I have not dealt with the general voting weights. I spoke about the combined voting weights. On the general voting weights we have three votes but when it comes to the combined voting weights we still have only three while the US, who have only three in the general voting weights, have 51 in the combined voting rates. The Netherlands have five as against three and Canada have eight as against three. We are on a par with Luxembourg, a country with a population of 200,000 compared with our population of 3,500,000. There is something wrong there. It is obvious that someone was mitching.
I do not know how one can sensibly deal with this because we do not know how the other countries will assist or what their requirements will be. We have no energy policy of our own but we are trying to solve the energy problems of the world, a most amazing situation. One of our Ministers went to Washington and discussed in detail the energy problems of almost the entire globe in spite of the fact that we have no energy policy. Without an energy policy of our own, it is difficult for us to help in dealing with the problems of the world. Apparently our Government work in reverse. They deal with the big problem first on the basis that the big fellows will solve our problem. The country was sold out on a previous occasion and we cannot allow it to be sold out on this occasion.
Article 25 of the agreement states:
The system shall be operated on a permanent basis, both under normal conditions and during emergencies, and in a manner which ensures the confidentiality of the information made available.
To whom will this information be made available? The information would not be very confidential if it was made available to all these countries. This is another joke. Now we have the situation that the Minister does not know, and his colleague, on his return from Washington, did not tell him. I sympathise with the Minister on being sent into this House to pilot this motion through without being briefed by the Minister who went to Washington. It is unfair to expect this Minister to do that. The Minister who went to Washington should be present to answer the questions in relation to the agreement. If this is an open Government with collective responsibility, surely one Minister has nothing to hide from another. It is pathetic that this Minister was not supplied with any information by his colleague who attended the conference in Washington. On the basis that the Minister was not advised and that he is doing his best under difficult circumstances I will be lenient with him.
Last week Deputy Barrett pointed out that the US imports 20 per cent of its oil needs and produces 80 per cent. He pointed out that in an emergency the US could produce 100 per cent of its requirements. The Americans are aware of the amount of oil in the ground in their country. In my view the Americans will purchase oil from outside until those resources dry up and then they will have their own resources for many years to come. We have not been told what the other countries involved in this agreement have to offer us. The information will be confidential and we do not know whether Norway will be in or out. We do not know what assistance we will get from the Japanese. The Minister who went to Washington did not bring back any information; the Minister for Transport and Power is unable to give us information and the Minister for Industry and Commerce told us that we are in the hands of multi-nationals. We are being asked to vote ourselves fully into the hands of multi-nationals now and give our confidential information to every Tom, Dick and Harry across the globe.
Article 33 of the agreement states:
Under the special section, the participating countries shall, on a regular basis, make available to the secretariat information on the precise data identified in accordance with Article 34 on the following subjects:
(a) oil consumption and supply;
(b) demand restraint measures;
(c) levels of emergency supplies;
(d) availability and utilisation of transportation facilities;
The restraint measures and conservation programme have been in operation here for some time. We had an adjustment of the speed limits from 60 mph to 50 mph and back up to 60 mph again. That was to be our great effort to conserve energy. We also had the fellow on television burning the £1 note. We will be laughed out of this group if we participate. Nobody should attempt to join this group unless they have done their homework, something we have not done.
On emergency reserves the agreement states:
Total oil stocks are measured according to the OECD and EEC definitions, revised as follows:
A. Stocks included:
—in refinery tanks
—in pipeline tankage
— in bulk terminals.
Stocks excluded are:
—in rail tank cars
—in truck tank cars
—in seagoing ships' bunkers
—in service stations and retail stores
— in tankers at sea.
I find it difficult to understand that article. "Emergency reserves" are mentioned also. Perhaps the Minister could tell us how one can define what constitutes stocks. If it is in pipeline tankage, that constitutes stocks of oil; if it is in the pipeline, it does not. If it is in rail tank cars, that does not constitute a stock of oil. If it is in barges, it does constitute a stock of oil. If it is in inter-coaster tankers it does constitute a stock of oil. If it is in tankers at sea, that does not constitute a stock of oil; if it is in storage tank bottoms it does constitute a stock of oil.
