Private Members' Business. - Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Bill, 1988: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

When I spoke on this Bill last week I made the point that I did not intend to be repetitious but to concentrate on some of the more general features as they would impact on agriculture in terms of its productive capacity, and I drew attention to the serious contrast that exists between the aspirations for employment creation in agriculture and the food industry and the cuts that were taking place. I said that the shedding of 1,000 jobs nationally could have the effect of letting the market dictate those to whom agricultural services would be directed. I drew attention also to the impact on western agriculture and gave some details of the existing programme in relation to agricultural advice and research in such counties as Galway and Mayo.

I find it difficult to understand how any serious Minister for Agriculture and Food can suggest that the proposed development targets for western agriculture that have been outlined in one study after another from the original seminal study of Dr. John Scully to the present day are achievable at the level of the cuts now being suggested. In a very few minutes this evening I want to make a few more general points. One that to me is very important, and I repeat it because I have stressed it previously is that in moving towards a system where by agricultural advisers will have to generate revenue for their services, inevitably those who can afford to pay the charge will be able uniquely to capture — so to speak — the research functions of what was up to now a State function. Many people who work in the field in agriculture have told me that their ability to generate an income from, let us say, farms in the west is extremely limited.

I will give the approximate figures given in a number of different studies on west of Ireland agriculture. If I remember correctly, over 70 per cent of the holdings are under 50 acres and perhaps half are under 30 acres. They have a very high degree of fragmentation. The soils and drainage in many of these farms are deficient and they are remote from the market. Most of the economies of scale in agriculture do not prevail and there will be a massive withdrawal of farmers who are below the line of commercial farming.

Contrary to what many people may think, I have experience of living on a small farm, having been reared on one in County Clare. Since I have lived in County Galway, I have had a number of dealings with the county committee of agriculture and, indeed, at one time decided to use an opportunity I had because of the strange, fortuitous way of political fortunes, when I held the balance of power in Galway County Council, to nominate someone who was not associated with my direct political life to the county committee of agriculture. I refer to Professor Michael Cuddy with whom I have had a number of discussions about the workings of the county committee of agriculture. He drew my attention to the kind of discussions that took place in that committee. Those committees function very well and they provided a very valuable source of information on the way that agricultural proposals impacted on the ground. Dr. Cuddy later carried out a very valuable study on the impact of the different Community Directives in relation to retirement, land structures and so forth and the obstacles to their implementation in western agriculture.

I should like to advise the Minister of State that a committee dominated by members of his own party in County Galway were among those who unanimously passed a resolution opposing the abolition of the county committees of agriculture and the cuts in relation to AFT-ACOT. I wish to pay a tribute to the brave members of Fianna Fáil who put the interests of their neighbours, the small farmers in the west, before party loyalty on that occasion and who drew attention to the effects of these savage cuts.

I want to raise a few more points which have arisen in the debate but which have not been explained so far. The projected budget of ACOT for 1988 was a £10.5 million State source contribution, £3.9 million from local authorities, £2.8 million from EC funding, £1.5 million for charging for services, £2 million from miscellaneous sources and £9.5 million from AFT. The total expenditure comes, in the case of ACOT, to £20.7 million but the expenditure for 1987 and £29 million. This leaves a shortfall of £8.3 million for the projected activities for 1988. I should like the Minister to state how this shortfall will be adjusted and how much will be met by moneys which the advisers will have to collect.

If you take the calculations in the case of County Galway, with which I am familiar, it means that advisers would be asked to collect between £5,000 and £7,000 each. If you ask advisers how they will generate this income they will very quickly tell you that they can only do so by cutting out visits to those who are unable to pay. The way it now works is that advisers pay one visit and, if the charges are not paid, they will not visit again. We need to be very clear about this. In County Galway, it will have the effect of reducing the number of advisers from 35 to 23 and it will also endanger a number of outlying stations and advice centres. Not only will this have an effect in structural terms in abandoning the entire social case for bringing those below the development line up to development, it will also have another effect in so far as it will lead to a great demoralisation among the farming community. It is very difficult to swallow all the guff and rhetoric about western packages and integrated programmes while at the same time being asked to accept the withdrawal of research advice.

This is against all the evidence of what is achievable by the impact of the advisers. All we have to do is to look at the time when we had a shortfall in fodder and how quickly it was gathered in these counties. It was directly attributed to the activities of the advisers and of the people working within the institutions which will now be merged, ACOT and AFT. I should like to say,en passant, as somebody who speaks Irish in this House, that it is a most monstrous abuse of the language to call something that is given in its English appellation, Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Bill, 1987, Teagasc, An Foras um Thaighde, Oiliúint agus Comhairle Talmhaíochta agus Bí. I ask those who draft these strange terms to have some respect for the language and to realise that the use of the term Teagasc in this way, followed by a hyphen, with a jumble of neologisms in the Irish language is in no way related to the English translation. Teagasc, as all of us who have been involved in it either as a verb or a noun know, is an abuse of the language. It is a minor point but if one is involved in the butchery of the State institutions responsible for advice and training, we might at least, like a good elegant butcher, have respect for the terms given to the operation.

There will be, of course, in the national effect of the cuts in the new merged entity a number of very serious national effects. Let me put it simply because I want to leave time for other contributions and this Bill should come to a close soon. There is the notion that the last thing you should do is to plan. These proposals represent the death knell of any orderly arrangement for increasing productivity in the basic agricultural sector or of developing value added if you are talking about the food industry.

I should like people to explain how it can be planning to toss figures into a so calledProgramme for National Recovery and, at the same time, dismantle the research and advisory infrastructure that might enable people who are below certain productivity levels, to achieve new levels of targets. It is rather like saying that we will withdraw everything which might have facilitated or expanded productivity but, at the same time, uttering some kind of prayer that the food industry is the thing. Those people are wandering around the country repeating those statements like mantras, 3,500 jobs in tourism while the tourism promotion budget is cut back and a whole series of daft arrangements are set up to make it impossible for people to come here and spend their money on recreational fishing and so on. Equally, in relation to agriculture we are going to create a food industry but we will, of course, cut out thousands of farmers who might have access to advice. Where has such a policy worked? There is no place in the peopled earth where such strategies have worked.

