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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Dec 1956

Vol. 160 No. 13

Committee on Finance. - Industrial Grants Bill, 1956—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. It is scarcely necessary for me to emphasise the importance which must be attached to the development of industrial production as a means of providing employment and easing the balance of payments' position by the production of goods here which would otherwise have to be imported and by contributing to our export potential. Successive Governments have accepted the need for creating conditions favourable to the expansion of manufacturing activity; these conditions have taken a number of forms including the grant of protection where necessary, the provision of facilities for securing capital and the provision of information and advice to industrial promoters. More important perhaps than the form of assistance which I have mentioned is the fact that persons contemplating the establishment of industries here know that if they invest their capital and use their abilities in establishing efficient manufacturing units they can be sure that at all stages of their operations they will enjoy the goodwill and encouragement of whatever Government is in power.

Considerable progress has already been made in the field of industrial development. But the need for increased employment, reduced dependence on imports and the expansion of exports requires that further steps should be taken to stimulate and if possible speed up the tempo of industrial development. The Government have therefore decided on certain measures to afford additional incentives for industrial development. Deputies have recently been considering proposals for tax relief in respect of industrial exports and for industrial buildings and the present Bill is designed to implement the Government's proposals for grants to aid industrial development.

The Bill empowers the Industrial Development Authority to make grants of up to two-thirds of the cost of factory buildings and other works required for the establishment of industrial undertakings, subject to a maximum grant of £50,000 in any one case. Before the grant is given, the authority must satisfy itself that the project concerned will be reasonably permanent and is likely to be carried on efficiently and that its establishment will be in the interests of the national economy and is likely to provide substantial employment or to make available substantial quantities of the goods concerned or to provide an opportunity for exports. I do not think that any promoter of a worthwhile project should have the slightest difficulty in satisfying the authority under these heads as they are in effect the essential prerequisites for the establishment of a sound industrial project. The assistance to be given by the authority under the Bill will, as I have said, take the form of a grant and once the project has got under way and the grant has been paid the industrialist concerned will be free to manage his affairs in whatever way he thinks best.

When it was decided to introduce the scheme of industrial grants we were conscious that there might be some fears among existing manufacturers that their position might be worsened by competition in a saturated market from new units established with the help of grant moneys. While I could not conceive that the authority would make grants available in such circumstances nevertheless I thought it well to have a provision written into the Bill which would allay any fears on the part of existing manufacturers. Accordingly, the Bill provides that when considering applications for grants the authority shall have regard to the extent to which the requirements of the public in respect of the commodities to be manufactured are sufficiently met by undertakings already established.

The announcement by the Taoiseach on 5th October of the Government's intention to introduce a scheme for industrial grants indicated that it would be administered in accordance with the accepted policy of decentralisation. The Bill does not contain a specific provision to this effect but it is my intention when the legislation has been enacted to issue a policy directive in the matter to the authority. The directive will be in the sense of the reply given in Dáil Éireann to a question on 25th October, 1956, when it was indicated that the accepted policy of decentralisation of industry is to encourage so far as it is practical to do so the dispersal of industry throughout the country so that areas away from the centres of largest population shall secure industrial projects and thereby share in the employment and other advantages resulting from industrial development.

The Bill provides for a maximum aggregate of grants of £2,000,000 for the seven years to the 31st December, 1963, but I must admit that this estimate may fall wide of the mark as the volume of grants will, of course, depend on the extent to which projects come forward for consideration by the authority. I would be very gratified if the estimate should prove to be too low as I cannot think of a better way of spending money than on industries which will provide permanent employment for our people, reduce our expenditure abroad on the goods which we need and increase our export potential.

The Bill will not apply to areas to which the Undeveloped Areas Act applies; these areas will continue to enjoy the benefits of that Act.

I do not think that there are any other matters arising on the Bill which call for comment by me at this stage and I will conclude by expressing the hope that, as the Bill is one which should commend itself to the Deputies of all Parties, it will be given a speedy passage as an agreed measure.

The first question that arises on this Bill is why it was considered necessary at all. The Undeveloped Areas Act which the Minister referred to provides for the giving of grants and other forms of State assistance to industrial undertakings established in counties west of the Shannon, along the western seaboard. That Act provides that it can be extended by Ministerial Order to any other area. So far as the Minister desired to take power to give grants to aid the establishment of new industries in other areas, he could have done so at any time by making an Order under Section 3 of the Undeveloped Areas Act.

