Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited (Amendment) Bill, 1980: Second and Subsequent Stages .

: I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the further financing of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited by extending the limits contained in existing legislation. Specifically, the Bill provides for:—

(a) an increase from £45 million to £80 million in the aggregate of the amounts which the Minister for Finance may subscribe in taking up shares of the company; and

(b) an increase from £22 million to £40 million in the aggregate amount of grant-in-aid voted annually which may be made to the company.

Share capital subscribed to the company is used for capital expenditure on the Industrial Estate at Shannon and in the mid-west region. The main headings of expenditure are land acquisition, construction of factories and ancillary works. A small proportion of share capital is also expended on tourism projects of a capital nature such as castle restoration.

Grant-in-aid moneys are used to meet the company's running expenses and to provide financial assistance to industries on the Shannon Industrial Estate. A substantial part of the company's running expenses relates to airport traffic development. Expenditure for this purpose is met by a special grant-in-aid for which the Minister for Transport is accountable but which comes within the overall limit now being amended by section 3 of this Bill.

Expenditure by the company under the headings of share capital and grant-in-aid at 30 September 1980 stood as follows:

Share Capital—£45 million.

Grant-in-aid—£21.65 million.

The existing limit for share capital has now been reached and the limit for grant-in-aid will be reached shortly. It is, therefore, necessary that the statutory limits be now increased to enable the company to continue their operations. On the basis of estimates of expenditure available, the peoposed new limits will be reached towards the end of 1982.

During the Second Reading of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Ltd. (Amendment) Bill, 1978, I informed the House that I proposed giving SFADCo a special mandate for the intensive development of small indigenous industry in the mid-west region. I will give an assessment of the results of the company's new role later, but first of all I intend to outline SFADCo's achievements over the last two-and-a-half years in their other major areas of responsibility.

ues to grow. The total employment on the estate is now 4,800, an increase of 10 per cent on the 1978 level. The company have managed through the conversion of previous job approvals into actual jobs to achieve a gradual growth in manufacturing employment on the estate. This has occured despite over 300 workers having having been made redundant last year in one of the longer established firms. This growth in employment resulted in an increased value of industrial exports over the period under review. More importantly, perhaps, the favourable trade balance increased by 42 per cent from £49 million in 1977 to £69.6 million in 1979.

Shannon town has shown a steady increase in population, from just over 8,000 at the beginning of 1978 to 9,400 at present. The policy to promote Private home ownership is becoming more successful. Currently over 50 per cent of housing in the town is in private ownership.

Air traffic development has had somewhat mixed results. Although total passenger traffic through the airport last year, at 1,168,000, was 2 per cent up on the 1978 figure, this overall increase consisted of both a 6 per cent growth in terminal passenger traffic and a 1 per cent drop in transit passenger traffic. In fact, it merely represented a recovery to the 1977 traffic level. The renewed industrial growth in the Shannon region contributed to a 6 per cent growth in terminal air freight in 1979. This was a heartening result against the background of a decline in this activity in the previous three years. While terminal air freight continues to expand, with a 36 per cent increase recorded in the first eight months of this year, transit and terminal passenger traffic has declined considerably over the 1979 levels. While this decline is in part attributable to world recessionary conditions and difficulties in the tourism industry, trends in world aviation also militate against growth at Shannon. This situation gives cause for concern.

On the industrial front, the mid-west experienced a significant increase in industrial activity over the past two years. Manufacturing employment in the region increased in this period by about 1,750, which reresented an overall gain of nearly 10 per cent. The region has recovered well from the effects of the Ferenka closure and new dynamism and vitality are evident from the growing number of high technology industries locating there. In 1979, over 8,000 new job commitments were secured through the combined efforts of SFADCo and the IDA. I am confident that the region can look to the future with confidence.

One of the greatest sources of confidence to the region must be the outcome of the SFADCo small indigenous pilot project. In giving this important responsibility to the company, I indicated that I would evaluate its results after a period of 18 months to two years to determine whether such an intensive drive should be extended to other areas of the country.

I recognised that this mandate would require the company to reorient their entire thrust in the field of industrial development. Great credit is due to the chairman, Mr. Frank McCabe, to the directors and to the staff of the company in quickly adjusting to the new challenge. It entailed the formulation and implementation of an extensive and innovative programme as well as the attainment and surpassing of ambitious job approval targets.