I compliment the Government on addressing the issue of the food industry because we have lost so many potential jobs by not harnessing and capturing the employment potential of value-added in the transition from agriculture to food. How will we do that if at the very base of agricultural productivity the Government are withdrawing services? The Government may say they will concentrate on those to whom the advice will now be directed. As far as I can see they will fall into categories, those who will be able to pay the charges and get a minimal level of advice and research and the people in the upper commercial level who will now be able to get unique access to those who have left AFT and have set themselves up in consultancy firms. The myths might go like this: will they generate the productivity to create the capacity for the food industry to expand? I invite the Minister, and his advisers, to look at the statistics for agricultural production here and say if they are the people who are producing more per acre. Of course, the evidence is that they are not, that the most intense productivity levels per acre are concentrated in the middle ground. It makes no sense to be moving to an American-style agriculture and to be saying at the same time that we are hoping to create more jobs in farming and in the food industry. It is an absurdity.

What we are witnessing is a rhetoric that stands as a substitute for planning, cuts that are real, the removal of more than 1,000 people from the advisory and research functions in agriculture and the total withdrawal of research and advice from those who need it most urgently if they are to develop and retain their farming households in areas that have been neglected over the years. There is nothing as bad as killing by hypocrisy. I do not believe that this is a malign attempt. I believe it is a case of people having no concept or commitment to planning stripping away the planning infrastructure, the advisory and research infrastructure. Those taken together are little less than disastrous.

As other speakers mentioned, an outside study of AFT and ACOT has been carried out. It studied the deployment of staff within those agencies and how they might be best deployed in the future. There has been no attempt in the speeches from the Government side to refer to the distance between what is now proposed and the suggestions made in that outside professional study. There is no recognition of the very considerable stripping away of staff that has taken place since 1982 within the institutions that are affected. In 1982 there were 1,030 people involved but 193 of them have gone. There were further cuts between 1985 and 1987.

The expert opinion in agriculture, obtained from those who do not have any axe to grind, is that money spent on advice and local research is well spent. The decision to remove the local input by getting rid of county committees of agriculture will be disastrous. When I began in politics I visited the Maam station and had a conversation with the dedicated official who was developing a certain breed of sheep. However, that project has been closed down. It was relevant to the area particularly to those involved in sheep farming but somebody decided that that activity should be removed from its natural ecological locale to somewhere else. There were other innovations which were opposed initially by conservative people and it is my belief that members of the agricultural community are no less conservative than others. Those innovations related to the use of helicopters for staking, seeding and fertilising the land but what will happen to them in the future? Is the Minister going to tell me that those services will continue after he has allowed the market to dictate the flow of services and innovation into the agricultural sector?

What will be the relationship in the new order of things between Teagasc and the local authorities? Who will take up the gap in contributions? Is somebody going to tell me that the hard-pressed local authorities, facing cuts between 12 per cent and 14 per cent, will be able to put more money into gaps left by the cutbacks in finance? That will not happen. Agricultural advisers, and those who work in the area, tell me that there are among those on whom they call farmers who cannot be asked for money because they do not have it. I have looked at suggested changes in the delivery of advice in a number of countries and what is unique in ours is the abrupt changes in overall agricultural emphasis in the past ten years from different commodities. That shows the absence of a long or medium-term commodity policy. Those changes have been introduced in a very short period of time.

When right-wing governments, the equivalent of ours, took office in other countries they did not attempt to bring in a single year such drastic changes in the infrastructure of agriculture. In Britain, and elsewhere, they have allowed a longer period of time for the changes. The shortest period is about three years. What will happen to the great developments that were taking place in relation to different sectoral activities in the western counties? I am thinking of the programmes that were developed between the county committees of agriculture and those who were administering the advisory function. Is anyone telling me that they can stay in place? I am thinking in particular of the different sectoral activities that were brought into being by an inspired staff at the Galway office.

The ACOT corporate plan for the period 1986 to 1990 had as its main theme, better and not just more. That is a most admirable aspiration if one is talking about the transition from agriculture to a food industry because it addresses the question of quality. In Galway specific targets were established for dairying in relation to building up the yield per cow by 30 gallons per annum, the reduction of calf mortality and the improvement in the quality of milk. In relation to cattle, there was an emphasis on a reduction in calf mortality and an increase in suckler cow numbers annually by 6,000.

In regard to lowland sheep, there was acceptance of the target of increasing ewe numbers of 268,000 by 13,000 per year. Eighty per cent of finished lambs were to be of a higher quality. There were specific programmes and schemes aimed at hill sheep and there was a tremendous effort by way of education to deal with the problem which Scully had identified. There have been great changes since his work of nearly two decades ago. He identified the fact that very many farm operatives had little access to post-primary education. An attempt was made to ensure that all new entrants to farming would have at least some sort of certificate in farming. A great number of special short courses were being run to enable people to return.

Then there was another curious arrival on the scene, An Bord Glas. Literally translated it is the green board, whatever that might mean. It is presumed in this House to have something to do with vegetables. In horticulture specific targets were established for the organisation of centralised purchasing and more adequate marketing and branding. In County Galway when these proposals are implemented less than half the number of farmers will have access as heretofore. Under the existing scheme of things, even with the cuts, since 1982 there had been an increase in all the areas I mentioned.

Milk yield had increased by 40 gallons per year per cow. There had been a 2 per cent reduction in calf mortality and there had been programmes in relation to mastitis control. In addition 90 per cent of all farmers with more than five suckler cows were visited and there had been encouragement to use continental AI. Prices of lambs had been maintained. There was no glut but rather an orderly production for the market. Ewe numbers increased by 7 per cent per year in 1985 and 1986. Mountain sheep programmes had been established, including a cross-breeding programme. Fertilisation, spraying and fencing schemes had been introduced using new technology. Five thousand farmers participated in short courses in 1987 in County Galway. In that year three groups of students were awarded certificates in farming following a three-year course. In the horticultural area there were a few new producers of mushrooms.

Where a development programme had been established by ACOT nationally, it had been interpreted in terms of a number of specific targets across sectors in that county. The achievement of these targets had been brought about by the available staff who visited people living on small farms and encouraged them. There was a demonstration effect as the targets were achieved.

It is little less than scandalous to ignore the social consequences of the removal of advice and research. It is little less than scandalous to say to people who had the advantage of an academic training but who put on wellingtons and went out along bad roads to small farms that they are to be moved back and that some of them are to be relocated in administrative areas. They have told me they will not choose to sit at desks.

