I did not go there. It humiliates me to see this type of bombastic ceremonial carried out to try and humbug and deceive the people for petty Party propaganda. I expected, at least, that the Parliamentary Secretary would live up to the characteristics of the people of County Galway. After all, no matter what our faults or failings may be, we are noted for the characteristics of truth, fair play and candour.
The Parliamentary Secretary talks about a priority list. He made a statement about the priority list. I have the cutting here. Amongst other things, he said on the 31st May, 1951, he had a discussion with the Board of Works and that at that time the scheme was sixteenth on the priority list and that, as each scheme would take at least six years, it meant that the Corrib scheme would have to wait 80 years. I never intended to use this but I am now forced to do so. I dealt very generously with the Parliamentary Secretary when he was a Deputy during my term of office. I stood up to the Kerry people and the Kerry deputations when they came up to criticise and censure him for depriving them of the Maine and for giving the Corrib preference. They talked of the priority list.
They talk about a priority list. There was a provisional priority list drawn up and I always held that any Parliamentary Secretary could recommend to the commissioners and the Government that it should be departed from in the altered circumstances of the times. What was the original priority list? No. 1 was the Brosna; No. 2, the Glyde and Dee; No. 3, the Feale; No. 4, the Maine; No. 5, the Moy; No. 6, the Inny; and No. 7, the Corrib. Was that sixteenth on the list? Was it sixteenth on the list then? Can the Parliamentary Secretary say that? No. 8 was the Boyne; No. 9, the Erne; No. 10, the Little Brosna; No. 11, the Deale; No. 12, the Boyle; and No. 13, the Suck. It will be alleged that I brought the Suck up from thirteenth to seventh place. I did—for survey and also to have it carried out. The Parliamentary Secretary will find in the files of his office letters I received from the general manager of Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann and also from the manager of Bord na Móna asking me to give it priority, because of the activities they were about to undertake and because it would enable them to carry out these operations which would be very beneficial for the people.
For that reason, I did bring the Suck up from thirteenth to seventh place and I brought it up also in view of a motion put down by Deputy McQuillan who made a most impressive speech when he dealt with the matter, more from the social angle than from the utility angle. I pass no apology to anybody for doing so, but I did not tell the people down on the Suck that I conferred a great favour or that it was because I was there that it was brought from thirteenth to seventh or eighth place. I told them the candid truth and I am telling it to them now, that I would treat them in the same way as the people on any other river in Ireland, whether the Nore, the Barrow, the Suir, the Deale, the Maigue or the rest of them, were it not for the pressure brought to bear on me and the case made by Deputy McQuillan.
No. 14 was the Maigue; No. 15, the Suir; No. 16, the Owenmore in Sligo; No. 17, the Mulcaire; No. 18, the Nore; No. 19, the Blackwater, Monaghan; No. 20, the Fergus; No. 21, the Liffey; No. 22, the Blackwater, Cork; No. 23, the Barrow; No. 24, the Lee, Cork; No. 25, the Bandon; No. 26, the Finn; No. 27, the Laune; and No. 28 the Slaney. These are the 28 major catchment areas as decided upon and there is no talk and no mention of the lordly Shannon amongst them. We would like to know what is being done now about the Shannon, or when we are going to have these experts from the Mississippi Valley to tell us how the flooding can be controlled there, in view of the fact that the Shannon can never be drained in the normal way.
We have then the minor priority list, No. 1 on which was the the Nenagh River. That was not held back. We have No. 2, the Ballyteigue in Wexford; No. 3, the Cahore in Wexford; No. 4, the Broadmeadow, somewhere near Dublin; No. 5, the Killimor, in my own country; No. 6, the Quinn; No. 7, the Owenkeagh; No. 8, Eslin; No. 9, the Strokestown; No. 10, the Dunkellin; No. 11, the Inagh; No. 12, the Scariff; No. 13, the Rinn and Black River; No. 14, the Nanny; No. 15, the Longford; No. 16, the Sow; No. 17, the Ballinahasig; No. 18, the Lavally; No. 19, the River Lee, Kerry; No. 20, the Fane; No. 21, the Sixmilebridge; No. 22, the Elphin; No. 23, the Bonet; No. 24, the Foyle; No. 25, the Leannan; No. 26, the Erriff; No. 27, the Tolka; No. 28, the Owenea; No. 29, Owenmore; and No. 30, the Swilly. The Rye is not even mentioned among the minor catchments because it comes in with No. 21 in the major catchment, the Liffey.
