I do not intend to delay the House very long as I already made part of my contribution on the previous occasion. Through a process of question and answer in the last few moments of the debate, the Parliamentary Secretary made it clear there was a considerable stricture on small trade unions in this Bill. If a person is trained under the proposed accelerated training system to be a painter or carpenter and if a union should challenge the right of that person to be so described or employed, the penalties in this Bill are sufficient to deter any union or person from making such objection. This would indicate that an employer prepared to employ such a person could hope to have the benefit of that man's work without interference. I have not heard anybody in any public pronouncement since the introduction of the Bill objecting to this course. There has been no objection either from the Labour Party or the trade unions. For that reason I feel that, on balance, everybody agrees with this provision. This is probably a good thing. Surely the agency proposed will not retrain people in craft trades which are dying or in which there is not an opportunity for future employment? This would be a stupid thing to do. While at first sight it might appear there is a danger here to the craft unions, on mature reflection, it would seem there is no such danger.
This is, of course, a terrific change. We are all aware that in certain parts of the country the number of apprentices allowed to each accredited painter and carpenter is severely limited. It is related, of course, to the amount of work there is for painters and carpenters. We know that with the arrival of all kinds of manufactured signs and manufactured surfaces, such as Perspex and Formica, the work of painters in the building and maintenance trades has been severely restricted. It is up to the agency proposed to see to it that they do not train too many craftsmen for these trades and thus create unemployment, whereas the real objective is to fill the void that will be left in industry where there is severe displacement because of free trade. I think the opportunities are a thousandfold. New crafts are beginning every day. There are crafts in which the amount of work is expanding and there are crafts in which, as I said, the amount of work is decreasing. With wisdom, everything should work very well.
There has been other legislation but this is the first concrete step to be taken by the Parliamentary Secretary charged with responsibility for this important facet of our industrial future. There are many who would disagree with various provisions in the Bill. Many would say the cost of retraining should be borne by the Exchequer and that we should pay for it in our taxes, both direct and indirect. There are others who say that this should be borne individually by the industries involved. The choice made by the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government is that the industries involved should bear the cost by way of levy. I do not want to raise any hare of disagreement at this stage, but it could well be that the levies could impose a severe restriction on the expansion of certain industries. I do not know— and I suppose at this stage the Parliamentary Secretary can only conjecture —what these levies will amount to. The principle is that the industry which will receive the newly-trained employees should bear the cost of the training. That cost could be very considerable.
If we look at the problem urgently —and we have a serious responsibility to do so—we must realise that of far greater importance is the time factor. Speaking last night on the Import (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 1966, I suggested one of our great problems was that with the advent of free trade, we could not keep pace by providing new jobs at the same rate as jobs lost because of changes in industry and commerce and jobs lost in agriculture. I pointed out that between 1965 and 1964 there were 7,000 fewer jobs in the country. Apart from whether everything in the Bill is correct or not, there is absolute urgency to get on with the job. We should all be extremely flexible in our approach to the Bill. While the Parliamentary Secretary is keen to get it through and get the work under way, it is possible he will be back here—perhaps as Minister, and indeed we wish him that personally—in order to change things. I do not think he will hit the bullseye with the first shot. The urgency is to get the work under way. If last year we had 7,000 fewer jobs in industry and 14,000 fewer jobs in agriculture, it is evident the crisis is not around the corner, but with us now.
The first evidence of change appeared on 1st July, 1966, in the shape of a reduction of tariffs. I believe that from the discussions that took place on the Free Trade Agreement serious consideration has been given to the question of employment here by industrialists abroad. The first tariff reduction of ten per cent is the first concrete evidence which will indicate to these people that we are serious in this and it will encourage them to send goods in here in competition with home-manufactured goods. This we will have to live with but there is the danger that people who have a vast production abroad might be prepared to take a lesser price here so that they would be well established here when further tariff reductions are made.
For these reasons there is great urgency in looking forward to seeing where there might be serious displacement and for doing the best we can to provide other placement in industry. When Deputy Dillon suggested last night that morally it is quite wrong to give a man a silver handshake at the age of 50 years and tell him that his job is redundant, he was right. The approach in this Bill will be difficult to carry out. It is not 100 per cent satisfactory but it is the only approach, the only way by which we can look ourselves in the face, that we should do our best to see that those, whom by our political actions we have displaced, should have the opportunity to have themselves trained to go into other and perhaps better jobs. For this reason this House must welcome the measure.
This is a Bill which will receive serious consideration in the Seanad and I would like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary desires to have all Stages today. If he does not, the Bill can receive serious consideration here on Committee Stage. I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has given me that indication because my view was that while this was a Bill he should get because of the urgency of the problem, the House should also get an opportunity of giving it mature consideration.