Postal and Telecommunications Services Bill, 1982: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

(Dublin South-Central): When I reported progress I was speaking of the difficulties that had to be overcome by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. During the years the Department suffered from adverse criticism that was not justified. It can be said that governments did not give sufficient capital to expand the area of telecommunications along the lines that should have been adopted. During the years of economic expansion in the 1960s and the 1970s we concentrated to a large extent on industrial development. The whole emphasis of the then Department of Industry and Commerce was on increasing industrial output and on creating new industries. This was laudable but the weakness in the campaign then being conducted was that we did not concentrate sufficiently on telecommunications which are vital for economic advancement. I have no doubt that such economic advancement has been impeded because we did not inject sufficient capital into this sector.

One of the most important developments that took place in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs was a review group that was set up by the then Minister, Deputy Faulkner. This was the first positive step taken to consider the workings of the Department and how they could be improved. A decision was reached by that review group and within a short time two interim boards were established to consider the setting up of a semi-State body for postal services and also for telecommunications. These were set up under the chairmanship of Michael Smurfit dealing with telecommunications and Fergal Quinn dealing with the postal section. The Bill before the House gives effect to the decisions that were made.

It is my belief that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs were starved of capital during the years by successive governments. In 1979 the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs provided £650 million of capital to allow the Department to expand and to meet modern requirements. The decision taken at that time laid the foundation for the development of the Department for many years and if it is followed through to its logical conclusion it will bring about major improvements in our telecommunications and postal services. The decision taken will allow the sectors concerned to operate independently. How the review group reached their conclusion and the decision they took are matters of importance.

I would like to quote from the Posts and Telegraphs Review Group Report. which is also quoted in the Minister's speech:

Each service is a major commercial enterprise in its own right. Each service faces grave problems but the problems are essentially different and require different approaches. The telecommunications services are so seriously inadequate and the problems of development, from the present base, are so formidable as to require the full-time, single-minded, attention of a commercially motivated board and chief executive. Organisational links with a major and fundamentally different service would be a distraction and would also carry the risk of a spillover of problems. The link also gives rise to risk of cross-subsidisation between the services. The management of the very large labour-intensive postal service also demands the full-time, single-minded attention of its own commercially motivated board and chief executive. In a sense it faces more difficult problems than the telecommunications service, which will enjoy natural growth for many years to come. The postal service will require the highest skills of marketing, imagination and innovation in the immediate future. In the longer term the service faces technological changes which seems likely to have a major impact on its volume of business, and profound implications for pricing, profitability, personnel and marketing.

That was the basis for the review board's decision to form two semi-State companies. It is the proper policy for an organisation such as this. I have some idea of Posts and Telegraphs having being a Minister of State there for a few years and it is far more business oriented than any other Department. It differs fundamentally from all the other Departments. The Department of Posts and Telegraphs are running a business seven days a week; it is in the field of selling and marketing. The telecommunications side is also on the same lines but on a technological basis. The two boards will have the added advantage of trained personnel who have vast experience in telecommunications and in the postal service. Because of that these two semi-State bodies will have an advantage over many of the semi-State bodies which were set up down through the years and had to recruit their own staff and train them from the very start. I am convinced that these two boards will do an excellent job and that it was the correct decision to set up two boards.

I mentioned the difficulties which I thought the postal sector would encounter in the years ahead. Unless we contain the postal charges the majority of companies, especially industrial companies which take up the largest part of the postal service, will seek alternative ways to do business. But if the postal service is properly marketed with the outlets that we now have of over 2,000 sub-post offices it can certainly expand and create new business. That will be the task of the semi-State bodies.

Speaking generally, a lot of progress has been made in the Department over the past number of years. Some years ago there was closer co-operation between the Board of Works and the Department and about 500 buildings were scheduled to be built throughout the country. Years ago staff relations in the Department were not as good as they should be. But these have improved considerably. There were strikes, but let us not think for one moment that this Department have had excessive strikes. Indeed, if we look at the history of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs we will see that there were very few strikes. But after extensive negotiations agreement was reached with the engineering staff which led to greater productivity. These structures can be carried into the semi-State bodies. The staff relations section within the Department was understaffed but that was restructured and additional staff allocated. These improvements have been taking place over the past number of years and will be handed over to the new boards and the new boards will be able to benefit from these improvements and carry out further improvements in the whole structure of the organisation.