This is the madness of taking a gross figure and saying it has to be cut from the budget of two merged organisations, AFT and ACOT. It is madness to think that this new body, Teagasc — whatever that might be — can operate with fewer staff and abandon so many people in the agricultural community. We are asked to believe this is a good thing. It is a good and progressive thing for this Government to be interested in developments in agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and the food industry but if they keep on setting targets and, at the same time, refuse proper planning and remove the capacity for production and for the creation of value added, people will say this is just another area of failure. I do not want to wish failure on this country. I am interested in the maximisation of the employment potential of agriculture and the food industry.

Let us consider the land use map of County Galway and the small number of commercial farms. Figures show that between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of all the products of that county are exported without any value added whatever. The same applies in most of the western counties. There is the inevitable regional loss of that employment. How can we say that the remaining commercial farmers will be a sufficient base for production to fuel that kind of employment potential? Nobody in his senses can operate like that because it does not work. Economic historians and economists dealing with the land problem here have drawn attention to the fact that it has a highly regionalised structure. There is a lack of explicit planning in relation to agricultural production. It was quite mad to say that volume production of milk in its day which suited a pattern of Munster agriculture was somehow suited to the fragmented small-scale farming in most of the western counties. It is equally mad to say that we will be able to benefit from any kind of merged social and regional funds, integrated packages or whatever, while we walk away from the agricultural capacity of farms below a certain level in these counties.

For all these reasons the Labour Party are opposing this Bill on Second Stage. We believe we are not talking about a very significant innovation. We are talking about cutting jobs and reducing access to services, as well as the limitation of services to a very much smaller group of people. Even if one accepted the arguments for the new merged institution, it is not only its name that is an absurdity. to what extent has the independent research function carried out by AFT been removed into the new institution?

The references to the Minister in the text of the Bill indicate an entirely different relationship when compared to the independence and autonomy of research enjoyed by AFT. There are many other new features and changes in structure which would cause worry, even in an operational sense. The biggest issue is the idea of removing so much money while, at the same time, creating a new entity and removing so many people from the advisory service who had overcome many obstacles in securing access to small-scale farming in particular. Their removal will be little less than disastrous.

I shall conclude by simply saying that it is becoming almost unfashionable now to think about unemployment or the consequences of unemployment or emigration. In the fifties, in most of the agricultural communities there was an average emigration between the age cohorts 15 to 19 years and 20 to 24 years of between 40 and 55 per cent and even in the period when out-migration stopped the end of the fifties to the seventies, there was a continued out-migration, if you like, from rural communities. Since we joined the Community we have less than 40,000 farm families living and gaining employment from agriculture. If we were to try to create employment, there was and is an enormous capacity from agriculture and the food industry. There were enormous benefits also. The raw materials were there. We still have these. The possibilities for gaining every possible job slot were there and are there.

This was in quite a contrast to an industrial policy which, over on the other side of the economy, was filing last year £1.254 billion in tax breaks to the private sector to try — to use an agricultural image — to get the sick cow of the Irish private sector to get up on her feet and give a dribble of milk. In 1986 we spent £997 million and so forth. Even when we have captured significant foreign investment we can see that the outflow of profits running at £1.5 billion, joined now by the so-called patriotic Irish savers of about £500 million in savings flowing out of the country, there is great advantage in agriculture in that the basic commodity is here, the activity is here and the advantages still exist. I agree with the Government that there is an enormous advantage in developing the food industry but you will not develop it if you cut back on the very basics that are necessary for creating a more productive agriculture.

All the evidence was that if you drew a line through the total number of holdings, the greatest capacity for expansion in productivity was below the line rather than above it in terms of farm sizes. Equally, in relation to that expanded productivity, the employment content was very much higher below the line than it was above the line, in terms of size of farm holding. It is the employment potential of agriculture and the food industry that is being endangered by these disastrous proposals.

I speak in absolutely no negative sense at all. I doubt how anybody can be serious about planning the expansion of agriculture and the food industry and, at the same time, say you can withdraw resources from it and restructure them in so much more an administrative way, rather than in a research way or in a way that will deliver the services on the ground. You will not make Irish agriculture productive by withdrawing back to desks and telling the people who achieved the targests I have listed that they will now be able to achieve them by doing sums on paper. That has been a recipe for disaster in relation to our industrial policy and what will inevitably follow from this will be a return to and an increase in the levels of emigration from the Irish rural communities.

It is difficult to follow the colourful contribution of Deputy Higgins. With many of his remarks relevant to the west of Ireland I can express sympathy and agreement. This Bill has been in this House for quite some time. It is played out to a certain extent. There has been an amount of back slapping on the one hand and objections on the other. Most contributions have centred around the various centres in the country, at AFT or ACOT level, where individual Deputies have had concerns expressed to them about continuation of operations there.

Obviously, in the context of this Bill against a background where agriculture is continuing to be extremely important in our economic framework, we have to expect changes. This change and the merger of ACOT and AFT are supported in principle by this party. The original Bill was drafted back in the seventies by the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Clinton. It was opposed bitterly both from a personality point of view and from a statement point of view by the Fianna Fáil Party. The wheel has come full circle in that regard.

There are many aspects of the Bill which have been referred to and spoken about over the last number of weeks. In the context of change, the report recently published by the IDA in terms of food industry expansion, emphasises strictly the need to change from an agricultural processing industry as supplying intervention material, etc., to a food industry supplying quality food for the European market. That is a fundamental change in itself. It is very important in the context of 1992 and the tax barriers across Europe coming down at that time.

It is also critical in the light of the proposals made last year by the United States at the World Trade talks, from the point of view of the proposal that food subsidies and farm support over a ten-year period would be abolished and phased out. The Common Agricultural Policy is of critical importance to our county, spending almost £1,000 million a year. The development and announcement of the company to be publicly quoted in terms of food is a very interesting development and one that probably should have come about quite some time ago. We look forward to seeing how it will operate in the competitive world of agriculture from here on.

