Committee on Finance. - Vote 39: Labour.

I move:

That a sum of £5,104,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Labour, including certain services administered by that Office and for payment of certain Grants-in-Aid.

The Estimate shows a net increase of £615,000 over last year. I should point out, however, that the employment exchages were transferred to the Department of Social Welfare with effect from 1st April, 1973, and the cost of administering the service will be borne on that Department's Vote. The main increases are in Salaries, Wages and Allowances, £229,000 and in subventions to AnCo, £240,000, IMI, £25,000 and CERT £20,000.

In introducing my first Estimate to the House as Minister for Labour, I intend to address myself to three main areas:

1. A general review of the work of my Department and its various agencies during the past year.

2. Indicate to the House my views as to the role of the Department of Labour in the general field of social industrial policy in Ireland.

3. In the light of that general approach and the realities of life in our country at the present time, to indicate the main areas of action to which my Department will be devoting their attention and energies during the coming year.

As this is the first debate on Labour affairs to take place since Ireland became a member of the European Communities, it is appropriate that, before commencing the customary review of the Department's services, I should make reference to the EEC. As far as I am concerned the most significant fact is that the European Communities, with their opportunities and their problems, are now part of the economic and social environment in which the Department must work. I stress the social dimension of this European Community, which it is the function of my Department to give substance to, in all our contacts with the Community bodies with whom we collaborate. If at home my Ministry is concerned with the human factor in social and economic planning, that home concern to be successful must in the context of our EEC membership be directed to making of the Community a truly human comity of nations, as the Paris Heads of State Declaration laid down. Indeed, in my own contacts with Community leaders, I propose to take the Paris Summit Declaration of the Heads of State as my point of reference, with a view to raising it to a point of equal influence on Community action as was the original Treaty of Rome.

I have had the opportunity of assessing in a preliminary way the implications of membership as far as the work of the Department of Labour is concerned and, consequently, the policies now being developed and operated take account of our membership of the Communities. However, I should like to consider first the home situation. It is, unfortunately, true that no review of the Irish work situation can start at any point other than that of unemployment. This began to increase in the final quarter of 1970, continued into early 1972 and it was only in the latter half of last year that more hopeful signs began to appear with an increase in employment in transportable goods industries. This reflected itself in a decline in the numbers of unemployed compared with 1971; but the primary catalyst for all policy in my Department and in those other agencies responsible for job creation is the fact that we have at this time 68,000 people unemployed in this country.

Despite the rising unemployment between 1971 and mid-1972 we have seen a continuous drop in emigration over the same period. I believe that we have no grounds for complacency here since the figures for job creation in no way indicate why this should be so. We must recognise that during the past few years when there has been an apparently spectacular improvement in the emigration situation, it has been coupled with a low level of economic activity and a high rate of unemployment in Britain. The continuing counter-effect of the condition of the British economy for good or ill on our prospects must, even in an EEC context, continue to be a prime consideration affecting the economic advancement of this entire country. To absorb into employment those available for work is a formidable national task and the national objective of achieving full employment is one which the Government is placing at the highest priority level.

The most notable characteristic of the Irish economy in the past 18 months has been the very high level of redundancies which we have experienced. While it may be argued that this is a necessary transitional stage to a higher level of technology and efficiency in Irish industry, no administration may ignore the very great human and social implications involved for working people. We must ensure that we have the earliest possible information on likely redundancies, and warding off the worst effects, by helping industry modernise in a less socially disruptive way. As a last resort, we must ensure that the transition into new employment is achieved at the lowest possible cost to the individual worker, his family and his local community.

We must expect, however, that the continuing characteristics of the Irish economic scene will be a steady outflow of workers from agriculture, the necessity for workers to change from one occupation to another or one industry to another as our economic processes are modernised and the continuing need to adapt our industrial society to meet the social aspirations and demands of Irish working people. The statistics of employment spell a story made familiar elsewhere, of a country in course of transition from a settled rural economy to a new industrial civilisation. It is the major task of my ministry to ensure that the new industrial society we are making will respect human dignity, cherishing all who work equally.

Against this background with which Deputies will be familiar, I should now like to deal with the activities of the more important sections and agencies of my Department during the past year.

It is often overlooked that the training of our work force is a key factor in the attainment of higher living standards. We have been accustomed in the past to overlook this element in economic planning. There is an intimate link between rising technological emphasis in our industry, in itself an inescapable component of an industrial base which is expanding and generating higher living standards, and the level of training in the work place. Sociologists have long noted that the unemployed and the unskilled are synonymous, which in itself is synonymous with underdevelopment and non-fulfilment.

The provision nationally of adequate training facilities is critical for our continued advancement, We will not secure a place in working Europe unless our people are trained to the higher skills required. Without this training input, requiring augmentation of resources allocated, the scale of industrial development will remain static. How often is it forgotten in the official mind that investment in the human element in industry is as vital, and immeasurably more so in my mind, as investment in capital and material infrastructure?

One of the essential areas of concern of my Department is that of training for industry. It is of particular importance to our young people. We have a duty to provide our young people with every possible opportunity for development of their talents. Since its inception in 1967 AnCO has provided diverse manufacturing industries in this country, many of advanced technology with workers whose latent skills they had developed. These were mostly young people who eagerly grasped at the training opportunities provided by enlightened management. AnCO works closely with employers, workers, educational interests and Government agencies, and its council represents these interests. Decisions are taken by AnCO on the advice of representative industrial training committees, which affect businessmen and members of trade unions. These decisions are the outcome of a process in which nominees of employers and workers are very closely involved.

Of all AnCO's objectives perhaps the primary one has been to make both managers and trade unions aware of the importance of, and the benefits to be derived from, effective training schemes. By encouraging and assisting companies to identify training needs and to prepare and implement programmes to meet those needs, AnCO hopes to make training a necessary and integral part of every company's operations.

The main programme which AnCO have devised to achieve their overall aim are company based training, apprenticeship training and direct training. With respect to apprenticeship training, AnCO recently published a document entitledApprenticeship—A new Approach. This contains far-reaching proposals for a modernisation of the apprenticeship system. It should be emphasised that these are proposals, not decisions. The document has been widely circulated to all the interests concerned—trade unions, employers, vocational education interests and Government Departments— and AnCO will be having full consultations with all these interests before coming to final decisions.

The aim of the proposals is to ensure that Irish craftsmen are trained to the highest international standards, that the skilled work force necessary for industrial expansion will be available in future, and that individual apprentices and craftsmen will be given a reasonable opportunity of developing their abilities fully. It might be said that AnCO has performed a public service in preparing these proposals for discussion and that it is hoped that the proposals will be given careful consideration by everybody concerned. I should like to emphasise here that these proposals have been very carefuly thought out and discussed with all the interests concerned. I feel these proposals are very worthwhile and should be carefully studied by all Deputies. They are reasonable proposals and I would welcome any reasonable counter-points or other recommendations regarding them that Members may care to make.

Levy-grant schemes are in operation for textiles, clothing and footwear, food, drink and tobacco, construction and engineering and the printing and paper industries. In addition, AnCO has begun on a project for the chemical and allied products sector. AnCO have informed me that they operate these levy-grant schemes in a reasonably flexible way. They recognise that every company has its own problems and priorities. They are prepared to help companies at all times to advise on, and in most cases solve, their training problems. This system is essentially designed with a view to underlining the importance of training to management.

It is a new system and it will take time to produce results. While it has not been welcomed in some sectors of the business community, it should be pointed out that considerable progress is being made and I am satisfied that the system should be retained for some time to come. Certain modifications to the system might be considered in the future, so that companies making a genuine and worthwhile effort in training, will be relieved of the responsibility of paying levy, and that those companies which it is felt are not giving wholehearted co-operation in preparing and implementing training programmes for their staff will find it more difficult to recover the levy which they pay in the form of grants.

Initially all firms were included in the scope of the levy-grant schemes. However, some time ago AnCO decided to introduce cut-off points and exemptions to the levy order, thus exempting from levy smaller firms in each industry. Small firms may, however, opt in to training schemes and participation through group arrangements. I would, indeed, welcome such moves.

In the first year of levy-grant schemes for three of the designated sectors— textiles, clothing and footwear, food, drink and tobacco—94 per cent of the levy has been paid and 83 per cent has been paid back to the companies. In the engineering industry first year scheme, 82 per cent of the levy has been collected while 64 per cent of the levy in the first year scheme for the construction industry has also been collected. Any levy funds remaining after payment of grants will be used for the benefit of training for these industries.

As I have indicated, the initial results of the schemes are encouraging. More top managers are becoming aware of the importance of training— a point which was made very clear to me at the recent Irish Management Institute conference in Killarney. At the latest count, Irish industry employed 255 full-time training managers, 365 part-time training staff, and 1,312 instructors/demonstrators who can be regarded and are by my Department to be doing very valuable work. An increasing number of businessmen acknowledge that the levy/grant system focussed attention on an essential but hitherto neglected area of business.

It is significant to mention here that AnCO are co-operating with the Irish Management Institute in a study of how managerial training needs might best be met in the future. AnCO assist management and supervisory training by paying up to 50 per cent of the cost of attendance by managers and supervisors at courses.

It is clear that the system of apprenticeship will have to be updated if we are to have enough well-trained skilled workers in the years ahead. As an experiment, AnCO have provided first year training to 500 apprentices in a systematic way, off-the-job, in their training centres. This experiment is regarded as being highly successful and both employers and trade unions have been impressed with the standard of skill of the young people so trained. It may be that off-the-job training with shorter apprenticeship periods might well provide the basis of a system for the future.

A disturbing aspect has been a drop in apprentice intake in the past couple of years. If this decline continues, it could have serious results in four or five years' time when the output of fully qualified skilled workers will be correspondingly reduced. I have had discussions with AnCO on this disturbing feature, who are at present conducting an intensive campaign to get intake raised and the results so far, I am glad to say, have been most encouraging. I would appeal to employers to co-operate with them. I am hopeful that this campaign will succeed. If it does not, additional measures may have to be undertaken to ensure that shortages of skilled workers do not hinder our future progress.

AnCO have training centres in Waterford, Shannon, Galway, Dublin, Cork, Gweedore and Dundalk. The centres have a total of about 1,400 training places with a through-put of 2,400 trainees a year. A further training centre in the north west region is also planned to be opened later this year. In addition, experimental mobile training units with about 100 training places are operating in Tralee, Athlone and Ballina. The experience gained from these centres will enable future demands to be assisted and provide indications on unlikely developments. It is worth noting that in three years AnCO have trained or retrained over 2,000 adults and apprentices in their training centres.

It is hoped that by 1975 there will be nine or ten permanent training centres with a capacity of about 2,000 training places each of which would serve a region and have a mobile training unit or units. These mobile units would provide in addition another 500 training places. It is also envisaged that the range of courses would be expanded and the duration of some courses could be reduced. It is hoped that retraining of older workers and particularly provision of courses for women will figure more prominently than hitherto. On this basis AnCO by 1975 would be able to handle 8,000 to 10,000 trainees a year.

AnCO are working in close co-operation with the IDA in regard to the location of training centres and the courses provided in them. A network of well-run training centres providing relevant courses is a vitally important addition to the measures under way to attract new industry to Ireland which, in itself, is a vital aim of this Government. There is another exciting and unique aspect of AnCO's operations on which I am seeking development. It is in the crucial area of cross-Border economic co-operation. Discussions about the possibilities for co-operation between the training authorities in the north and AnCO have been proceeding. Some of the AnCO training centres are close to the Border and so are some of the training centres in the north.

In the light of the proposed Council of Ireland, it is both sensible and vital for mutual economic progress to continue to examine the extent to which training centres both north and south can co-operate in providing training to persons living in the border areas, so as to avoid duplication and overlapping of facilities. It is also envisaged that research into training matters would also be arranged on a co-operative basis as would the development of common curricula for training courses. Similarly, it would also be possible to arrange for a common staff development programme.

As industry becomes more widespread in Ireland, and employment emphasis changes away from agriculture, we are trying to accomplish in a few short decades what has taken over 100 years in most of the industrial countries. The three key areas of the AnCO effort have been the levy/grant system, apprenticeship and direct training. It is of the greatest importance that their efforts in all three areas should succeed. As I remarked earlier, the levy/grant system has its opponents. Firms with good training arrangements sometimes regard it as an intrusion, but I must ask the House to accept the fact that we have a long way to go before the level of training of Irish industry as a whole can be regarded as adequate. My attitude is that the levy/grant system should be retained until the greater majority of industrial firms have adopted satisfactory standards of training. When this day comes I shall gladly look for other means to keep our industrial training at a satisfactory level.

The financial provision for AnCO in 1973-74 has been fixed at £3 million an increase of £240,000 over 1972-73. This provision has been settled on the firm expectation that substantial additional moneys will be forthcoming in the current financial year for training purposes from the European Social Fund. I am not in a position at present to accurately state what Ireland's share of that fund will be, but I am more than hopeful that our training requirements will not be hampered by lack of adequate finance. It need hardly be emphasised that the financial aid forthcoming from the European Social Fund will enable AnCO to undertake a considerable expansion of their direct training activities.

One further point I might mention. At present AnCO pay to unemployed and redundant workers undergoing training a weekly allowance which is marginally better than the appropriate rate of unemployment benefit. AnCO are proposing to increase these allowances with a view to changing to a system of income related allowances.

I should like to see a change in traditional attitudes towards the unemployed. As a society, we inherit more than we care to acknowledge of the social attitudes of the Victorian era. I foresee hopefully in the near future that an unemployed person will naturally undergo further training to improve his or her chances of re-entry to gainful employment, whilst out of work. Our training service must cater for that future requirement.

The increasing awareness by management of the importance of training is due in no small measure to the efforts of the Irish Management Institute. During the year the institute continued to co-operate with AnCO in providing courses for training managers and training executives.

The institute provides special training courses to equip managers with the knowledge and skills required to compete in international markets. Special attention is given to managers in small firms. A very high standard of management expertise is required so that the other skills we are developing will have the best opportunity of being used. That is what justifies Exchequer support towards the IMI management development programme.

To expand its services to meet the demand for management training the institute has found it necessary to build new premises. I welcome this expansion of the institute's activities and Exchequer support for the project has been promised. The total subvention will be £400,000 over the three-year period 1972-73 to 1974-75. £150,000 is being paid in 1973-74.

The need to induce a revival of business and to promote the expansion of tourism highlights the need for more and better hotel training. Higher staff standards, to which training can contribute, are important for the recovery of the tourist industry. Hence the increase in the grant to CERT Ltd. I visualise that training for the hotel and catering business should in time come under the umbrella of AnCO—this would be in accord with the Industrial Training Act, 1967.