Why did he not do it that way? I think the decision to avoid making an Order under the Undeveloped Areas Act and introducing a new Bill was a political one. The Minister did not want to appear to be merely relying on the Undeveloped Areas Act and did not want to draw attention to the effect of the introduction of this measure on the policy which the Undeveloped Areas Act was intended to implement. I think that fact must be fully considered by the Dáil.

In 1951, the Undeveloped Areas Act was passed by the Dáil for the express purpose of giving a particular inducement to persons proposing to establish new industries in this country to go to the West. It was deemed to be in the national interest that there should exist some attraction to intending industrialists to locate their activities in that part of the country. Reference was had to the fact that the West of Ireland had failed to secure advantages from the industrial development programme launched in 1932 to the same extent as other parts of the country and to the fact that, at least at that time, emigration from the West was far heavier than from other parts of Ireland. There was a general acceptance of the argument that it was to the advantage of the nation as a whole that the balance of industry should be more equitably distributed and that Government policy should be directly aimed at encouraging industrial development in that region.

We put into that Undeveloped Areas Act this provision which enabled Orders to be made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce extending the Act to other areas for particular reasons. The old congested districts, which were the areas deemed as being undeveloped, were not, perhaps, very scientifically delineated and it was realised that adjacent areas had equal claim for State assistance in the promotion of new industries and that the national aim, to which I referred, would be just as well served by getting them into these adjacent areas as into districts clearly within the limits of the old congested districts.

During the course of the discussion on that Bill and many times since its enactment, Deputies have urged in the House that Orders should be made extending the Undeveloped Areas Act to other parts of the country. For myself, I was inclined to resist most of these representations. At any rate, I refused to consider the making of an Order of that kind until a specific industrial proposal was in the picture and it was clear that the furtherance of that proposition depended upon the making of the Order, because, as I explained on many occasions, the whole effect of the Undeveloped Areas Act, the whole policy enshrined in it, was weakened by every extension of the area to which the Act applied. The Minister has now come with a Bill to introduce virtually similar provisions for State aid in the form of free grants to industrial projects in any part of Ireland. I suggest that the reason he is doing that by a separate Bill is that he realises quite well that it involves the virtual abandonment of the Undeveloped Areas Act and the policy it represents. That may be a good thing or a bad thing but it is undesirable that the effect of what is proposed here should be concealed.

Why is it considered necessary at this stage that State aid to new industries should be given in the form of free grants? One would have thought that the Minister himself would have felt obliged to give some explanation of his own change of attitude in that regard. When the Undeveloped Areas Act was being discussed here and when a proposition was made by Deputy Dillon that aid to existing concerns in the West of Ireland should not be given by way of free grant but should be given only by way of loan, the present Minister for Industry and Commerce was the strongest advocate of that point of view and divided the House on the principle of giving free grants to industries even in the most remote western districts.

At column 1063, Volume 128 of the Dáil Debates, he said:—

"We are now engaged in passing a Bill the object of which is to make £2,000,000 available to promote private enterprise in the undeveloped areas. That £2,000,000 does not belong to private enterprise. It is £2,000,000 of public money which has to be raised from the pockets of the taxpayers and which may be raised in such a form that every citizen, and particularly the lowly section of our community, will have to contribute. As custodians of the public interest, we ought to concern ourselves with how this public money will be spent. While it may be necessary, in order to encourage industry in the undeveloped areas, to give grants in special cases where no other method of inducement will encourage the establishment of an industry, we ought to be careful, I think, when it comes to giving a grant to any person, firm or corporation which, in fact, may not need a grant."

Later on he went on to argue that it would be sufficient to give aid to industries, even in the West of Ireland, by way of interest-free loans, loans which would be repayable, the money coming back, as he said, into the kitty.

His suggestion at that time was not acceptable to the Dáil. The amendment, which he supported, was defeated, but it was not because of any lack of strength in his advocacy against the policy of giving free grants to private industry. Now, however, we have this proposition to give free grants to private industry anywhere. No statement has been made to the House to lead us to believe that anything will come of it. No argument has been advanced to show that it is necessary and no attempt has been made to analyse the possible consequences of the provision.