The overview given by the Minister for Agriculture and Food in a leaflet published earlier this year sets in context for us the position with regard to this Bill and other matters relevant to the Department. It is difficult to see how the Minister can reconcile his Government's bible, theProgramme for National Recovery where the stated view and aspiration of the Government is that the amalgamation of AFT and ACOT — and I am quoting here from page 21 —“will provide the kind of services required to meet presentday needs and gear the agricultural food industry more appropriately to the fundamental changes now occurring in these sectors including the application of the latest technological developments”, with the consequences of what will happen once the merger has taken place, been put through and is serviced by a 43.5 per cent reduction on the 1987 provisions.

It is fair to say that the Minister for Agriculture and Food has protected his own Department and has left the front line services to the wolves. It will not be possible for the merged body of AFTACOT, this hybrid animal Teagasc which has been dealt with, from a parsing and analysis point of view by Deputy Higgins, to deliver the quality and the extent of service to comply with the Government aspiration as stated in theirprogramme for National Recovery. How could it be, when the amount of money has been cut back from £35 million to a block grant of £20 million on this occasion?

The party on this side of the House are allowing this Bill through for a variety of reasons. We accept the principle of the merger. I have referred to the introduction in the seventies of the Bill by the former Minister for Agriculture. The move to implement the present proposed merger was started by the previous Government and the joint head of the two bodies was appointed on January 20 of last year. The Fine Gael Government had decided to proceed ahead with the merger of AFT and ACOT and we, therefore, support the principle of the Bill.

I regret the delay in having the Bill circulated and that sufficient time was not allowed in the earlier stages for all of those who wished to contribute, to do so. It is necessary that this should go through, because the structures at the moment are crumbling. It is obviously necessary to have an organisation set up and running within the constraints and the facilities given to them, that would allow the agricultural industry to recover somewhat from the damage already inflicted on it. There has been an unholy mess with the merger. An interim director should have been appointed. Possibly we would not have the low morale and confusion that has existed about his merger if that had been done.

The Minister for Agriculture seems to have protected his own Department and has left front line services to be savaged. There will be insufficient money to run Teagasc and the organisation will run out of money before the end of the year. Will we then see a supplementary estimate being introduced or will savings be found in the Department of Agriculture which might be shified to the new body to allow them continue their work to the end of the year? I understand that already there is an overdrawing of approximately £1 million in terms of the budget already allocated to the two organisations. It is difficult to see where in the present Estimate sufficient moneys are allocated to run the organisation until the end of the year. Will the Minister clarify that when he replies to the debate?

We are also concerned about the excusion of some areas of research from the proposed umbrella organisation. The reduction in finance for research and development is nothing short of scandalous. To stand still in terms of research and development is really to go backwards in a European context; it is to cut off the possibility for potential expansion in the future. It is critical in a changing competitive environment that research and development relevant to the needs of our community and to what others demand from us, continue to be made available and that resources be given to the people qualified to work in that area.

Last week it was suggested that people qualified in research and development should be employed on a contract basis. That is worth considering. Those who emerge from the universities and training areas at an early age have the initiative and the enterprise to do the highest level of research and development. There is a certain amount of merit in that suggestion and it should be examined.

Research and development is allied to the education process that has been going on for a number of years. We are an unusual race. We can be pushed so far, we can be given so many facilities and told how to do things and why things should be done, but often there is not the individual motivation to carry these things through to fruition.

I am concerned about the method of appointment to the board of Teagasc by the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister proposes to make five direct appointments and to make five further appointments after consultation. That is fine from the Minister's point of view but does that mean that when the Minister and his advisers meet with the various representative organisations they will accept at first hand whoever the organisation proposes to be appointed to the board, or does it mean that the Minister will conduct a sort of high level interview for a particular kind of candidate? Alternatively, does it mean that the Minister might be subject to political pressure to appoint various people so that we end up with a nice cosy arrangement and a board subject to the Minister's every whim so that nothing of real relevance emerges from the umbrella body. We do not want people to be appointed from various cumainn around the country so that Ministers are ringing up various hostelries and hotels seeking people to tell them the good news before it is told in the Dáil. We do not want that sort of thing either. There is merit in what the Minister proposes, but I would not like him to fall foul of political pressures. The people on the board should have something real to offer in the critical area of agriculture.

In speaking to people working in AFT and ACOT I have found that there is very low morale at the moment. People are confused and are not quite sure whether they will be made redundant or will be redeployed. People do not know whether their centers will close, where they will be next year or what kind of programmes of work will be laid out for them. I understand that something like 800 people out of a total of 2,000 have applied for the redundancy scheme. Some of these people would obviously be in for redeployment and many applied because they were told that if they did not apply, redeployment might not be open to them next year either. A staff operating under that kind of constraint leads to poor morale, lack of initiative and a generally cynical attitude about the whole operation. That was allied to the fact that advisers last year had to go around the country and more or less sell tickets to the farmers saying that they had to generate so much money in order that they could come out and tell the farmers how to dose their cattle, grow their cabbage or whatever else. Some agricultural instructors are very good salesmen and have done a fine job at that. Those who are interested are willing to pay, but others in their thousands are now being left a side. Many farms will turn to weed and will be over-grown within the next few years.

The service demanded by the Government'sProgramme for National Recovery cannot be delivered when the consequences of what will happen to agricultural instructors are realised. In many of the western counties distances are vast, and with early retirements, acceptance of redundancy and non-filling of vacancies there will be great distances between where agricultural instructors work and live. Instructors will not travel from 50 to 80 miles to farmers who might require their services and farmers will not be too keen to actively look for that kind of service. Allied to that is the fact that a great number of those who completed 100 hour courses and took various pieces of advice from ACOT and AFT have left the western regions and have gone to Australia, America and Britain in their thousands. The tears that were shed for them by the party on the other side of the House when in Opposition do not seem to shine as bright now. The service is being denuded of its brightest and best. They are leaving for private operations and for the prospect of better jobs elsewhere. If researchand development is to be forced to run down, this country will be all the poorer for that agriculturally and in the times ahead when we will face increasing competition from Europe, that will not put us on the footing on which we should be in terms of what will happen in 1992.

The fact that a proposed merger will bring about a change from a county system to a regional system has to be examined somewhat seriously. I regret that the county committee system is being abolished and it is interesting to note that this was strongly opposed by Fianna Fáil public representatives and members on the county committees for many years. Many of these committees did a fine job, relative to their local needs, yet they are now being abolished.