The Parliamentary Secretary says he brought the Corrib from sixteenth to fourth place. He brought it to fourth place all right—and I am not finding any fault with him—but he did not bring it from sixteenth place. He brought it from seventh place, and, in doing so, naturally enough, he put back the Maine and the Moy, as well as the Inny. I will make this statement candidly here now, that had I been in the Office of Public Works in 1945 when the provisional list was made out, I would have had a terrible fight with the commissioners if I did not give the Moy first place on that priority list. I would give it to the Moy for social reasons because of the population there and because of the conditions and circumstances of the people there. I believe it should have been placed first on the priority list.
When I came in in 1951 I had no hesitation—the Moy was under consideration admittedly and unquestionably in the Parliamentary Secretary's time from 1948 to 1951, but there was no move to put it under survey and no sanction was given—I approached the Minister for Finance in the Fianna Fáil Government to give the necessary sanction and I went down to Foxford in the course of a by-election in June of 1952 and I did not hoodwink the people of North Mayo on that occasion by holding out lavish, reckless promises to them about its being under survey and that work would start on it next year. I told them straight that it was under survey, but that between survey and design and plotting, the soonest they could expect any work to be started on the Moy was 1956, four years ahead at that time, and that they would be very lucky if it could be even started as early as that.
I have given the provisional priority list, and it will be on the records of the House. I do not wish to suggest, nor am I suggesting, that any Parliamentary Secretary has not got the right to ask the national drainage authority, the Commissioners of Public Works, to revise that list and to give priority to schemes which perhaps are 20th or 25th on it now, to bring them up because of the altered circumstances. We all know that there are greatly altered circumstances since 1945. We know, in the first place, that it was possible to get in modern machinery and it was possible also to recruit highly technical staff since then, but there are many other factors as well that come into it.
We know the advances in agriculture in recent years; we know the advances made by Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann and the experiment being carried out in Gowla in County Galway; and we know the big advances made by Bord na Móna and of the bogs that have been taken over for development and use in connection with generating stations and so on, to improve the conditions of the people and to render us more independent of outside sources of supply. All these things have to be considered by the Parliamentary Secretary, the Government and the commissioners. When they put their heads together, there is no reason why they should not be free to alter that provisional list if they believe that it is in the best national interest to do so. I am not the one who will stand up here and castigate them and criticise them if they make an alteration in the provisional list and give good, sound reasons for doing so.
In reference to sub-head K, the purchase and maintenance of engineering plant, machinery and stores, this sub-head shows a decrease of £90,000. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to inform the House under which of the categories of sub-head K this reduction is being made, or if something is being taken off each of them. There are four categories: (a) purchase of engineering plant and machinery, (b) purchase of workshop plant, equipment, etc., (c) wages of workshop staff, and (d) purchase of materials, spare parts, stores, etc. I want to know what the position is regarding category (b). Some questions were directed regarding this and the servicing of the machines to the Minister for Finance by Deputy Sheldon. I am sure he will have something to say on this Vote and I am not going to cut across him. He is a very capable and experienced Deputy and he will elicit, as far as possible, all the information he requires.
When I was Parliamentary Secretary, the Public Accounts Committee decided, in its wisdom—and I would also say that, having that privilege, they thought it advisable—to visit the engineering workshop at Inchicore. They made an exhaustive tour and examination of the depot and the system of servicing and checking. Deputy Sheldon was then Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I think, and there was also on the committee a highly experienced businessman, Deputy Dockrell, and another man very interested in economising, in an efficient way and without doing any harm to any section of a Department but to ensure that everything was conducted in a highly efficient and economical manner, and that was the then Deputy Hickey, now Senator Hickey.
The depot was visited and I felt that, as a result of their visit, taking all the circumstances into account, they were satisfied that it was a good system, that it was well organised as far as the resources would permit and that there was an experienced staff working there. They were given an indication of how the accounting was done, how the spare parts were being checked, how the spare parts were distributed, how the machines were being taken off, how they were being serviced, and so on. One of the Deputies, speaking to me afterwards, said: "Well, really, I was surprised at the fine type of men you have out there; in fact, I do not think they are being paid at all sufficient when they are so well qualified; I am in private business and I would be prepared to give some of them more than they are getting, but I just would not make that offer, as I would not wish to divorce them from a State concern."
I was very pleased with that visit and had I remained in office I would have invited the Public Accounts Committee to visit and inspect another very important section of the Office of Public Works, that is, the furniture branch. I would very much like that they would do so. Perhaps they think that everything is all right now because it is not a Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Secretary that is there any more, but I think they are intelligent enough to know and they will come to the viewpoint that, even though there is someone there to the heart's desire of the majority of them, it might be well for them to carry out this little tour of inspection. I certainly was never satisfied with it during my term of office and I expect the present Parliamentary Secretary is hardly satisfied either.