Go ndeonófar suim nach mó ná £2,059,460 chun slánaithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun beith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú lá de Mhárta, 1963, le haghaidh Tuarastail agus Costais Oifig an Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála, lena n-áirítear Seirbhísí aiáirthe atá faoi riaradh na hOifige sin, agus chun Ildeontais-i-gCabhair a íoc.
Is é an rud is tábhachtaí a tharla i rith na bliana seo caite go ndearnamar iarratas chun bheith inár gchomhaltaí de Chomhphobal Eacnamaíochta na hEorpa. Tá a fhios ag na teachtaí conas mar atá an scéal ina thaobh sin i gcoitinne agus fé mar is eol doibh freisin, d'imthigh ard-oifigigh ón tír seo go dtí An Bhruiséal ar an 11ú la den mhí seo leis an ullmhúchán a dhéanamh do chruinniú eile idir Air ón Rialtas seo agus Airí ó Rialtais Státchomhaltaí an Chomhphobail.
Tá socrú déanta ag an gCoiste um Eagraíocht Tionscail a cuireadh ar bun anuraidh le haghaidh suirbhéireacht fhorleitheadúil ar thionscail féachaint conas is fearr a d'fhéadfaidís iad féin a chur i gcóir do dhálaí iomaíochta an Chómhargaigh. Tá an obair sin ag dul ar aghaidh go seasta agus tá tuarascálacha ar Shuirbhéireachtaí ag teacht isteach chun an Choiste anois lena mbreithníú.
Mhéadaigh ar tháirgeadh tionscal agus ar an bhfostaíocht i rith na bliana agus laghdaíodh tuilleadh ar líon na ndaoine dífhostaithe. Chuaigh mórán eile gnóthas tionscail i gceann saothair i rith na bliana agus nuair a bheidh siad faoi lán seoil beidh suas le 4,500 duine ar fostú iontu. Bhí tuilleadh monarchana á dtógáil agus meastar go mbeidh tuairim 3,400 duine ar fostú iontu i gceann na haimsire.
Tá breis feabhais ag teacht ar an dea-thoradh as iarrachtaí an Udaráis Forbartha Tionscail chun lucht tionscail ólasmuigh den tír a mhealladh chugainn. Sa bhliain 1961 thosaigh timpeall 50 monarcha, a raibh baint ag dreamanna ón gcoigríoch leo, ar earraí a tháirgeadh, nó bhí siad á dtógáil. Tá na monarchana sin scaipthe ar fud na tíre agus ní hé amháin go dtabharfaidh siad obair fhóinteach do dhaoine ach cuideoidh siad go mór lenár dtrádáil onnmhairíochta. Chuir an tUdarás Forbartha Tionscail feachtas mór poiblíochta ar siúl sa Bhreatain Mhór, i dtíortha éagsúla ar an Mór-Roinn, agus sna Stáit Aontaithe. Tá ábhar fógraíochta á sholáthar i morán teangacha seachas an Béarla. Tá ceathrar ionadaí ag obair anois i dtíortha thar lear agus, ina theannta sin, thug comhaltaí den Udarás cuairteanna ar leith ar thíortha éagsúla d'fhonn lucht tionscail iontu a spreagadh chun tuilleadh suime a chur i mbunú tionscal annseo.
Sa bhliain 1961 gnóthaíodh níos mó ná mar a gnóthaíodh riamh as earraí a onnmhairiú. B'fhiú os cionn £180 milliún ar fad iad, agus tháinig méadú £3 mhilliún san iomlán i gcomórtas le 1960 ar luach na mbunábhar agus na ndéantús a onmhairíodh. Tá Córas Tráchtála ag cabhrú i gcónaí le honnmhaireóirí chun margaí dá gcuid earraí a cháil agus a fhorbairt, agus tá sé tar éis dul i mbun suirbhéireacht i dtíortha an Chómhargaidh ar na deiseann a d'fhéadfadh a bheith iontu chun earraí áirithe ón tír seo a onnmhairiú chucu.
Thagair mé anuraidh do scéim na nDeontas Cabhrach Teicniúla. Ba mhaith liom a threisiú gur ceart breis tairbhe a bhaint as an scéim sin. Na gnólachtaí a bhain leas as an scéim fuair siad gur mhór an chabhair í chun éifeachtúlacht a fheabhsú. Anois an t-am do ghnólachtaí eile chun an dea-shampla sin a leanúint.