In the newspapers I have seen certain doubts expressed by various spokesmen about whether this is the right decision or not. One spokesman said he thought there should be only one board. But one board with 30,000 people would be too cumbersome and impossible to manage. Progressive companies will always try to minimise numbers because they know perfectly well that they can be run more effectively. So the decision to have two semi-State bodies is a practical one. It would be too cumbersome to have one board because there are two different types of operation being carried out; One is high technology and the other is marketing. Therefore it is wise to set up two boards. I quote Joseph O'Malley the political correspondent of the Sunday Independent, on Sunday, 23 May 1982 in a paragraph headed “Telecommunications”:

Perhaps the only major decision taken in recent years involving a fundamental change which has been implemented speedily. In July, 1978 a Posts and Telegraphs Review Group was set up. A year later it had completed the report which the Government immediately accepted.

It recommended that posts and telegraphs should be split into two State companies — the legislation was discussed in the Dáil on Wednesday — and that an accelerated development programme costing some £650 million (at 1979 prices) should be undertaken. The purpose is to transform the whole telecommunications service and raise it to EEC standards by 1984 — with the annual rate of connection of 140,000.

This reform is remarkable for the speed of analysis — one year; decision — immediate; implementation — five years.

That is an indication of the work that has taken place. I would like to congratulate the present Minister for processing this Bill so speedily and bringing it into the House at this time. I do not mean for one moment that there was not consultation with the various interested bodies. Of course there was. A Green Paper was issued on this matter in May 1980 and this gave accommodation to all interested parties to make submissions to the Department and this they did. I understand about 140 submissions were made from the interested Departments. We had the White Paper setting out the Government's proposals in 1981, more than a year ago. This means there has been time for consultation.

I appreciate that this was a very difficult Bill to prepare. When the British Telecommunications Bill was going through the House of Commons it was said to be one of the longest and most detailed Bill ever to go through the Commons. We are fortunate that this Bill has only 105 sections embracing a broad and complex issue. With this in mind I believe we are on the right track and consultations will have to take place between interested bodies and unions.

I read Terry Quinlan's statement on this Bill. I know the unions were expressing their opinions on it over the past week. If they have any doubts, the Minister will discuss it with them and sort out their fears. It is of vital importance that we have proper staff relations. In An Bord Poist there are about 9,500 people employed and about 20,000 in An Bord Telecom. The Bill guarantees wages, salaries and superannuation of present civil servants. Many people employed in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs have given long and loyal service and it is important that they be given the guarantees they require. I have no doubt the Minister will iron out all their problems because it is very important that we have good staff relations in these two State-sponsored bodies which will, in the long term, affect the economic and social development of this country. If we do not have good staff relations we need only look around us to see the consequences of such a state of affairs. That situation will affect everybody, even old age pensioners, because everybody requires a good telecommunications service. A telephone is no longer a luxury; it is an accepted part of our lives. That is why I am so concerned that we will have good staff relations.

The present civil servants who will be joining the State-sponsored bodies should do so willingly, knowing the companies will be able to pay their way. That is why I am very concerned about the financing of these companies. There is nothing so frustrating or depressing for an employee than to read at the annual general meeting that the company are losing money. When these companies are set up I hope the Government will not have to give them grants beyond what is written in this Bill. They should be set up with a proper financial structure.

I note from the Bill that superannuation for retiring employees will be met from current income of both bodies. I hoped these bodies would not be burdened in this way. Telecommunications is an expanding industry. It is the only product of which we do not have an ample supply. We cannot meet the present demand. This is a growth industry which will pay its way in years to come. It will need a huge capital investment at the start and there are already sufficient funds provided for their capital requirements.

As I said, we must ensure the staff willingly join these two bodies and that all their guarantees will be met. I read recently that Terry Quinlan, Secretary of the Post Office Workers' Union, has reservations about certain sections of this Bill and I hope they will be ironed out to the satisfaction of all. I did not hear any doubts expressed about the telecommunications section.

The standard of service has improved considerably over a number of years and there has been a very big increase in the number of phones installed. It is hoped to have 80,000 to 90,000 installed this year. Considerable advances have been made in various parts of the country, and these are probably the areas where new telecommunications centres have been established, but I cannot say the same for parts of Dublin. The number of phones installed in greater Dublin has not matched that in other parts of the country, but I can see the problem as regards laying cables in built-up areas. There has been a great deal of industrial development in greater Dublin and a very big increase in the number of urban dwellings. This growth has been accelerated more in Dublin than in provincial towns.