The creation of a two regional system, comprising east and west, possibly indicates the Government's thinking on the way the country should be run. The western region will comprise the 12 western counties and commercially run programmes will be set up in the east and south which have natural advantages over the west, with rural development programmes being set up in the west. Somebody once wrote a play entitled "The Monday Scheme", the gist of which was that a wall should be built around Connacht in order to make it an international graveyard. With the cutbacks in the AFTACOT budget how is a reduced number of instructors going to cater for those farmers who show initiative in going ahead to improve their lot? Is this going to mean that those involved in agriculture in the west are going to have to diversify into as many areas as possible, such as pigs, poultry, mushrooms, bee-keeping, cheese making, agri-tourism or forestry development? At present a battle is waging on the charges being imposed in respect of certain pastimes connected with the tourist industry and because the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages the Government should take another look at this proposal.

I think there should be equal representation on the board from east and west. In fairness, as there are only two divisions being proposed there should be equal representation from east and west. In my own county in 1980 there were 36 advisers. Today there are only 19 and instructors have now got to travel greater distrances. For example, there is one instructor based in Belmullet and two in Westport. The distance between the two towns is 50 miles and it will not be possible for them to provide a decent service.

Many of the areas in the western region have been ravaged by emigration and as a consequence spending power in the west has been greatly reduced. Those who would spend most on social activities, food and clothing are those who are leaving and the reduced spending power has caused many problems in these areas. Those who remain are the older age group of farmers who have not participated in any of the 100 hour courses and who have not availed of any of the advice which is available. The reality is that many of these smaller farms are just going to disintegrate. The headquarters of ACOT in the disadvantaged area are based in Davit House in Castlebar. Under the county committee system, offices were opened in Ballina, Ballinrobe and Westport and I would not like to see these headquarters being closed down. Fears have been expressed in this regard and I seek clarification from the Minister that this office will remain open and will continue to liaise with the county council the VECs and other bodies.

Reference was made to the recent announcement concerning the western package. Every so often there have been colourful characters in the west who have made announcements and carried on in a political way but what happened recently literally took the biscuit. There was a rush to deliver the good news concerning the western package and frantic efforts were made by MEPs to announce this good news in Europe. It was nearly as good as the stroke which had been pulled by a fine-hearted Mayo man and former Deputy of this House, Deputy Flanagan, who announced some years ago that he had a £500 million package all sown up for the west.

It was like Rommel's triumphant cavalcade from the desert or Chipperfield's Circus when gaily painted State cars, seven in all, arrived at the ACOT headquarters in Castlebar to inform the people about the millions of pounds which were going to be made available and dished out. There were going to be no more bad days, difficulties or worries. One could call it the cavalcade of millions. Ministers were beaming broadly and Ministers of State smiled and waved at people expecting cheers of exultation in return for this wonderful announcement but what happened? It appears that Moses struck the rock twice and nothing happened. What do we now find? We find that not alone has an application not been lodged in Brussels but that the amount is to be reduced by £80 million while the area to be serviced has been increased by 15 per cent. We receive television, radio and newspapers in the west and I must say that this whole exercise was typical of some members of the Fianna Fáil Party and an insult to the intelligence of those who are involved in agricultural development in the west.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you have a long and honourable tradition of visiting certain parts of the west and you are aware that those in the west have often accepted things at face value but many of those have now called to see public representatives and to the ACOT headquarters in Castlebar seeking application forms to apply for some of these millions of pounds which they were told were going to be made available but all they have found is that not alone is there nothing there but no information is being made available to them. Public representatives on the other side of the House have repeatedly said that these application forms would be available from 1 June. I do not know whether that commitment is going to be honoured but I intend holding the Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy, to it.

I have to say that those in the west have changed their attitude towards the Government and their concept and philosophy of the better way. Gone are the days when they climbed on the old steam trains, waved their caps, said goodbye forever and cheered de Valera and his band. Gone are those days; they are now understanding and very ciritical. This practice of Government Ministers arriving in seven State cars in the town of Castlebar, waving to all the people, smiling broadly, delivering nothing, was one of the most cynical political exercises I have witnessed in very many years. Those concerned ought to be ashamed of themselves and be man enough to stand up and apologise publicly for what they did.

Would the Deputy be prepared to categorise it as what the economists call conspicuous expenditure which is supposed to have some virtue?

No, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I am afraid not. I want to say to the Ministers of State sitting opposite that many points arising from the new umbrella body will present difficulty for the western region. For instance, in the area of lamb production, what has been happening to date is that on average the lambs produced were between the 26 and 32 pound weight. Apparently, that is no longer required in Europe. In Italy they demand lambs over 25 pounds and in France over 36 pounds. The market has not actually disappeared but has changed. I am not sure whether the Ministers might be involved with Coras Tráchtála Teoranta in terms of finding an alternative market for the kind of lamb produced in western regions. It would be difficult for such producers to change in a short period of time. Naturally the more lambs one has the more disease one will have and the more assistance and advice one will require. If there are to be fewer instructors, less money with which to pay them enabling them to travel around the country, it will be a self-defeating exercise.

Many of the issues raised related to the research centres, the ACOT centres and with regard to fears of closure. It was said in theProgramme for National Recovery:

—a revised Western Development more suited to the specific needs of the West will be introduced in 1988.

I welcome that commitment because, emanating from the Government's bible it cannot be wrong, or so we are led to understand. If a revised western development programme is to be more suited to the specific needs of the west there must be direct Ministerial intent to so do. I should not like to see the only research station dealing with sheep disease, drainage and pollution in the entire disadvantaged area abolished. I am referring to the centre at Creagh outside Ballinrobe, owned, lock, stock and barrel by An Foras Talúntais. Indeed in the early seventies An Foras Talúntasi themselves proposed its closure. There were grave concerns expressed at the time and after much political pressure and so on it was kept open.

I should point out that the disadvantaged area comprises 55 per cent of the total area of Ireland, contains 70 per cent of suckler cows, 55 per cent of total sheep and 85 per cent of hill sheep. The centre at Creagh has been intimately involved in dealing with the specifics of requirements. When that centre was given the brief of undertaking research with specific relevance to agriculture and the development of land use in the west, I should say that is exactly what they did. They carried out works in relation to many areas relevant to that region, for example, on ewe nutrition, on the evaluation of forage, on the fattening of store lambs, on grazing systems for sheep, work in the area of mixed stocking, on the hill sheep systems and research into the epidemiology of parasite infections which is of great significance in dealing with disease in that branch of sheep production.