Chuaigh an Foras Tionscail ar aghaidh ag cuidiú le tionscail a bhunú i gceantair neamhfhorbartha. Cheadaigh siad os cionn £1½ milliún de dheontais anuraidh; tugann sin soláthar iomlán na ndeontas sin go dtí breis is £6 mhilliún. Táthar ag súil go bhfostófar timpeall 10,500 duine sna tionscadail éagsúla atá ceadaithe go dtí seo. Cheadaigh an Foras Tionscail freisin anuraidh breis is £2½ mhilliúin mar dheontais do thionscail taobh amuigh de na limistéir neamhfhorbartha, agus meastar go dtabharfaidh na tionscadail éagsúla atá ceadaithe do na limistéir sin fostaíocht do 11,500 duine no mar sin. Is le honnmhairí is mó atá baint ag na tionscadail sin.
In the Book of Estimates, the net Estimate of £3,089,460 for 1962-63 is compared with a sum of £2,234,340 granted in 1961-62 (including a Supplementary Estimate for £172,990 less £699,650 in respect of services transferred to other Departments) and shows an increase of £855,120 compared with the sum granted last year. In March, 1962, after the Book of Estimates had been printed and circulated an additional sum of £420,000 was granted in two Supplementary Estimates bringing the total amount granted in 1961-62 to £2,654,340. The actual increase in the Estimate for 1962-63 compared with the amount granted in 1961-62 is, therefore, £435,120.
The first Supplementary Estimate provided £72,990 for Dundalk Engineering Works (there is no provision for this service in 1962-63) and £100,000 for Nitrigin Éireann Teo. Two further Supplementary Estimates were taken in March, too late for inclusion in the printed Estimates.
The first provided £170,000 for St. Patrick's Copper Mines Ltd. This was a new service for which no provision had been made in the original Estimate for 1961-62.
The second sanctioned an increase of £350,000 on the original Estimate of £650,000 for An Foras Tionscal under the Undeveloped Areas Act, 1952. This brought the total grant for 1961-62 up to the 1962-63 provision of £1,000,000. The £350,000 required was met to the extent of £100,000 by way of savings on other subheads and an additional grant of £250,000.
The services of tourism for which £699,300 was provided (£700,000 less £700 Appropriations-in-Aid) were transferred to the Department of Transport and Power and are provided for in that Department's Vote for 1962/63. The annual subscription to the International Sugar Council for which £350 was provided in 1961/62 in this Vote is provided for in 1962/63 in the Vote for the Department of Agriculture.
The principal increases are in the provisions for Salaries £76,000 (Subhead A); Córas Tráchtála £20,000 (Subhead H); and Fóras Tionscal £500,000 (Subhead J.2.). There is a decrease of £34,861 in Appropriations-in-Aid which is equivalent to an increase in the net grant. Increases in other subheads amount to £31,995, making a total of £662,856. To this must be added a further sum of £100,000 representing an increase in 1962/63 as a result of reducing the provisions on other subheads in 1961/62 by the transfer of this sum to the grant subhead (J.J.) for Foras Tionscal in the "late" Supplementary Estimate for this service. Total increases in 1962/63 thus amount to £762,856.
The principal decreases are in the provisions for Córas Tráchtála (Promotion of Whiskey Exports) £40,000; Technical Assistance £50,000 (Subhead L); Nitrigin Éireann Teo. £50,000 (Subhead N); St. Patrick's Copper Mines £100,000 (Subhead R). (The increase of £70,000 shown in the printed Estimates was changed to a decrease of £100,000 by the "late" Supplementary Estimate of £170,000 for this service); Dundalk Engineering Works—Staff Redundancies £73,000. Decreases in other subheads amount to £14,736, making a total decrease of £327,736.
As I have already stated the net increase in the Estimate for 1962/63 compared with the actual sum granted in 1961/62 is, therefore, £435,120.
The most significant development in the past twelve months was our application for membership of the European Economic Community. Our formal application was made on the 31st July, 1961 and this was followed by a meeting with Ministers of the Governments of the member States on 18th January at which the Taoiseach made a statement the text of which has been published. It was expected that a further meeting would be held in late March or early April after the statement of our case had been considered. It has not been found possible to keep to this schedule owing to the heavy programme of work with which the Community is faced. However as Deputies are aware a meeting between the Permanent Representatives in Brussels of the member nations of the Community and senior officials of the Irish Government was held last week for the purpose of preparing for a further discussion between Irish Ministers and Ministers of the Governments of the member states.