I have had several communications from industrialists complaining they had to wait a considerable length of time for telephones to be installed. They may have had just one phone, but one phone for a commercial company is not much good; they want a number of telephones and a telex. This is vitally important for economic expansion. We must concentrate on that sector. Down the years we have concentrated on IDA grants for factories but we have overlooked allocating sufficient funds to telecommunications in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. There is no sense in allocating sufficient funds for the IDA without giving an adequate allocation to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs because one cannot work without the other. A new look was taken at this matter in 1978, when the concept of the allocation of £650 million to semi-State bodies for capital development was considered. We can now hope for a better service from the postal service. The problems with the service everywhere, but in Dublin in particular of which I have personal experience, must be solved by an improvement in our postal situation.

Many people have complained to me of having paid their deposit perhaps seven or eight months ago and still await connection of the telephone service. The guideline is supposed to be three months, or four at the most. I find it surprising that people would be experiencing such delays.

Try rural Ireland, or New-lands Cross.

(Dublin South-Central): It would be unfair for the Department to keep people's money for up to 12 months without giving them a telephone connection. I am bringing those complaints to the attention of the Minister now. Deputies on the opposite benches have a different technique altogether in these matters.

The Minister has indicated his intention of leaving the method of collecting television licence fees as it is at present. I find it difficult to think of any different way of collecting them. In the past, RTE have suggested that they set up their own operation of collecting of television licence fees. The system now operating is that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs stop a certain percentage of each licence fee for the collection service. A more intensive campaign must be carried out in all fairness to RTE because a substantial amount of money is being lost to them. A sum was mentioned of between £6 million and £8 million a year, which is a substantial amount for any organisation to lose and we know of RTE's present financial situation. An Bord Poist will have to improve considerably the situation regarding collection.

If RTE continue to lose this money we will have imported programmes only on the Irish TV stations. It is expensive to produce Irish programmes, but money will have to be placed at the disposal of RTE for this purpose, so that we can keep our own identity. In Dublin and along practically all the east coast, four different channels are competing against Irish television and on radio we have competition from pirate stations. It is very difficult for advertisers to view the whole situation and see where they should advertise. To discuss RTE is not within the ambit of this Bill but I am mentioning solely the collection of television licences. A concerted effort will have to be made against TV spongers so that the RTE authority will have extra funds for their own programmes.

The philatelic section within the Department of Posts and Telegraphs is seldom spoken about but is a very important section which has been expanding down the years. It is a unique section whose work mirrors our country abroad. Many of our excellent postage stamps are designed and developed by an excellent committee attached to this section and I hope that this section will not be forgotten. Not alone does their work mirror our image as a nation but it is quite a lucrative business. This work could be expanded, which requires marketing. This section have paid their way down through the years and will continue to do so. Considerable interest has been shown in their work.

I am very concerned that the unions connected with this Department are fully satisfied with the results of the recent negotiations. There has been some criticism. It is as important to have good working relationships where ten people are involved as, in this case, where there are 30,000. We will have to ensure a continuing dialogue.

There was mention of this Bill being rushed through the House. There is still plenty of room for debate on this Bill. The Green Paper was circulated in May 1980 and a White Paper some time late in 1981. Nobody can say that this Bill has been rushed through the House. It took the normal course that a Bill, where so many people are involved, should take. There was a Green Paper which allowed the various organisations to provide their input and they did. They had reservations about certain parts of it. A total of 44 submissions, comments and queries was received. A list of those who made submissions or furnished comments is contained in the appendix. In general, the submissions either favoured or did not oppose the proposed reorganisation of the postal and telecommunications services into two semi-State bodies. Opposition to the proposed change to State-sponsored status was expressed in one submission. Others favoured a single State-sponsored body which would be responsible for both postal and telecommunications services. That was the input by the organisations to the Green Paper. I do not believe that is the end of the story. The Minister is an easy man to deal with and if there are still reservations by the unions I have no doubt he will deal with them directly and see that any fears they have before the final decision is taken will be sorted out because that is of vital importance.

I hope that when we look back in years to come we will see those two State bodies, An Bord Telecom and An Bord Poist, functioning for the benefit of the country at large, our industrial expansion and for all the social services that can be given by those two bodies and we shall certainly decide that the decision taken by the Minister, Deputy Wilson, on this occasion was the proper one.