Is it true that industry is being held up anywhere by shortage of capital? It may be so. Here and there, in the past, it did happen that individual industrial concerns which appeared to have the possibilities of expansion were held down by inability to get sufficient capital. To meet that situation, the Industrial Credit Company was set up, the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act was passed. Various devices were adopted, to make it possible for industrial concerns to get whatever capital was required, either by way of investment or by way of loan, to enable them to proceed.

I have urged already here that, in present circumstances, having regard to the policy being pursued by the commercial banks, the general tightness of money now existing, it is desirable that the resources and, perhaps, the powers of the Industrial Credit Company should be extended, that that undertaking should be enabled to provide money for industrial expansion through investment in the shares of private undertakings, shares which it might not be desirable to market at the present time, or to deal with smaller concerns by way of repayable loans or the purchase of debentures. I think that is necessary but I think that is all that is necessary and, indeed, I am quite certain that, if that were done, it could be said that no industrial concern with any prospect of development, any prospect of making a profit, would not be able to proceed because of shortage of money.

What is the danger we are facing because of this proposal? The Minister is taking power for the Industrial Development Authority to give grants to any new industrial enterprise anywhere. The danger is that no industrial enterprise will ever start again without getting this free grant from public funds. We have a provision in this Bill which obliges the Industrial Development Authority to take certain things into account and a section which also gives them power to impose conditions. These are provisions which I think are likely to be far more effective in retarding industrial development than helping it. I believe that over the main part of the industrial field, private enterprise is the best force on which to rely.

I recognise that private enterprise is frequently unable to operate fully effectively in present circumstances and I have been urging courses of action which will tend to make it more effective but it seems to me that getting industrial concerns into a position where they are under the thumb of the Government, where they must conform to conditions, and keeping them there by the inducement of free grants, is a bad policy.

If it could be shown that any single industrial proposition that would not otherwise proceed was likely to go ahead quickly because of the provisions of this Bill, I would say that that is an argument in its favour. We have not been told that. Indeed, no reason has been advanced for the Bill at all. There is an implied assumption that industrial development has been held up by the absence of free grants. That is not true. Industrial development has been held up to some extent by inability to get capital. Meet that by making it possible for it to get capital. You do not have to meet it by going into the pockets of the taxpayers to hand out grants of this kind when, by doing so, you are creating a situation in which concerns that might otherwise develop will not develop unless this grant is given to them and where the policy of western development is negative at the same time.

I must confess that I have a very considerable dislike of most of these proposals for money for nothing and, in the past, whenever I had as Minister to bring propositions here involving Government grants of any kind, for any purpose, I felt obliged to defend the proposal in full, and the absence of any attempt to defend this Bill by the Minister in introducing it, the unwarranted assumption upon which he based his remarks, indicate to me that no very great thought has been given to this proposition at all.

The Minister referred to the Finance Bill that we have just been discussing. The implication is that this Finance Bill gives some enormous financial aid to industry. I have calculated that the maximum amount of money that it could possibly cost the Government, even if we assume that we will get a 10 per cent. increase in industrial exports and a 10 per cent. increase in coal production, is less than £10,000. It is quite obvious to me that, some time in September or October last, the Government panicked about its political position and Ministers were called together and told: "We have to produce some sort of programme. It does not matter whether it is a good or a bad programme, whether the propositions we put forward are likely to get results, as long as they look good." That was the whole purpose of all the announcements made by the Taoiseach-to produce something that looked good—and we have the proposal embodied in the Finance Bill, that means nothing, that will achieve nothing, and this proposal, which was obviously adopted without any consideration of its possible consequences much less of the need for it.

It is not easy for a Party in opposition to vote against a measure introduced by a Government in office to give money for nothing to anybody and Deputies will appreciate my political difficulty in that regard but, speaking quite frankly and honestly, I believe that this Bill introduces an undesirable principle in the operation of industrial policy, that it is unnecessary, that the aid which industry requires is not this type of aid and that the whole origin of the Bill is the inability of the Government to think beyond the surface of things, to get down to an understanding of the real causes which are holding up national development, their desire to appear to be doing something, whether they get results or not, in order to safeguard their political position for the time being.

The Minister can have his Bill, as far as I am concerned, but I want to make it clear that, in my view—and I may at some time in the future be empowered to influence Government policy—I think it has no importance whatever in relation to our industrial development and it represents a completely wrong approach to the problems of Irish industry as they exist to-day.