The decision to ask the company to embark on this new role stemmed from two widely differing considerations. Firstly, the company had over the years proven themselves capable of both adapting themselves and their policies to changing industrial conditions and capable of coming to grips with the vicissitudes of the air traffic and tourist businesses. I was also confident that the necessary expertise and enthusiasm existed in the company to tackle this exciting venture. Secondly, I was concerned at the composition of our industrial structure where reliance on foreign owned and controlled projects without a growing impetus from domestic industry could in the longer term have serious implications nationally. In March of this year, SFADCo submitted to me a comprehensive report on their activities in the promotion and development of small indigenous industry in the mid-west. This report covered the period 1 May 1978 when the pilot project got under way to the end of December 1979. I can now tell the House that the experiment was successful. The experience gained throughout the pilot role period by the company has and will continue to be of benefit in identifying and solving the problems of this very dynamic and resilient sector of Irish industry.

In going about their job, SFADCo adopted a two-pronged strategy which was based firstly on bringing out through intensive action the full potential of small indigenous industry and, secondly, on the devising and testing of programmes and ideas to stimulate the establishment and growth of native small industry.

As a result of the experiment, SFADCo concluded, correctly in my opinion, that a system for the successful development of small industries must be both comprehensive and simple. Unless a system is geared in all important respects to the environment in which the small firm operates it will not bear fruit. The need for simplicity is related to the fact that small firms generally have just one or two persons on whom responsibility rests for the production, financial, marketing and sales functions.

SFADCo had also to ensure that they did not duplicate the role of other State agencies concerned with small industry development. Where necessary, the efforts of the company were combined with those of one or a number of these agencies in the testing of new initiatives. In all, 47 new, existing or adapted programmes were tried and tested by SFADCo. Not all of the new ones were successful but even in these cases they give direction to possible further avenues of experimentation.

Among the more imaginative and effective new programmes devised by the company were:

the appointment of four field officers serving Limerick city and Counties Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary;

the provision of a business advisory service which was tailored carefully towards the needs of the small industrialist particularly in the critical starting up or expansion phases of the business;

the arrangement of training courses designed to equip the small entrepreneur with the necessary management disciplines and skills.

The field officers played a crucial role in the experiment. They were closely identified with their areas by being readily available. Upon them fell the burden of tapping every source which might lead to the creation of a new small industry or the expansion of an existing one.

The introduction of the business advisory service meant that the small industrialist could quickly enlist professional help in the solution of operating problems which, if unchecked, could threaten the viability of the project.

Two critical areas needing constant attention in Irish industry are management and technological standards. If the people "at the helm" are not equal to the task, the survival of the enterprise is sooner rather than later placed in jeopardy. That is why practical and effective training courses for the small industrialist are so important. In meeting this need in the mid-west, SFADCo joined forces with the IMI and the NIHE.

The technological revolution and advent of the microprocessor can all seem a little daunting for the small industrialist. The establishment recently of innovation and microelectronics applications centres at the NIHE campus in Limerick are the most exciting and challenging programmes introduced by SFADCo. If their potential can be realised, even in part, it will mark a most significant advance in our technological development.

The innovation centre, with its laboratory, computer, work benches and nursery factory is aimed at systematically introducing higher technology to small industry by the introduction of new product opportunities and the up-grading of existing products. The microelectronics applications centre provides industry with the opportunity of availing of expert advice on how to apply this new technology to its products and processes. We simply cannot allow these bold initiatives to fail.

As I have dealt in some detail with the principal focus of the Shannon small industry experiment, I now intend to give some information on the company's job approval and creation performance.

SFADCo exceeded without difficulty the target of 500 manufacturing job approvals which I set for 1978. In 1979, which was the first full year of the experiment, not only was the target of 1,000 job approvals achieved but was exceeded by 100 per cent.

The actual number and spread of jobs created from these approvals are the true test of SFADCo's endeavours. In this respect, about 700 of the 2,500 small manufacturing industry jobs approved in 1978-79 were on the factory floor at the end of last year. This is a most encouraging development. What was also encouraging is that nearly 50 per cent of the small industries approved by SFADCo were outside the Limerick city, Ennis and Shannon triangle. As the jobs approved come on stream, it will help to broaden considerably the geographic base of industry in the mid-west region.

