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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 6 Jul 1966

Vol. 223 No. 13

Industrial Training Bill, 1965: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Earlier I was emphasising, from the Labour point of view, the necessity for making provision for redundancy, apart altogether from the question of apprenticeship, training and the coming into force of free trade. Let us not forget that in this month of July, we have, in fact, embarked upon free trade with Britain and, in the next ten years, the barriers will be going down all the time and, at the end of that period, we shall have to face free trade with the gigantic industrial force in Britain.

It is the confirmed opinion of both the labour and trade union movement that, as a result of the excruciating experience industry will suffer, industrial chaos will result. There will be widespread unemployment, underemployment and redundancy. While appreciating that this Bill is an integral part of the manpower policy programme, we would have expected in the circumstances I have outlined that, prior to the introduction of such a measure as this, we would have had a positive policy in relation to redundancy, with an assurance, first of all, that where workers are displaced there would be adequate compensation for long and devoted years of service, adequate retraining with ultimate absorption in alternative employment, with redundancy payments continuing in the interim period. Retraining must be coupled with adequate redundancy payments.

In my view, that is the measure urgently required now. We support the argument that training in skills and techniques is important. We have always said so. Such training is an integral part of Labour policy from the point of view of education. We are confirmed believers that a nation which is underdeveloped educationally will always remain underdeveloped economically. We lay emphasis on education in the sphere of training in new techniques in this modern age. We think it pertinent to point out that the immediate problem is to ensure adequate compensation in relation to redundancy and we would have much preferred to have before us now the Minister's redundancy scheme, inadequate though it would appear to be from the glance we have had at it, because that would give immediate relief to many thousands of workers who have lost their employment in recent months and, indeed, in recent weeks because of readaptation, because of fears for the future on the part of some industrialists and the apparent inability of some employers to face competition.

Many employers have made no effort at readaptation, despite the generous aids, grants and stimuli provided by the Department. There has been a certain indolence and inertia on the part of very many employers, some of them employing a large labour force. It is evident that these are the industries which will not survive in free trade. These are the vulnerable industries. A good deal of research has been done by the Committees on Industrial Organisation. The figures they have spell out the position in regard to the industries they have surveyed and the Minister should be in a position to assess the position as regards redundancy. He must know the likely redundancy. Too many small firms have closed down in too many small and large towns in recent months, and that at a time at which there was a great deal of talk about a manpower policy, about redundancy payments, about re-training measures, and so forth. These unfortunate workers have been thrown on the unemployment scrapheap and no legislation has been enacted here to help them to pick up the threads again and become absorbed in some alternative employment suited to their needs.

I ask the Minister to tell the House when it is intended to bring in here a measure dealing with redundancy. That is the measure to which the trade union and labour movement look forward most of all. It is the measure most urgently required at present. We are entitled to know, without any more flagwaving or flourishes of trumpets, when these measures will come into this House and when the unfortunate unemployed working classes can avail of them. This measure is to include the following types of training: the training of apprentices; the retraining of adults to skilled level by accelerated vocational training methods; the training and retraining of operatives; the training of unemployed and redundant workers who have the aptitude to acquire new skills; refresher training for workers whose skills need to be improved or brought up to date; the training of agricultural workers for other occupations; advance training of workers for new industrial projects and the training, where necessary, of instructors, supervisors and technicians in our technical schools, schools of technology—when we get them—and in the factories.

These are very laudable in themselves but—and this is the big "but"—where are the jobs to come from? Where are the indications that our economy is going to improve from its present underdeveloped position of virtual bankruptcy to the happy stage where we can implement all these things? Imagine the problem. We have a standing army of some 50,000 unemployed, the flower of our youth. We have an emigration rate running at approximately 30,000. We have an annual output from schools of 40,000 boys and girls. In addition, we have this continuing redundancy problem, which will become more pronounced as we move closer to free trade, upon which we have now embarked. In these circumstances, there is a colossal task before the Government to build up the economy and to provide in every town, village and city industries to absorb and put to productive work the vast numbers to which I have referred.