The centre also dealt with the monitoring of health problems in hill and lowland sheep, providing recommendations on how such problems might be controlled or eliminated. As the area contains a good deal of the marginal land of the country great work was undertaken in the development of drainage machinery, of systems and new methods for the construction of playing fields sited on difficult ground. There has also been quite an amount of work done, and continuing, on the control of pollution and the monitoring and control of water pollution. Obviously that will be of great concern to the two Ministers of State present, the Minister himself, and my county colleague, the Minister for the Environment. Most of the farmers we have met are willing to undertake remedial work provided they receive assistance from the Department of the Environment or some other Department where a problem can be identified. In the context of a European pereception of this country, of free fishing, clean waters and clean air, that perception should be nurtured.

The research centre at Creagh, likewise, have done excellent research work on game and deer and this is continuing. I might point out to the Ministers of State present that the work carried out in this research centre always has been related directly to the environment, the type of agriculture that can be developed from native resources in the western region.

I am aware that each Member will already have made his or her case in relation to their local AFT station. When the relevant decisions are taken, obviously some will fall by the wayside. I want to impress on the Ministers — in the context of theProgramme for National Recovery in which it is specifically stated that a new programme, geared to the needs of the west, will be introduced in 1988 — that this station is owned by An Foras Talúntais, there are no leasing or purchase charges involved. It is located there and should continue to be used where it is, right in the centre of the disadvantaged area, working in that kind of environment.

In relation to the future of the centre, I should say that work is already under way in terms of improved and more efficient systems for lowland sheep. Farmers have been considerably educated in recent years in terms of reducing the mortality rate of their sheep and lambs, much of that work having emanated directly from the Creagh centre. I appeal to the Minister to retain this centre and allow it to flourish.

One criticism I have had of An Foras Talúntais over the years is that they never really brought home to the farmer on the ground the value and quality of their work. It would have been in their interest if they had many open days, or whatever, when the people of the locality were invited to observe the consequences, effects and beneficial results arising from quality research and development.

We are letting this Bill through. We believe it is necessary. We support it in principle but we are concerned about the amount of money actually allocated for this year. I should not like to see the new body, Teagasc, build up a head of steam and fall flat on its face by the end of December, or have a cloud hanging over it by way of a directive from the Department of Finance for a further 10 per cent reduction, so that they would get lost in this amalgamation of £400 million we hear that the people over there will have to decide, discuss and incorporate in the Estimates for 1989. We have problems with various sections of the Bill and I am told we will be tabling appropriate amendments on Committee Stage in relation to them.

I know I do no have much time because the Minister has to wind up the debate. I should like to welcome this Bill because I believe it will be an improvement. Like the previous speaker, Deputy Enda Kenny, I too would be afraid that anything would happen to the Ballinamore research station in County Leitrim which is in my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim. This centre has done much good work during the past number of years and a lot of research has been carried out there. There was an epidemic near where I lived and some sheep died on the mountainside. The farmers took the sheep to the research centre at Ballinamore, found out what was causing the sheep to die and rectified the matter. That is one of the reasons I do not want the research centre at Ballinamore to be closed. I should like the Minister to keep that in mind when a decision is being made.

During the fifties there were 500,000 farmers in this country but today there are fewer than 160,000 farmers. There has been a massive drop in the number of farmers and we must ask ourselves why there has been such a drop. I suppose that when small farms were not viable two or three farmers sold their land and one farmer bought it so that today one farmer is making a living off a farm which was owned by three farmers previously.

I should like to refer in particular to cattle headage and the off-farm income. I was very disappointed at the decision to bring down the limit for off-farm income from £6,400 to £5,200. Small farmers in the west of Ireland cannot make a living off small farms and have to get part time jobs in order to survive. I hope that in the proposed new western package the off-farm income for part-time farmers will be increased considerably to a realistic limit. Before I came into Leinster House I was a small farmer and I was unable to get a headage grant because I had an off-farm income.

Because of the new ideas in farming and the way farming is going, farmers need a lot of advice from the farm advisory service. The biggest problem facing farmers who make silage is pollution. The sooner the western package comes in with an increased grant for farmers to enable them to provide effluent tanks for their farms the better.

It is supposed to be in now.

No, I do not think so.

Was the Deputy not invited to Caslebar?

It has to go from Castlebar to Brussels and then it has to come back here. It does not happen overnight. The western package which was introduced in 1981 was supposed to last for ten years but it did not last for ten years. Hopefully when the new western package is implemented it will last and benefit the farmers in the disadvantaged areas.

I do not wish to hold up the Minister and I will finish in a few minutes. At present farmers use large milk bulk tanks to bring milk to their local co-ops. Sometimes they have to travel quite a distance but the county roads in the west of Ireland were not made for milk bulk tanks. I hope that there will be money——

The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Flynn, is not going to give us money for the roads now.

Whatever the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Flynn, says, I am sure he knows better than anybody——

The potholes can be used as sheep dipping troughs.

I hope that there will be money in the western package for county roads because the very fabric of our roads is being ruined by these milk bulk tanks. I know that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is anxious that I wind up but before the Minister comes in——

Deputy Brennan is perfectly in order and he is entitled to remain in until 10.15 p.m. if he so wishes. The Chair never rushes any Deputy.

The roads are gone and the people are gone.

I asked the Minister for five minutes of his time. I am concerned about the off-farm income limit for small farmers in the west of Ireland in the new western package. As I said at the beginning if the present rate of £5,200 is not increased to at least £10,000 or £12,000 in the new western package it will not be worth the paper it is written on. I know that part-time farmers in the west of Ireland would not work in the county councils or the forestry if they did not have to do so. If they could make a living off the land they would stay on the land but unfortunately their farms are so small they have to subsidise their income by going to work. I want the Government to increase the off-farm income limit and not decrease it. I hope the Minister for Agriculture will do this. We raise this matter at our agricultural committee meetings and I am not afraid to raise it in this House. I should like the Minister of State, Deputy Joe Walsh, to take note of the fact that we want the off-farm income limit increased.

A ray of hope.