The span of training facilities offered by CERT should, however, be expanded to include industrial catering needs. The primacy of training staff for the tourist industry must, I feel, continue to be upheld but there need be no conflict between broadening the areas of training covered by CERT and providing for the special needs of the tourist industry which evidence indicates will be one of our major revenue earners in the foreseeable future.

The development and expansion of the National Manpower Service continued during the last year. Additional placement staff were recruited and trained and a number of new offices were opened. There are now six regional directors and 28 placement officers operating in 13 centres. These are Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Dundalk, Drogheda, Sligo, Athlone, Wexford, Ballybofey, Ennis and Monaghan. It is intended to open offices in a number of additional centres in 1973. Recruitment of additional staff is in progress and I hope to increase numbers substantially over the next few years.

It is the aim of the manpower service to build a reputation for skilled, rapid service. The service deals with people—the most valuable asset of any country. By placing job seekers in the jobs best suited to them and by securing, quickly, the best available workers for employers the manpower service provides valuable help to job seekers, employers and the economy generally.

Notwithstanding employment difficulties the service has, since June, 1971, placed over 13,000 people in jobs. About 1,400 were in the administrative and clerical categories, with a small number at executive and senior management levels.

Where no suitable candidates can be found from within the country, the service tries to fill vacancies from Irish emigrants living abroad. Copies of the service's vacancy lists are circulated regularly to over 150 Irish organisations in Britain and to our embassies abroad. Workers returning to Ireland with the approval of the manpower service, are entitled to benefit under the resettlement assistance scheme.

Another feature is a schedule containing details of professional and highly-skilled workers seeking jobs in Ireland which is circulated twice a year to major Irish firms. The schedule has a special section for graduates undertaking post-graduate courses in business administration in the US. The schedule which at present covers over 160 persons is revised and updated regularly. Some employers as well as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, and a number of regional technical colleges have found this service of great value.

I propose developing this service into a national professional and executive register. In co-operation with the appointments officers in the universities, final-year graduates would be encouraged to register with the manpower service. A pilot co-operative programme in this area has been started with the equivalent British Government service and it is hoped in this way to make information on this type of vacancy more widely available to Irish people in Britain.

Arrangements are being made to provide "self-service" facilities in the Dublin office of the manpower service on an experimental basis. Particulars of vacancies will, with the agreement of employers, be displayed in the public office and job-seekers will seek suitable vacancies for themselves. The success of the "self-service" depends on the co-operation of employers. Experience will show whether "self-service" placement will become a permanent feature of the manpower service here.

The importance of this initiative is that it opens up a new source of job information for those who want to change jobs rather than those who are without jobs and thus raises the visibility of the National Manpower Service in the eyes of the public. A vocational guidance service for adults is being prepared. The vast majority of adult job seekers using the service know the types of jobs they want and need only information on vacancies. So far the percentage requiring skilled guidance has been small. I hope to have a clearer indication in the next year or so of the extent to which a specialist guidance service should be provided. In the meantime a start will be made on a pilot basis in one or two centres.

The manpower forecasting unit has been integrated with the information activities of the National Manpower Service. The emphasis on the work of the unit has changed to making estimates of the quality and quantity of labour available for employment in particular areas. This information is prepared mainly for use by the Industrial Development Authority and to help industrial promoters to select areas for factories.

Over the past eighteen months labour availability surveys of this kind have been carried out in 15 areas and a further ten are planned for the next 12 months. Three special surveys were carried out on behalf of AnCO for the setting up of mobile training centres in Athlone, Ballina and Tralee. Work on a new classification of occupations based on the ILO classification and suitable for use in the EEC is nearing completion. It should be ready for use in the National Manpower Service offices during 1973 and is already used experimentally in a number of the offices.

Responsibility for the employment exchanges was resumed by the Department of Social Welfare from 1st April last. This followed a decision of the previous Government that job placement should be separated from benefit-paying and that the benefit-paying function should then revert to the Department of Social Welfare, a decision with which I agree. In any area not served by a manpower office the employment exchanges will continue to carry out placement work under an arrangement between the two services.

To meet the demand for information on careers over 200 leaflets covering more than 300 careers have been published and distributed. These leaflets are continuously updated and revised. Irish language versions are also published.

More careers exhibitions are being organised by schools, colleges, and development organisations. Personnel of the Department attend these exhibitions to publicise the careers service and distribute the leaflets as widely as possible.

Whilst recent years have seen a distinct improvement in the range of careers open to young people, a great deal remains to be done by way of providing more information and guidance about job opportunities for young people.

Young people cannot be expected to make wise decisions about their future career or occupation if we do not ensure that reliable information and guidance is at their disposal. More must be done to ensure that we cater for all the needs of youth in the matter of job guidance and information on suitable openings.

I have in mind closer liaison with a fast growing section in the teaching profession. I refer to teachers specialising in a full-time capacity in careers information. There is an yet too meagre a recognition on the part of many schools on the need for career advice and information.

I propose to initiate discussions with the relevant authorities leading to early decisions which will help our school leavers in their choice of a working career. Before I leave this subject, I should like to pay a well earned compliment to theEvening Herald for their enterprise and sense of commitment to our young people as it demonstrated in their career desk feature.

There is little point in young people taking a job with little prospect of advancement or in chosing an occupation with no future. Young people must be able to see clearly how they can progress to higher levels of job satisfaction. Training and further education is of vital importance in giving the quality of choice to young people seeking work. Only the skilled and educated young person will truly relish freedom of choice in occupation. It must be our objective to give this freedom to every young person by providing the facilities.

The resettlement assistance scheme helps persons who have to move to new areas to take up employment arranged through the National Manpower Service. The scheme was confined to the unemployed or to workers about to become redundant who were insured under the Social Welfare Acts. In October, 1971, the scheme was extended to all workers including emigrants returning to Ireland. The number assisted in 1971 was 168. In 1972, 995 people were assisted and of these 355 were resettled in new areas including 56 who returned from Britain and Northern Ireland. The people who returned had skills which were in short supply or were unavailable here. The extended scheme is undoubtedly an attraction to employers and job-seekers and the co-operation of employers with the manpower service has increased as a result. I am satisfied that the scheme is contributing to a greater degree of mobility in our work force.

Deputies will recall that in October, 1969, a committee of persons interested in and familiar with the welfare of emigrants was appointed to advise on the problems of persons going abroad and of Irish people overseas wishing to work at home. This committee also advises on the distribution of grants to voluntary emigrant bureaux here which provide advisory services for intending emigrants. I should like to compliment the committee for the excellent manner in which they have discharged their duties. Most of their recommendations have been or will be implemented. I should also like to pay tribute to the voluntary organisations, the advisory committee and my Department in improving the advisory services for emigrants generally.

The task of the voluntary emigrant bureaux in providing information and advice about jobs and accommodation in Britain has changed very much in the past few years with the fall in emigration. Many bureaux have experienced a significant decline in the number of inquiries received. On our joining the EEC in January the National Manpower Service became responsible for administering any services available to workers leaving or entering the country. The advisory committee have been examining this development. A question which now arises is whether the State should continue to provide help for the voluntary agencies. I believe that the State must continue to shoulder this responsibility but it is now I believe opportune to re-appraise the direction of State aid.

I have been reviewing the entire question of services for emigrants and State support for the voluntary organisations. My present disposition is to await some experience of EEC conditions before taking final decisions in consultation with voluntary organisations.

The Employment Agency Act, 1971 came into operation in November, 1972. The Act provides for the licensing of private employment agencies, approval of their fees and furnishing by such agencies of returns of their activities. Special regulations have been made regarding advertisements for employment abroad, which are aimed at the elimination of misleading advertisements. These regulations have been discussed with representatives of the newspapers and they have welcomed them. This legislation should enable action to be taken on abuses by employment agencies, particularly in regard to employment abroad. I am satisfied that the great majority of agencies are reputable but there is need for power to intervene where abuses occur.

The redundancy payments scheme continues to operate to alleviate the hardships caused to redundant workers and their dependants and to facilitate the national manpower policy. The lump sums payable provide compensation for workers dismissed because of redundancy, while the weekly payments help to maintain incomes close to pre-redundancy earnings in the period following disemployment.

The scheme was introduced in January, 1968, and covered workers becoming redundant after four years service. It was amended under the Redundancy Payments Act, 1971, to include workers who become redundant after two years' service. The Act also provided for substantial improvements in benefits without any corresponding increase in contributions.

The number of notified redundancies under the scheme for 1971 was 8,556, 6,632 men and 1,924 women, and for 1972 was 10,159, 6,941 men and 3,218 women.

During the first quarter of 1973, the figure was 2,082, 1,549 men and 533 women, compared with a figure of 2,643, 1,964 men and 679 women, for the first quarter of 1972. In the latter half of last year, the credit balance in the redundancy fund fell because of the higher level of redundancy and also because of the improvement in benefits and it stood at approximately £222,000 on the 31st December, 1972. The increase in the rates of contributions towards the end of last year strengthened the fund somewhat but drawings on the fund have created the need for temporary Exchequer advances to enable the payments due from the fund to be made pending a recovery of the financial viability of the fund.

The Redundancy Appeals Tribunal heard 893 appeals in 1972 as compared with 725 in 1971.

The industrial inspectorate has the task of ensuring that employers meet their obligations under the various worker-protection Acts administered by the Department, particularly the Factories Act, 1955 and the Mines and Quarries Act, 1965. An additional activity of the inspectorate is to provide a safety-advisory and accident-prevention service to industry.

The importance of the advisory functions of the inspectorate can hardly be overstressed. Only if safety considerations are kept constantly in mind can the toll of accidents be reduced. Any employer with a problem in the field of worker-safety is welcome to seek the advice of the inspectorate at any time. I appeal to managements to do so. The report of the industrial inspectorate for 1972, to be published shortly, will show that last year there were 2,908 accidents, of which 24 were fatal, in work places to which the Acts apply. Of the 24 fatal accidents, 11 were in factories and ten on building sites and works of engineering construction, two in mines and one in a quarry. The records show that a frequent cause of fatal accidents is persons falling or being struck by falling objects.

Industrial growth and the increasing complexity of industrial processes continue to place a strain on the resources of the inspectorate. Its strength has recently been increased and arrangements have been made to augment it still further.

A programme of surveys of environmental health hazards in Irish industry covering such factors as noise, dust, fumes and radiation, has been prepared and the field work commenced in 1971. The pilot survey of hazards arising from ionising radiations and toxic chemicals has been completed. The field work on noise levels has also been completed and the data collected is now being processed for the assessment of any health hazards to the workers. Survey work of this nature will be an on-going aspect of the work of the industrial inspectorate in the future.

I have been examining the report of the Robens Committee in Britain as well as the results of the investigatory work already referred to. I am giving consideration to complete overhaul and updating of all legislation governing conditions of work, safety and health regulations in the place of work.

The fundamental legislation governing factory legislation is based largely on the British Act of 1937. I think there is need for modern legislation, which would be a charter for the safety, health and welfare of our working people, more attuned to the social objectives of a reforming administration.

The National Industrial Safety Organisation—NISO—is a voluntary body which is housed and staffed by my Department. It also receives a grant-in-aid, which this year amounts to £15,000 from the Vote. The grant is paid on the basis of £4 for every £1 raised by the organisation. I would appeal to industrial firms to join NISO and take part in the continuous campaign for the promotion of safety consciousness and safety education in industry.

The Dangerous Substances Act, 1972, which was passed some months ago brings up to date existing legislation protecting both workers and the general public against dangers inherent in the use of explosives and petroleum and also makes provision for dealing with other dangerous substances. It is largely an enabling measure which must be supplemented by codes of regulations. Work on the regulations is now proceeding and the Act will be brought into operation when the necessary regulations have been formulated. The Act is also of relevance in the context of our entry to the EEC in that I will, in due course, avail myself of powers in it to implement EEC directives regarding the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances.

I intend to continue the policy of playing an active role in the International Labour Organisation and participating as far as practicable in its programmes.

Last year for the first time since becoming a member of the organisation in 1923, Ireland has obtained a seat on the governing body which is the committee of management of the ILO. This gives us a better opportunity of contributing to the work of the organisation and of utilising its facilities to develop the services of the Department.

The OECD examination of manpower policy in this country is proceeding. The examining team consisting of high-ranking personnel from other OECD countries has made two visits to Ireland and has had discussions with bodies engaged in manpower and related activities and with employer and worker organisations.

The next stage will be a report by the examining team, which will be followed by a discussion later in the year in the manpower and social affairs committee of the OECD. The OECD will publish a report and the conclusions of the Manpower and Social Affairs Committee. The exercise should be of benefit in assessing our performance in the manpower field and in the working out of policies for the future.

If one is to use the statistics of man-days lost as a yardstick of progress in industrial relations the years 1971 and 1972 showed a marked improvement over previous years. In 1970 there was a loss of 1,000,714 days; this compares with 273,770 days in 1971 and approximately 200,000 in 1972. This improving situation gives grounds for satisfaction but not for complacency. Further substantial improvements can be achieved with a little more give and little less take on the part of what are nowadays cosily termed "the social partners". The general acceptance by workers of the National Wage Agreements of 1970 and 1972 was undoubtedly responsible in large measure for the considerable improvement in the "days lost" situation.

In 1971, the Labour Court and its Conciliation Service dealt with 664 disputes as compared with 569 in 1970 and the Report for 1972 is expected to show a further increase. In 1971 Conciliation Conferences were held in 628 cases and these conferences produced settlements in 68 per cent of the cases. The Court itself issued 162 recommendations on disputes, of which employers accepted 158 or 98 per cent, while the workers accepted 127 or 78 per cent.

During the year I was glad to note a tendency for employers and trade unions to negotiate collective agreements which included provisions for solving disputes without resort to industrial action. As the Labour Court is the most experienced and authoritative body in the country in industrial relations it would, I think, be appropriate if our procedures for solving disputes were to progress to a point where resort to the Court for a verdict would not be seen as part of the on-going business of negotiation. In other words, for the Court to be successful there must be a genuine commitment by all concerned to negotiate seriously from the outset without holding back. I realise, of course, that this is a counsel of perfection; yet in these trying times one can no longer afford to ignore the claims of perfection.

On 1st January, 1973, a third division was established in the Labour Court. This involved the appointment of an additional employers' member, an additional workers' member and also an additional Deputy Chairman to the Court. The National Agreements have added considerably to the volume of work coming before the Court; secondly, the processing of claims for equal pay is expected to generate extra work for the Court; finally, section 9 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, provides for the inclusion of Labour court members on arbitration boards in the Public Service.