The Committee on Industrial Organisation was formed last year, to arrange for a comprehensive survey of the industrial sector for the purpose of making a critical appraisal of the measures that may require to be taken to adapt different industries to the new conditions of more intensive competition, to examine the difficulties which may be created for particular industries and to formulate positive measures of adjustment and adaptation. The membership of the Committee is drawn from the Federation of Irish Industries, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Federated Union of Employers and the Departments of Industry and Commerce and Finance.
The Committee has appointed a number of survey teams, each of which is comprised of a senior Government official and an economist from the Department of Finance or from outside the Public Service. It is at the option of each industry being surveyed to appoint a representative who will act as a full member of its survey team, or as an associate member or liaison with the team.
Surveys of a considerable number of industries are in hands and the exercise is being extended as rapidly as possible to other sectors of industry. Substantial progress has already been made in the case of a number of surveys and the first reports of survey teams are, I understand, now commencing to come before the Committee for consideration.
Pending the outcome of the industrial surveys, all firms have been urged to concentrate their attention immediately on an examination of the problems which will arise for them under conditions of European Free Trade and the measures which will require to be taken to overcome these problems. As announced by the Minister for Finance in the course of his Budget Speech, the Government have accepted the recommendations in an interim Report of the Committee on Industrial Organisation for the granting of special forms of State aid designed to assist and encourage industry to carry out the necessary adaptation measures in the shortest time.
I am confident that our manufacturers will take the necessary action to equip themselves to take advantage of the new opportunities that will be presented to them. I am hopeful too that the opening up of new markets for Irish industry will provide an added inducement to foreign manufacturers to extend their activities to this country and thereby to contribute further to our economic advancement.
The rapid increase in industrial production which was evident in 1960 continued in 1961. For the year 1961 the provisional index of volume of production (to base 1953=100) of manufacturing industry was 134.0 compared with 123.5 in 1960 and 114.8 in 1959. The average number of persons engaged in manufacturing industries is provisionally estimated at 155,300 in 1961 compared with 149,500 in 1960. There has been a further reduction in the total unemployment figures as compared with recent years. At the end of February, 1962, the number on the Live Register was 56,700 compared with 60,000 at the end of February, 1961.
Excluding projects in which the capital involved was less than £10,000 in each case, 36 new industrial undertakings or extensions of existing firms came to notice as having commenced production in the year ended 31st December, 1961. The aggregate capital investment in these 36 undertakings is estimated at £6½ million and the employment potential is estimated at 1,500 initially rising to 4,500. Included in the 36 are 27 with external participation.
Apart from projects which had already reached the production stage, there were, at the end of the year 1961, 28 factories in course of construction. These additional projects will involve a total capital investment in the region of £10 million and are expected to give employment ultimately to 3,400 workers.
Industrial proposals before my Department and the Industrial Development Authority, which had reached a stage at which it was considered likely they would come to fruition, numbered 88 as at the 31st March, 1962.
When referring to technical assistance grants this time last year, I mentioned that amidst the many uncertainties and obscurities of the future many things stood out clearly; the trend towards freer international trade was becoming more marked, international competition was getting keener, and the need to reach and maintain the highest peak of productive efficiency was, accordingly, becoming all the greater. Now that we have applied for membership of the Common Market, the urgent necessity for each individual industry to direct its full attention to the problems of the future, and the measures necessary to overcome them, has become even more acute. The importance of action now cannot be over-emphasised: and I regret very much that greater use has not been made of the technical assistance scheme.
Through the employment of industrial consultants to re-organise their businesses a number of firms have taken a step in the right direction. Firms who have availed themselves of technical assistance grants have reported that the improvement schemes carried out at their factories have been of invaluable assistance in reducing costs, increasing productivity and improving general efficiency. But the demand for grants has been altogether too small. In 1961/62 a sum of £72,000 was provided for industrial consultancy projects. A large number of grants which had been approved did not arise for payment within the year and actual expenditure was only £34,000.
I had such a big surrender under this Subhead for 1961/62 that I felt obliged to revise the estimate for 1962/63 and relate the provision for industrial consultancy projects to the likely sum that could come in course of payment. This provision therefore represents the estimated actual expenditure in 1962/63. If, as I hope, there is a continuing and growing demand for grants I have a clear understanding with the Minister for Finance that more money will be provided if it is needed to meet payments arising in the present year. While interest in the Technical Assistance Scheme has recently shown an encouraging growth, there can be no doubt that there are still very many firms whose efficiency could be improved by resort to the scheme. I counsel manufacturers not to neglect this opportunity.