I should like to thank all the Deputies for their very worthwhile, constructive and wide ranging contributions to this debate. They ranged from potholes and slurry tanks to the odd expedition down the west of Ireland. I will not comment on some of those points because I do not think they are very relevant to the Bill. I want to acknowledge some of the contributions made and to thank my colleague, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, for facilitating the speedy passage of this Bill. The contributions were contructive and I think there is a desire by all Members to allow this legislation go through the House so that the new board can be set up, that a national director be appointed and the new body can get on with their job. While there were some Deputies who expressed reservations on certain sections and aspects of the Bill, I believe there is broad agreement on the desirability of amalgamation, and recognition of the benefits that can accrue from the rationalisation and streamling of agricultural training, advisory and research services under a unified management and direction.

Many Deputies have expressed concern at the level of funding for the service in 1988. While funding is a separate matter, it is a question for decision by the Government in the context of the overall Estimates, and I should refer the Deputies to the Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy's remarks in this regard in his introductory speech; he recognised at that time that there could be difficulties for the bodies and gave an assurance to the House that in the event of the new authority being set up, and set up quickly, it would not lack for essential funds. I wish now to reiterate and reaffirm that position. There will be no running out of funds and there will be no lack of essential funds for this new body.

Let me now turn to the specific references made to the provisions in the Bill itself. The main questions which appear to be causing concern to Deputies are: ministerial control in sections 8, 13 and 19, board representation in the First Schedule, the provisions on disclosure of information in section 14, the restriction in the area of veterinary research and, finally, the name "Teagasc". Indeed Deputies Michael Higgins and Enda Kenny, in their own colourful way, referred to the title of this Bill and I will come to their reservations in relation to it later on.

The question of ministerial control appears to be causing particular concern, especially to Deputy Jim O'Keeffe. He counted the number of times there is reference to a Minister in the Bill. But if any of the Deputies had a look at other, similar legislation passed by this House, I am sure they would find comparable references to ministerial control. Such provisions are not unique to this Bill. The vast majority of these are standard in recent, similar legislation. The Labour Services Act, 1987, is a case in point. I do not regard having ministerial control as any great problem. Deputies and Ministers in this House are elected by people. In a democratic system they are entitled to have a degree of control. It annoys me personally to get from time to time responses from State bodies saying clearly to me that it is none of my business to inquire into any particular matter in relation to some of these boards. I do not think that is the way business should be done in a democratic society and I have no personal problem in relation to ministerial control in this legislation.

In relation to section 8 on the control of staff numbers about which Deputies O'Keeffe and Stagg appear to have some difficulty, the position here is that this reflects the present reality of the need for central control of the total numbers and the numbers in each grade in State bodies which are funded to a very substantial degree by the Exchequer. Such controls are placed on Departments in the Civil Service and State bodies and it would be logical and consistent that similar controls would apply to the Agriculture and Food Development Authority. I can assure both Deputies that such controls do not, as has been suggested, extend to normal management matters such as the redeployment of staff within the Authority. The intention here is to ensure that there is no unnecessary increase in staff costs and numbers in the public sector. I would also remind the Deputies that such provisions were in the legislation initiated by the previous Administration.

Let me now refer to the points raised regarding ministerial control in sections 13 and 19. These provisions are intended to give the Minister a say in advance on the broad thrust of the programme of activity in the Authority, that is, without becoming involved in the day-to-day activities which are specifically excluded. I would like to remind Deputies that we are dealing with a State body which will require substantial Exchequer funding. In my view it is not unreasonable, given the amount of State aid which the body will receive, that the responsible Minister's consent should be required in advance of committing significant annual public expenditure of taxpayers' money. It would indeed be strange if the Minister had no legal right to see that national research, training and advisory operations took account of Government policy priorities for the agriculture and food sectors of the economy. I would emphasise that it is not the intention that the Minister should become involved in the management of the Authority but rather that he or she should indicate particular policy areas to be given attention when this is considered necessary or prudent.

The position concerning the composition of the board is that the Government decided that a small board of high calibre and well qualified members would be best fitted to serve the needs of the new Authority. It is important that the Minister be given maximum flexibility in deciding the composition of the board, and I do not think the Minister would be concerned about ringing people up in public houses or in hotels. May be that is what happened in Deputy Kenny's party's term in office but it has no relevance whatever in this Bill.

To those who would suggest that such a degree of flexibility will lead to the selection of people other than those best fitted, I would say it would not be in the interests of the Minister to have other than the most suitable people on the board of the Authority. I want to pay tribute to the dedication of the present board under the chairmanship of Mr. Matt Dempsey. They have done quite an outstanding job in recent months under difficult circumstances. We want people of this calibre and dedication on the new board also.

On section 14 in regard to the disclosure of information, I find it difficult to understand why some Deputies have expressed reservations on this. The section states that a person shall not, without the consent of Teagasc disclose any information obtained by him while performing duties as a member of Teagasc. It is not unreasonable that the board of Teagasc should have a legal right to grant or withhold that consent. At the end of the day any such information obtained by employees of Teagasc in the performance of their duties on its behalf is the property of Teagasc and not of the individual research worker. Even from the point of view of common courtesy it is only right that an employee be obliged to seek that consent. I might add that there is freedom for Teagasc, under section 8, to delegate this function of consent to the director or any staff member, so that no undue obstacles need arise in the rapid dissemination of research results. Moreover, such an obligation rightly places responsibility on the board of management for the publication of such information thereby protecting the individual from any personal liability. In recent years, under the whole system, it became a fact of life that quite a substantial amount of concrete research was done by An Foras Talúntais and this will happen to a great degree in the future.

For commercial research confidentiality is absolutely essential. There is no way in which any commercial organisation will fund a research project unless they are absolutely assured of the confidentiality of the results and of the ongoing development that is taking place. They do not want to read about their research project in the newspapers or find a competitive industry introducing the findings of their funded work, so I do think that confidentiality is absolutely important in this situation.

Some Deputies have questioned the exclusion from the new Authority's remit in the field of basic veterinary research of certain activities specified in section 1. There is no question here of introducing new restrictions on research. The provisions of the Bill reproduce precisely the veterinary functions currently enjoyed by An Foras Talúntais, no more and no less. The exclusions mentioned go back quite a long way. They were in fact applied, and correctly applied, by the Mark Clinton legislation of 1977.