I believe we have good reason to be pleased with the success of the Rights Commissioner Service. The service was inaugurated in March, 1970, and since then it has gone from strength to strength. Generally, the commissioners are asked to investigate and recommend on disputes involving one or two workers in regard to what are commonly referred to as "rights". In 1972, the commissioners dealt with 382 cases. This represents an increase of over 100 per cent on the number in 1971. A very gratifying aspect is the number of cases in which the parties concerned have agreed in advance to be bound by the commissioner's recommendation. I welcome all developments which bring finality to industrial disputes without recourse to industrial action.

Rights Commissioners' recommendations may be appealed to the Labour Court and, in such event, the finding of the court is binding on the parties to the dispute. Since this service was established, 617 cases were referred to the commissioners for investigation and in only 20 of these were the commissioners' recommendations appealed to the Labour Court.

One of the big problems facing this and other Departments concerned with contemporary social problem is the lack of adequate research into major problems. In recent years, this difficulty has begun to be tackled but not nearly to the extent which would be desirable. It is encouraging to note, however, the decision to establish a Chair of Industrial Relations at University College, Dublin. This Chair is in fact being endowed by Esso and it is to be hoped not just that this new department will expand and make some very worthwhile contributions to our understanding of the problems involved in industrial relations but that other firms will follow the example of Esso and begin what could well develop into a very useful tradition of worthwhile endowments for research into areas of national importance. I hope that practitioners in industrial relations, from both union and employer bodies, will assist this venture by providing personnel as required.

I remain convinced that legislation in itself will not ensure good industrial relations. Where I feel, however, that a particular measure would improve the dispute-settling or other machinery provided by the State, or would improve the structure of employers' and workers' organisations, I shall bring appropriate proposals before the House for consideration.

The present Department of Labour was established in 1966 through an amalgamation of various elements of the Departments of Industry and Commerce and Social Welfare in an attempt to bring about a more co-ordinated approach by the Government to the problems of people in their working lives. As can be seen from the earlier part of my speech, the Department has consolidated its position as a new Ministry but has in a number of areas also branched out into new and vigorous activity. The most notable areas are AnCO, the National Manpower Service and the establishment of the very important innovation in the industrial relations field of the Rights Commissioners.

These are indicators that there is a very real and active role which can be played by the Department in our industrial life.

Whilst it will continue to be my endeavour to pursue the constructive work of the Ministry, I would hope now to commence a new period of positive action, in line with the reform commitment and social objectives of this Administration, on behalf of working Ireland.

The Department is essentially in a reactive position. It deals with the residual aspects of Irish industry whether these be in the shape of unemployment, poor industrial relations or bad safety records. External circumstances prevented it becoming in the past a shaper and anticipator of events, or a generator of positive change.

My efforts will be directed to redressing that situation. I want to make it clear, therefore, to the House and to all sides in Irish industry that I do not regard it as being the role of my Department to wait for others to bring about necessary reforms and changes. Neither do I see it as our role to defend sectional interests where these are not in the overall interests of working people. That is not to say that I believe that massive legislative programmes can change the face of Irish industry; as a former practitioner in the field of industrial relations, I know only too well that the process is a much more subtle one than that. What I do intend, however, is that the Department should move increasingly into the area of policy formation and create an awareness in the public mind about those major problems which confront us, such as the employment of disabled people, the situation of the lower paid worker, the opportunities for young people in industry, the nature of the new jobs which are being created. Where this can make a positive contribution, such as in the areas of safety at work, trade union rationalisation, aspects of worker participation in management,et cetera, these will be supported by necessary legislation, developed insofar as possible in consultation with the interested parties.

I am particularly concerned about the question of job creation. Clearly a priority here is the quantity of new jobs and, given the nature of our unemployment problems, it could not be otherwise. However, we must begin to look increasingly at the nature of the jobs which we are creating and the steps which can be taken to improve the jobs already in existence. While in the past we have shown a great concern about the safety aspects of individual jobs, the ways in which they are carried out and the environment in which they must be carried on, we have given little concern at Government level to the actual nature of the job itself which may have as big an effect on the mental health of the person as a bad environment does on his physical health. Very valuable work has been done by individual industries in this country and the Irish Productivity Centre is to be commended on research work which it has sponsored in this area.

In addition, this question of the nature and design of jobs has a grave bearing on the problem of the lower paid worker. Regard must be given to the nature of those jobs which are lower paid and effective means to facilitate the transition of workers from them to work of a higher and more rewarding status.

All this demands a more co-ordinated approach to the questions of employment creation, training, geographical relocation of workers, the incentives necessary to bring this about and information about job availability.

I have said that the Department should not become the defender or supporter of traditional social structures in industry. In my view it should facilitate change in this area and perhaps the most urgent priority here is in the area of worker participation and industrial democracy. In a number of recent speeches, I have made it clear that I do not regard the election of workers to the boards of companies, be they State or privately owned, to be the be-all and end-all of this question. Such a concept of industrial democracy would be no more tenable than to suggest that political democracy should consist of electing a national parliament without any intermediate institutions. Initially my major concerns are to ensure that we start taking some positive action in this area and that we should not accept as dogma what has been done in other circumstances.

We, in Ireland, because of our relatively underdeveloped industrial sector, have an opportunity denied to most other European countries of experimenting and developing methods and structures relevant to our needs. In this area, the initiative of the Employer/Labour Conference in setting up a sub-committee on the question of industrial democracy is a progressive step which my Department welcomes and encourages. However, since I believe that this drive towards more humane and democratic relationships in industry is one which lies at the heart of many industrial relations problems, I will ensure that the Department, within the powers and facilities available to it, plays a major role in advancing thinking and research in this area of critical socioeconomic importance.

My experience suggests to me, to a much greater extent than might be readily apparent, that we suffer from grave problems of discrimination in industry and in particular in the labour market. The recent report on the Status of Women should have brought home to us the degree of sex discrimination which exists. This has now been highlighted and will, I pledge, be dealt with. There is also totally unjustifiable discrimination against people on grounds of age, of mental or physical incapacity, because of prison records, because of an insufficient level of educational attainment and because of lack of information on job opportunities. In most of these areas, I am convinced that while legislation has a role to play, and I will be saying more about this later, it must be backed up by a strong placement service and for that reason I will be devoting particular attention to the development of the National Manpower Service. Many of the vacancies which the National Manpower Service has been unable to fill are in the industrial sector, despite the fact that about 70,000 people are unemployed.

Apart from structural difficulties— the unemployed workers not having the right skills for the jobs on offer— there seems to be a prejudice among some people against industrial employment. This may be due in part to the absence of an industrial tradition in certain areas; it may also be based on wrong impressions or wrong information. Parents and teachers sometimes appear to encourage young people to seek employment which, for some reason, they regard as having a certain status even though the wages and conditions offered may compare unfavourably with jobs in industry. What is required here is a change of attitude mainly among people who are concerned with career guidance. The National Manpower Service, in co-operation with the Department of Education, hope to produce a booklet entitledWorking in Industry which should help to disabuse some sections of the public of wrong impressions which they may have about industrial employment.

Apart from Britain, we are the only member of the EEC who tolerate a situation where the vast majority of jobs and job vacancies are handled through private agencies. I am reasonably satisfied with the way in which these agencies operate since this is adequately treated in the Employment Agency Act, 1971, which came into operation last November. But I am gravely concerned about the fact that, while the vast majority of jobs are filled in this way, information about vacancies may not be disseminated as widely as one would wish in a democratic and progressive society, and, secondly, that standards of selection may be used which are discriminatory. I would emphasise the word "may" here as I am absolutely convinced of the valuable job being done by private agencies at present and because no research has been done in this field in this country I regard it as a matter of urgent priority, therefore, to build up the capacity and competence of the National Manpower Service so that it can increase its penetration and influence in the labour market.

Policy making in the manpower and industrial fields in Ireland is bedevilled by a lack of information. When one considers the sophisticated requirements of manpower and regional planning, it is extraordinary—and indeed to be deplored—that previous Governments have not put much greater resources into the development of our information and research services in this area. Most of the information on the labour market which the National Manpower Service use is derived as a bi-product from other activities; for example, unemployment benefit, Census of Populationet cetera. The service has no ready or measurably accurate means of monitoring trends on a regular basis or for interpreting the limited information available for the purpose of initiating action in a particular area. At present, there is no complete occupational breakdown of the Live Register although moves are afoot to remedy this situation. While there are still not enough jobs for all those people seeking work, there is scope for reducing the number who are unemployed if a more accurate picture of the composition of the Live Register could be got. For instance, how many unemployed workers would be interested in retraining or some form of rehabilitation or reactivation? It would be useful to know how many are partly disabled or handicapped, and what proportion of older workers are suitable for, or capable of, retraining. In other words, a stricter qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Live Register would give a more accurate picture of the true unemployment situation and a clearer indication of what services and types of industry are needed to achieve full employment.

Comprehensive and up-to-date information on general trends in employment, for example, demands for new skills, obsolescent industries,et cetera, would be useful to enable remedial measures to be put in hands in good time if further structural imbalances between labour supply and demand are to be prevented. In other words, proper labour market information is necessary to ensure that as far as possible timely corrective and preventative measures can be adopted. This, let me stress, is no reflection on the Central Statistics Office and the various Departmental information services who have soldiered on with inadequate staff and facilities over the years but quite clearly, if we are going to get at the root of many of our problems, particularly in the employment field, we must devote increasing attention to this. It is not that we need information to convince us of the gravity of many of the problems facing us, but in many cases we do not even have the information on which to arrive at the correct solutions.

When our man power policy was being formulated in 1965, it was hoped that manpower forecasting would be an important element of the policy, that is, forecasting the changes which were likely to occur in the supply of a demand for labour so that remedial measures could be put in hands in good time to remedy imbalances.

However, when the possibilities of forecasting were subsequently studied, it became clear that there were serious shortcomings in the statistical information available and necessary as a base for forecasting and, furthermore, that techniques have not yet been developed anywhere which are capable of producing reliable forecasts and manpower projections suitable for policy formulation.

Some of the inadequacies of our manpower statistics include a lack of knowledge of movements into, within and out of the labour market, information on mobility and substitution, information on the extent of underemployment, the occupational structure of emigration,et cetera. As the National Manpower Service expands, our information on local labour markets will improve. In addition, the OECD examiners have made certain recommendations aimed at improving our manpower statistics and these will be considered when the final report becomes available on or about the end of this year.

In outlining my view of the role of the Department, I have been emphasising two main concerns. The first of these is that as the Department charged with the responsibility of maintaining the primacy of the Social Dimension in Economic and Social Planning, we should not be concerned solely with ameliorative measures. Their positive role as generators of solutions and as contributors to policy formation in the areas adjacent to it, such as employment creation, must be an active one. Secondly, the Department have a role in the advancement of social change in industry so that we may bring about a transformation to a more democratic and humane industrial society.

What Nye Bevan once said of the British House of Commons I feel applies to my Department and its work, "Parliament must not become a public mourner for private economic crimes". I should now like to go on to the key areas of action which will be concerning me in pursuit of this policy in the year ahead.

I believe it is essential that the House in its debate on my Department should concern itself not just with an analysis of what has happened over the past year but should especially address itself to key factors in the year ahead. In the issues with which I am now going to deal, it will be clear that some of them arise (such as future National Wage Agreements) irrespective of any initiative by the Government, whereas others result from the obvious political commitment of our administration to advance the concept of social policy as a major criterion of all activity within the State.

I do not believe that anybody inside or outside this House would deny that one of the most critical events facing us in the coming year is the ability of the Employer/Labour Conference to arrive at a third National Agreement. No one would suggest that this will be other than a daunting task.

The Government, through the Fourteen Point Programme of the National Coalition, are strongly committed to voluntary wage and salary bargaining. This is based on the belief that voluntary agreements contribute to a reduction in the rate of inflation and a reduction in industrial strife and that they have been clearly demonstrated to benefit the lower-paid and women workers more than would have been the case in a "free for all". In addition, and despite what critics have had to say, they have, in a period of high inflation, resulted in real increases in the standard of living of workers.

Except in its role as an employer, the State has not intervened in the proper work of the Employer/Labour Conference nor does it intend to do so. Where its role does lie is in the provision of services which will facilitate the work of the Conference and, through the Labour Court, in ensuring the equitable application of any agreement. In addition, it will through its action on price control and wealth redistribution be making a major contribution to the creation of a climate in which trade unions can feel confident in signing long-term agreements.

I am heartened by the experience gained by the Employer/Labour Conference negotiators in their previous agreements. That they are garnering and learning from that experience is evident in the work of the sub-committee which has been considering the harmonisation of terminal dates for agreements for different workers and various proposals which have been made regarding the nature of the escalator clauses seem to me to strike at the very heart of the problem facing both sides.

Efforts should be made in the next round to make positive advances in other important sectors related to working conditions and particularly in the area of pensions, job security and consultative machinery within industry. I am confident that they will continue to emphasise the position of the lower paid worker and, in the light of legislation which will be introduced shortly, the position of women in industry.

The 14 point programme of the National Coalition contains an overall and firm commitment to advance worker participation in industry and a specific commitment to provide for the election of workers to the boards of State industries. Legislation to effect the latter will be introduced as soon as possible having regard to the complexities of the question.

In addition to the straight-forward provision for the election of worker directors the legislation will also provide for their training and for the necessary facilities and time for them to carry out their role effectively.

This is an enormously complex area touching as it does on the structure and geographic spread of each company, the degree of trade union organisation of the workers in each company, the nature of our company law, the legislation on which each State company is based and so on.

Much detailed consultation will, therefore, have to take place with the trade unions, the managements of the companies concerned, the responsible boards and Departments of State. It is my intention, therefore, to set up a section within my Department concerned solely with the question of worker participation since it is an area to which increasing concern will be given and which will develop into one of great importance in our industrial life.

The Report of the Commission on the Status of Women has given added impetus to the commitment in the National Coalition Programme for the advancement of women's rights. In so far as my own Department is concerned, some weeks ago I committed myself to the introduction of legislation on the question of equal pay. For a number of practical and economic reasons it will be necessary to bring about the transition to equal pay in a lot of areas on a phased basis but it is my intention that this should be done in as short a period as possible.

However, the status of women in our society and in particular in the industrial sector of our society is a much more complicated one than that simply of equal pay. Nortoriously women are confined to the most menial tasks in our enterprises and it is going to require a considerable change of attitude by society, particularly on the part of parents and male workers, to bring about a change in this situation. I believe it is one in which legislation has a large part to play as I do not subscribe to the view that women should be expected to wait for major shifts in attitudes within our society before they receive just treatment. It is my intention, therefore, to introduce legislation on discrimination on grounds of sex in the selection of workers for industry and of their advancement. This will also cover the field of married women in employment.

The appointment last year of a Commissioner for Equal Pay was an important indication of my Department's forward thinking on this issue for the changed circumstances of the new Government's commitments and the Report of the Commission. It is my intention to considerably strengthen the role of the equal pay function within my Department and to recruit a number of specialist staff and advisers on the issue. In particular I can see that the evaluation of jobs will become a critical area particularly if there are attempts made to circumvent equal pay legislation by changing the nature of women's jobs.