We wish the Minister and the Government well in these endeavours, but we will not allow the people to be codded by an impression that this can be done overnight. Obviously, it is going to be a long and difficult process. It is all the more unlikely of realisation by reason of the clear collapse of the Government's policy, particularly in respect of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. If there were signs that this country was moving forward to that kind of economic growth and to that degree of prosperity to which we aspire, we believe these things could be done; but we fear that at present this is nothing more than a piece of political windowdressing which will not cut any ice with the unfortunate workers unemployed today or threatened with unemployment in the months to come.

We welcome the establishment of a Ministry of Labour. It is something for which this Party has been crying out for a long number of years. It is an indication that our policy in this regard was the right one. I want to avail of this opportunity to congratulate Deputy Dr. Hillery on his appointment to this important office. I am aware of the role he has played as an administrator and an accupant of various Government offices in the past. We look to him now with hope and enthusiasm to implement a positive, integrated manpower policy such as the Labour Party and trade union movement have been advocating for so long.

This manpower policy is meaningless unless it has the effect of creating full employment and providing jobs quickly. If private enterprise cannot find jobs, as they have failed to find them, then this Government have a bounden duty to extend State enterprise, embark on more and more State enterprise in order to put our people into productive work and ultilise the vast resources of our country as well as the harvest which abounds in our seas. This manpower policy should be an intelligent, planned development of our economy, providing for jobs, for job security and also for stability of prices. We do not want to see the wage scales of our people dissipated by rising prices.

The Deputy is getting away from the Bill, which deals with industrial training.

Very good, Sir. This measure is an integral part of the manpower policy programme entrusted to the new Minister. I feel I am entitled to relate it to the manpower policy proper. It is good that the Taoiseach decided on the implementation of a manpower policy and the creation of a distinct Ministry of Labour, especially in this the 50th anniversary of the Rising. I refer again to the fact that in the Government of the State between 1916 and 1921, it fell to the Countess Markievicz to be appointed as the first Minister for Labour in the new young Republic. I sincerely hope this will influence the Minister to implement as far as he can the ideals and aspirations for which the Countess Markievicz and others worked and died in the initial stages of the Republic.

I want to advert to one or two aspects of the Bill. Even at this stage I have some suggestions to make. I want to remind the Minister that under this industrial training measure, he is now abolishing the Apprenticeship Board as we know it. Whether that is necessary or not I do not know. This measure may also have the effect of abolishing many other bodies which have been doing work in this sphere of training and apprenticeship. I think it only fair and proper that we should pay a well-deserved tribute to the Apprenticeship Board for their great work since their inception. When one reads the reports of that body, one obtains a graphic description of the important work they have performed in the training of apprentices. That Board have done much to break down prejudices and distrust, to open closed shops and to bring about better co-operation and understanding between employers and employees. It is only right that I should pay tribute to the members of that Board whose fate is now sealed, and especially to the chairman, Mr. John A. Agnew, and also to the workers' and employers' representatives and the educationists who have done such valuable work over the past few years.

There is another aspect of this Bill to which I would like to advert. The various industrial training committees which the Minister proposes to establish will have a chairman who will not be representative of either workers' or employers' interests. That may seem to be a fair and impartial thing to do but the Minister must be aware that adaptation councils have been established here in connection with the printing industry and the boot and shoe industry. These councils are vitally concerned with the education and training of skilled operatives for their particular industries. They have established their own training committees and in the main, these committees are composed of people directly from the industry, employers and employees. It would be unfair and unreasonable to foist an independent chairman on such committees as these, an independent chairman who may not be in tune with the industry with which he was dealing, who may have little knowledge of the working of the industry, who could do very little good and might be likely to do a lot of harm.

I would like the Minister to consider amendments on Committee Stage whereby it would be left to the discretion of these committees to have a chairman of a different kind. If they are satisfied with their present personnel, they should be left alone. They should not have an independent man foisted on them, particularly a civil servant who might not have any specialised knowledge of the industry itself.

I do not purport to speak for the trade union movement when speaking on this Bill but I understand that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is awaiting the outcome of these deliberations to make known its own views, awaiting the outcome of the Second Stage debate of the Bill. But I am concerned that it is alleged that in the drafting of this Bill, Congress were not consulted. The manner in which they were consulted was that the Bill was presented to them in draft form and they were asked for their comments. Congress are entitled to take exception to such an approach. If the Minister is to make a success of a measure of this kind, he will have to be more co-operative with and have regard to the interests of the trade unions in this matter. Without their active support, this Bill will come to nothing. It is disconcerting to realise that in an important measure of this kind, which impinges particularly on the trade union movement, and especially on the craft and industrial unions, they were not consulted in its drafting.