During the past financial year An Foras Tionscal approved grants amounting to £1,613,701 for projects located in the undeveloped areas bringing the total provision for such grants to £6,167,659. Of this amount grants totalling £3,045,780 were paid to 31st March, 1962, leaving outstanding commitments of £3,121,879. The total capital investment involved in the approved projects amounts to over £15 million and it is expected they will give employment to about 10,500 persons. Seventy-two projects assisted by An Foras Tionscal are in production in the undeveloped areas and there are 46 other projects for which grants have been promised and which are in varying stages of development. A substantial number of these projects are related mainly to exports.
The amount of the estimate, £1 million, is the same as the provision for last year including the supplementary estimate for £350,000.
As regards grants by An Foras Tionscal for industries outside the undeveloped areas during the year ended 31st March, 1962, An Foras Tionscal approved grants amounting to £2,672,120 bringing the total grants approved for such projects to £4,478,470. Of this latter sum grants totalling £1,036,690 were paid to 31st March, 1962, leaving outstanding commitments of £3,441,780. The total capital investment in the approved projects amounts to almost £20¾ million. It is estimated that these projects, which are mainly in the export field, will employ about 11,500 persons.
In August, 1961, the Industrial Grants (Amendment) Act, 1961, became law. This Act provided for an increase from £10 million to £15 million in the aggregate amount of the grants which might be made by An Foras Tionscal. The Act also provided for an increase in the number of members on the Board of An Foras Tionscal and I appointed two additional members some time ago.
In my speech last year introducing the Estimate for my Department I mentioned the desirability of a review of the original concept of the undeveloped areas and of the industrial grants scheme. This review is now proceeding and I hope to bring before the Dáil at an early date such proposals for the amendment of existing legislation as may seem desirable following the review.
The Industrial Research and Standards Act, 1961, was brought into operation on 4th October, 1961. The functions of the Institute as reconstituted under the Act will be in the main similar to those provided for in the previous Acts of 1946 and 1954, now repealed, but with the completion of its new laboratories, the Institute will be in a much better position to meet the needs of industry, particularly in the field of testing. The 1961 Act removed the statutory ceiling applicable to the annual grant towards the expenses of administration of the Institute. In future the amount to be provided will be decided in the light of the Institute's requirements for each year. This amendment was considered necessary as the demand for the services of the new laboratories will involve greater expenditure in the running of the Institute. Approval for any grants will, of course, continue to be sought in the annual Estimates. The responsibility for the administration of the affairs of the Institute devolves, under the Act, on a Board of nine members appointed some time ago by me.
The gross national product increased in 1961 by about 4½ per cent. compared with 1960 as against an annual increase of 2 per cent. envisaged in the Government's Programme for Economic Expansion. This increase reflects the new dynamism which has entered the economy and stems particularly from the rapid and sustained advance which has taken place along the industrial front. The successful efforts of existing industries here as well as the addition to the country's industrial potential of the many new factories which have recently commenced production, or are rapidly nearing the production stage, provide grounds for confidence in our ability as a nation to achieve further industrial and general economic expansion. If our application for membership of the European Economic Community is accepted, the continued progress of our industrial sector will, of course, depend on the success of our industries in meeting the more intensive competition that may be expected in home and export markets.
Deputies are aware of the campaign which is being pursued to encourage external investment in industry in Ireland. The Industrial Development Authority, who are carrying out this campaign, have intensified their efforts to attract foreign industrialists to the country and are meeting with increasing success. During 1961, some 50 factories, in which there was foreign participation: 27 commenced production and 23 were in course of construction. These factories, which are located in various parts of the country, will provide much-needed local employment and, what is most important, make a substantial contribution to our export trade.
During the year, the Industrial Development Authority carried out an intensive publicity and advertising campaign in the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany and to a lesser extent in Switzerland, Belgium and other European countries. The advertising programme included the placing of advertisements appropriate to each country in the more important trade and financial journals and newspapers. Visits by members of the Authority and their field representatives to industrial centres were supported by planned advertisements in the local press of the countries visited.