I think every Deputy on the western seaboard must deprecate and deplore the introduction of this Bill to-night. For the first time in the history of the undeveloped areas, the congested areas in the country, we saw hope for revival in the introduction here of the Undeveloped Areas Act. It was the first tangible step taken to bring industry to the areas which are fast becoming deprived of their entire population, where houses are becoming vacant, where homes are broken up and from which the people are fleeing in thousands. The farmers' sons cannot remain at home, as there is no employment; one boy remains on the farm, the others have to find employment elsewhere.

We found the position where the population of Dublin and other cities, all the large centres of population, were growing yearly and the increasing population required greater housing and even created traffic problems on the streets of the city, while the population of the area west of the Shannon, from Donegal to Kerry, is sinking so fast that soon it will not be necessary for more than two or three Deputies to come to this House to represent that area.

The Undeveloped Areas Act was welcomed by all of us at that time. Some of us could not see how the Opposition could find reason to object to it, but they went out of their way to do so. The present Minister found reason to condemn it and other Ministers were viciously against it.

Would the Deputy read the debate on it?

I need only read the statement just quoted by Deputy Lemass.

The Deputy is absurd.

In connection with it, the present Minister advocated loans instead of grants. Does the Minister deny that? I think it was Deputy Blowick who said at the time that it was a Fianna Fáil stunt to try to get extra seats in some of the counties west of the Shannon. It was the first genuine effort ever made to bring industries to those areas and the only fault I felt with the Bill, when I spoke at the time, was a fault which I still find, that it did not go far enough.

If any private person were putting money into industry in this country to-morrow, the advantages to be derived by being close to this city, to Cork or some of the other large centres of population, are so much in advance of some of the undeveloped areas that he would require no inducement whatever. In fact, the grants available under the Undeveloped Areas Act, to induce private enterprise to put manufacturing concerns into areas like Donegal, are not good enough, because the disadvantage of freight alone may take away the benefits derived from the initial grant in the course of a few years. I would like to see those grants extended. I would like to see the Act amended. It was promised at the time that, when experience had been derived from the working of the Act over a period, certain changes could be made if necessary.

One of the changes I would have liked to advocate was that the further back industry went the bigger the grants should be, to prevent people going just across the fringe of that area in order to safeguard the industry and still try to reap benefits from the Act, as compared with the case of areas like Glencolumbkille, the Rosses, Blacksod or Ballina, or some of the outlying areas of Kerry. I believe the grant should be increased for the outer margin of the area. The bringing in of grants now, to induce people to stay in the areas where the population is growing unnecessarily, when these other areas are being denuded of population, is something that should be condemned by every western Deputy in this House.

There are certain qualifications required before a grant may be paid. In fact, the industrial authority may never pay a grant, if they so desire. The Bill can be used as a means of nullifying the good effect of the Undeveloped Areas Act. In order to qualify for a grant, for instance, any concern must be in a position to prove that it is going to provide employment on a substantial scale, to make available to the State substantial quantities of the commodity or to provide an opportunity for developing an export market. Any firm or projected firm which can prove these things in advance can also prove that it is going into a sound concern which will show good returns for the money being put into it and that the concern from the outset is a success and therefore it should not require any assistance, simply because it is able to prove already that it is going into a sound project which is going to succeed.

I cannot see hope of any industrialist or potential industrialist taking any interest whatever in opening any new industries in the western areas when a provision like that is being provided as an inducement to establish industry in and around Dublin and the other thickly populated areas which are near to the hub of things, near the source of supply, better placed for distribution, which have all the facilities at their command, and which have all the amenities required for workers and the people concerned in those industries.

It is the death knell of the Undeveloped Areas Act, an Act which we believed—as a result of a recent statement by the Taoiseach-was due for very considerable improvement, in the light of the experience gained by the Government since the time when the Act first went into operation.

I think the Minister would be doing a good day's work for the stricken areas of this country if he would withdraw this Bill from the House and, instead, make further and better provision for bringing industry to the undeveloped areas before it is too late.

We have had industries in Donegal which had to close recently because they had not the necessary working capital to carry on. They had to go into voluntary liquidation and pay off workers, give them a single ticket on the boat to England, just because they had not working capital, just because "the bank squeeze" came on and credit was no longer available. If something were done about the bank restrictions with regard to industry, we would really be in a position to congratulate the Minister on any effort he would make in that respect.