I appreciate that there are very serve penalties in this Bill for non-compliance with certain orders the training authority may have to make from time to time. There are penalties which may be imposed on the employer and penalties which may be imposed on the trade unions for non-compliance with directives under this measure. I appreciate the desirability of ensuring that every child in this country will have equal rights and opportunities to pursue the craft, trade or skills to which he has a particular bent and I had hoped that we would have arrived at a situation in which there would be no obstacle in the way of a child getting into the trade of his choice.

However, it must be realised that trade unions, for the protection of their own members, are sometimes compelled to restrict the inflow of workers into a particular trade. That practice has become known as the closed shop. In my opinion, that practice will fade away only in proportion to the extent that workers are made more secure in the long-term sense in their particular trade. The only reason the closed shop practice is maintained is that in an economy such as ours, where there is a super-abundance of labour, it seems to be necessary that in order to protect wage standards and decent conditions of employment, trade unions must take steps to ensure that there will be no action which would drag down this standard in respect of their members. The Minister will have to contend with that kind of situation. It is more pronounced, perhaps, in an economy like ours which is so underdeveloped and where there is a surplus on the labour market at all times. Nevertheless, I would support the Minister in regard to a more enlightened and co-operative approach to this matter so that we would always have available a trained and adaptable labour force in the numbers the economy requires to keep it moving in a buoyant fashion.

I hope the other important aspects of the manpower policy programme, of which this Bill is but a small instalment, will be brought before the House and implemented without further delay. We recommend the measure which can and will be improved upon, and we trust the Minister will bring forward the related legislation, with particular reference to the redundancy pay scheme which was very much lauded in recent times, and which is the most urgent aspect as far as Labour and the trade union movement are concerned. If the Government intend to grapple effectively with the question of unemployment and underemployment, an obligation devolves upon them to bring in these more practical, more necessary and more desirable pieces of legislation connected with the manpower policy such as the redundancy pay scheme and the re-absorption scheme to which I have already referred.

Being the first Deputy to speak after the Minister's appointment to the new Department of Labour, I should like to wish him well in all he does for the betterment of our working class people. If he has regard to the views of Labour and the trade union movement in respect of what we conceive to be the ideal manpower policy for a Minister for Labour, he will not go far wrong. Indeed, the extent to which we have been right in this matter was very much underlined here tonight when the Taoiseach announced the appointment of a Minister for Labour. We rejoice in that fact. We have advocated it for a long time. We believe a Minister for Labour worthy of that name has the primary responsibility of doing all he can, however long or short he may remain in office, to enrich, to ennoble and to render more secure labour in Ireland. In talking about labour, I do not think I could conclude on a better note than by adverting to the slogan of the great founder of our Party who said: "The cause of Ireland is the cause of labour, and the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland."

First, I should like to congratulate Deputy Dr. Hillery on his appointment as Minister for Labour. He is moving from a difficult Ministry into what may prove to be a hot seat. I wish him well and I think everyone in this House and outside it wishes him well in that capacity.

The Bill before the House is one which provides in broad detail for the establishment of industrial training procedures and the establishment of a body for that purpose. The first comment one might be tempted to make is that, having regard to the experience not alone in recent years but over many years, of the deplorable lack of training of workers in industry of all grades, this measure is not merely due but overdue. The percentage of Irish workers today who are employed in an unskilled or untrained capacity —no work of any significance is completely unskilled—is far too high for any economy to be satisfied with it, much less an economy which should over a long number of years have been taking adequate and positive steps to deal with economic problems.

The training of workers, at least some sections of workers, is nothing new in this country. The training, in some form, of apprentices has gone on for 100 years and even longer. Established skilled craftsmen for many years have claimed—and I think with justification—that they have, as far as the trades in which they are involved are concerned, endeavoured to secure improvements in training as time went on. Even fairly old legislation provided for apprenticeship committees through which representatives of the workers and employers met for discussion and arrived at agreements in the form of limitations in regard to the training of apprentices. In many cases, of course, the decisions made were, for modern times, a little narrow, particularly having regard to the changes that have been taking place, not just in recent years but previous to that, because the development of technology in industry, the replacement by the craft worker of the manual worker to a great extent in large-scale industrial concerns, did not start five or ten years ago. It started many years ago. It is true to say that, apart from craft workers and professional people, by and large, workers entering industry got little or no training except the training they received on the job and in many cases that training was to do a particular operation reasonably satisfactorily. Consequently the position was that workers who could possibly have benefited by much wider training were being half-trained.