A feature of the Authority's advertising programme is their explanatory brochure "Opportunities for Industrialists." French and Italian as well as English versions of the brochure have been printed and are widely distributed at home and abroad. A German version of the brochure is in course of preparation and also a special brochure for the United States Campaign. Arrangements are also in hand for the production of other publicity material.
Two additional field representatives were appointed by the Authority in 1961: one permanently resident in the United States and the second a travelling representative in Europe who is concentrating his efforts mainly in Germany for the present. The Authority has now four representatives operating abroad; the other two operate in Britain, France, and other European countries. The promotional work of these representatives has aroused a good deal of interest in the many advantages that this country has to offer the potential promoter of industrial enterprises.
During the year under review, visits were made by members of the Authority to various European countries and to the United States. In September last, the Chairman of the Authority held a Press reception in London for representatives of the financial, economic and trade press which resulted in substantial publicity in a number of publications.
In October, 1961, a delegation headed by the Chairman of the Industrial Development Authority visited Italy where he addressed industrialists, bankers and Chambers of Commerce in the cities of Milan, Genoa and Turin. Initial enthusiasm aroused in that country was followed by a visit by the Authority's travelling representative to Italy. It is too early yet to say what the results will be from this campaign but the Industrial Development Authority can be relied upon to do all they can to develop any worthwhile projects that may emerge.
In November last, a member of the Authority visited the United States to meet bankers and industrialists; he also studied the progress of the promotional campaign in America. A number of extensive visits were also made by a member of the Authority to Germany and Denmark and the inquiries resulting from these visits are being pursued.
It is evident from the success achieved in 1961 in attracting foreign investment to the country that the Authority's campaign is bearing fruit in increasing measure. There is every indication of a growing awareness among foreign industrialists of the advantages which Ireland has to offer as an industrial centre and the trend towards increasing participation by manufacturers abroad in our industrial development is expected to continue.
In the field of exploration of our mineral resources, the most interesting development of the year was undoubtedly the discovery of the deposits of lead together with some zinc, copper and silver in the Tynagh area of County Galway by Irish Base Metals Limited, a subsidiary of Northgate Exploration Limited of Toronto, Canada. The Company have published from time to time the results of their findings. As Deputies are aware, I recently made an Order compulsorily acquiring the minerals underlying a number of townlands in the Tynagh area which were not already in State ownership, so as to ensure the orderly development of mining operations there if mining should prove worthwhile.
Consequent on the mineral discovery in Tynagh and the resultant publicity, considerable interest in the potential of our mineral resources has been aroused, principally among Canadian mining concerns. Well over one hundred applications for prospecting licences over areas mainly in Counties Galway, Clare and Tipperary, where the geological structures are somewhat similar to those at Tynagh, have been received and I have decided to grant a substantial number of prospecting licences in these areas.
As regards exploration for oil, Deputies will recall the Agreement with American interests for the carrying out of a comprehensive scheme of exploration for oil and natural gas in this country. During the past year the Oil group continued their exploration work and carried out seismic surveys in the midlands, in West Clare and North Kerry and along the West coast from Galway to Tralee and in the Shannon Estuary. The results of these investigations and surveys are said by the group to be encouraging and it is expected that the localities in which the first test wells are to be drilled will be selected in the near future.
St. Patrick's Copper Mines Limited of Avoca was the subject of a debate in this House earlier this year in connection with a Supplementary Estimate. The Company have since been able to continue in production without the necessity of laying off any of their workers, but I have recently learned that they have run into further production difficulties. I am getting all the information necessary to consider the situation but it is quite possible that I may have to come to the Dáil later with a statement of the situation and of any proposals that may prove necessary for me to put forward for dealing with it.
Exploration of the copper deposits at Allihies, County Cork, was continued during the past year by the Emerald Isle Mining Company Limited, with the financial backing of Denison Mines Limited of Canada. The exploration carried out to date has proved the existence of certain reserves of ore, but it appears that these reserves may not be adequate on their own to support an economically workable mine. The Company are anxious, therefore, to establish the existence of additional ore reserves at Allihies and they have submitted proposals to me for further exploration and development work for which they are seeking State financial assistance. These proposals are at present being examined by my Department.
The New Abbeytown Mining Company Limited which operated at Abbeytown, County Sligo the only mine producing lead and zinc in this country in recent years, went out of production last November, when they had come to the end of the known ore deposits and had failed to discover new ores by an exploration scheme then completed.