My intention was to give the detailed analysis of the SFADCo experiment to the House during the closing weeks of the last session. This, to my regret, was not realised. On the other hand, I felt it necessary to announce last July that I had decided to extend SFADCo's mandate for small indigenous industry to the area of south-west and west Offaly. This area which includes the towns of Banagher, Birr, Ferbane and Kilcormac, has had a number of industrial set-backs over the years.

SFADCo have already begun the job of their extended role. A field officer has been appointed. While he will operate from the Nenagh office, he will have a regular presence in Birr. This extension of the company's area of responsibility will require amendments to the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Ltd. Act, 1970 and I propose to circulate a Bill incorporating these amendments in the very near future.

I commend this Bill to the House.

: I welcome this Bill and the Minister's enthusiasm. I appreciate that there are many national and other reasons for this Bill. As somebody who, at the time of the change of emphasis in the functions of SFADCo two years ago, queried the sense of that change, I am delighted to hear this progress report on the work of SFADCo in the area of small indigenous industries.

As the Minister stated, the people directly involved under Mr. McCabe, the Chairman, are to be complimented on the determination with which they undertook their new role. They were not starting from scratch. They had many years experience in industrial promotion, training and so on, but they did have a new direction. It would seem from what the Minister said that they have succeeded in their objectives in, first, providing jobs in excess of the target set for them and, second, in decentralising the industrial base referred to by the Minister.

One thing that can be said about this new emphasis on small indigenous industries is that it is a welcome reorientation of effort. The Minister referred to the necessity for this and gave two reasons. The second reason was that he was "concerned that the composition of our industrial structure where reliance on foreign owned and controlled projects without a growing impetus from domestic industry could in the longer term have serious implications nationally". I fully accept and agree with the Minister's concern in this respect. This is something to which I and my colleagues have been giving some thought recently because we suffer as a result of international recessions.

If some untoward incident takes place 5,000 miles from our shores up to recently it did not have very much direct effect on our economy or on our way of life, but that day has gone. We are now adversely affected by incidents such as war, disagreements on boundaries, international recessions and so on, which occur miles away because of our open economy and because the size of the world is shrinking in terms of communication.

The remit given to SFADCo two years ago came as a result of this realisation. I am glad to note that the results of their activities in implementing it has been beyond the expectations of the Minister and the people involved, although I am sure they have such confidence in themselves they think the sky is the limit. I fully agree with the Minister's proposal to increase the money being made available to them in the form of loans and grants-in-aid.

Air traffic development is dependent on many outside agencies which in turn are subject to pressures from sources over which we have no control. I am glad to note that the figure quoted by the Minister will bring the air traffic development sector into a strong position and, hopefully, a strengthening position, over the coming year.

As a result of SFADCo's success and the Minister's obvious enthusiasm for this kind of development, I wonder how this could be applied on a broader scale without interfering with existing agencies, for example, in the case of the training of personnel by AnCO and the IMI and promotional activities by the county development teams in consultation with the IDA. There has been a feeling abroad, rightly or wrongly, that in years gone by the support given to indigenous industries was less than that given to somebody coming from outside. I know as a practicing politician that this has not been the case but there is the idea that we bent over backwards to get deutschemarks, yen and dollars and to encourage people who spoke English with an accent to set up business here. As I said, this has not been the case but it is hard to convince people of that.

We have welcomed, and hopefully always will welcome, the money those people can bring into this country in the form of investment, factory building, production and, at the end of the line, employment for Irish men and women. There is no government or party who will cast doubt on the welcome those people should receive but there is nothing wrong with the further development of the small indigenous industry. To do that one does not need to have millions of pounds. It can be done on a very small budget. What is needed is entrepreneurial skills, training of personnel and so on. The kind of activity carried out under the aegis of SFADCo could be broadened and could be applied on a national level. In doing that we would be avoiding the reliance which at some time may be too great, on the vicissitudes of economies situated thousands of miles from our shores.

We have had, and still have, difficulties in relation to the larger type industry in that the IDA, in their enthusiasm to ensure that they attracted this type of industry with its foreign capital, were forced into the unenviable position of having to locate the industry in a place where, if they had a choice, they would not locate it.