To some extent it might be true to say that had it not been for the introduction of the Bill establishing An Cheard Comhairle in 1959, the Industrial Training Bill might not be before us today because the decision to establish the Authority for apprenticeship training and the experience gained by the chairman and officers of the Authority has helped not a little in the framing of this measure.

There is, of course, a broad difference between training boys and young persons by apprenticeship and training and retraining workers who have been in employment from one to 15 years and whose need for retraining arises from the fact that the employment they are in is liable to be adversely affected. The suggestion has been made in more than one report of the Committee on Industrial Organisation that there are a number of industries in which it is estimated that as they develop, even if adaptation grants were sought and applied, the manpower in the industries would tend to decline over a number of years by five, ten, 15 and in some cases as much as 20 per cent. Some of these industries are firms in which people have been working for many years. Some of them are specialised firms. Consequently, the need to think in terms of a broader system of training than purely apprenticeship training is becoming more evident all the time.

In this question of training and re-training, a number of problems and obstacles arise. There are a number of conditions which must be met. The first condition has been referred to by Deputy Treacy, that is, that if the Minister, the Government or a board established by the Government, are to hope to get the co-operation of the workers the fear of redundancy must be removed from the workers. Of course, it can be removed only by one or two methods—by taking such steps as are possible to secure that the industries are equipped to meet competition or, where this is not possible, adequate provision must be made for the maintenance of the workers in a generous way and not in the somewhat niggardly way that so far has been advanced by adaptation councils in respect of workers. In a number of industrial sectors small firms are going to the wall or are being absorbed in larger units and in quite a number of industries, as Deputy Treacy has said, workers have already been told that redundancy is pending.

Secondly, in regard to the matter of redundancy, the question arises, where training is available, of the willingness of the workers to accept training and the availability of employment at the end of the training period and the availability of means whereby the worker can be trained. In the linen, cotton and textile industries there are centres where workers are threatened with redundancy. At this point in time there are no physical arrangements made for training workers to operate the latest machines. There is a lack of adequate vocational training centres or, where there are such centres, a lack of equipment because in industries such as the linen and cotton industries, modern equipment is expensive and takes up a good deal of space.

It may be necessary to think in terms of training workers in centres other than the centre in which they are working at the moment. While there is reference to this in the Bill, I am not sure that there is a reference to adequate expenses for maintenance in centres.

There is a further problem that may arise even before training commences. I am referring now to the question of retraining workers made redundant because of the failure of an industry to meet competition or because of the fact that, in order to meet competition, the industry in which they were employed has imported modern equipment which requires fewer hands to operate. The first problem that will arise and which will need very great care and attention is the field in which the worker is to be retrained, and the positive possibility of employment for such workers on training. When you train apprentices in the building trade as carpenters or joiners, they can move to various centres, possibly, in the locality. This occurs with almost every craftsman but when you are retraining an operative in an industry, in the shoe trade, linen and cotton, woollen and worsted or tobacco or something like that, unless there are openings for further training to handle more advanced equipment in the particular establishment or close to the operative, it is necessary to ensure that there is employment available in that field. This will require very careful handling and I do not know if it has got the attention it deserves.

Most of the training today is possibly on-the-job training. It may be necessary to continue a certain amount of such training, but unless it is carried out in an intelligent and progressive way with a clear and definite objective and with the assistance of experts it will be useless. A hit-or-miss type of training may be almost worse than no training. The Minister and Deputies are aware that in certain cases in some modern industries employers believe the way to train operatives is to send one of them, or a person with some slight supervisory responsibility, for a course of a month or two in Europe to study techniques and handling of new equipment. After a short period, he should return and become almost an expert in training operatives in some similar type of equipment. This is not an intelligent or progressive form of training.