I would emphasise, however, that this is not a function which can be carried out solely by the State. The trade unions and employer organisations have a special responsibility to ensure that the spirit of the aspiration of our people for equalisation of rewards and opportunities as between men and women in society is realised. Women themselves can help to advance their position in industry by increasing their degree of trade union organisation and by playing a more active role in trade union affairs.

To this end it is my intention to discuss with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions the allocation of additional funds to the training of women trade union officials and representatives so that they may be able to play a more active part in their organisations and in industry generally.

The question of the training of women workers currently in the labour force and those who are about to enter it is an important area in the recommendations made by the commission. I am asking AnCO for an immediate study to be carried out into the area of apprenticeships for women and the training facilities available for them. This is an area to which it may be necessary to make special financial provisions and if this is the case the Dáil may expect that I will be seeking further funds from it later in the year under this heading.

I have had discussions with the Minister for Health and Social Welfare on the special needs for disabled and handicapped workers who constitute a disproportionate share of our unemployed people. It is my intention that co-operation between the National Manpower Service and the National Rehabilitation Board will be further developed so that the widest range of opportunities available can be opened up to them. However, I am convinced that, despite the considerable contribution which is being made by some firms to the employment of workers in this category, many are avoiding their obligations.

I am, therefore, giving urgent consideration to the need for legislation— a handicapped persons' Bill—which would establish a quota system for the employment of disabled and handicapped workers. Such a proposal was first mooted by the late Deputy Seán Dunne, whose Private Member's Bill on this subject was rejected by the present Opposition party in 1967. Legislation on this question would not only, therefore, help to meet a pressing social need but would be a fitting tribute to the work of the late Seán Dunne. I would like also to pay tribute to the work of Deputy Dr. John O'Connell in this area.

The draft EEC Social Action Policy prepared by the Commission will be discussed at a Council of Ministers Meeting on Monday, 21st May. The full consultative process involving the employers and trade unions, the Economic and Social Committee and the European Parliament will not be completed until later in the year, and no doubt considerable changes will be made in the document during that period particularly in the formulation of concrete action issues.

For the moment the most important aspect of the document is its commitment to the position of social policy in the development of the Community, and as a necessary counter weight to economic and monetary policies, the much recalled "human face" aspect of Community Policy.

I do not intend to deal here with the specific response which we will make to the various proposals in the present document. A major area of concern will, however, be from our point of view to ensure that rigid models for behaviour in particular areas are not laid down, particularly where these would ignore the special economic and social conditions of Ireland. We would hope, therefore, that while agreeing on general objectives and guidelines the role of the commission would be to facilitate developments in those general directions. Of particular concern here is the field of worker participation which in the context of social policy is obviously a key area. I have said on a number of occasions recently, both at home and in Brussels, that we in Ireland require the right to develop our own worker participation systems appropriate to our own needs and that furthermore we would expect to be facilitated and aided in this process by the Community rather than hindered by it.

At a general level, therefore, I believe that the most useful contribution of the social policy is to bring about a degree of harmonisation and in particular to create structures and institutions within which views and experiences can be exchanged. For this reason we strongly welcome the proposal to set up a vocational training centre. This would clearly be of great benefit particularly in the restitut training field where we can expect a continuing and perhaps increased demand in the years immediately ahead. The co-ordination of work force information systems proposed in the draft programme may not on the surface appear to be a particularly important area but in practice, as I have stated earlier in my speech, it is of considerable significance in the co-ordination of policies across national boundaries and in dealing with Community institutions which can dispense resources, such as the Social Fund, crucial to our development.

The Department of Labour have been designated as the central agency in this country for the submission of claims to the EEC Social Fund. It must be emphasised, however, that the Department does not have the sole right of initiative nor does it have the function of allocating priorities to particular claims. This is done by the Social Fund Committee itself and at its meeting last week the representatives of my Department laid particular stress on the need to give high priority to programmes related to unemployment.

Apart from acting as a co-ordination point for claims, I am concerned that my Department should be active in ensuring that every industry and economic grouping in the country is aware of the ways in which the Social Fund can assist in the funding of development programmes. In addition I am building up a group of export advisers who can help in the formulation of claims and in the presentation of them.

We can obtain considerable benefits from a correct use of the fund and it can be of enormous advantage in enlarging the field of social policy and action in this country.

In an earlier part of this speech I have recorded the achievements which have been made in the advancement of the workers' protection on shop floor through legislation such as the Factories Act, the Dangerous Substances Act, the Mines and Quarries Act, the activities of the factories Inspectorate, the National Industrial Safety Organisation and so on. During the next year I intend widening the concept of working conditions and environment to take account of other factors which are becoming evident in this area. Considerable publicity has been given in this country to the proposal in the draft Social Action Programme of the EEC in relation to the examination of industrial practices such as conveyor belt production systems. This is only one aspect of industrial life which is of growing concern to many people in this country and I would like to see a further examination of the effect which many modern production and management techniques have on workers.

As a starting point following discussions with the Minister for Health and Social Welfare and in conjunction with other relevant groups, I propose commencing an initial survey of mental health and stress in industry and to begin to widen the concept of good working conditions in this area. The questions of absenteeism and alcoholism, for instance, have been the subject of some discussion and investigation in this country in recent years but there appears to have been a failure to regard these as symptoms and a failure to establish the fundamental causes. While work in this area will commence in the coming year the House will, I am sure, appreciate that it will be some time before we can get to the stage of preparing a code of practice, let alone legislation, in the area.

Also on this front it has been suggested to me that the provisions in the Factories Act regarding safety committees and their powers requires strengthening and elaboration. I have asked for a report on this matter. Should it be necessary to do so I would introduce legislation later in the year on this question.

It is a matter of some concern to me that grave difficulties are experienced by many employers and trade unions in ascertaining the precise requirements of the Factories and Office Premises Acts in relation to facilities and working conditions. I am, therefore, setting about the task of reviewing and codifying ministerial orders in this and other areas of legislation under my jurisdiction with a view to improving public access to this information.

The fourteen point programme of the new Government will have a major impact on the work of the Department. That programme includes measures to combat inflation, an effort to halt redundancies, reduce unemployment together with an overall commitment to voluntary wage agreements. The introduction of worker participation, and the election of workers on to State boards, is a challenge which as Minister I am happy to meet. A commitment has also been given to end all forms of existing discrimination against women.

The removal of discrimination against women will involve examination and formulation of complex legislation covering such matters as equal pay, access to employment, opportunities for advancement and continued employment after marriage, maternity leave, return to employment after absence due to family responsibilities,et cetera. Reducing redundancies and unemployment will involve increased work under the industrial training legislation and the National Manpower Service. Membership of the EEC will, of course, exert further pressure on work in this area.

While I am concerned overall with helping to shape community social policy for the benefit of those who work, the major item of work for my Department in relation to the EEC is concerned with the European Social Fund. So far, we have lodged seven claims for a sum amounting to £3½ million and further applications for aid are in preparation. Three of these applications are for a total sum amounting to £1 million which will be sent to Brussels early in May. Formulation of these applications has involved a high degree of preparatory work. Such work can be expected to increase as our applications go through examination by the Commission.

Furthermore, it is clear that there will be increasing pressures by public opinion, particularly trade unions, and justifiably, to obtain maximum benefit from the fund. This will involve the Minister in work of a pioneering character both in Ireland and in Brussels, to develop and expand the type of activities in Ireland which would qualify for fund support and to convince Brussels that support for these activities from the fund is justified. Regulations governing the Social Fund require that checks will be carried out by the national authority on how the monies granted are disposed of and they provide for on-the-spot checks by officials by the co-operation of the national authorities.

My Department will be involved in this work as responsibility for it devolves on the Department of Labour. As I have remarked, the focus of attention of my Ministry is the action by the EEC to develop a social policy. A draft social policy document prepared by the Commission for Social Affairs shows clearly that my Department will be deeply involved in the elaboration of the policy through 1973 and its implementation from 1974 onwards. An examination of the draft document on EEC regional policy means that we will be involved also here because the use of the Social Fund must have a close connection with formulation of regional policy.

I began this Estimate in the context of our membership of the European Community. I should like to conclude responsive, I hope, to the new times and new tasks which our membership of the European fraternity of states imposes. As a people we have in history displayed perhaps too touching a faith in help from abroad as an answer to all our problems. TheAisling inspiration gave us fine poetry, but it was bad politics even in the 17th century. The Aisling mentality in the context of the European Community, the belief that benefits from the European Social Fund or regional policy grants are the panacea for all our economic ills, must not distract us from the recognition that only the Irish people working at home possess the seals that will earn us a society in which all our citizens can be socially and economically secure, free, at peace and self-reliant and, sharing in responsibility on equal terms. In that work I hope my Department will play a full part.

It is difficult to say much on an Estimate for a Department in which one was involved for the greater part of the period covered by the Estimate. Nevertheless, I am interested in the Minister's appraisal of things as he found them and I look forward with interest to the development of that great Department to which the Minister has the honour to be assigned. I wish him every success in it, whether his term there be long or short.

The Department of Labour is one that has evolved. Many people have the misconception it was established in order to have a Department to deal with industrial relations. That is not quite true. Older Members of the House would be more competent to speak of the evolution of industry in this country; indeed, many of those who were involved in the development of industry have since died. I am thinking particularly of the late Seán Lemass, who was a pioneer of industrial revolution.

We can complain easily now about many of the things we did not foresee but we should remember that until recently industrial development was an uphill battle. Members who have been in the House for 22 years, as I have been, will remember the discussions that took place particularly when the annual Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce was debated. We listened to the most eloquent speeches from people like Deputy James Dillon, who spoke about workshops in the back lanes of Dublin, about tariff walls to make the people buy inferior products they could buy more cheaply from other countries and about the futility of developing wheat, peat and beet. I am not saying this in order to denigrate anyone but to show the difficult uphill battle in the establishment of the industrial arm of which we can boast today and which has contributed so much to our exports in the last few years.

These were the days when it was proved, not without necessary and sometimes expensive protection, that, given the chance, industry could evolve into a strong arm. It was the profound changes in the political and economic structure that necessitated the setting up of the Department of Labour. As the Minister has pointed out in his long citation on the achievements and hopes of the Department, membership of the Department was garnered from the Department of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Social Welfare and other Departments, to make up what is now one of the most important if not the most important Department in this State. In spite of what some reasoned press correspondents have been writing, this has been the most active Department, as well as the most progressive. I read some of what political correspondents have been writing recently. Of course they have been supporting the Government in their early days in office, but they have been suggesting that the present Minister would lift the Department out of the doldrums into which the Department had fallen in recent years.

In reply I would refer all to the volume of major legislation which I put through the Oireachtas and had passed in the last few years for a Department which I found most active, most efficient and painstaking, very much alive to the requirements of such a progressive and important institution of State. I, as the former political head of that Department, can take all the knocks, but I should like at the outset to pay the tribute to the officials of that Department that they deserve. I congratulate the Minister on his appointment to this Department which has been evolving into the leading Department in this country.

This Department has sprung from difficult beginnings. It was said that the leading function of the Department would be that of industrial relations. The functions of the Department in their order of precedence are a manpower policy, worker protection and industrial relations. It was for that purpose that the Department was originally founded, and to foresee the direction in which the Department should immediately move in respect of these three functions was not easy.

I think I should digress here to remark that when we talk so much about forecasting, estimating or predicting, I have sometimes not condemned but have had little confidence in the possibility of the accuracy of forecasting. It is always difficult to foresee the direction in which a Department should move. One of the services for which this Department are responsible is manpower forecasting. We found that even that was not practicable. My experience in Government has been that forecasting is a most delicate area, the one most susceptible to error.

We have booklets on social and economic expansion which are most useful in so far as they apply targets at which to aim. However, they can be very much off the mark. They are, nevertheless, desirable in that they provide a nucleus of effort and a direction in which to move. That is the most that manpower forecasting can do. Entirely unrelated to the Department of Labour, I remember a Minister for Agriculture coming in here to make a tremendous case for an increase in beef subsidy because all the experts, not merely of this country but nearly universally, had forecast that the price of beef would drop to below 80s per cwt. The Government agreed that in such a serious situation we should ensure that the farmers' economy would be bolstered against such an eventuality. From that day to this the price of meat has kept going up and we never again saw the figure of 80s per cwt. Indeed, it had reached 112s in three months. So much for forecasting or for estimating what the future holds. Forecasts can go like the best laid plans of mice and men.

A manpower policy is one of the foremost services the Department of Labour have to give to society and it entails training, placement guidance, manpower forecasting and related matters. Of these, as has been said here frequently, training is the most important. Indeed, the others are but related matters no matter how significant they are in relation to manpower as a whole. We have always had training at different levels. There has been training of pupils in primary schools, in post-primary establishments particularly in technical schools and now in colleges of technology and comprehensive schools. Heretofore technological training, adult training and retraining and apprenticeship training were not catered for on a proper basis and it was to fill that vacuum that AnCO were set up. It was established on a very firm footing, all our recruitment being with the design to get the best men for the job. In his examination of the Department the Minister will find that this rule was strictly followed, whether in the case of recruitment in the manpower service itself, in the regional services or in the placement division. This is becoming more and more difficult because private enterprise is prepared to syphon off the best men in the executive field and they will not be prepared to enter the services of the Department if they are not paid the proper salaries. As well, we have to face the situation that if we are to retain the best people in AnCO we must pay them proper salaries because otherwise they will be syphoned off to private enterprise.

AnCO got off on a sound footing and the board, composed of representatives of FUE, ICTU and the Department, are doing an excellent job. I have always tried to ensure—I hope the Minister will continue to do so— that there would be no overlapping in the work done by the vocational educational authorities. That work must be complementary to the training activities of AnCO—that there will be sufficient co-operation to ensure that the necessary dovetailing takes place in relation to training and background education.

The Minister referred to the lack of desire on the part of some to take on industrial employment. I am not too sure that in the west of Ireland they would lag in the matter of taking on any kind of employment. There is a need, which I am sure we will overcome, to ensure that the social status of academic education is not unduly pressed over technological training and technical education generally. I think people are coming to realise now that the end product is sometimes much more remunerative than having persons qualified for professions for whom there is no outlet while many of the highly skilled occupations on the technological side are unmanned and in spite of the 60,000 odd unemployed, we have to bring in foreigners sometimes to do particularly skilled jobs.