Large industries in rural areas are totally foreign to our social, environmental and economic background but their existence provides employment, keeps money in circulation in the local economies and results in the development and expansion of housing schemes and of shopping and recreational facilities. However, there is a price to be paid for all this either by way of change in the social fabric of the area or by way of change in the environmental aspect as a result of the disposal of effluent or of the usage of chemicals and so on. The latter is the much more serious change. We are very fortunate in having a very strict application of regulations relating to these matters. Perhaps we are far ahead of other countries in this respect, even of countries within the EEC, but regardless of these various factors the existence of, say, ten 50-personnel units in a region as opposed to one 500-personnel unit would be by far the more preferable from each of the points of view I have mentioned.

Recently we had a good example of the difficulties encountered by the larger industries in which transport is provided for the workers from over wide areas in rural Ireland. I refer to the recent petrol supply problem which resulted in large factories not being able to provide the normal transport facilities for their workers. That situation could have had serious consequences had it continued for, say, another month. It could have affected production, exports, competitiveness and so on. Such problems would not arise in small indigenous units where that type of situation would be much more easily handled. Also, these smaller units are not subject to the kind of problems and pressures to which the larger units are subject. Therefore, while at the end of the day the SFADCo operation must face up to the competitiveness and the norms which apply in the commercial field—production costs, unit costs and so on—there are many problems to which the much larger industries are subject but from which SFADCo are free.

Another matter is that of industrial relations. Problems in this regard do not surface as often in the smaller units as a result of the intimate relationship that exists between the workers in these units whereas in the bigger concerns industrial relations problems are multiplied out of all proportion.

: That could apply also to political parties.

: That is so, though I should not like to ask the Minister to comment on it.

: It would hardly be relevant.

: It may not be all that irrelevant either.

: It is hardly relevant to this Bill.

: Again, I welcome the Bill and wish to compliment the people involved in the success of SFADCo and to wish them well in their work in the area of the development and progress of the smaller type of indigenous units. In the light of the Minister's experience of this operation which is close to his own base, would he not consider broadening this development on the lines of what happened in Offaly, for very good economic reasons, at a time of difficulty? I should like the Minister to give us his views on the prospects for such development in underdeveloped areas such as the west in general. Might this kind of development be envisaged as a vehicle through which the smaller indigenous industries might be promoted more vigorously? Recently I attended functions of county development teams who are engaged in this very project of industrial promotion in conjunction with the IDA. These are existing agencies. SFADCo was a special case but I am sure that the success of SFADCo could be achieved elsewhere.

: The Labour Party welcome this Bill where we are being asked to increase the capital provisions for SFADCo. My party have consistently argued that we will not create the basis for secure employment unless there is a positive involvement of the State sector. While I do not think that Damascus lies at the far end of the Ennis road, I welcome the apparent enthusiasm in this measure. Damascus may well be in the Limerick constituency. However, jokes aside, in the brief report on the small industry activities of SFADCo, which the Minister attached to this legislation, there is the recognition that there is a very positive role for the State sector working with private enterprise in getting our mixed economy to operate to the benefit of a particular region. To that extent we welcome the proposal to increase the capital from £45 million to £80 million. Will the Minister indicate, if he is in a position to do so, what kind of increased capital it is proposed to make available to SFADCo once this legislation is passed?

We are talking about an entity the existence of which was hailed as a sort of a monument to post-war Irish development and which was centred around the creation of a new town in Shannon. It was the only new town ever created as such in this republic. There is a very definite change of emphasis in the activities of SFADCo with which I do not disagree. However the emphasis is now very much away from Shannon town per se to the Shannon region and as far west as west Offaly and south-west Offaly. Shannon town has lost out in the process. The 1979 SFADCo report gives the growth of Shannon town as 6 per cent. That is way below the average growth for urban areas here.

Unfortunately, I do not have all the details to hand, but from my limited knowledge there are a number of internal difficulties which we should not gloss over when talking about this Bill. Shannon town is still without any local government structure of its own and its attempts to get such structures were strangled at the outset when the industrial estate, which would be its obvious tax base, was excluded from the proposed boundary of the town commissioners. We welcome the activities of SFADCo in the Shannonside region generally, but we run the risk of not giving sufficient encouragement and support to the town that was created around the Shannon industrial estate and the airport after the end of the Second World War. I know the Minister's functions in this are limited. However, he might talk to the new Minister for the Environment, who might be less interested in the local politics involved and who might be more concerned with giving a healthy impetus to the legitimate urban requirements of Shannon town. Shannon is very much a company town, with all the negative aspects of that, and there are a number of local administrative difficulties that could be remedied if there was a fairly viable local democracy.