I want to state my position and that of my party on this Bill. We intend to oppose it in toto. We do not accept that this is the proper way to develop our postal and telecommunications services. What is happening in fact is the closing down of a Government Department and handing it over to somebody else. This has been a State service since before this State was founded. I heard the previous speaker talking in terms of how it developed and the great service it gave. I agree with him; a wonderful service was given by the Post Office and by the telecommunications section by and large over the years. I know there were complaints and disappointments sometimes but these were due primarily to lack of capital investment by the State in these services. We are now reneging on our responsibility because since the State was founded the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was responsible to the House for the administration of that Department. If something in the postal service was lacking in my area I could question the Minister here directly. Now I will be told that it is a matter for the board. That will be the situation under this Bill. I have experience, as has everybody here, of how boards work. I accept that the Minister who introduced the Health Act some years ago did so in good faith to improve the service. We know what happened: a huge colossus of administration was set up which did not improve the service but obstructed its operation. I challenge anybody to deny that the Health Act which set up boards to take over from local authorities the running of the health services has not improved the services but has obstructed the administration of these services. That is plain to anybody who has studied the matter. I do not speak now in a political sense because both Governments, although they may have differed slightly, agreed to the setting up of ACOT and agreed to set up boards to operate what was being run directly under departmental guidance by local democracy in the committees of agriculture. We now see people appointed, at huge salaries, to take charge of these areas, to do work previously done efficiently. The previous speaker told us about the great service that was provided but he admitted that there has been a lack of capital investment in that whole area. Yet, he says it is right to break up the existing organisation and set up two boards, even though he boasts about the service given over the years by the previous organisation. I cannot see the rationale of his argument. I do not know what he means when he says there was a good service, that it was starved of capital and yet says it is right now to break up the existing set-up. Have we any assurance that capital will be available to the new separate boards?

The boards are being headed by people of business renown. Their policy in private business has been to amalgamate, not to set up smaller sections. Now, they tell us the proper thing is to set up two boards, to establish an administrative colossus twice over. I see no justification for the setting up of any board. We are now saying that a State Department is incapable of administrating the services administered since the foundation of the State, and that we will shift the responsibility and give it to the new boards. Is that what we are really saying? Is that the situation we have reached? Here we have 30,000 people directly employed by the State with civil service status being handed over to two State boards set up for the purpose. We are incapable of running the service ourselves; we will not provide the money for them. Who will provide the money for the two boards to run them? Who will pay the separate administrative costs involved in establishing and running these boards?

I understand we still have 1,000 civil servants in P & T and we will have a new colossal administration set up by both boards. This is a retrograde step that should not be taken. The State enterprise has proved successful. The Post Office has given us service of which they can be proud. I am proud of it. Daily post is delivered I think to every house and person in the community. That is a service to be proud of. The service provided by post office clerks and others to people in receipt of social welfare benefit, pensions paid out in post offices, family allowances paid out in the post offices and the general service given throughout the country is something that those employed in the Post Office can really be proud of. It has not been all that we might have expected but the fault does not lie with the Post Office nor with the people working there but with successive Governments who since the foundation of the State have failed to provide the necessary capital to run the postal services as we would wish them to be run. Why do the Government think now that all the necessary improvements can be made by handing the postal services over to a board and thereby reneging on the responsibility that falls on us as administrators and on the Minister as political head of the Department? So much, then, for my thoughts on the Bill in toto.

I am opposing this Bill in the strongest terms possible. Those who have worked so faithfully down through the years in the postal services are entitled to continue in that service. Because they are recognised civil servants they enjoy certain rights and privileges. Therefore, we must ask whether the status quo will be continued so far as they are concerned. I expect that whatever rights they enjoy will be guaranteed for now but we must have regard to what might happen in future years when the postal services might be taken over by different boards. Attempts might be made at some future date to rob the staff concerned of their status.

Another question is whether those recruited to this service from now on will be eligible for promotion into other areas of the civil service on foot of examinations as is the case now. Will people recruited in the future have the same civil service status as that enjoyed by the staff in that area at present? The staff have a right to have these questions answered. I understand that the recruitment will still be by way of the Civil Service Commission but I am only questioning whether that will continue to be the case in the future. We must not have another area in which influence will be brought to bear in the recruitment of staff. Regardless of anything we might wish to say about how jobs are filled through the Civil Service Commission, I have yet to hear the commission being criticised on grounds of being unfair. But I am talking about the future. I fail to see how the integration of these civil servants into a non-civil service union will be effected. I fail to see how people already in the service will be satisfied with the situation in the future. I know there have been discussions in this area and that there has been a White Paper concerning it, but there has been no agreement on any of these matters between the various unions and the board.

We are discussing legislation for the setting up of two boards but I understand that there is a big building in this city on top of which appears the words, An Bord Poist. Because of this, I am confused as to whether the board is already in existence. It seems that we are to run the Post Office service on a commercial basis, that we are to make it pay for itself. I presume, then, that the other Departments will pay an economic rate for the services provided by the Post Office but I cannot see any gain in that sort of arrangement either for the taxpayer or the Government, who incidentally, have an easy method of providing this service.

The service needs to be developed. For instance, the Post Office savings system should be developed with a view to providing a proper banking service. We have had a lot of talk about nationalising the banks and so on but the post offices should give a proper banking service. In the Post Office there exists the basis for a proper banking service and the opportunity should have been availed of some time back to expand that service into the various field of commercial banking run by the State for the benefit of the people. I am sure the new boards will contemplate such a move. However, our experience of boards is that they have not been a benefit to the people. They may develop as a result of profit-making and that is good but here we are talking about a service that could be expanded to the benefit of the people. I include telecommunications in that. Those services have been in existence for years and, as far as they were permitted, have been very successful. It must be remembered that it was up to this House to provide the money for those services.

There may have been a change of mind since the Post Office strike some years ago. Since then Ministers may have felt that they did not want to be responsible any longer. Ministers refused to talk to those who were working under them at that time, they would not meet them and did not want anything to do with them. There has been an eagerness since to get rid of this sector and put it under some other form of control so that the responsibility would not lie where it should belong. This is too important a service to be messing about with. It is not clear to me how these areas of public service and those with civil service status will be integrated into these new operations which I am sure will still be carried on by the people behind the counter in the local post office. In the past where it was not considered economic to retain civil service status for some services they were farmed out to post masters or post mistresses. It appears that in the Bill the Minister will have power to issue licences in certain circumstances to people to operate the service within the area of the post office and I am anxious to know exactly what that means and the services that may be used. Will it include all post office services?

I live in a rural area and I am aware that it may pay a local person who must go to town early in the morning to deliver the mail on his return journey. Is that the type of service that may be farmed out? Is that the type of service that the Minister will be issuing licences for? The people employed in the post office and those receiving mail are entitled to know who will be granted licences under the new system. There are many people who would be anxious to take over the profitable part of the Post Office services and I feel that they will be hived off in different directions. I am sure the Minister will issue licences on the recommendation of the board but I am not sure that I would have full confidence in the ability of the board to do that. The board may not be above doing certain handy things to hive off certain areas.

We have been told that the telecommunications and postal services were starved of finance. We are all aware of that and those of us who have been Members of this House for some time must accept full responsibility for that as must the Governments who have been in power over the years. However, I should like to know where the investment for the new boards will come from. Administrative costs will have to be met. There will have to be an administrative section for each board. Where do we separate them? If I need an extra phone I apply to the local post master who is in the postal service but will he be asked to carry out that function for An Bord Telecom? Will a post office clerk continue to collect telephone account payments? If that is the case will there be a transfer of money between the two boards? Such things are important. Will the two boards run offices side by side throughout the country? The Minister may say that this is an administrative matter for each board and that sounds fine but I am anxious to know if we will now have two services bearing in mind that one service carried out both functions up to now. It was done at a lesser cost. I accept that it is difficult to expect people to figure out such matters now but they are practical problems and we must face up to them. I can envisage the cost of administration of the two boards being colossal.

A lot of mail is sent by the State annually and a check is kept on it. An average is worked out but I should like to know if the same system will apply now or will a demand be made for each letter? If proper payment was made in the past for all the services made available by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs I have no doubt that they would have almost broken even.

I understand that the new boards will be permitted to borrow a certain amount and that the Minister will provide some funds directly. The Minister will also have control over what the boards borrow. I am not sure whether this will be borrowed in the public sector or will there be private investment? If that is not the case the Minister should explain how it is intended to carry out all the improvements that have been mentioned. It has been assumed that we will have many improvements over-night, that telephones will be available on demand and we will have a quicker method of delivering letters. I can foresee a different situation arising. I believe there will be a charge for certain methods of delivery, that there will be a charge that will guarantee quick delivery. That will happen if, as has been stated, the new services are to be run on a commercial basis. If that is so we are being hypocritical and withdrawing a service that our people have had the benefit of since before the State was founded. If that is the case we are doing a nice con job on our people. I cannot see any other way of making these services profitable. The services cannot be provided unless we provide the capital. The Minister may say that he can approve of huge loans to improve the service and I accept he can but those loans must be paid for. Will they be paid for by the boards? I accept that the Government must provide the security. If those loans must be paid for by the boards where will they get the profit from which to pay that money? It will not be easy to make a profit unless a different type of service is provided. We have had experience with CIE closing down sections of the railway because they were unprofitable. Will we be telling people that they will have to travel 12 miles to town to collect their post because it is not economic to deliver it? If that is what is intended I will be opposing it.

I will spell out what I mean by civil service standards. These people who have been working in the Post Office have a right to promotion within the civil service at present. Will that continue? It is a very serious question to me. It may not be a very serious question for the unions who are responsible for only their own members and that is fair enough, but it is very important that these people retain these rights which have been recognised since the foundation of the State. The pensions of those people must be borne, as far as I can discern, by the boards. If that is so, will that be a burden on the boards? Will it make it impossible for them even to provide, and will they have no alternative but to cut off the services which are uneconomic at that time when the crunch comes? We have had the experience of the health boards cutting back this year on every side because the Government of the day, whoever they are or were, would not provide them with the wherewithal to keep the services at the standard they had reached. Will the same apply two or three years hence? The Government will have dilemmas and priorities and they may decide that the postal service can be cut back. There will be no responsibility here in the House. If you ask the Minister any question about cutbacks or anything else it will be a matter for the board.

I agree with Deputy Fitzpatrick that the issue of stamps and so on has been profitable and should be developed. I agree with him also that the service being provided was a good one. At least that was what he implied and I would like to ask the Minister why, if the service was as good as it could be with the money they got, we want to break it up and employ two boards to do the job. As Deputy Fitzpatrick pointed out, we have put £650 million into the provision of lines and telephone equipment over the years. That is good, and many areas throughout the country are coming to the stage of having telephones on demand. However, at this stage will we hive it off on some people who will say "See what we did in one stroke. It took only a couple of months. When you had this it was being messed around by civil servants and people like that"? That will be the situation. They will be showing us how the service has improved since they took it over. I put on the record of the House now that if I hear such a declaration I will ask the Minister to reconsider the whole concept of what he is doing.

I will have much to say on the different stages of the Bill, but broadly what I am saying now is that I oppose it. It may be well meant but I do not think that it will achieve what it claims it will achieve. Nobody will provide the money necessary to develop the postal and telecommunications service in the manner envisaged. What has been invested was well invested, some of it from EEC sources, some from Government sources, and I applaud that, but I do not believe that it was enough. The postal side was absolutely starved of capital for modern development, buildings and so on. Post offices throughout the length and breadth of the country have not their full complement of staff and the staffs who were there were working overtime. Many of the small offices should have three or four more on their staffs than they have, and the Minister knows that. An embargo was imposed by the previous Government and is being continued by the present Government which means that those people cannot be replaced, yet overtime must be allowed. We should have another look at this.

I believe that the Minister is being honest enough, if he sits down to look at what he is doing, to realise that it is not the proper thing to do and that it is not in the best interests of the service which the people have the right to demand and to which they have been accustomed since before the foundation of this State. It is not right because it would increase tenfold the volume of the management and administration costs of the service. At least my experience, and I am sure the Minister's also, is that where boards were set up to run these services which had been operating in a different manner previously an increase in the costs of management and administration was the inevitable result. That will take place under this Bill.

The people within the service are very worried about this area. While we have had consultation and White Papers, we have had no agreement. I am in communication with people working within the service and they do not know what to expect. They are confused, they are not sure of what rights they will have or where they will stand when the Minister gets this Bill through the House. Even if he gets this legislation we will have a transition period of huge confusion. It is not a simple matter of saying that the civil service are in charge today and the board will be in charge tomorrow. The Minister will meet many obstacles. Deputy Fitzpatrick said that he hoped that the 30,000 workers in this service will go over willingly, knowing where they are going. We are on Second Stage of this Bill and I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that none of the people in the service knows exactly what they are facing in this transfer of authority from the State to a State body. I warn all civil servants in all Departments that this is only the start of the hiving off of the whole civil service area to State bodies and eventually to private enterprise. Private enterprise will eventually finance these things and will get the power to control them. When that occurs the people who have been accustomed and entitled to the service will find that it will not be provided.

Debate adjourned.