Training generally is moving and I would hope as I always hoped from the time we found it was possible to get assistance from the Social Fund in the EEC that that fund would at some stage match our increased effort by giving generously towards our training programme. It was one of the applications which we had early prepared and to which we had given a dry run, so to speak, along with others, even before we became members. When I mention the three particular services the Department set up, I should have added that in recent times the EEC has given a new dimension to the Department in so far as it is the channel through which all applications to the Social Fund must go. That I propose to deal with towards the end but the training policy has, I think, always had the backing of this House. There may have been complaints at times that we were not moving fast enough, and the Minister on the Opposition benches may have been one of those who made the complaints, but we were moving as fast as our resources would permit us to move and I think the record will show that in the Capital Programme, the Government were never unkind to us in permitting an increase to enable expansion to take place.

It was not all a financial problem because there was the question of the recruitment of training staff. It was a new service and one which, if it were to be worthy of the gigantic task it was set to perform, had to be established on a proper basis. To inclucate confidence in industrialists themselves, we had to have a proper type of staff to deal with training. I think that still applies and the rate at which that staff can be provided apart from the financial resources required does necessarily set a limit to the pace and rate of development. Nevertheless 1,400 places which, on a six months turnover basis gave double that number of output in the year on courses is not bad. It is a very rapid expansion and further expansion is planned and I hope will take place as early as possible.

Of the manpower service, placement is a very important part and I was glad to note recently that the number of offices has now gone up from 11 to 13 with the recent opening of some new offices. This is a tremendous service which can be of great value if it gets the confidence of the people, particularly of the employers. There is no difficulty whatever in getting unemployed persons and job seekers to turn into the employment agencies looking for work but the agency cannot do much for them if the employers have not got confidence in the agencies and are prepared to place with them early notice of their vacancies and their requirements and to recruit through them. If our employers do that with our placement service, our National Manpower Service, they will be giving it a great fillip and strengthening it and creating the necessary prestige which will enable it to be the success it should be.

One thing which will be immediately said to the Minister, as it was frequently said to me, is "What is the good of your placement service when you have not got a job for everybody going into these offices?" This is something which these offices must overcome. The manpower service must generally be able to overcome this. The same has been said of training—"What are you training people for when you have not got the jobs into which to fit them?" That is not the answer. Training is always training and the trained man, no matter where he goes, has a skill which is never a burden to him. He has always a skill which can command respect and with which he finds job satisfaction and the type of thing he wants to do, receiving the remuneration that goes with it. The approach of people who say "When you have not got the jobs, why have a placement service and a training service?" is a pessimistic approach because there are many people in employment who would like to change, many people who require to be trained and retrained to take up other occupations, and the placement service, in spite of all this, has succeeded in placing a tremendous number of people in employment over the past few years, particularly in the last year since they were organised. One of the things that has happened since I left the Department is that this report on apprenticeship has come about. We have been waiting for some time for this and AnCO has been promising it. They have done a reasonably good job in producing this document for consultation which I hope many people will peruse and come up with their opinions, particularly, employers and trade unions. I would have little quarrel with the suggestions they make. All of us would be delighted to reduce the period required for apprenticeship and everybody knows, whether trade union, employer or otherwise, that the old system of apprenticeship for five years, with the boy sweeping the floor for two years was a waste of time and that the adopting of this method of off-the-job training on a six months intensive course with AnCO and back to the job again means a much better finished article in the three years suggested here than he was under the old five year system. I suggest that after a year the boy would be better qualified.

I am not quite sure but looking over the Minister's speech, for the advance copy of which I thank him, he mentions that employers would have to have changed thinking about the intake of apprenticeship. I think the unions are the most recalcitrant people in this matter. There is a certain jealousy amongst people in skilled employment by reason of which they do not want to see too many people becoming skilled in the same employment and the scarcity value of a particular skill is something of which they are particularly jealous. Trade unions are the people to whom he will have to speak loudest and strongest to ensure that the number of apprenticeships made available each year is increased and that there will be no shortage of skilled labour, which could be one of the greatest incentives for industrial development after industrial peace if that could be established.

Dealing with the placement service, I would hope that placement officers would take an active interest in things other than placement, and I think it is only correct to say that they do, but my intention was always to have the returns to the IDA and the other bodies who should get them regarding the type of skills needed in an area, the returns to AnCO regarding the type of training needed in an area, and manpower information generally fed back to the proper source. This, in itself, could be a very useful function, apart from its placement function. I hope that the placement officers will not merely continue to concentrate in that direction, but that they will step up their activities in that direction.

The guidance service consists of guidance information. Quite a number of leaflets which were up-dated and, I suppose, continue to be up-dated, and which were availed of by many schools and institutions, provided a great service. Occasionally I had complaints that certain professions, or occupations, or vocations, were not properly depicted or outlined in the leaflets. Whenever there was a complaint about that we examined the leaflets in question and made changes if the complaints were genuine. This guidance service was just for information.

The Department of Education are moving towards the appointment of a career guidance officer in every sizeable school and, when they reach that complement, they will have provided a very good service. The guidance information service which is administered by the Department of Labour will fit in very suitably with the requirements of that career guidance service. In the many exhibitions which we attended, the career guidance stall was one of the most frequented, and one of the most sought after by the pupils, many of whom had not made up their minds on what they wanted to do. All the girls wanted to be air hostesses, and all the boys wanted to drive steam-rollers. With the assistance of their teachers they were able to get a very wide view of the many occupations there were and, as they became older and were entrusted to the assistance of the career guidance officer, these leaflets were of tremendous use to them.

Before I pass from the apprenticeship aspect I should like to comment on the proposal to set up industrial training committees. I wonder are we setting up too many committees. Some of the existing committees in the manpower services might be capable of doing that work for AnCO. That is only a small point but I think it would fit into the work they are already doing.

CERT is the branch of training to which the catering industry is entrusted and it has been doing excellent work since it was set up. It is the subject of some divided opinion at present as to whether it should cover the hotel industry alone or catering generally, including institutions, and so forth. The Minister's speech gets over that nicely by saying it can do both and that it should ultimately be under AnCO, which is where I think it will land ultimately.

At a time when it was difficult to get places to train pupils, CERT took over other institutions and set up very good training schools in places like Shannon Airport, one of the earliest, Maynooth College and Rockwell. These places adapted themselves for the training of people in the catering industry and did what I thought was an excellent job. It is true that the colleges had the benefit of this training. They had the practical service for their staffs which I think is an essential part of any training— like on the job training—and, if they had, good luck to them. If a good job were being done I would not grudge them that service and that, certainly, is not a reason why it should be discontinued.

So many places have now been provided in Galway that they may be sufficient to absorb them and, indeed, take on more than would be available if these other centres were allowed to continue. I would hope that there would be a place for all of them, and I would hope that the basic requirement for an increase in this direction could be attended to, that is, that, when qualified, these people would command a minimum wage or salary. If they are being trained for something and they find at the end of the road that they are not as well paid as semi-skilled workers in a textile factory, or somewhere else, they can hardly be expected to take on the important work that is involved, with the high standard of training that is required, and the many other requirements and qualifications which are necessary in the catering industry, particularly in the tourist industry. I hope that CERT will continue to do more and even better work than it has been doing, and that it will take a keen after-training interest in the students and give them the opportunity to return time and again for refresher courses as they do in their early training.

Turning to the protection of workers, the Minister laid stress on the need for legislation and the need to move more rapidly in this direction. I would remind him with regard to accidents in industry and the conditions under which people work that, in the last analysis, this is up to the people themselves. All that NISO can do—and they are struggling to do a tremendous job —is to get the necessary voluntary co-operation so that people will take care of themselves. All industrial accidents and fatal accidents arrive on the Minister's desk almost immediately after they happen and, if you examine them, you will find that mostly they relate to persons who are highly qualified and skilled at their work.

They are persons who have come to taking risks because they have been doing the same thing habitually and, perhaps, getting away without conforming to the necessary requirements which, very often they think are all nonsense anyhow. One day, dismantling a scaffolding, they take the same risks as they took a thousand times, the worst happens, and a life is lost, or somebody is maimed. To eliminate this requires a good deal of voluntary and personal co-operation between management and worker and a realisation of the dangers involved. I doubt that any legislation can do this. Certain conditions are laid down in present legislation; indeed, enough to ensure that safety measures could eliminate practically every accident that takes place if they were followed. They require the attention of the people concerned.

One thing that might be dealt with in any new legislation is the period of exemption in respect of short duration jobs. If I remember rightly a job has to go on for over a month in order to require a person to conform to all the conditions in the Act. A job that lasts for only a day could create an accident just as quickly as one of long duration. I think that is one of the things which legislation might provide for but any sensible management will ensure that everything possible is done to eliminate accidents in the workshop, the factory, the construction works, the transport service or any other type of employment. The Act lays down a certain minimum which must be provided. This is calculated to provide for the safety of the worker.

In the course of the big programme of legislation which I had the pleasure of putting through in my time in the Department we had the Dangerous Substances Act, which made better provisions than before for the safety of workers dealing with dangerous substances, many of which had come into existence in modern times due to technological development which was not foreseen at the time when substances were specified in earlier legislation when there was little other than petroleum, spirits and kerosene. In recent times many dangerous substances have come on the market so that it was necessary to have that piece of legislation brought in to provide for the safety of those handling dangerous substances, whether in carriage, storage or packaging. At the time we were accused of bringing this in in an attempt to control explosives, as a defensive measure but it had nothing whatever to do with that. From our point of view it was an Act to provide for the better safety of workers involved and also for the property of the people involved with those dangerous substances.

The NISO organisation have improved and expanded as a result of the efforts of those at the top in recent years but it has not got the general support it should get throughout the country. One wonders if NISO would improve if there was a provision in legislation to make it compulsory to have these committees. In the last analysis it is the voluntary effort of individuals which will save lives. NISO try to highlight how accidents happen. They have slides and give demonstrations at their many exhibitions. The best supporters of the NISO are those who turn up and the detractors are those who are not there to see what they should do. This is one of the weaknesses in the safety legislation.

The other big arm of the Department's functions is industrial relations. I shall only deal with a few aspects of this. In this matter I often found it suited to keep one's mouth closed and sometimes one had to speak hoping one would be listened to when making general reference as to why people should behave in a particular way. The Minister will find that when a serious strike occurs people point the finger and ask: "What are you doing about that? Why have you not settled the bank strike? Why have you not settled the cement strike? Why have you not settled the CIE strike? Why have you not settled the fertiliser strike?" They seem to think that the Minister should take off his coat, beat them all and tell them to go back to work. The Minister sets up institutions which make provision for the proper negotiation and methodical handling of these disputes and if these institutions are not adequate then one has to think of others. I frequently found myself at the stage when I had to try to think of others but at that stage all one is thinking of is something new to see if it will work better than something there before.

We had our conciliation committees and we appointed rights commissioners under legislation brought in by my predecessor. We had the Labour Court. All these things provided adequate means by which negotiations could be carried out before the serious stage of a stoppage of work was reached. I am afraid the whole question of our society and our whole political set-up has changed so much that in trade unionism there are certain elements with so much economic power that they know perfectly well they can extract almost any concession from their employers, whether the State or some individual if they threaten a stoppage of work which in some cases can bring the whole economy to a standstill over night. This is a sensitive area in which one has to move very gaurdedly and very carefully. It is not an area where stunting will have any positive effect.

One would imagine that all the institutions provided would deter people from taking the serious action which has wrought so much havoc in the economy in the past. When I say that I am not saying the blame was either here or there. The fact remains that man days were lost and other industrial concerns were deterred from coming in here when they saw what the industrial scene was like. The best move we made in that direction was the national agreement. We set up the Employer/Labour Conference and brought in these agreements after they sweated over them for many days. They were not ideal agreements. They had an element of inflation in them already and one would probably be more than justified if one was to be concerned only with increased productivity and the increase in the consumer index. Nevertheless, they made for some stability and they reduced, as the Minister said in his speech, the number of man days lost as a result of strikes.

This is a move in the right direction. Now that I am out of office I would like to ask if anybody can contemplate this thing going onad infinitum. Do we have an increase each year? Must we have an agreement at the end of which there will be an increase another increase and another increase? Do we carry on with this spiralling until money loses its entire value?

In the 14 point programme which the National Coalition Government announced before the general election a prices and incomes policy was mentioned. The worker says if prices are kept stable he will not demand an increase in wages and the trader says if he does not have to increase his overheads he will not increase his prices. It is a question of whether the hen or the egg came first. Every country in the world has tried a prices and incomes policy and I have not seen one which has shown any sign of success. We have our own as we set up the National Prices Commission representative of all sides of industry, including trade unionists. This, to my mind, only tended to make people feel that things were going mad because usually on the radio they heard an announcement that the prices of 17 articles had been increased by agreement of the Prices Commission. If the Prices Commission were not there they would have been slipped in time and again and people would not have noticed them. Now the Prices Commission give their assent, as they must, when the facts are presented to them and you have a report released that the price of ten or 11 articles has been increased. In face of that this Government are committed to bringing in a national prices and incomes policy. I seriously doubt whether they can do so. While everybody would desire it we would be the first country in the world to have achieved it if we do succeed.

There must be some end to the spiralling of incomes; it cannot go on forever. Nobody could contemplate a situation of perpetuating annual increases with many different terminal dates, with each party coming along saying: "It is our turn now; the other fellows got 50p a week more than we did; we must get that now." There are questions of parity and selectivity, differential rates and so on, all of which must be recognised. One compares with what others get; the teachers with the gardaí; the gardaí with the civil servants and the civil servants with dentists and they all go mad to ensure that the other fellow does not catch up. Nobody stops to think of the interests of the national economy. Although individually they will agree that this is creating inflation and that money is losing value, collectively they all want these adjustments. This is the problem any Government must face and that no Government will succeed in settling. If you reach the stage where money is increasing in value you have depression with mass unemployment. In the early thirties we lived through a time when the cost of living was going down each year and that is the only time in the memory of the present generation when that happened. Nobody ever wants to see it happen again.

Inflation with all its evils, as somebody at the IMI Conference in Killarney said the other day, puts money in the way of those who would not otherwise get it and it helps generally to improve people's standard of living. If the institutions provided by the Department of Labour can ensure that the increase demanded each year will not be higher than what is justified (1) by the consumer price index increase and (2) by increased productivity, then inflation will not operate deterimentally. There is nothing I shall watch more keenly than how the Coalition Government will deal with the prices and incomes policy because we have been the subject of continuing criticism from the Government when they were in Opposition while we struggled with one of the most difficult world problems. Then they asked: "What are you doing about it? Why do you not settle it?"

The Employer/Labour Conference took the first step towards bringing sanity into the situation and at the same time providing satisfaction, providing a new institution which I, at one time, thought could be provided by the Labour Court. I thought the Labour Court could take part in that exercise but the Labour Court held the view that they are akin to a statutory judicial body which must be completely free to make absolutely impartial decisions.