The success of the small indigenous industries programmes is quite evident. There are 700 jobs on the ground and 2,100 new jobs were approved in 1979 compared to 600 in 1978 and about 200 in 1977. That is good progress. The Labour Party fears that the Fianna Fáil Party and the private enterprise sector are very adamant about keeping the State out of profitable areas of enterprise on the grounds that that is where private enterprise can do the job more efficiently. If the State has to come in, it should come in without conditions. I have never yet known a private enterprise to be shy about taking State grants in one way or another. It is very much the classic "Heads you win and tails I lose" situation, where they have it both ways. SFADCo have been particularly good in conjunction with the IDA in attracting to the Shannonside area the micro-electronics industry, and the link-up with the NIHE is very positive.

However, the amount of State capital coming from different Departments invested here is very extensive. I would like to think that if an enterprise takes off successfully with the help of State money, assistance and advice, there would be, in addition to the normal return of corporation tax and employment, some form of direct return whether by equity participation, royalties from certain inventions that may come from the laboratories to which the Minister referred, and so on. The idea of a total open shed to private industry, provided it succeeds without any kind of clawback is, when one takes into account the sort of money we are voting on today, unacceptable to me and to the Labour Party. We have consistently argued that we cannot create, with the personnel we have at the moment, a productive and viable State sector. If the State sector is precluded from or not encouraged to reap its just reward from industries it has helped to promote, then the lie that is frequently put out by right wing economists, that the State's economic activity is non-profitable, will continue to flourish. At some stage in the future the SFADCo people, having regard to the nuances on the ground and the nature of each enterprise, should reserve the option to participate in the future profits of a company if such profits emerge. We would also like to see looked at the whole question of industrial democracy and worker participation in industries that grow from a small base. Deputy O'Toole was beginning to move in that direction when he talked about harmonious industrial relations. I am concerned at the idea of extending the activities of SFADCo to the Offaly area. I do not have any antipathy towards Offaly.

: No one has, it is the most blameless county.

: Part of the success of the SFADCo operation has been their local loyalty to and identification with a particular region. The more it is diluted, the greater the risk of interfering with that very delicate ingredient of success. I have personal professional knowledge of some of the SFADCo personnel and I agree with what the Minister has had to say about their professionalism, their enthusiasm and their commitment to the area. They operate on two distinct levels now, as a result of the redirection they have had under the aegis of the Department both as the provider and supporter of the small industries programmes in the Shannonside area as well as being the agent for the IDA in that region.

I wonder if the understandable pressure that has come from the south Offaly area as a result of regrettable closures will not create a precedent for SFADCo to be pushed in another direction at another time by another set of political pressures to the extent that there will be no boundary to their operational area and that their cohesiveness as very much a Shannonside operation will begin to be dissolved. I know we are a long way away from that and I am aware that it is not germane to the provisions of the Bill before the House. However, if the Minister, as a Limerick man and Minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, is recognising, perhaps a bit late in the day, the positive value of State enterprise—I am referring to it as dealt with in the report of the Shannonside company and not in the context of what is taking place at meetings of the Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies on the failure of the NET operation—then we should be looking at similar type local development companies modelled on Shannon for other parts.

I welcome, on behalf of the Labour Party, the recognition that the role of the State sector and the role of State capital is fundamental to the economic development of the country, that it can operate over a wide range of scales from small two and three person enterprises to large, highly technical and complex ones. The Labour Party recognise, as no other party do, that without the active involvement of the State in productive enterprises and industries we will not obtain for ourselves the secure industrial base that will give us the productive wealth for all the service jobs we require. Will the Minister indicate the kind of capital allocation that is envisaged for the company now that the ceiling has been lifted? Have the Department any thoughts on the participation of the State, through SFADCo, in a part of the successful action which hopefully will ensue from the activities of this State sector?