If this Government has decided that the western seaboard is no longer worthy of attention, that the people there are being forgotten for ever, that they should now be satisfied just because a Minister for the Gaeltacht has been appointed, that nothing further must be done about them, that their loans for housing and schools and everything else and the provision for constructional work must be retarded and discontinued, I think the sooner the whole question is put in charge of another Government the better.

There is so little in this Bill in the way of detail and there was so much less in the Minister's statement that it is not easy to make anything in the nature of a detailed statement on this proposal. The statements made by Deputy Lemass and Deputy Brennan are so obvious that they need no emphasis. Indeed, it seems a bit of a joke that the Government should have pretended to take far-reaching steps of a kind never contemplated before in establishing a Gaeltacht Ministry for the permanent economic betterment of the Gaeltacht, because, when one comes to talk about permanent betterment, one has in mind a measure such as the Undeveloped Areas Act.

Nobody who has been in public life for the last 20 years will deny that an enormous amount of good has been done and that the standard of living of the people in the poorer parts of these areas has been improved by the cumulative effect of a number of measures in the past, no one of which could be regarded as of a really permanent character. After the stress of an economic war followed by a World War, when some prospect of the world settling down had dawned, the previous Government did apply itself to remedying defects in industrial development, defects which showed up in relation to those areas most in need of development. In consequence of that we were given the Undeveloped Areas Act.

As Deputy Lemass has pointed out, there is power under that Act to extend by Order what was then generally recognised, and is still generally recognised, as the undeveloped areas. They are coterminus with the scheduled congested districts. This Bill is not a formal revocation of the Undeveloped Areas Act. If it is not a formal repeal, as Deputy Brennan says, the repeal is nevertheless going to be very real and very effective.

It may be argued that there is a limit on the amount of assistance which can be given under this Bill and that much larger assistance could, of course, be given under the Undeveloped Areas Act. In the more remote areas, to which Deputy Brennan referred, the smaller industries are the ones most likely to prove attractive. Larger undertakings will locate themselves inevitably in the larger centres of population. Under this Bill the prospect of the smaller and more remote areas getting their innings in relation to the smaller undertakings will be filched from them if this proposal is enacted.

This Bill is, in effect, the making of an Order under the Undeveloped Areas Act making the whole country an undeveloped area, even if there are modifications in the type of help to be given. Two-thirds of the cost of establishing an industry is a substantial inducement even if there is an overall restriction of £50,000 and the industries which will be financed to the order indicated under this Bill are the ones which would be most suitable for providing permanent employment in those areas in which one does not wish to see the worst type of industrialisation. When one comes to applying the fruits of industrial development to those areas which are still largely Irish speaking, that modification on all-out industrial development is essential. We know that because of the predominance of the English language in the country as a whole. We know that in large-scale undertakings there is a tendency to promote the English language. It was for that reason that it was visualised, as Deputy Lemass pointed out, that the larger industries would be located on the outer fringes. I think that was very, very sound policy. But the smaller industries are certainly desirable and they are vitally necessary if we are to check the haemorrhage of emigration.

Permanence is most desirable in measures such as this if one is to visualise the young people who are now going abroad settling down in their own country. They go abroad very largely to get employment which will ultimately enable them to found their own homes. Would the Minister reconsider the effect of this measure on the other measure to which we have referred?

Quite apart from the principle of giving free grants to industries all over the country, a principle not readily accepted by this side of the House, and quite apart from the desirability of accepting that principle and admitting that industrial development is so slowed up that free grants have now become necessary, I would appeal, representing an undeveloped area, that this Bill would be reconsidered in the light of its possible adverse effect on those areas in which some hope of development dawned when the Undeveloped Areas Act was passed.

It is in no begrudging frame of mind that we are offering these criticisms here. We do not think that benefits conferred on places east of the Shannon have been undeserved. We believe that a country that is undeveloped generally is in need of more development so that there will be an inducement towards that very desirable development in agriculture about which everybody is talking.

We feel, however, that the western seaboard deserves some special consideration and the necessity for that special consideration arises from the fact that Providence has not smiled on it as Providence has smiled on the great Central Plain or the more prosperous eastern areas. Therein lies the justification for the departure from practice and custom in relation to industrial development of the giving of free money.