Through the Chair, would the Deputy excuse me as it was necessary for me to be absent from the House for a few moments?

That is all right. I do not mind. It was my opinion that they could undertake work that could be theirs to do and which they had the expertise to carry out better than any other body. I was invited to speak at a symposium of the Dublin Trade Union Council after the national agreement and the members present were loud in voicing threats of what they would do if the bankers or any other persons who held themselves to be outside the agreement infringed its conditions even though they were not a party to it. With the assistance of the Minister for Finance I did my level best to ensure that the latest agreement negotiated by the banks would conform to the second national agreement of 1972. I was not concerned with what the banks got or did not get, what they were entitled to or not entitled to, other than in seeing that they would co-operate. We had the Fogarty Report on the original bank strike which quoted the bankers as saying that national agreements were no part of their interest; that they were a body by themselves. Neither I nor the Government liked that: we felt that whatever improvements in conditions they could bring about, it was necessary for everybody to co-operate in ensuring that the terms of the national agreement were observed in relation to pay adjustments and conditions of employment.

For that reason I submitted the banks' proposals to the Labour Court under section 24. They found that many of these did conform to the national agreement. We then proposed that these parts of the negotiated agreement should be implemented and the others left aside for discussion. We said we would bring in legislation to curtail them if they went ahead against our wishes. We asked them to come and see us. I shall say no more about that because I do not know where the matter now stands. The election intervened and the legislation, which as far as I recall got its first reading, was shelved and it remains to be seen what will happen. The banks may have had a very good case, but being members of a most important institution, the financial system of the country, they must have realised that we were trying to deal with a major national crisis in attempting to curb inflation and get some sanity into the economy and reach a situation where a man's take-home pay would be of real value rather than that he should grasp something out of which he would have to pay more income tax, and find the purchasing power of any increase in pay diminished almost as soon as he got it.

These were the problems which the Department of Labour set up institutions to deal with. The Minister devoted a great part of his speech to the rights of the female sex—and rightly so; we had already appointed an officer in the Department to deal with that situation. These are the serious problems the Minister must tackle. Whether the Minister is better suited to deal with them than I was remains to be seen. I sincerely hope he is. If he can deal with the trade unions, with ICTU and the FUE, and with the banks, better than I could and get them to come into line and get people generally to accept the terms of whatever national agreement it is, all the time negotiating a better agreement, we will give him every support in that because this constitutes an overall national problem affecting not merely the lives of the people but the whole future development of the economy.

Again, the whole question of full employment is closely wrapped up in this. One of the greatest incentives to any industrialist, whether he be a national or from another country, is a reasonable measure of industrial peace. Until such time as we can guarantee that industrialists will opt for other areas. I am not introducing now a note of despair. I have always pointed out that the Department of Labour was one Department in which one could not play politics. It is a Department requiring the co-operation of both sides of this House. Perfunctoriness has no place in it. Very often common sense ordained that one should hold one's tongue. I made major speeches on suitable occasions pointing out what was involved in continually rising wages chasing prices and prices chasing wages. I pointed out what was involved, but nobody took the slightest notice. Demands came along again the next year. First it was 10s a week; then it was £1 a week; then it was £4 a week and, finally, in one case we had workers demanding an increase of £20 a week. The sky was the limit. It seemed to me a matter of thinking of a number, doubling it and then negotiating to see how much one would get.

There are signs now that some order has entered into this. I have no intention of being in any way facetious. I have no intention of trying to impede in any way what the Minister is trying to do, but I do want to point out that those who negotiated these two agreements will want the full support of all of us in their next effort so that they will negotiate an even better third agreement. That will be the best approach for all of us, particularly for those of us who will be taking over government again in a short time.

When I took over in the Department of Labour I found that my predecessor, Dr. Hillery, had prepared an omnibus Bill covering trade union legislation. He ran into very heavy weather with all concerned. The Bill was beaten to it by an election. It was put aside for some time but we eventually decided to take out of the Bill those provisions which were acceptable—to use the modern terminology, those provisions on which we could get a consensus— and we had dialogue with the FUE and the trade unions and got general agreement. We were proceeding to do piecemeal the provisions in the original omnibus measure. Each Bill dealt with a specific area. One of the Bills being prepared—I hoped to bring it in— dealt with the proliferation of trade unions and supported any move which would tend towards the amalgamation of trade unions. Proliferation of trade unions was making negotiation impossible. The prevention of proliferation would, in the last analysis, be very definitely to the advantage of the unions themselves. There are many hazards involved in bringing about this situation, but a move could be made in that direction and it would be a very, very useful move indeed.

The Department has had foisted on it, or acquired, or accepted, a new dimension from the point of view of EEC involvement in that it is the Department responsible for applications to the Council for payment from the Social Fund. The applications are channelled through and many of the applications are directly concerned, as the Minister knows, with the Department itself. The one meriting the earliest attention is that for some extra finance for the training service, AnCO and the IMI. The latter is on occasion a much maligned body. It is one for which I have the greatest admiration. It started out with a number of top executives here coming together for the purpose of placing their expertise at the disposal of others. Initially, we did not have many of them. We had, in fact, fewer than were lost in a tragic plane distaster not so many months ago. But their numbers multiplied. The IMI grew out of the pioneering effort of great men who had made a success of their own businesses, some of which sprang from very small beginnings. These were the men who formed the nucleus of the Irish Management Institute. They did a tremendous job. Irrespective of what other institutions, be they universities, vocational schools or colleges of technology, can do there will always be a need for the Irish Management Institute. This Institute holds refresher courses designed to bring people up to date in skills and techniques and in the evolution of industry generally and in the requirements of management in particular. They do an excellent job. Any money we can get from the EEC—I will not quote some of the things the Minister said about the EEC when we were thinking of joining it—to improve training in these directions will be very welcome indeed. It will also be of tremendous help to the State.

During the general election I went to Brussels. I am glad the papers did not take too much notice of it. If one goes over now one gets a great deal of publicity. I attended a most important meeting in the midst of the election campaign of the Ministers for Social Affairs. I attended only because this was a link which, if we lost it, could have repercussions. From my earlier attendances in Brussels I feared that some of the smart alecks representing other nations might see the solution to our unemployment problem as the bringing of our people across to Germany, France or elsewhere and telling them there was plenty of employment for them in these countries. I made the case that we were interested in bringing the work to the people and not the people to the work. That argument—it was taken up by the British on the same occasion—was accepted and I am glad the Minister is now pursuing the same line. I fully support him. It was a crucial meeting. These are the things we must insist on in ensuring that we pull our weight in an association in which we are equals and in which we should not suffer from any inferiority complex.

That is most of what I have to say on a great Department. It is a Department which is becoming the most important one in the State. This Department will have to spearhead much of the economic drive that will bring longterm results. What is done in the Department of Labour may not be evident today or tomorrow but what is done there will provide the launching pad for future developments. This is particularly bound up with the manpower policy and with training in particular.

I mentioned some of the legislation introduced during my term of office. A measure which gave me great satisfaction was that which amended the Redundancy Bill. I was warned by some members of the Labour Party at the time that I was not going far enough in providing for the using-up of the huge surplus which had accumulated in the Redundancy Fund at that time. In return, I pointed out that in England the Government had had the same experience. They accumulated a great surplus and after a time they became more generous but found then that the surplus was eaten up and they had to increase contributions. Even in spite of the generous Amendment Bill, although I thought I was reasonably conservative and doubled the benefits while holding out against retrospection. I warned that we might have to increase the contributions. We had to do so. In the first quarter of this year the numbers of redundancies were somewhat down compared with those in previous years. I hope the Government do not take credit for that.

They will not take credit for the redundancies anyway.

It was one of the things which they were handed on a plate. It was a good scheme. It provided for people at a time when they might have been dismissed and told they were unemployed. Reasonably generous provision was made for such people. The more industrial development we have the more "musical chairs" we will have. There will be new techniques and new industries. Some industries will become obsolete. That is the normal experience in countries which are fully developed. Training and retraining are required.

I have nothing to say about the Estimate, most of which was prepared while I was Minister. The Minister, while giving a full and long explanation, did not number the pages in the speech. I had to do that myself. They came to 51. My original script had 24 pages. The Minister added a few sections based on aspirations and hopes founded on the present basis of the Department as it is working at present. I hope the Department will continue in that way.

One of the drawbacks which haunted me in my efforts in the Department was that people were breathing down my neck about a blue book manifesto. Mention was often made about bringing in socialism of a new type. A conference in Galway suggested our ideas were wrong.

I hope that Fine Gael and Labour have merged to form one party and that we will not have any wildcat schemes proposed in the future and held up as an alternative. The Government are comprised of two parties agreed on certain policies. I understand that they have agreed to merge and to be one party. If not there must be the inevitable dichotomy and this will manifest itself at some time.

Another aspiration.

Schemes and aspirations would go by the board again.

Dr. Hillery is in Brussels now——

I am talking about the inevitable dichotomy that exists. If the two parties have merged as one, then there is one party; if not, there are still two parties. Do the Government intend to continue as two parties? Will they go out again saying that they are still the Labour Party and Fine Gael, or will they say they are now one party? Much depends on that.

We are happy, anyway.

I wish you luck.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Minister for presenting us with such a first-class document from his Department. Great credit is due to him. I have known him over a number of years and know that he is well-fitted for his job. His years of experience in the trade union movement have qualified him to deal with the work in his Department.

The great event last year was our entry into the EEC. As a result of that many attitudes must change. In his statement the Minister laid great emphasis on industrial training. We are now in a highly-industrialised unit in Europe. While there will be aids, these will be mostly financial. Without proper training, particularly industrial training, we in this country would be annihilated as an industrial nation. That will not happen. We will be able to measure up to change because we have geared ourselves by AnCO. AnCO are doing a fine job in training and resettling people.

I would like to mention the report on apprenticeship training. The reduction in age is very important. I served my time, and while doing so I realised that the period of apprenticeship was too long. My opinion has not changed by one iota. The last speaker mentioned the trade union restrictions on the intake of apprentices. In a sense they restricted the numbers of apprentices in certain fields for good reasons. Apprentices have to be trained. If there is a flood of apprentices into an industry they will not be trained, but will be used as cheap labour. The policy of the trade union movement in restricting the numbers of apprentices was correct, because they had an obligation to their members and to the young apprentices. Educational standards are rising. Technology is becoming more widely used. This is a technological age. In these circumstances apprentices must have a higher basic education and a shorter training period.

Great credit is due to the trade union movement for their participation in national wage agreements. They signed agreements at a time when living standards were rising. When inflation outstripped wage increases they honoured the agreement. In that way they showed themselves to be a most responsible body.

Deputy Brennan considers that a prices and incomes policy would not work and said that it has been tried in other countries. The fact that a policy has been tried and has failed is not sufficient reason for not trying it again. If inflation is allowed to continue we will be in serious trouble. We will not be able to compete with other European countries. We are in a sophisticated market and if we are not competitive we will be in trouble.

The trade union movement should consider productivity agreements in the context of raising the standard of living of their members. This is a matter which should be explored. Productivity agreements would mean something for everybody and a real rise in workers' standard of living, which is what we all want to ensure.

Deputy Brennan pointed out that at the IMI meeting last week it was suggested that in a period of inflation some people made money. That is quite right. The rich make money. Those who suffer in an inflationary situation are the poor, the social welfare recipients. While we look forward to their being given some relief in the forthcoming budget, that is not good enough. Both management and unions must keep a close eye on high inflationary trends because of the great hardships involved for the less well-off section of the community and because of the danger of pricing ourselves out of markets.

The National Manpower Service is working very well. This is a most important development within the labour movement.

There are two labour exchanges in Dublin and they are a disgrace. They are degrading. A man could only lose his will and his spirit by having to attend at one of these places two or three times a week in order to sign. These monuments to the last century should be demolished and replaced by buildings more suited to the technological age. Trained personnel should be employed to deal with the problems of unemployed men. Unemployment is a cancer in our society. Regrettably, unemployment has increased over the last number of years. One has only to visit a labour exchange to see the despair and the hardship caused by unemployment. I would ask the Minister to consider this matter. An effort should be made to re-employ persons who have been unemployed. There should be proper buildings staffed by trained social welfare workers who could meet people, talk to them, sort out their problems and help them to regain confidence in their ability to work. There is a tendency to regard persons who have been unemployed for a few years as persons who do not want to work. That is not the case. We all want to work. In some cases a person's confidence is undermined by reason of his being unemployed. An effort must be made to restore selfconfidence and a sense of human dignity.

Discrimination on the grounds of age is developing in our society. It is a good thing that AnCO is there to re-train men but if an employer decides that a man who is 40 years of age is useless as far as he is concerned, re-training becomes irrelevant. We talk about taking action in regard to other forms of discrimination but do not appear to take any action in regard to discrimination on the grounds of age. For employment as a general worker in one local authority a person who is 40 years of age or more would not be considered. That is not the kind of society of which I want to be part. I know the Minister will consider this matter. He is a man with a keen interest in the human aspect of his position.

Industrial democracy has been a subject of debate over the last few years. I suspect that management and unions do not take the matter too seriously but I feel that as long as people are talking about it nothing will happen. A whole new outlook can be developed in industrial relations so that both sides in industry will be able to talk with one another rather than to one another. The works council idea must be promoted. The Minister should encourage that development in every way possible. Persons who want to participate in works councils should be provided with the necessary training and opportunity. An employer who releases employees for this purpose will benefit by the fact that his workers are being trained in this area.

The question of training is involved in the implementation of industrial democracy. It is not industrial democracy merely to have a man sit on the board of management because he can be ignored and shut out. This may happen if we do not tackle the matter of industrial democracy in a proper manner. Management training for workers is necessary. The industrial college at Sandford Road, which I attended for four years, does a good job. The Minister should ensure that this college, and perhaps another one on the north side of the city, operate for the purpose of training workers in management so that when they are on the boards they will know what is going on and can participate in discussions. It is important that workers should know the problems of management so that they may be able to explain to their colleagues what is happening.

Time and again we have seen where firms have closed and receivers appointed; in these instances workers have been left penniless except for redundancy payments. If we had worker participation this would not happen because there would be greater knowledge of what was going on. In addition, workers should receive the auditor's general report just as do the shareholders. Management frequently talk about their responsibility to shareholders but rarely about their responsibility to workers. Many firms act as if they had no responsibility to the man who works for them every day—in their view their only responsibility is to the shareholders. This is ludicrous and it is the main reason for the bad industrial relations we have had for the last number of years.

Industrial democracy cannot be imposed on anyone. It can be eased in on the State bodies and, when outside industry see the effect it has, they will be only too anxious to participate in industrial democracy. In addition, workers must participate in profit-sharing as do the shareholders. A worker is entitled to a dividend quite apart from what he earns.