Another feature of the Bill which might be commented on, although possibly I may not be the best person to do so because I have been a member of An Cheard Comhairle, is that it appears that the provisions of the Bill are somewhat extraordinary in this respect:

The chairman of An Chomhairle shall be appointed by the Minister either:

(a) in a whole-time capacity and subject to a condition that the chairman act as the Chief Officer, or

(b) in a part-time capacity,

It also provides that:

Of the ordinary members of An Chomhairle, two shall be workers' members, two shall be employers' members, one shall be an educational member and one shall be a representative of the Minister.

An Cheard Comhairle, the body that has been wiped out by this Bill, consisted of five representatives of the employers and five representatives of the workers to act on a body with a much narrower scope than that covered by this Bill. This Bill takes in all the functions of the Apprenticeship Board and greatly extends them, and yet the Minister suggests that the membership shall be on the basis of two workers' members and two employers' members. Membership of An Cheard Comhairle included representatives of educational interests. I am raising this point now because it appears that the extended scope and added responsibility of the Bill would at least justify the membership of An Comhairle Traenála being as large and as widely representative as in the case of An Cheard Comhairle. If this body is to be other than a body which consists of a chairman and chief officer, it appears somewhat strange, since I believe the Minister will expect—and I hope will get—the co-operation of both workers' and employers' organisations, that he should have such a sentence as this: On the workers' side one shall be representative of skilled workers and the other shall be representative of other workers.... I should be interested to hear the Minister, when replying to the debate, advert to this and explain why he feels this is either necessary or desirable.

Secondly, it appears that the Minister is repeating in respect of An Comhairle Traenála in another way what is already the position under the National Apprenticeship Board, except that there is this difference: the industrial training committees, it appears to me, will exercise purely advisory functions. This is unlike the procedure adopted in the North and in Britain in regard to similar training legislation. The training committees in respect of the various industries and trades have some authority and some actual power delegated to them to deal with matters within their own sphere. As far as I can gather from the Bill, industrial training committees here will be, to all intents and purposes, merely advisory committees.

The urgency of the Bill was mentioned earlier. When we reach the time when this Bill becomes an Act and the authority is established, the position of the workers should be given somewhat more consideration than it is given today. Except with more enlightened employers, the position, in this year of 1966, is that workers are still considered just cogs in the industrial wheel, just items to be taken into account in dealing with production programmes. Even large-scale employers are reluctant fully to accept and to introduce into their undertakings the types of consultation and co-operation necessary so that workers will feel they are other than inanimate cogs. The most valuable and essential part of any commercial or industrial undertaking is the workers.

There is reference in the Bill to the chairman, pension rights, and so on. The position is not quite clear. It would appear that when this board is established it will have the right to recruit its staff. Is this a change from the position of the National Apprenticeship Board? Administrative staff was seconded from the Department of Industry and Commerce to An Cheard Comhairle. I was a member of that board. As a Deputy, I followed the reports of the board. Through my trade union, I was aware of the valuable work done by the board. There is no tribute too high to pay to the various officers, starting with the original chairman and the other officers seconded from the Department, for their services to An Cheard Comhairle. The position, however, was not too satisfactory. Almost all the semi-State boards were empowered to recruit their own staffs and consequently they had a situation where there could be some continuity. No matter how much they were interested in the work of An Cheard Comhairle, the seconded officers felt that if an opportunity of promotion in their previous field were available to them they would not be expected to forgo it. I just wonder if there is any change in respect of the administrative staff under this Bill.

I do not see written into the Bill a guarantee to all existing staff of An Cheard Comhairle that they will be taken over. Of course, those who are seconded will be protected but there are quite a few supervisors, assistant supervisors, and so on. I do not know if any special protection is written into the Bill for these officers or employees of An Cheard Comhairle. If that has not been done, I suggest the matter be rectified forthwith.

As there may well be discussions on the various items in the Bill on Committee Stage, I do not think there is any need to deal with the situation at greater length now. I hope this Bill will set in train positive efforts to secure adequate training for all workers in industry and adequate retraining of workers liable to be redundant. I hope that steps will be taken to ensure that workers liable to be affected—there are many thousands of them at the present time—by adverse economic circumstances will be given full protection in the form of adequate redundancy compensation or full maintenance during their period of unemployment.

Again, I congratulate the Minister for Labour on his appointment. I hope his problems will not be too great. I trust that one of his first acts as Minister for Labour will be to reconsider the ESB Bill which became law a short time ago and that he will turn his back on any form of compulsion——

The Deputy would not be in order in discussing that matter now.