But even in relation to the undeveloped areas, that was not to continue forever. It was visualised under the Act that the time would come when industry would have so gained in momentum in those areas that it would be able to carry on with that momentum. It is certainly a very sad commentary on the present situation that, instead of that desirable development being waited for, we have now come to the conclusion that in fact whatever momentum did exist in the better-favoured parts of the country has now ceased and that an artificial prop or aid or incentive of this sort has to be supplied. Having said that, I think I have said enough by way of commentary on the deterioration which has taken place in recent times in regard to this very important matter of industrialisation.

On the question of grants, let me say this for the poorest people in the country: they are no great believes in grants. There is only one form of grant, so far as I can ascertain, which is accepted anyway generally by everybody as being completely justifiable—I am now referring to grants for private persons for private purposes—and that is the grant which is given for building dwelling houses. When it comes to any other form of grant for private purposes, even in the poorest part of the country, these grants are looked upon askance. These are accepted only where grave necessity exists for them. The most recent case of doubt that I have come across is in regard to the grant providing free meals in schools. Even the parents of the children who get free meals are not at all enthusiastic about its justification and there is a growing conviction that the scheme is one that ought to be revised.

The same thing applies to other forms of grant, and while each in its own way has done a fair amount of good, the public mind here is not one which approves whole-heartedly of the grant and I think the extent to which that can be said with truth indicates that there is self-respect and confidence on the part of the people in their own ability that has not been undermined even by the modern conditions which have produced so much socialism in so many countries.

I was particularly pleased, in relation to the assistance being given for the provision of fishing boats, that in very few cases have I heard even the poorest fisherman recommending that there should be grants for the provision of these fishing boats. They all felt that while assistance should be given in the form of loans, they hoped deep down in their breasts that their own industry would enable them to repay these loans. I do not recall any fisherman asking to have facilities given to him for nothing. However, that is talking in the abstract on the principle involved in this measure, and I would be hypocritical if I did not say that is because of the danger which I see—and which other Deputies representing areas in the West see— of the prospects of industrialisation giving permanent employment and therefore enabling a larger proportion of the young people to settle in their home areas, not being realised that I have spoken as I have spoken.

I again endorse what has been said from this side of the House and I support the requests that this measure should be revised.

As a Deputy from the western seaboard, from the undeveloped areas, I rise to endorse everything said by Deputy Brennan because I believe that the effect of this Bill will be to nullify completely the benefits of the Undeveloped Areas Act. Sub-section (4) of Section 2 of this Bill says:—

"Grants shall not be made under this section in respect of the establishment of undertakings in an area to which the Undeveloped Areas Act, 1952 (No. 1 of 1952) applies."

If this Bill were brought in and applied to the whole country, leaving the Undeveloped Areas Act to do the work for which it was introduced, we might understand it.

Why was the Undeveloped Areas Act introduced in the first place? It was introduced because the then Government felt Dublin was becoming top-heavy and that the population was clearing out from the western seaboard and coming into the cities and towns. It was to stop that and in an effort to bring some of the industries back to the West, to these undeveloped areas, and away from the cities that the Undeveloped Areas Act was introduced. I stand here to-night as a representative from Sligo and I thank the man who brought in that Bill because I say it had the effect he desired it should have.

In Sligo alone, we have had, I think, six or seven new industries started as a result of that Act. Quite recently, the Minister was down in Tubbercurry opening a new factory and I had the pleasure of being at a dinner with him a few weeks ago, given by Sligo Chamber of Commerce. He thanked the Sligo Chamber of Commerce for the work they were doing under that Act and for the number of factories it was instrumental in getting them. At that party, he told them about sub missions he had made to the Government for the remission of taxation and other things. I wonder if the Minister on that night had told them he was bringing in a Bill to nullify the effects of the Undeveloped Areas Act what kind of reception he would have got from the Sligo Chamber of Commerce? I do not think—in fact, I am sure—it would have been as warm as he did get.

I repeat with Deputy Brennan that this Bill will nullify the effect of that Act. There is no question about it. The Act was attacked in this House when it was going through, and some members who are now sitting on the Government Front Benches said of it that it was a couple of millions of "slush" money for Fianna Fáil supporters. That was how one man described it. Deputy Lemass pointed out the Minister's own approach to it. It was attacked also by vested interests later on and I suspect it is because of these attacks we now have this Bill being brought in to pacify the people and to kill initiative in the West.

As I said before, it was brought in to keep the people from the western seaboard from flying from that area and coming into the cities. It might be interesting for the Minister to let me read a few extracts from a letter in to-day's Irish Press from a former colleague of the Minister. It is signed “Peadar Cowan.”