Employers who participate in profit-sharing should be given tax incentives. For the worker, it gives him a real share in his job and a sense of responsibility and, in turn, this means he is willing to give of his best. We should strive to achieve this. We are a small country, we are supposed to be Christian, although one might not think this when one sees the trade disputes that occur. The previous speaker blamed sections of the trade union movement for disrupting industry but I do not agree with him. In many instances these disputes arise because of bad communications or because management are not prepared to listen but want only to dictate. These human failings occur because people are not prepared to sit down and to talk together; rather they talk at one another.

I am glad the Minister intends to set up a separate section in his Department to deal with the problem of industrial democracy. We hear much about management training and it is true that our standards are rising in this regard. We had the tragedy of losing some of our great men last year and it will take a number of years to fill that gap. Some management training should be done at shop floor level so that the problems and fears of people on the shop floor are recognised and appreciated. Management cannot remain aloof. They are only a function—although a major one— in the operation and they must remember that. They must remember they are working for the good of the community.

The Department of Labour deals with people. I am glad that the Minister's speech spells out the concern that exists for all sections of industry. This is the correct attitude to adopt. I was pleased the Minister spoke about women's rights because in industry they have been treated as second-class citizens and, as the Minister has pointed out, they have been given the menial jobs. This should be changed as a result of the report of the Commission on the Status of Women, but I think the Minister will have to keep a close eye to see that women are not deprived of their rights in industry. If this can be achieved it will help to improve industrial relations.

The disabled and handicapped workers have been neglected and, because of their infirmities, they have been passed over. Firms who take on such people should get special concessions and every encouragement should be given them so that the disabled and handicapped will not be treated as second-class citizens but will be involved in general activities.

The previous speaker wondered how Fine Gael and Labour stood in relation to all these matters. The 14-point programme is a clear indication of what we stand for. Both parties stand for social reform and, when the term of this Dáil ends, I have no doubt this Government will be recognised as a Government of social reform, a Government who have shown concern and have made the necessary changes. The statement by the Minister is a clear proof of the kind of changes that will take place and I should like to compliment him.

I congratulate the Minister on his speech. It is a very impressive volume which takes a long time to absorb and I am afraid I have not been able to do so fully in the couple of hours at my disposal. Deputy Brennan has had experience in this Department whose importance he emphasised. He pointed out that its main importance was not in the role of industrial relations, as people had thought.

I agree with the Deputy that we are dealing with a very important Department. One of the main functions of the Department is to train our workers to produce goods which will be competitive in the markets of our partners in Europe. We will succeed there only if the training has been done properly. Referring again to Deputy Brennan, it amazes me how Fianna Fáil must have thought about this Department because when they were in Government they had only a part-time Minister in charge. He also took care of the Department of Social Welfare which dealt with an annual expenditure of £250 million. Of course, it was in that Department he spent most of his time. As well as that the staff of the Department of Labour had to be picked from various other Departments. Without that staff the Minister could not have carried on.

In his opening remarks the Minister spoke about unemployment figures in 1972 and up to the end of 1972. He said that from then on the figures had abated. That is so because it was only then that the Government took action. They spoke about a ten point programme but it was only when they were pushed by Labour Party policy that they began to move. The only time they took action in the past seven or eight years was when they were pushed.

To some extent we have eased the emigration rate but we still have 68,000 people unemployed and the new Government must now get down and do something about this. One reason for the fall in emigration is that there was high unemployment in Britain and, therefore, many of our unemployed workers did not go there.

On the subject of retraining, I visited training centres in Galway where people were being trained in the building trades—plastering and joinery. Of course, retraining is only half the task because side by side with it must be the creation of jobs. The difficulty about training is the cost to the State. For instance, some years ago professional people, doctors and engineers, educated in Ireland at immense cost to the ratepayers and to the State, emigrated to England. That is one of the reasons why parallel with training we must have industries in which to absorb our trained workers. I agree that some of them, such as engineers, must go to other countries for experience in bigger projects. During the past number of years we have been giving grants to foreign companies in the hope that they would give employment here. We were promised thousands of new jobs but we ended up getting only a few hundred. I give Potez as an example.

One important sphere in industrial training is that of design and in this respect I mention the Kilkenny Design Centre which caters particularly for cloth and pottery. We will never compete on an equal basis with many European countries, particularly with Finland and Denmark, the leaders in furniture, unless we have expert designers. Italy specialised in making refrigerators but American companies buy them and stamp their names on them. As I have said, unless we concentrate on design we will not be able to compete in European markets. Navan is one instance in which proper design would be of immense benefit. Indeed, with proper designers there they could be leaders in Europe in furniture production.

As well as design what we must aim at is greater productivity. Productivity will come only if workers are interested in the jobs they are doing. We must also have a design and I feel that in this country where transport is not a great charge, although it is a big charge where a product is big and bulky we should go in for the smaller expensive item, for quality rather than quantity. To do this, again we must look for these designers and these skilled workers. I feel that some of these workers could be sent abroad. Sometimes you will lose them but some will come back and if they come back with greater skills, we shall be in a position to compete with other countries in Europe.

There are in every company three sections: there are the workers who are the most important, there is management and there is money which is usually the shareholder in the bigger companies. The worker must be skilled and must give good productivity for which he must be paid on a proper basis and particularly in relation to his skills. With management, and I have often blamed them here but they have improved tremendously, goes the salesmen. Are these as good as they should be? Then we have management and management are thinking of tomorrow rather than five years ahead. I cannot blame them for that because the previous Government never thought ahead further than the next election or the next week. In relation to shareholders' money in a company run by the management, it is their duty to use this money to the best advantage. This does not apply so much to this Department but it does apply, and money from Europe can usually be got at a cheaper rate and like most Departments of Government, they like to pay for everything as they go along, particularly capital expenditure. My feeling about that is that this is completely wrong. Let the present generation pay for the next generation do nothing else but enjoy it and drink it. My feeling is that if you are putting capital into it, that capital can be paid over 30 or 40 years and the money saved, if you can get it cheaper on the world money market, can be used for day to day work. How often do we see businesses in this country selling their property and leasing it back so as to have working capital? This does not apply to the Department so much but it does apply to management in a company, that they are inclined to play it too safe.

I agree with the Minister that training is not particularly a matter for the Government. I feel that the trade unions have to train the worker in particular essential skills, but management and trade unions have a part interest with the Government in it, and I agree that where possible, a grant should be given to unions if they have to use their money for training purposes.

The Minister mentioned the matters of apprenticeship and career guidance and I feel that his Department have done a tremendous amount in this regard but very often this could be given to a child as young as 12 or 13 years of age. How often do we find that people leaving school from 18 to 21 who do not know what they are going to do? If they have shown a particular inclination towards mathematics, English or science, they should be steered that way and this is not happening. It is the case with certain teachers but not generally.

Another point is that we have in this country what amounts to a crisis in apprenticeship and I believe the reason for this is that there is no promotion for apprentices. A boy goes in as an apprentice and ends up as a worker. He may become manager of a section but he is finished at that. How many of them become directors? Leaving out the accountant or financial controller, how often do we see a man who starts on the floor getting to the top in a business he does not own himself? They always bring in some university man or a man with an English accent. Far away hills are green and they want somebody who speaks nicely rather than the man who knows his job. I am not saying here that there should be no such person as an accountant or an engineer. When it comes to special training, these men have to be used as they are essential to a business, but one thing is that many of these people who own these businesses, who are managing directors themselves, started without any training or university degree, but these are the men who when they get to a certain rank do not want the men who started on the same level to get charge and become a director.

The Minister mentioned the levygrant in relation to various trades. I agree with this—from a vested interest point of view, it may be biased—but particularly as regard the tourist trade which is one of our biggest moneymakers, those in the licensed trade have to pay the same as those in the hotel business. In the licensed trade, the workers are trained and trained well. I am not saying that the hotels do not train their workers, but the Government are already helping to provide a tremendous number of grants—some very badly placed by the last Government and very often on a political basis —for hotels to carry out improvement of their business, whereas most of those in the drink trade and many of the bigger hotels which did not get grants, had to do it out of their own resources.

In relation to apprentices, I must say that the Minister and the Department have done quite a bit in discussions with AnCO and we are told that people are conducting an intensive campaign to get intake raised, that the results have been most encouraging and that the people in Paris are prepared to cooperate. I do not know exactly what they did but whatever it was, I am quite happy about it but I feel that here again much of it has to do with snobbery. A person will prefer a pen-pushing job if it pays less rather than appear at home in dirty clothes though he may have a better future in them.

Starting at the top, because it does happen in most companies—and by the top I mean the Government—there should be a five-year if not a ten-year programme, so that a person can feel: "I will stay in this business for a ten-year span and, after the eighth or ninth year, I will have a look at it." I believe that industrial democracy is essential. When a person has worked for seven or eight years he should have sufficient information to know if it is time to get out of that business because he is wasting his time. As Deputy O'Brien said, when you are a man of 40 everybody shies clear of you. Most of the bigger business companies have at least a five-year programme and they would have a ten-year programme if they had sufficient money and knew where the money was coming from.

I am not saying this because it is political, but it happens to be political. Everything is greater before an election and then there is a second budget in the open. Then we have a tough time for two years and we spring forward again for the next election. That may be all right to win an election but it "bunches" the country. There is no doubt about that. Nobody can plan ahead and least of all can the Department of Labour plan ahead. The civil servants spend time trying to work out how long the Government will last and how they will get in the next time. It is the same case of a man who is stuck for money—and this happened to myself. There is a bad period and you are lodging money in the bank as quickly as you are writing cheques. You spend more time doing that than you do running your business. This is what has happened for the past 16 years. Until we can plan ten years ahead, or at least five years ahead, this country will not succeed in Europe.

The education available now is tremendous. We may have rushed ahead a bit quickly. Years ago I knew the building trade, and I still know it. At that time it was a closed shop. Father was followed by son. It was tough enough for an uncle to get his nephew taken on as a carpenter. Now, with the education available, most of the men who work in the building trade hope that their sons will be top civil servants or TDs.

Top civil servants.

There should be some way of raising the status of tradesmen. The best example I can give is probably teachers, taking into account the amount of hard work and nerve-racking work teachers have to do. All over Western Europe teachers are very badly paid whereas in Eastern Europe they are very well paid. If the glamour end of a job could be increased you might be able to get more people to undertake it. I do not know how this could be done. I have no great ideas about it.

I agree with the Minister that, with a limited amount of capital, training has improved tremendously since I first spoke about it, but we have a long way to go. We should be spending more money on it. I know there is difficulty in getting teachers, and so on, and I agree that a great deal should be done on the floor of the factories. Some employers said that if they trained their apprentices the apprentices could go to another firm and give their ideas to that other firm. Therefore they were disinclined to have apprentices who could move in and move out in a couple of years. In America and West Germany the idea is that they take in machinery and in two years they take in more machinery and, if you walk out, you are out of date by the time you are in the other business. Employers must have apprentices who are properly trained.

Either with the help of grants or through the enterprise of firms, managers should spend a period abroad either in, say, Germany or England or America. This is happening more often now than was the case. We should provide every encouragement for these people to go abroad, particularly when we are starting a new industry, so that they will get more technical knowledge and will realise how competitive they really are.

The National Wage Agreements have been very successful particularly in the case of the underpaid worker but the underpaid worker is still very late in getting an increase, or he is not getting it quickly enough to catch up on other workers. There is a feeling in trade union circles that the differential between the lower and the higher paid workers must stay. I hate to say this, but I feel it is up to the Government to make up some of the deficiency by social welfare benefits. We have been a long time trying to make up the differential and we have not done it yet.

The cost of living has gone up in the past number of years and the workers must get a wage increase to meet it. I do not know, but I hope that tomorrow there will be many increased social benefits in the budget. This, together with the reduction in the rates. and with VAT being removed from certain commodities, will help a tremendous number of people, and will give them more spending power. They are entitled to get an increased wage to meet the increased cost of living as well as those increased benefits. I know that if we overdo it we will become underproductive in competition with Europe.

While I was speaking about retraining and training it struck me that the number of old people who are being trained is negligible. Some 18 months ago I asked a question about this and one person over a certain age was being retrained. I think the position has improved since.

There is something else at which we should be looking. Because of the lack of thought by the previous Government we have at the moment the amalgamation of various motor companies. We had one particular company where there was a lock-out or a strike and their workers are likely to become redundant. Some years ago we should at least have got in touch with the big British companies, European companies or American companies who over the years have got a tremendous amount of money from exports to this country. We should have had some deal with them in regard to spare parts—in relation to for example, springs for cars which are mass produced—so that when those people lose their employment they could obtain employment on spare parts production. I do not think anybody ever thought of this. The only thing they thought of was putting off the day; the less they thought about it the fewer votes they would lose. We were promised that nobody would lose their jobs in the car industry until 1980 but the number is reduced by half already. Many of them have got jobs in garages and repair shops but there are still many out of work. Alternative employment in the same line of business should be available to workers who become redundant.

I spoke to a man from the IDA last year who told me that an American company wanted to come to Ireland. They wanted to be in Europe when they knew we were joining the Common Market. They were waiting for the referendum and in the meantime went to Brussels. I asked "Why go to Brussels? Why not go to England, where there is training and knowledge?" I was told that there were too many man hours lost by strikes. They said the one thing about Ireland is when they have a strike they have a long one.

The car industry affects workers in Dublin and in Cork. You have Japanese and Italian companies who have to bring their cars long distances. It might pay them to assemble them here. We certainly could be making spare parts for cars here. I see that one company is spending £350,000,000 within the next few years. We should be able to obtain something from such a company if they made spare parts in this country.

I agree with Deputy O'Brien in regard to what he said about worker participation. This is coming. We can put it off and say that people do not like it, but it must come. Until you get workers, management and shareholders working together you will not get the best result possible for the company. Ireland, as a small country, has a better chance and it is much easier to start here. I believe it would be very hard to start in England. This is something which can be done gradually. Some industries have a big turnover and small profit while others have a low turnover and a big profit. However, they work out at about the same money, but not on percentages.

One problem which is common to both Ireland and England is that in some industries we have even up to 30 trade unions. Recently we had a case of too many unions in the one business. I am not saying that we should have one industrial union in a particular firm but I think we should try to reduce the number of unions. Where there are two unions in one particular industry they should be amalgamated so that the decision of one union, which might cause a strike, would not automatically affect the other.

In the hotel industry we have not very many skilled workers but I am sure that, when things return to normal in the North or greatly improve, the tourist business will boom again so we will need more trained workers. We would also need to produce the food at a competitive price. We cannot have restrictive practices. If there are any, they should be got rid of as quickly as possible so that hotels can provide cheaper holidays and a cheaper tariff.