I am not discussing it at all. I am asking the Minister to turn his back on any form of compulsion. The Minister in question has experience in dealing with——

And this does not arise on the Bill before the House. That matter has been discussed.

I am not discussing that; I just referred to it and passed on. The Minister has had some experience in dealing with labour problems during his term as Minister for Industry and Commerce and I am sure that experience will prove of value to him in his new position. I am sure he appreciates what many in this country do not yet appreciate, that is, that as far as the worker is concerned, you can bring the horse to the water but you cannot possibly make him drink. The question of co-operation, not in matters of pious platitudes or good intentions, but in responsible action, will secure the support which has always been forthcoming from workers in industry. I wish the Minister well on the Bill.

Mr. O'Leary

I want to make a few remarks on this stage of the Bill. We will have plenty of time to ambush it by way of amendment on Committee Stage and we feel that in several respects it invites ambush because in many respects it could be made more useful. I wish to congratulate the Minister on his appointment to this risky job which he is taking over. I previously compared the new incumbent to the shorn lamb being led to the slaughter. Perhaps the imagery was wrong in the present case but the Minister has a difficult job before him and I wish him well in that job.

I am also glad to see a person with whom I was concerned in certain negotiations going to a post in which I think he will do well, Deputy Colley, going to the Department of Industry and Commerce. It was quite apparent that industrial training would have to be brought within the ambit of the new Department. One experience of the Apprenticeship Board was that, doing useful work as it did, it could not take on some of the critical problems of industrial training. The present Bill at least tells us the size of the problem before us.

Our employers in the past did not consider industrial training a tremendously important part of their economic activity. Their training of their work force was a hit and miss affair. They did not plan any training programme. The employers have not been over-anxious about having a really competent training programme. In the free trade future, our work force must at least be as highly skilled as that of our competitors and we cannot afford to be over-confident in that respect at the moment. The expanding industries of the future will require skills that our workers do not have at the present.

There are sections of our industries that will be closed up under the new conditions and that will mean the re-training of those workers for industries that will be expanded. This shows that it was impossible to deal with this matter under the limited provisions of the former Apprenticeship Board. I presume that the experiences of that Board and the problems they met with are covered in some of the sections of this Act. There are sections in this Bill which deal with penalties which will at least ensure the co-operation of employers in making the new measure a success.

I am glad to see that in this Bill we are dealing with industrial activity. Some of the so-called training programmes of our new industries backed by foreign capital are far from being proper programmes. It would seem to me that to apply the description of training programmes to them is to apply a euphemistic term. They are just another way of getting at the taxpayers' money. This has been the experience of many trade unions in dealing with these foreign employers.

There should be no ambiguity about the cash basis of the arrangements for retraining. This is a problem which we want out of the way as soon as possible. We want the programme relating to redundancy and training to come into operation as quickly as possible. Despite the spate of well-meaning words and despite the so-called unanimity between the parties, the fact of the matter is that when a man becomes redundant and requires retraining for another industry, he can only go to the employment exchange and join the other people there. It would seem that we must get away from these expressions of cosy unanimity.

Many Deputies will be aware of industries that have already closed down in different towns. I have not had the unfortunate experience yet of explaining to these men without work that the Government have a manpower policy, that the Government are setting up a new Department and that they will be retrained for employment in another industry. I do not want to have that experience and I hope that the action we are to get from this new Department will not be too long delayed.

The measure of appropriateness which we see in this Bill before us must give the members of the Labour Party a special feeling of selfrightousness. This is something quite understandable because of our experience. We are in close touch with the reality of industrial life and we have been agitating for some years for just such a measure because of our consciousness of the necessity for having some co-ordinated scheme of retraining. I do not know how many teams have returned from the Continent recently with unanimous reports about the necessity for these schemes but there has always been, of course, a lag between the enlightened policy of minority groups and official action. However, it is a hopeful sign that the lag now appears to be growing shorter in duration. I do not know the reason, but that appears to be the case.

The statement in the Press today about the trade unions tentative proposals for a five year plan can only help in the proper implementation of this measure. It is useless talking about a scheme of retraining unless we are approaching full employment and some kind of settlement of the employer-employee conflict. Until some kind of general peace obtains, we cannot hope to see any training programme properly implemented. If we cannot achieve a stable situation, we cannot get the best out of any training measure and, until some semblance of peace is restored, we cannot understand how planning can take into account skills that are disappearing and the training that will be necessary to replace those skills.