The Technical Assistance project of coal exploration in the Leinster and Connaught coalfields, which is being financed out of the U.S. Grant Counterpart Funds, progressed satisfactorily during the year. The drilling so far carried out has been effective in giving precise information as to the existence of coal, the thickness of the seams and the quality of the coal in certain areas, and as to the absence of coal in other areas. The survey of the coalfields is expected to be completed later this year and the full significance of the results being obtained cannot be deduced until information has been gathered from all the planned boreholes.
A scheme of technical assistance grants for private exploration of minerals is also in operation. Grants of up to one-half of the cost may be given where there are likely to be commercially workable deposits of minerals in an area and their development is desirable in the national interest. Since this scheme was introduced just over two years ago, I have approved ten projects at an aggregate cost of £50,000.
A company entitled Nitrigin Éireann Teoranta has been incorporated under the Companies Acts, in pursuance of the decision of the Government, to negotiate binding tenders for a nitrogenous fertiliser factory to be located at Arklow and using fuel oil and Avoca pyrites. It is the intention to promote legislation at the appropriate time to provide a statutory basis for the company.
The Government are satisfied that the economics of using all possible raw materials at alternative locations in this country have been fully considered and that a nitrogenous fertiliser factory operated by a State Company at Arklow could produce nitrogenous fertiliser for sale without subsidisation at prices in line with prevailing import prices.
Drainage operations and other preparations for grass meal production at Geesala, County Mayo, were continued by Min Fheir (1959) Teoranta during the past twelve months. It is anticipated that in the course of the coming year, construction of the factory will be completed and production of grass meal commenced.
In the field of employer/employee relations the outstanding events of the past year were the general reduction which took place in normal weekly working hours without loss of pay and the general increase in wages, popularly known as the "eighth round", which followed closely upon it. There is no need for me at this stage to go into the history of this "eighth round", the House will be already fully acquainted with it. The general increase which emerged was well in excess of any general increase which had emerged in previous "rounds" and anxiety was felt that the increase in labour costs resulting from this and from the reduction in weekly working hours might not be offset by increased productivity. In this event there would be a serious danger that the cost of living would rise still further, thereby doing away with most, if not all, of the benefit which workers had hoped to gain. There is also the danger that costs of production will increase to such a degree as to prevent us from maintaining our export trade or achieving that increase in exports on which all are agreed the future prosperity of our country must largely depend. The eighth round developed in a rather haphazard fashion—and the question arises whether this development was in the best interests of the country as a whole or even in the best interests of the workers themselves. It can be said with truth that another development of this kind could be very serious and this has underlined the need for the most serious examination of the whole position and for an attempt to deal with it which will be in the general interest. I am glad that the organisations of employers and workers have come together at the highest level with this object in mind and I hope that the National Employer-Labour Conference planned to start on 23rd May will prove to be fruitful and that it will mark the beginning of a new era in these matters. The Government would prefer that a method of dealing with the problem should be worked out by employer and labour interests co-operating together than that it should have to be dictated by the State.
Recent events have also shown the need for certain other improvements in our industrial relations machinery. A review of this machinery is at present going on in the various Government Departments concerned and it is intended to consult employer and worker interests before any proposals are finalised. I note that the National Employer-Worker Conference has this item also on its Agenda. I cannot, therefore, at this stage attempt any forecast of what changes will be made.
Another significant development during the year, of interest to workers and employers, was the bringing into force in August last of the Holidays (Employees) Act, 1961. This Act gives to all workers, irrespective of wage or salary level, a statutory right to two weeks' annual holidays with pay in addition to public holidays.
An Cheárd Chomhairle, the National Apprenticeship Board, which was set up under the Apprenticeship Act, 1959, to secure improvement in the arrangements for recruiting and training apprentices, has, since its establishment, been formulating and publicising a national apprenticeship policy. An Chomhairle has now taken positive action to put this policy into effect. Formal examinations under the Apprenticeship Act, 1959, have been carried out in respect of seven trades— electrician, motor mechanic and five trades in the furniture industry. As a result, all of these trades have been designated under the Act and apprenticeship committees have been established on a national basis to regulate their apprenticeship arrangements. Since it could not examine all trades under the Act simultaneously, An Chomhairle decided to encourage the establishment of voluntary apprenticeship committees for certain trades. It has succeeded in getting voluntary committees established for the engineering and metal trades, the dental technicians' trade and for the building trades in certain areas including Dublin and Cork. It has also established satisfactory liaison with a number of apprenticeship committees which were already in existence, for instance, in the Dublin printing industry. All of these committees—whether statutory or voluntary—have commenced the work of implementing An Chomhairle's policy in the trades with which they are concerned. It is expected that the voluntary committees will be brought under the umbrella of the Act at a later date.