The Department of Labour have a tremendous amount of information to give to the Department of Industry and Commerce. They can advise them in regard to many things but eventually the Department of Labour have to carry the baby when people become redundant. This is particularly so in the case of takeovers and mergers. In themselves they are a good thing for the country, but very often there is permanent unemployment. This is something which should be looked at and there should be some power given to the Department of Labour or the Department of Industry and Commerce in relation to takeovers and mergers. As the Department of Labour are involved in relation to redundant workers they should be able in some way to stave off the day when sackings come. Some pressure should be brought to bear on the Government to bring in legislation to see that the number of redundancies are reduced to a minimum when takeovers and mergers take place.

The last thing I want to refer to is I believe the kernel of a lot of trouble between workers and employers. When firms go broke there is no pre-warning that this is likely to take place. A worker in such a company should be able to see the writing on the wall. I know this is a particular problem of the IDA but it is also a problem of the Department of Labour because there will be redundant workers. I am not worried about the person who has just started in a job and is under 30, but you get the person of 45 or 50 who has perhaps worked for 20 years in a company and is suddenly left without work; the most he can get is a part-time job. It would be better if there could be ten years' warning; at least you would not have people becoming redundant. In concluding, I should like to congratulate the Minister.

I wish the Minister well in his new office. It was once said about Conservative and Labour Governments in England that we could get anything from a Conservative Government because they could bring the people with them. Let us hope the present Minister will be able to bring the unions with him. The previous Minister had a fairly tough time and agreement among unions might be of great benefit. The previous Minister did a great deal in preparing workers for industries by setting up AnCO, for instance. This was a very important thing and so was the emphasis placed on schools of technology so that workers will be fully equipped for the type of industry that will be set up here. We shall be advancing each year and there will be redundancies. This is bound to happen when you must adopt new methods and new training. The Minister can be sure that in any attempt he makes to achieve industrial democracy he will get support from this side of the House. I hope he will also get it from some people who have very odd views on that matter.

I have all my life advocated industrial democracy. I am a member of various committees of the co-operative movement and I have tried to get industrial democracy to work. The trade unions are not always in favour of it. When some of them were approached they said: "We prefer to be on our side of the table and let you be on yours. We shall get all we can out of you and you can get all you can out of us." We are bound to have industrial unrest while that situation continues. I shall always support the Minister in any attempt he makes to bring about industrial democracy of the type in which a company will have worker members elected to the board and when it brings in its annual budget and provides for capital expenditure and profits, any profits over and above that will be distributed among all in the company including the workers. I suggested this in co-ops and I have got it working in one case very successfully. The worker knows that if he does his job well and if there is a surplus profit at the end of the year he will share in it. He will not tolerate somebody working next to him who is not doing his job. Therefore you will have greater efficiency and higher production and harmony within the industry.

This is what I have been advocating but the Minister will not find this easy to realise and he will encounter difficulties from the trade unions. In some cases—not all—they do not want this type of industrial democracy and prefer to argue from the opposite side of the table to see what they can get.

There is much thought about the lower income group. I have fought for them all my life but I could not get many unions to agree with me on one thing for a long time—thank God they are now coming around to it. I remember when all salary increases were on a percentage increase. I recall a very good speaker from the Labour Party coming to my town to lecture on the late James Connolly, a man who, with the late James Larkin, I considered to be among the greatest advocates of trade unionism, people who went on the streets of Dublin when workers were slaves. This man gave a beautiful lecture. At that time I was agitating strongly against unlimited subsidies on the farming side. He said he agreed with me that there should be a limit. I said that was all right but what about the percentage increases given for increases in the cost of living. I was talking about the ordinary county council worker of that time who got £2 per week. The man higher up got £6 a week to do the same job. I could not get the union man to agree with me there because he was one of those fellows himself.

This is what you have to put up with: the higher-paid man in any job, whether a big farmer or a high official of the trade union, will give lip-service to the lowly-paid workers but will not agree to touch percentage increases. I have always fought for the man at the bottom and if the present Minister does anything to improve the situation I, and the majority of my party who, no matter what anybody may say about them represent the plain people of Ireland and they have fought all their lives for the lower income group, will support him. I have seen people at local bodies fall asleep when I was preaching this gospel ten years ago. They talked about it outside but because they were highly-paid officials themselves they did not want to touch the percentage increases because it would affect themselves.

Let us therefore, talk about everybody and especially the people comprising the lower income group. Everybody talks about them so long as it will not affect themselves. It is just like the case of the itinerants: we must house them but do not house them at my back door. If the present Minister can bring all his party with him on this matter I shall be very pleased but I doubt if the water and the oil will mix. From my experience in the country they are trying to mix water and oil where industrial democracy is concerned. I shall be very interested to see the outcome of the Minister's efforts to bring it about because I have tried it in the co-operative movement and I know the opposition it met from certain sections. I believe it is the only cure for industrial unrest, that is, to have workers and management sitting around the same table discussing and deciding what they want and that when all expenditure is covered and provision made for future capital requirements whatever profit is over will be shared equitably. That would be the ideal situation. If the Minister can bring it about I shall certainly shake hands with him but he has a tough job even from the union point of view.

I should like the Minister to look into the whole matter of people becoming redundant. I think a Deputy on the opposite side spoke of people becoming redundant when they are over 40. It is sad to see people who are well qualified but not wanted by anybody. It is a sad state of affairs. There is a great deal of talk about women getting their own way and so on. Married women are now being allowed to continue working outside the home. This is happening in many spheres of activity. It is happening even in our hospitals. There are certain advantages but the advantages may ultimately be outweighed by the disadvantages because in time an imbalance is bound to occur. Great care will have to be exercised to preserve a proper balance.

I can assure the Minister that he will have no worries as far as this side of the House is concerned. The probability is that his worries will be caused on his own side of the House. That is my honest belief.

Over the last few years the most significant development so far as the Department of Labour are concerned has been the evolution of national wage agreements with employers and unions sitting down togather to hammer out agreed increases in wages in industry, in agriculture and in other spheres of the economy. The benefit of these agreements has been reflected in the harmony and peace prevailing at the work-bench.

A great change, a change for the better, has come about in the strike situation from the point of view of man days lost. That is borne out by the figures the Minister gave us in his introductory speech. In 1970 over 1,000,000 man days were lost through strikes. In 1971, with the national wage agreement in operation, the figure fell to 273,000 days and, in 1972, the figure fell again to about 200,000 days lost. Most of the days lost in the last two years were lost as a result of strikes in big employment units and not as a result of a proliferation of strikes in small employment units. This reflects the satisfaction induced by the national wage agreements.

The agreements have, of course, had their limitations and their drawbacks. Fortunately, the second agreement eliminated some of the drawbacks of the first one. The first agreement was deficient in that the increases given did not meet the rise in the cost of living. Under the second agreement account could be taken of a sharp rise in the cost of living and the duration of the agreement was shortened. The first agreement, negotiated for a two-year period, was far too long in duration. The changes which took place over that period of two years meant that a very big adjustment had to be made on the expiry of the agreement. A steep rise in the cost of living went on right through 1970, 1971 and 1972. The increase was very marked towards the end of 1972 and early this year. An agreement of shorter duration was the only solution.

The Minister, together with the employers and the unions, now has the responsibility of hammering out a third national wage agreement. If this is satisfactory—there is no reason why it should not be—the present healthy trend towards a continuing decrease in man days lost through strikes and disputes will continue and our country which, for some years, had the worst record of strikes and man days lost will find itself in a better positionvis-à-vis the other countries in the EEC.

We know workers were not satisfied with the second national wage agreement and it was only as a result of great restraint on the part of the workers that the agreement got off the ground. The record on the prices front has not been a good one. Factors outside our control resulted in higher prices for imported raw materials. As well as that, prices increased on purely internal commodities. In 1972 there was an average 10 per cent increase in the cost of living and there was a huge increase of 16 per cent in the prices of essential foods. The lower paid worker spends the largest percentage of his wages on food. When food prices rise by as much as 16 per cent one cannot blame the worker for seeking compensation in an effort to restore his pay packet to its value at the beginning of the previous national wage agreement.

As the former Minister said, the real problem is the hen and the egg. Which came first? The worker seeks an increase in wages because of rising prices. An increase is granted and prices rise still higher. The real problem is knowing where to draw the line. Undoubtedly this will be the real headache for the Minister in the months to come. He will have to bring all his expertise to bear, particularly at the Employer—Labour Conference, in order that a satisfactory 15th round, or third national wage agreement, may be agreed on. This will not be easy. The problems which will arise, if there is failure on this front, do not bear thinking about. We do not want to go back to a free-for-all situation.

No one wants to go back to where the strong will be able to make demands and the weak will have to accept what they can get. There are some sections of the community who, because of their key position, want to get a greater share of the "cake". It was accepted, while negotiating the last two wage agreements, that the weaker sections must be treated better than they had been treated in previous rounds. The weaknesses of the percentage increase system were highlighted by the giving of a certain amount to the lower-paid people and a gauranteed amount over the period of the agreement.

It would be tragic if we cannot agree on a third national wage agreement, particularly for the weaker section of the workers. Employers, workers and the Department of Labour must strive to see that the agreement will, in the main, satisfy everybody. Employers may say that certain agreements are inflationary and that they will not hold up the rise in prices if the national wage agreements continue giving traditional increases, or that the rounds are becoming shorter thereby causing even more rapid inflation. All these problems will have to be discussed and satisfactory solutions to them found.

We have become a member of the EEC. We cannot afford to lapse into the use of a free-for-all method. One feature of the second national wage agreement which was welcomed by the weaker sections of the community was the attempt made to have national wage agreements come into force for all workers in or about the same time. Some people are as much as 18 months behind on the last national wage agreement. Further shortening of the span of the agreements must continue so that over a period of 10-12 years everybody will come under a particular agreement at the same time. Another feature of any national wage agreement will have to be a levelling up of income for the lower-paid people. This was a feature of a previous agreement. I hope it will continue in the next agreement.

Deputy Brennan mentioned one section of the community which was outside the last agreement, the bank clerks. I cannot understand why they are not under the umbrella of the national wage agreement. It has been said that their rights and conditions apply on both sides of the Border and that this is one reason why they cannot be brought under the wages agreement. If the improvements in their conditions and salaries are such that they are better than those of the national wage agreement it would be very difficult to reach agreement about them. The newspapers have already commented on the position of the bank clerks. People in all walks of life are watching closely the increases obtained by the bank employees and will find there are exceptions to the rule. If there are exceptions there can be no agreement.

I hope that more professional people can be brought under the umbrella of the national wage agreements. Too many people in professions are able to obtain increases beyond the percentage increases given at the higher end of the national wage agreements. Those of us who occasionally require the services of professional people are aware of the huge increases in their fees over the last two or three years. I hope that the incomes of the professional people can be examined, and that there is some section of the Minister's Department which can keep some surveillance on the increases in fees among professional people.

When the late Mr. Norton, who was Tánaiste in the Inter-Party Government some years ago, brought about the industrial revolution in this country, problems had to be faced. In later years there was need for a Department of Labour. It is to the credit of the Fianna Fáil Government that they separated the Department of Labour from the Department of Industry and Commerce, and introduced a Department which will have increasing importance in the economy in the years to come. The National Coalition Government have given the Department of Labour separate status under one Minister who is responsible for it only, without any need to visit other Departments. The Minister has full authority over his Department. This is very necessary in prevailing conditions.

The Labour Court have played a great part in the working of the Department. Any of us who have had dealings with the Labour Court is aware of the great work done by the Labour Court since it was set up. The officials in that court have saved the country from prolonged strikes on many occasions.

We hear a great deal about strikes that occur, the duration of strikes and the court findings. These matters are given great publicity in the national press. It is amazing that the Labour Court hearings and the findings arrived at in that court do not get publicity. Publicity should be given to the hearings of the Labour Court on the same basis as it is given to other court hearings. In that way people would be made aware of the great work done by the Labour Court and would be appreciative of the personnel of that section of the Department of Labour.

Another section of the Department of Labour which has done tremendous work are the Rights Commissioners. There is now only one Rights Commissioner in operation, Mr. Con Murphy. Formerly there was a Mr. O'Kelly there also. I understand that he has now left the section. The record since the Rights Commissioners were established as part of the Department of Labour is very impressive. Last year there were 372 cases before the Rights Commissioners. Since 1970 there have been 617. These Rights Commissioners do a fire brigade service, so to speak, for the Department of Labour. If one or two individuals in a company are at variance with the rules or procedures in operation in the company and create a dispute, not in regard to pay, but in regard to conditions of employment, and if there is danger of a strike occurring, then both sides, workers and employers, may ask for the services of a Rights Commissioner. There is right of appeal to a full hearing of the Labour Court should either side not agree to the findings. In that case the findings of the Labour Court would be binding on both parties.

Since 1970, 617 cases have been heard by the Rights Commissioners. There have been only two Rights Commissioners and arguments and submissions may be very protracted. Of the 617 cases only 20 have been appealed to a full hearing of the Labour Court. In 99.9 per cent of the cases heard the findings have been accepted by both sides. I hope this section of the Labour Court will be extended should the need arise. I hope that the vacancy will soon be filled because this is one of the most valuable services to industry rendered by the Labour Court.

I should like to pay a particular tribute to Mr. O'Kelly, who has left the service, for the work he has done for industry as a Rights Commissioner and, of course, also to Mr. Con Murphy who is well known for his work in other fields. He also deserves every credit for his work as a Rights Commissioner.

I should like to refer to the hotel and catering industry. The Department have a special section to deal with employees and the training of employees for this industry. This is a most valuable service. There is a great need for trained staff for this industry. Unfortunately, due to events in the North, the tourist industry suffered a setback last year but the indications are better for this year and if the position in the North improves we can expect that tourists will return in large numbers to this country. In that event there will be need for expansion of catering staffs.

Bord Fáilte are responsible for some of the money which goes into the training of hotel staffs. An industry which earned £100 million in 1970 should receive every encouragement from the Departments concerned. In certain areas staffs have not received the treatment and the conditions and the wages to which they are entitled. This may be due to the seasonal nature of the work. Many of the employees are on a temporary basis and are recruited according as need arises. An industry that requires highly-trained staff must pay proper wages at all levels not just to the highly-trained personnel such as managers chefs, cooks, and so on.

Proper wages must be paid to those who wait at table and to those who work in all areas of hotels. In some instances these persons have been exploited. I hope the Minister will keep a closer watch on the type of establishments which are inclined to take advantage of the fact that they are located in areas where the tourist industry is the only source of income. There is a need to watch conditions and wages in those areas. I hope the Minister will take a particular interest in the poorer paid hotel staffs.

Some of the information leaflets on careers do not deal with the subject in any great depth. Leaflets are available in employment exchanges and in schools. They are of a rather flimsy nature.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.