He was the organiser of the Labour Party.

We are not discussing what any individual citizen said outside the House.

The following figures about housing in Dublin were given——

I do not see how this has any relevancy to the Bill. Deputies cannot be allowed to quote what every citizen says in relation to this measure.

I was about to quote what this solicitor had to say on what housing programmes in Dublin were costing.

Quotations from speeches made or figures given by every solicitor cannot be allowed.

I wanted to read only the views of one gentleman; I wanted to give the figures.

If the Deputy gives the figures as his own contribution, I will allow it.

Would the Deputy not try to be original and not quote the views of everybody?

The Deputy may not go into the views expressed by every citizen.

I bow to the ruling of the Chair. I will say, though, that it has been pointed out, not alone by this gentleman but by various people, that the amount of money spent on housing in Dublin is enormous and that the people along the western seaboard have to contribute to that expenditure. Two weeks ago, I travelled through Leitrim and found that every second house was vacant. The Undeveloped Areas Act was the first hope brought to the people along the western seaboard. It brought about results and the Minister went down recently and congratulated the people in Sligo and in Tubbercurry on the advances they had made under that Act. Now he brings in a Bill to nullify the effects of that Act.

We provided more money under that Act than Fianna Fáil ever did. Do not be talking through your hat.

The man who brought in that Bill is sitting here on our Front Bench. He brought it in in face of the strong opposition of the people who are now in Government. Yet the Minister thought fit to go down to Sligo and congratulate the people on the use they made of the provisions of that Act. The Minister now has the temerity to bring in a Bill nullifying its effect, at the behest of people who are jealous of the progress made along the western seaboard.

Will the Deputy talk sense? This Bill was announced six weeks before I was in Sligo.

Not the terms of it.

I cannot make the Deputy read the newspapers.

Deputy Gilbride.

I have very little further to say. On behalf of the people I represent I want to say I believe this Bill was brought in at the behest of people who are jealous of the advances made along the western seaboard; I believe it was introduced for the purpose of nullifying the provisions of the Undeveloped Areas Act. For those reasons, I want to protest against it. I cannot understand how any Deputy from the West of Ireland could support it. It is noticeable that there is not a single Deputy from the western seaboard behind the Minister.

I rise to compliment the Minister on the introduction of this Bill and to welcome it. I am surprised to hear Deputies from the western part of Ireland opposing the measure and asserting that it will nullify the effects of the Undeveloped Areas Act brought in a few years ago to encourage industries in the West. Coming here as I do representing Limerick City, I should like to say I do not begrudge any city in Ireland any industries that have been established in them because I believe that industries are built on enterprise. If you have enterprising people, whether they are in Limerick, Dublin or the western seaboard, they will attract industrialists to their towns if those industrialists are engaged in some form of business suited to the particular districts to which they are sought to be attracted.

At the present time in Limerick there are large numbers of unemployed people. We feel that we are entitled to some encouragement for the establishment of industries. Under present conditions, there is no financial inducement to start industries in Limerick, while, seven miles away, the people can enjoy the benefits of the Undeveloped Areas Act. Since that Act has been in operation for some years now, I feel the Minister is justified in his decision to bring in this Bill extending the operations of that Act to places like Limerick City.

No new industry has been established in Limerick since the Undeveloped Areas Act was brought before the House. We have a grievance. All the time our Chamber of Commerce have been putting forward the plea that they are entitled to consideration. Limerick is a city 60 miles inland. That is a serious disadvantage not shared by such cities as Dublin, Cork, Waterford or Galway, which are all situated on the sea and which reap the advantages from a shipping point of view. Ships are reluctant to come into Limerick because of the 60-mile journey up the River Shannon.

For that reason, I welcome this measure. I think it will benefit such cities as Limerick. It should be remembered by Deputies who speak of this Bill as nullifying the effects of the Undeveloped Areas Act that cities like Limerick, Cork, Dublin and Waterford are finding it very difficult to provide employment. Large sums of relief moneys have from time to time been voted by the House. I believe it is not relief we should be discussing but employment, and for that reason I welcome the Government's decision to give the same facilities to cities like Limerick as were given to other places under the Undeveloped Areas Act. I am an industrialist myself and as such I am proud now to be able to go back to Limerick and say to the people that under this Bill industrialists can spend up to £75,000 and get a grant of £50,000 on the establishment of an industry. That is a challenge to enterprise, a challenge perhaps that enterprising people need. If we have not succeeded in getting industrialists to come forward on the basis of their getting two-thirds of a £75,000 grant to establish an industry, then these same people cannot quarrel if we have to have State industries. I am an advocate of private enterprise. I know and I agree that Government-sponsored industries have, to a great extent, to depend perhaps on the advice they get from people in private enterprise for the conduct of national industries.