: I should like to thank Deputies for their reception of the Bill and for what they have said about it and SFADCo. It was gratifying for me to hear Deputy O'Toole, one of my critics two years ago when I threw out some new ideas, being gracious enough to acknowledge that I was right and that what I tried had succeeded. I should like to thank him for that. Deputy O'Toole asked how the successful activity that has been carried out by SFADCo in relation to small industry over the past two years might be extended to the rest of the country in order that not just the mid-west region alone should benefit from it. I should like to tell the Deputy that the very fact that the Shannon development company are doing this in the mid-west caused, I am happy to say, a considerable increase in interest and activity in relation to the development of small industry in both parts of the country paralleling to some extent, if not quite in percentage terms, the dramatic increase in job approvals in the mid-west region. There was a general substantial increase in job approvals in small industry in other regions.

For the IDA areas, which I would define as being the entire country excluding the mid-west and the Údarás na Gaeltachta areas, the following are the figures for the small industry job approvals from 1977 to date: 1977-2,832; 1978, when the Shannon experiment started-4,577; 1979-7,405 and the target this year in indigenous small industry outside the mid-west is 10,000. Speaking as of the middle of October, which is quite near the end of the year, it appears that the target of 10,000, nearly all of which is indigenous, will be achieved. Two things are significant about that. The figure of 10,000 small industry job approvals in one year is very large and is nearly five times what is was three years ago. Therefore, it is very important in itself. Equally important is the fact that it is one-third of the IDA's whole target for the year. That is an enormously higher proportion of the total target than was the case some years ago.

: Is the cost per job much lower also?

: Yes, it is much lower but against that, in fairness, one must acknowledge that frequently the technology is much lower also. We must acknowledge that the spin-off value to the economy generally in purely mathematical terms may sometimes not be as high but there are many other advantages. In particular, there is the advantage that one is able to locate them much more widely and give industrial development, to some extent at least, to small places that never had it before and never thought in their own hearts there was ever that possibility.

What has happened in relation to it is very heartening. We must acknowledge that because SFADCo were given this function two years ago and performed it well, and because the IDA greatly increased or intensified their efforts in relation to small industries at about the same time with considerable success, a lot of the figures in that time may have within them a certain amount of taking up of the slack. There may have been a certain proportion of jobs approved which were relatively easy to approve in the sense that they did not need as much effort to promote as would be needed from now on to start new jobs and job approvals from the ground up. For that reason I expect, and SFADCo have indicated, that their gross job approval figure for 1980 will decline from the spectacularly high figure achieved in 1979 because the element of taking up the slack has gone. Each of the jobs or job approvals will have to be worked for much harder.

Having studied with some care the detailed report prepared by SFADCo on their activities over the last two years I can say that one of the most important aspects is the local availability of professionals. Without the field officers, as they call them, being constantly available in each county and locality and being professionally trained promoters and helpers of industry, nothing like the same success could have been achieved. I am convinced—I am sure the IDA will agree with me—that this is one of the most important aspects of what was developed at Shannon and which will have to be applied to the remainder of the country. I am most anxious that the fruits of this would not be confined to one region only. For that reason the present regional structure of the IDA may not be totally appropriate to the intensive promotion of small industry, particularly small indigenous industry. As well as having a regional office covering several counties, the IDA must also have at least one full-time professional field officer in each county. Big counties like Cork would, perhaps, need two or more such officers. I am sure the IDA recognise this and I would hope to see these changes coming about very soon. In their case it may not be necessary to promote legislation to enable changes of this kind.

The regional offices of the IDA as at present constituted do not by any means specialise in small industry promotion in regions other than the mid-west. They have a wide range of duties including the arrangement of intineraries for industrialists, arranging the purchase of land for factories and sorting out many problems at local and regional level in consultation with the local authorities and others. It will be helpful to the IDA to have specialists based at those regional offices but living in individual counties in order that they can do in other regions what SFADCo have done rather successfully in the mid-western region.

Deputy Quinn expressed concern that the relative regional intimacy of SFADCo in relation to Shannon and the mid-west region might be diluted by further extension of their jurisdiction and he had some doubt for that reason about the wisdom of what I have decided in relation to Offaly lest it be taken as a precedent for other areas which might have special difficulties. I fully acknowledge that and it is not my intention that there should be further extensions. There was a particular problem in the southern part of County Offaly and, since it adjoins the mid-west region at the northern part of County Tipperary, the physical distance involved in the extension is very limited indeed. It was because of a particular problem which it faced, that this stretch of County Tipperary had the mid-west region on one side and the western region or County Galway, which is classified as an undeveloped region, running along on the other side of the Shannon, that it found itself by geographical accident in a somewhat unenviable position. I could see that there were serious difficulties there and that some of them were caused because of this unique geographical situation.