Perhaps the Minister could explain those definitions to us so that we would have a better understanding of what is and is not stock in relation to this agreement, because it is important to know exactly what we are speaking about. To my mind stocks would be those held in rail tank cars, or in truck tank cars, seagoing ships, service stations and retail stores but those are excluded. I think Deputy Barrett dealt with that problem on many occasions. On the many occasions on which he spoke in this House he dealt with the problem of the price increases and the amount of money the Government allowed the oil companies to accumulate. Perhaps I might be allowed quote from his speech in this House on Thursday, 17th April, 1975, at column 1931 as follows:
Multi-nationals go on publishing and bragging about their huge profits. One company brags about 175 million stock profits in the past year. We form part of these stock profits and we permit that to happen. Attaching ourselves to the outer UK zone has been a disaster since December, 1973, and it seems as if it will continue.
The Minister is aware that an oil company need give only seven days' notice and then can increase the price of petrol. There is not the same type of restriction applicable to an increase in the price of fuel as to the price of other commodities. These multi-nationals can do what they like. So long as they give the Minister seven days' notice they can shove up the digits on the petrol pumps. This is an unsatisfactory situation and one with which Deputy Barrett dealt in depth.
I shall not prolong discussion on that aspect—where tanks or bunkers were full; where, in some cases filling stations were full; where oil terminals had plenty of fuel and prices were increased with a colossal return of revenue to the oil companies, those multi-nationals spoken about in such harsh terms by many Government Ministers in the not too distant past. They must have had a good time with them in Washington on that occasion because they seem now to be completely taken over by them and persuaded that it is their best interests to be associated with the multi-nationals who will soak and fleece them, and this nation, as far as they can. We feel that is an undesirable situation which should not be allowed develop.
Of course there are sources of energy other than crude oil or petrol. Indeed, if we consider the natural gas finds off Kinsale it is estimated that that particular find will give a 30 year supply to the mainland, anyway somewhere in that region. If I am incorrect the Minister can correct me on that score. I would hope we would not have to share that find with the Japanese. I would hope that the citizens of this city and the Dublin Gas Company—the largest gas consumers in the country—would have available to them the natural gas found in the Kinsale strike and that we would not have to share our valuable assets with the Japanese, the Turks, or others. I hope we will have a 30 year period of constant supply for the housewives of this country who are prepared to use natural gas. At least we have gone some of the way. We know now we have some natural gas available, probably some petroleum available, and that we have other sources of energy.
The question of solid fuel was mentioned by Deputy R. P. Burke and indeed by others in the course of the debate. We have the availability of our own resources at all times to the ESB and Bord na Móna. Deputy R. P. Burke dealt with Bord na Móna in some depth, and indeed the gas company is also involved here. We can observe the development of energy and power throughout the country. Those of us who went to Turlough Hill to see the great engineering feat there, the additional sources of energy pumped into the system, designed and developed by Irish engineers and workmen, will be very aware of such progress. Such progress must be continued, ensuring that we can meet our domestic needs. As is known now, there are sources beneath the earth. There arises also the question of the production of peat by Bord na Móna, who have done a wonderful job.
Are we to share such resources with the Japanese? Will they be taking the briquettes out of our fires next? Are we to share such with the Turks? How are we to divide them up? The Minister has not given us any indication how the divisions will be effected. What will be the position of each of those countries, other than what is contained in this huge document of 108 pages and the Minister's brief of eight-and-a-half pages, which gives us no information whatever.
We cannot leave ourselves vulnerable to outside sources, supplying them with information in respect of our affairs. Tomorrow or the day after such people may be participating in one conflict or another and be fully conversant, on a confidential basis, with the location of our oil wells, or the supplies we may have of natural gas or oil. In a situation like that how long would such supplies last? We must not sell out our resources on this occasion. We must adopt a positive policy in relation to energy and fuel. We must know exactly what are our resources, where we are going and what we will do. Only after such assessment can we decide on an alignment. When we have all the facts accumulated we can ascertain whether or not we have resources we want to share or do not want to share. It is unfortunate that such information is not available to us at present. The Minister is aware also that the necessary exploratory work has not been done in order to ascertain the resources available on the Continental Shelf or, indeed, on the mainland. We know of some. Therefore, we have quite an amount of homework to do before entering into the international field and selling out all our information to foreign powers.
Conservation of energy is very important as was mentioned in Article 42 of the energy document. As I pointed out, our contribution has been the alteration of the speed limit and the burning of the £. As the Minister mentioned, the television programme was very impressive. I wonder what would other countries think of that as a conservation programme and that is the only positive step this Government have taken. They have now changed their minds. The Minister for Local Government changed his mind with the alteration of the clock—the clockwork Minister. He changed the speed limit with the hour. On one occasion he told us this was to conserve fuel and energy. If we cannot show a positive policy for conserving energy the people with whom we are going to align ourselves will be disappointed or misled by the man who went to Washington.