I think it is fair to say that with a few noteworthy exceptions, far too little attention has been paid in the past to questions relating to the recruitment and training of apprentices. Shortages of skilled men or inadequacies in skill due to deficient training methods could well jeopardise our industrial future. It is An Chomhairle's task to guard against this eventuality. I think that it has made a good start and its achievements within a relatively short period of time give promise that it will achieve its goal—to ensure that industry will have a sufficient supply of workers trained to cope with all the demands that may be made upon them in the future.
Exports in 1961 attained the record level of £180.3 million representing an increase of £27.6 million (or 18.1 per cent.) over the 1960 figure of £152.7 million. Imports totalled £261.3 million, an increase of £35.1 million, or 15.5 per cent. Over the 1960 figures of £226.2 million. In the result the import excess, which was £74 million in 1960, increased by £7 million to £81 million in 1961.
Exports of industrial raw materials and manufactured goods showed an overall increase of over £3 million compared with 1960. Major gains were shown by textiles, clothing, footwear, leather, cutlery, hardware, implements, machinery, and electrical goods. While the 1961 imports exceeded the 1960 figure by £35.1 million, over half that increase was for materials for further production.
Increased finances are being put at the disposal of Córas Tráchtála to enable that body to intensify its promotional and market research work in export markets. It is gratifying to see that the efforts of Córas Tráchtála to help exporters to find and exploit export markets are being rewarded and it is also gratifying to find that increasing numbers of exporters are looking to Córas Tráchtála for advice and guidance. In conjunction with the survey of Irish industry by the Committee on Industrial Organisation, Córas Tráchtála have undertaken surveys in the six Common Market countries of the export prospects for specified Irish Commodities. This important exercise could not have been undertaken so soon but for the fact that several of the field officers engaged in the work were provided by the Department of External Affairs. In this connection, I should like to pay tribute to the Department of External Affairs and its missions abroad for their wholehearted cooperation with my Department and the bodies concerned with economic matters for which I am the responsible Minister. Our Diplomatic Representatives and their staffs, all too few in relation to the heavy demands which we have to make on them, deserve a special word of praise for their invaluable help so readily given in the campaign for the promotion of trade and this applies also to the Headquarters staff of the Department of External Affairs.
In the course of the past year the Fair Trade Commission held an enquiry into resale price maintenance in the supply and distribution of cookers and ranges. This was the first enquiry held under the amended Restrictive Trade Practices legislation, which enables the Commission to enquire into particular aspects of a trade without having to examine all aspects of supply and distribution. The amended legislation made it possible to complete the enquiry in a much shorter time. I have received and am considering the report of this enquiry. It should be possible to publish this report fairly soon. The Commission also held a public enquiry towards the end of last year into the distribution of hand-knitting yarns and nylon stockings and their report is in course of preparation.
During the year the Commission also made Fair Trading Rules relating to the trade in and repair of motor vehicles and parts and kept under review the position in various trades through surveys and other means. The Commission also continued to give advice and assistance to manufacturers and traders who met with difficulties relating to the supply and distribution of goods not covered by existing Orders.
The Hire-Purchase and Credit-Sale (Advertising) Order, which I made on 25th August, 1961, and which came into effect on 1st April, 1962, will remove a cause of frequent complaint in relation to goods offered for sale on hire purchase. The order prescribes that, where goods are advertised for sale on hire-purchase or credit-sale terms and any information regarding those terms is given, all details of the terms of sale, including the cash price and the total hire-purchase price, must be shown. This applies to all forms of visual advertising including shop windows, catalogues, and television and film advertisements.
The Bill to amend and consolidate the Companies Acts is now reaching final form and it is hoped to introduce it before the end of the present session. A White Paper explaining the changes which it is proposed to make will be published when the Bill is circulated to Deputies.
The review of the laws on patents, trade marks, and copyright referred to last year has progressed to the stage at which Bills are at present being drafted to amend the laws relating to copyright and to trade marks; and the principles on which the law relating to patents should be amended have been settled. These Bills will be introduced as soon as they are ready.