I took a step which I believe will be of help to that region. I said at the time that I did not wish this to be seen as a precedent and I reiterate now that I do not see it as such. I see the IDA as naturally the primary industrial development body and we are very fortunate that this is the case. The IDA have now achieved a situation where one-third of their job approvals are for small Irish industry and there is within that organisation a new enthusiasm for the possibilities which exist. It is understandable that in the past some people in the IDA might have thought that the larger and more spectacular projects providing larger numbers of jobs, using spectacular technology and heavier investment, were more attractive. I am happy to say that that perception is certainly wrong. At all times the IDA have striven to ensure that at the very least Irish entrepreneurs got the same treatment—I am not allowed by the Treaty of Rome to say any more than that.

Deputy O'Toole made the case for the smaller type of industry, and undoubtedly the case is a valid one. He said he would prefer to see ten factories each employing 50 people than one large factory employing 500 people. Ideally we would all prefer such a situation, but the nature of modern industry is that it must be organised in larger units. It is also worth remembering that a considerable amount of small industry which has been successfully promoted here during the past few years has been directly as a result of the existence of large modern factories here with up-to-date technology, usually of foreign ownership. Certainly this is a factor which cannot be ignored. These larger industries have been creating a demand for components. Many successful indigenous industries started off by meeting the demand for components from bigger firms and have now expanded to the extent that they are major industries in their own right. One must acknowledge that quite a significant part of the growth of small industry is due to that factor.

One should not see small industry as totally separate from industry at large because the development and promotion of the two interact very considerably and there will not be one without the other. It works the other way as well as to some extent because there will not be larger industries unless there is an infrastructure of smaller engineering companies, in particular, to keep them supplied with components and services of various kinds. I never view with any enthusiasm the suggestion or demand which is sometimes made that there should be a separate Department for small industry or a separate Minister of State to deal with it. An effort to compartmentalise it in that way would not be successful and there would be all kinds of jurisdictional disputes and much natural growth which otherwise take place would be inhibited.

: I do not think that suggestion was ever made from over here.

: No, but it was made from down the street many times.

: From behind the Minister.

: Deputy Quinn inquired how much capital was likely to be expended by SFADCo or made available to them. I cannot give the precise figure for each of the years because the figures have not yet been fixed and this will have to be done at estimates meetings. However, I estimate that the additional amount of capital, which is £35 million, would be expended in two-and-a-quarter years and that gives a rough idea. Of course not all of this will be expended on industry and industrial development. This covers all their capital and would cover aviation and tourism related activities and probably some activities relating to the town. It would also cover some of their other community-type activities such as their involvement in the Rent an Irish Cottage scheme.

Deputy Quinn thought that Shannon town had lost out somewhat by the greater emphasis which we are now placing on the regional aspects of SFADCo. I do not think that is so. There are many things one could say about Shannon town but one hesitates to talk too freely lest it give the wrong impression. However, as someone who represents a constituency which is quite close to it I know that there is an inordinate demand for housing in Limerick city and the fairly ready availability of housing which existed in Shannon up to very recently has not done anything to relieve the extent of the demand in Limerick.

It seems that the Irish character more than most is attracted to an established community where roots have already been put down. The facility with which the British could build new towns in England and in Scotland has not been repeated here, perhaps because we are much smaller and also perhaps because the size of the development has not been such that would attract great numbers of people to it. There may be other reasons but I believe that it is fundamentally because the Irish people tend to live where they have roots rather than live in new environments, where roots have not already been put down.

Great efforts have been made in regard to Shannon. I fully support the call for a more normal local democracy in the town. One would like to see it develop in the same way as other places of comparable size in the country. I believe that my colleague, the newly appointed Minister for Defence, who was formerly Minister for the Environment, was in favour of the establishment of town commissioners. There is apparently a requirement in the law that a town commission must be established before an urban district is established. I believe this has had the support of the former Minister for the Environment and his Department. I understand that this is likely to go through at a fairly early date. From then on I believe there can be an evolution into an urban district council. Shannon in that respect will then become a local democracy in the same way as any other towns of comparable size in the country.

I believe I have dealt with all the main points which were made in the course of the debate. I would like once again to thank the Deputies for their positive contributions in the debate and their support of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment and passed.

: This Bill is certified a Money Bill in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution.