Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers - Industrial Strategy.


asked the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism if he is in favour of industrial strategy based on maximising output rather than employment.

Paragraph 1.9 of the White Paper on Industrial Policy sets out clearly the objectives of the Government's industrial policy. The first objective is to create and maintain the maximum number of sustainable jobs, as many as possible of them high-skilled, in manufacturing and international services industries.

This is, and will continue to be, the primary objective of Government policy of which, however, another important aspect is increasing the output of manufacturing industry and ensuring that the value-added content of this output growth be maximised.

Will the Minister accept that the IDA are now engaged in applying that plan by focusing on value-added industries in the first instance and assuming that downstream industries will be created from there? Will he agree that that is their way of tackling the unemployment issue? Will the Minister accept that the strategy has changed in the past year or so and that the emphasis is now on maximising output rather than maximising the employment content of any industry?

The IDA's strategic plan was prepared before the Government's White Paper on Industrial Policy was set out. It did contain an emphasis on value added. However, the White Paper clearly set targets for the achievement of employment as a primary objective, to which added value would be a subsidiary. Since the publication of the White Paper I have availed of every opportunity to impress upon the IDA that these employment objectives must have paramount importance. I have been in written as well as oral communication with the IDA to that effect and have asked them to prepare sectoral strategies indicating how they propose to achieve those employment objectives.

When bringing this to the attention of the IDA, would the Minister draw their attention particularly to the fact that 21 per cent of the labour force in manufacturing industry are unemployed?

The IDA, as well as the Government are very much aware of the high level of unemployment and industry, and the agencies dealing with industry, have a very heavy responsibility at least to try to make a major contribution towards finding an answer to this problem.

The Minister has emphasised the Government's industrial policy as laid out in the White Paper on Industrial Policy. Would the Minister confirm the status of that document? It is a Government document, containing Government decisions and the contents were the subject of Government decisions. Is that so?

The White Paper on Industrial Policy is a statement of Government decisions. It was circulated to all Government Departments, commented upon and then decided upon at Cabinet——

I want to clarify this. I am glad the Minister has emphasised that the document was circulated to Government Departments——

The Deputy is moving into another area.

The area of employment is central to the country and the White Paper is central to the employment strategy. This document was circulated to all Government Departments, comments were made, discussions took place in Cabinet, decisions were taken and the document was published.

That is not a question.

The contents of that document are Government decisions. Would the Minister confirm that that is so?

That question in its entirety is a repetition of the question already answered.

This document has the status of a Government decision.