We have tremendously complicated problems and the solution of them will call for the utmost concentration. The trade union viewpoint can only contribute to getting a proper consensus of opinion between employers and trade unions in relation to the pattern of our economic future. If there is agreement in general terms, Bills such as this will get an easier passage. Let us be honest about it; there will be problems of implementation on both sides of the industrial structure and, if agreement can be got, there will be progress from the point of view of the provisions in this Bill.

I do not know that I agree with this idea of appointing a chairman either whole-time or part-time. If he is whole-time, he will also act as an official. In our experience of voluntary committees, they are, by and large, so much windowdressing for official action. If it is to be a real committee, really representative of the interests involved, then the members must be, as far as possible, full-time. The experience where part-time committees are concerned is that the full-time officials make the decisions and the danger from the point of view of this measure would be that full-time officials would make decisions without regard to all the interests involved. The fullest co-operation on the part of the interests involved will be necessary.

There is a possibility the chairman will be paid. Will remuneration be involved if he is part-time? It would be ludicrous if payment were made to a part-time chairman. I should like all interests to be really representative. A part-time committee, coming together at infrequent intervals to hear reports of activities and of decisions made by full-time officials, would involve the danger of decisions being made by the full-time officials, in which case the committee would become divorced from industrial reality. That would be very dangerous.

Deputy Séan Flanagan who was in charge of this measure is no longer Parliamentary Secretary and he will not therefore reply to the points made.

We wish him well.

I shall convey that to him. It was our intention to have a long period between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage of this measure in order to allow all to communicate with us and to permit of consultation between the Minister, the trade unions, the employers and all others interested. I hope this period will be availed of now for the purpose I have outlined: I will welcome any criticism. Judging by the notes I received from the Parliamentary Secretary, I am satisfied the Bill has been welcomed by both Fine Gael and Labour in its general principles and intent.

Deputy O'Leary said we shall suffer an ambush on Committee Stage. That will be welcome but, perhaps, in the consultations between now and Committee Stage, interested parties may find agreed suggestions for amendments.

This is a new sphere in which we must succeed and we must, therefore, do everything in our power to ensure success. When the body is set up, we shall learn from experience and we can make any changes necessary as a result of that experience. This is a very important area and we must be prepared to be adaptable and flexible. All these matters can be discussed on Committee Stage.

Earlier today Deputy Treacy was of the opinion that this measure should not come before the redundancy measure. The latter has been prepared and there has been fairly detailed examination of it by the manpower advisory body. It will be introduced early next session. Since it does not involve the setting up of a new body or complicated administrative procedures, it will become effective, I think, before the training authority activities commence and the priorities will, therefore, be as Deputy Treacy would desire. The redundancy measure will be implemented first.

Such an assurance is very welcome indeed.

Some detailed points were raised. Deputy Donegan thought the levy system may restrict industrial expansion. I do not think this is so. The levy system should stimulate greater interest in training and the training itself should stimulate industrial expansion. The total cost of the training will not, of course, be borne by industry but a great deal of it will be borne by the State, which will contribute substantially to the establishment and running of the various training centres. It was said by many people that there is no point in training unless jobs are available. That is quite true. However, experience over the last ten years has shown that new types of jobs are becoming available in industry. It is more than likely that the availability of new jobs will depend on the availability of skilled labour. Possibly one of the main attractions for industry here will be the availability of trained skilled labour or of easily trained labour.

As far as the attraction of industry is concerned, the Industrial Development Authority are now having a reappraisal of themselves. I recently asked them to take on something often raised here by Deputies, that is, aiding Irish industrialists who want to set up in Ireland. Up to now industrialists from outside the country were helped over the difficulties of setting up here, of getting a site, developing the project and going to an Foras Tionscal. The Irish industrialist was dealt with by the Department of Industry and Commerce. Some people felt that this was a lesser service to the Irish industrialist. I have now asked the IDA to deal with the Irish promoters of projects in the same way as they deal with foreigners.