I should like to see all sections of this House welcome this Bill. It is a most attractive Bill to the people of Limerick City and it is really overdue, so far as we are concerned. I would ask Deputies from the West to consider our position in Limerick. Undoubtedly, we are a very important distributing centre. We have some very old-established industries there. Some of these old-established industries have changed somewhat in character and, as a result, fewer people are now employed in them. I feel that, as a result of this Bill, some worthwhile industry will be established in Limerick. Therefore, I compliment the Minister and the Government on its introduction.

It is all very fine to talk about unemployment and curing unemployment. To my mind, the only cure for unemployment in this country is industry. Industry is an attraction for some people, if they can get it in their own areas. It was very gratifying to hear Deputy Gilbride say that six industries were established in the West. That is a tribute to the enterprise of those western people who put up the necessary capital in addition to that supplied by the Government.

I do not wish to nullify the effect of any benefit which any town may get. For some time past, I have been travelling to Dublin regularly by car, though now, because of petrol restrictions, I have decided to come by rail. However, travelling by car, I pass through many towns on my way to Dublin—Nenagh, Roscrea, Portlaoise, Newbridge and Naas. All these towns have their industries and that is very gratifying indeed.

I agree that industrialists are more attracted to Dublin from the point of view of ease of distribution. There should be no parochialism in the establishment of industries. I feel that industries which are established in the West are, perhaps, suited to the West and that industries that can be established in Limerick, for instance, are suited to Limerick and that an industrialist will not have his industry anywhere else because, perhaps, somebody can work up an opposition at a decided advantage in getting up to £50,000 by way of free grant.

On behalf of the people of Limerick and on behalf of my fellow-industrialists there, I want to welcome this Bill. For some considerable time past, we have felt we were entitled to an extension of the Act that was in operation for years and, whether the benefit comes by way of an extension of that Act or through a new Bill, we welcome it. We sincerely trust this Bill will be the means of bringing a number of industries to our country, thus providing more employment for those who need it.

It must be borne in mind that every city is catering for a quota of people from other parts of the country. That is particularly so in relation to Dublin. People from all parts of the country are coming into Dublin and some of them are creating a problem. Let us be fair and frank and open in this matter: there is no use in being parochial about it.

We, in Limerick, felt we were entitled to encouragement in respect of the establishment of some industrial enterprise. As an industrialist there, and having the honour to be a director of an industry which pays a substantial amount in wages, I may say that we look upon industry as being our national need. I do not regard relief grants or relief works as an efficacious cure for unemployment. Much lip-service has been paid to relief grants in this House and as to what amount should be given in one area as against another. Undoubtedly, relief grants are necessary when there is unemployment, but I feel that each and every section of the community should combine with the Government of the day— no matter what Government may be in office—to provide suitable and permanent employment for our people, so that, as time goes on, our children at least will be able to say that we used our experience and knowledge in a national effort to provide a livelihood for them in the land of their parents.

In this country, the mere mention of an industry has a great appeal to people in general. The reason is obvious. Everybody recognises that, without some addition to our agricultural economy, there is a poor prospect of maintaining the population here without a further dwindling.

We propose to give money in a large way. To my mind, to give £50,000 to establish an industry is dangerous. It is dangerous in so far as the Government, having invested so much money in an industry, will be very careful to preserve that industry from any keen competition. We may find, therefore, that our industries are restricted. Our Government may find it necessary to protect their money by restricting, so far as they reasonably can, further competition from similar industries arising in the country.

There is also the danger that people who get large sums of money to develop industries may be tempted to undertake schemes with prospects that are only transitory. When such grants are being given, they are not confronted with the same necessity for founding an industry on a sound basis as are people when they are founding an industry largely on their own capital and initiative. The same remarks about a happy-go-lucky system apply to our workers. Our workers, who are mainly inexperienced in industrial undertakings, must, of stern necessity, train themselves in industry and build up valuable experience in it.

Debate adjourned.