An alternative source of energy is coal. We have coalfields here. A re-examination of this situation should take place in the light of prevailing circumstances, such as high fuel costs. This document stresses fuel and crude oil as sources of energy but we should have an examination made of alternative sources. We should have a positive energy policy towards the development of our coalfields, be they big or small. We will need whatever sources of energy are in the ground. Until such time as this assessment is carried out, there is no point in aligning ourselves with people who have done their homework, such as the Canadians, the Germans and the Italians. They are further advanced than we are. They do not burn pound notes. They do not change their speed limits. They have positive policies. They are in this for what they can get, not for what they can give.
Nuclear energy and hydro-electric power were mentioned. Have we done enough or can we do more to stimulate these sources of energy? I am sure we can. Turlough Hill has been acknowledged as a masterpiece of Irish workers and technicians by people from all over the world. It is continuously inspected by people from other countries who are amazed. We can have further developments of this type with the natural resource available—water, and we have plenty of that.
The exchange of technical information has been and should be free-flowing. Apparently we are as up to date as other countries in that sphere. There is a continual updating of on-going programmes to keep abreast with other countries. We can do this without tying ourselves to the vast number of countries mentioned on page 79, Article 62, of the Energy Programme.
Energy research and development must be an on-going subject and the Government should be participating in energy research so that we can formulate an energy policy. When the Government have an energy policy, they should come back and tell us that they are aware of the resources available, know our projected needs and wants over the next 25 years and know what they can give and gain from entering into this situation. If that research is not done, the Minister is going into this situation blindfolded. Will the Government then bulldoze their way through the Division Lobbies or will there be some kind of sanity in relation to the sell-out to the multi-nationals?
I hope solar energy will be examined and developed here. It was perfected in other countries. Some years ago we visited housing estates in Jerusalem and saw this system effectively applied. We were told that the amount of sun required is not very great and we would have a source of energy here which at present is untapped.
Have we examined nuclear power in depth or was there just a haphazard development with information supplied by the multi-nationals or outside sources? That information I am sure will not be made available to us but will be retained by outsiders because while the project will be here, it will be serviced and maintained to the financial advantage of the people who gave us the ideas.
Have we a policy dealing with waste heat? Have we a policy dealing with the housing programme? Have we issued any instructions about the heating and insulation of homes? All this is part of an energy programme which must and should be presented to this House. Have we examined municipal and industrial waste utilisation for energy conservation? Can we examine some of the problems outlined in this document against our own situation and say that we are very far behind? Can we say that we got inspiration from this document? Can we avail of the information contained in the document to draw up a positive energy programme?
The overall energy system must be analysed, whether it is heat, wastage, conservation or whatever the Minister might like to call it. When we have a positive policy, when the Government indicate that they have a comprehensive policy covering all aspects, when we know all our needs and the availability of produce here, then at the stage let them tell us what they are putting on the line.
At the moment there are only vague references to the availability of gas at Kinsale. It is believed there will be a 30-year supply there. There may be more finds in the future. Is our energy to be sapped away by other countries who leave their own resources in the ground until such time as ours are exhausted? Is that why they want confidential information? I am quite confident they will not fully expose their position as we are exposing ours day by day in relation to available resources. I am rather sad that the Minister has not been able to give us information on the matters on which we pressed him but, again, it is probably not his fault.
The cost factor enters into this motion. What will be the cost of our participation, the cost of buildings for the 90 days' supply? I hope the Minister will be able to enlighten us in some way because the information conveyed in the 8-page documentation that is already there is very scant. I hope the Minister will also be able to enlighten us about the sell-out to the multi-nationals; that he will be able to tell us why France is not participating; that he will be able to tell us what the Norwegian situation is, whether they have a loose arrangement; that he will be able to tell us what Japan has to offer and what we have to offer Japan. Again, I am sorry the Minister has not presented the necessary information and that his colleague who went to Washington did not bring back a full and factual brief so that the Members of this House could be informed in the course of the discussion on this very important matter.
I hope this motion will not be carried, that we will not sign away our rights, that we will not sell ourselves out to the multi-nationals. I hope we shall have an assessment of our own resources, and after we have calculated our own needs and the availability of fuel of one type or another and the volume in which it is available, that we shall then be able to make up our minds as to the advantage or disadvantage of aligning ourselves with any group of this magnitude.