They have also undertaken a total re-appraisal of their activities and methods of selection and approaching industrialists. For this purpose they have employed a firm of international consultants experienced in doing this work for other countries who are themselves engaged in this process of attracting suitable industry. There is also a research bureau set up in the IDA. Recently a number of Irish industrialists who have been successful here and who have foreign connections have agreed to act as a panel of advisers to the IDA in this quest for other industries. A similar panel has been set up consisting of industrialists from Germany who have established subsidiaries here. A survey of the grants and incentives is also in progress. I believe this review is bound to attract a great deal more industry to this country.

One of the most important attractions is not the grants and incentives but the availability of trained labour. I recently spent some time travelling and meeting people interested in setting up outside their own country whom we were trying to attract to Ireland. They regarded the grants merely as something to help them over the growing pains of setting up in a strange country. The main attraction was the availability of labour. It is a question of which comes first: the chicken or the egg? Most people say: why train labour if you have not got the jobs? I believe the very existence of trained labour will attract jobs. I am quite optimistic about the outcome of the newly stimulated activity of the IDA.

Deputy Tully spoke on the objection of craft unions to the accelerated vocational training. I might refer him to the introductory speech by the Parliamentary Secretary who dealt with this matter. The Parliamentary Secretary gave an assurance that there was no question of flooding the skilled trades with adult trainees. I think the Parliamentary Secretary dealt quite adequately with this point, as I am sure Deputy Tully will agree if he reads the record of the debate. Deputy Tully also referred to the problem of training for industry workers leaving agriculture. This is a problem for the new authority to tackle as best they can. I agree it will be a big problem. The question was asked if we had any ideas in the Bill based on experience elsewhere. The answer is that experience elsewhere has been examined and regard had to the operation in Britain and European countries of the schemes they have.

Deputy Moore referred to persons over 40 going into new employment and asked if there would be any age limit for re-training. It is not intended to have an age limit for re-training. It is hoped that the training authority and the placement service will help to overcome any prejudice against what may seem older workers. We must all adjust our thinking in this matter. People of that age can, and in other countries do, become re-trained and take up different employment very successfully.

As I said on another Bill this morning, our thinking will have to be flexible. We will have to be flexible in our minds in our approach to change. This is a hard thing to do— and I am not speaking of any changes happening to me at the moment. It is not easy for a worker to change. We must appreciate the difficulties. If we are afraid of change, however, it will destroy us. We are coming into a period when there will be rapid changes. In fact, we are already in it and I think it will accelerate. Unless we can do away with fear of change and find ways to safeguard our own security and employment in this changing world, we will be overcome by the change. There is no need to be overcome by change. The whole history of human life has been adaptation to change and, as I say, we must adjust our minds to doing this.

The inadequacy of the facilities already available was raised by Deputy Treacy, who asked how could the accelerated vocational training course be added to the already hard-pressed system of vocational education. The answer is these facilities are being improved. It is not intended that the accelerated vocational training course would be entirely dependent on the facilities available in the vocational schools at present. The Deputy can take it that special centres will have to be set up to meet this problem.

Has the Minister in mind the schools of technology which are envisaged?

No, separate centres. It is intended that these schools of technology will deal in a general way with the courses from the common intermediate certificate to the leaving certificate technical side with a number of regional centres for specialist subjects. But for accelerated vocational training, special centres will be set up where the present system of vocational schools cannot meet the situation.

I have already answered Deputy Treacy's question about the Redundancy Bill. It will be brought in early in the next session and will be operative before the effects of this Bill can be operative because of the administrative difficulties and because of the fact that a body has to be set up. The priorities will be as he asked.

I am glad to hear that.

I do not know if I have answered all the questions and points raised but we will go through this in detail on Committee and I look forward to suggestions from Deputies, even during the recess. I welcome any criticism. We have to consult with the different bodies, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the employers' organisations, and it may be that we will have some agreed proposals to improve the measure when we come to deal with it in the autumn.

The Minister did not relieve my mind in regard to the position of the staff in An Cheard Comhairle.

Any contract entered into by the Cheard Comhairle will be taken up by An Chomhairle Traenála. It is in section 46, subsection (7).

May we take it there will be no diminution of status or salary scales for the officers who are already in the Apprenticeship Board?

The contract will be taken on as if it had been entered into by the new Board.

Some officers are under contract for a limited period.

They will be dealt with in the same way as if An Chomhairle Traenála had entered into a contract with them.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 27th September, 1966.