The activities excluded relate to regulatory responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and Food. The diagnostic work on individual animals or poultry arises mainly from normal veterinary feed practice where serious disease could be in question. It is essential because of the responsibilities of the Minister for Agriculture and Food under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1966, that the work should continue to be done by the Department's veterinary officers at Abbotstown and the regional laboratories. The other activities specified relate to the animal health schemes for which the Department have responsibility. The veterinary investigation, tests or inquiries, referred to constitute an essential back up service to the operation of such schemes. The involvement of Teagasc in these regulatory functions would clearly be quite inappropriate to its wider research mandate and would, moreover, lead to a wasteful duplication of effort.

I would like to deal with the county committees of agriculture. I know a good deal about these organisations because I was chairman of the Cork County Committe of Agriculture on a number of occasions. Several Deputies have expressed regret at the passing of the county committees of agriculture and paid tribute — and rightly so — to the contributions they have made to agricultural development. I share those sentiments but as I stressed in my opening speech the realities of the present time dictate that the maintenance of the county structure can no longer be warrented. I do not think anybody would disagree with the proposition that an organisation which services any industry must ensure that there is accurate feed back from the users of that service particularly where the users are expected to pay. It is a question of how best to get that feed back.

The review group who have recently been looking in detail at the operations of AFT and ACOT were convinced of the effectiveness of ACOT's system organised on a district rather than a county unit basis. They were impressed by the value of the advisory committees in each district. As representative of the direct users of the service I am satisfied that the best way to go in this matter is to leave the organisation full discretion as to the mechanisms it may establish to ensure that it is responding as closely as possible to the needs of its clients in each area of activity. This is provided for in section 17.

Reference has also been made by a number of Deputies, especially Deputy Jim O'Keeffe to the desirability of the new organisation maintaining close liasion with the universities and indeed other agencies which may be carrying on research in the area of agriculture and food. This would, of course, be an essential role of the new organisation in discharging the principal functions set out for it in section 4 (1) of the Bill which includes the co-ordination of agricultural research and development.

An Foras Talúntais has developed links with the universities over the years and the new Authority which will have all the present powers and duties of An Foras will, no doubt, maintain and strengthen the ties of co-operation with the universities.

A number of Deputies have referred to the closure of centres and particularly centres and field stations in their own constituences. Deputy Avril Doyle expressed her fears as to the significance of the reference in the Minister's opening speech to the fact that Teagasc will concentrate on the essential service and that those of lower priority would be reduced or phased out. There is nothing ominous in that statement and, indeed, the Minister has not decided to close any of these centres. The question of deciding priorities or on the reduction or increasing of particular activities will, in the first instance, be a matter for Teagasc. That statement was made on the reasonable assumption that in the amalgation of the two bodies — AFT and ACOT — there is scope for rationalisation and savings. Even if the Minister had any centres in mind — which he did not — it would be totally inappropriate for him to suggest these as such matters are for the board of Teagasc to decide.

A number of Deputies expressed serious reservations on ministerial controls in the Bill and called for full freedom for the new body to manage their affairs. I think it is incompatible for any Deputy to urge, pre-empt or usurp the decisions which will be a fundamental function of the new Authority. It is not possible for Deputies to have it both ways, on the one hand to have reservations about ministerial control and on the other hand to leave the management of the affairs to Teagasc.

Deputy Doyle also cited statistics designed to show that governments in the developed northern European countries now spend relatively more on research than on advisory or training services than we in Ireland are providing. The suggestion made was that because countries such as Turkey and Nigeria are similarly giving greater support to advice and education we are somehow backward and ill advised. Surely, we should not be deciding our priorities in the allocation of resources on the situation in any other country, developed or otherwise, but on the needs of the people and on the needs of industry in Ireland. I would invite Deputy Doyle's consideration of the special priorities which were attached to farmer advice and training by her own Party inBuilding on Reality 1985-1987.. I quote:

The Government believe that efforts to accelerate growth in agricultural output must concentrate on that segment of the farming population which has real development potential. ACOT is, therefore, being asked to concentrate its advisory services on those farmers who have the resources and motivation to achieve such development.

While it is true that the Irish Government funding on agricultural research, in absolute terms, is very low by European standards, the fact remains that we devote a higher proportion of State funded research and development to the agricultural sector than do most of the member states. The latest figures available show that over 30 per cent of our total research and development funding went on agriculture. That is the highest percentage among the twelve countries of the European Community.

Deputy Doyle also referred to the efficiency audit in the Department of Agriculture and Food, AFT and ACOT. The result of this audit will be used to assist the management in my Department and in the Department of Finance in determining appropriate staffing levels. Surveys of this kind are a regular feature of staff management in the public service and it is not the normal practice to publish such internal audits.

I have noted the reservations expressed by many Deputies as to the suitability of the name Teagasc and their fears that it may not readily lend itself to the marketing activities of the body. This is a matter of subjective opinion. I have no difficulty with the matter and I think it is a peripheral issue. However, in deference to those views which, I have no doubt were sincerely held, I am prepared to reconsider the point should an alternative name which wins a wider degree of acceptance emerge between now and Committee Stage. I will make a box available in my office to anybody who wants to suggest a suitable name and we may come up with something more acceptable.

I think I have dealt with the most important points raised on the provisions of this Bill. The Bill provides the most appropriate and effective framework for the delivery of research, training and advisory services essential to the success of the agriculture and food industry in the years ahead. It brings together, in a cohesive unit, services which were formerly dispersed. It should maximise the benefits that will accrue to the industry from the funds invested in the services by the Exchequer.

I understand and I note the reservations and anxieties expressed by Deputy Kenny in relation to Creagh, in his own constituency, and by Deputy Mattie Brennan in relation to Ballinamore. Deputy Brennan also raised the matter of off-farm income. That does not come up specifically under this legislation but I will, nevertheless — as he made a sincerely held plea — have another look at the question of off-farm income. I will note the Deputy's reservations in that regard. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 14.

  • Abbott, Henry.
  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Matthew.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Burke, Ray.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary T.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Gallagher, Denis.
  • Hilliard, Colm Michael.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lynch, Michael.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Dea, William Gerard.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Paddy.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Swift, Brian.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallance, Dan.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Bell, Michael.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Browne; Níl, Deputies Howlin and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage of this Bill?

I have my amendments ready and I am anxious for an early Committee Stage on this Bill.

Next Tuesday would suit the Government side, subject to agreement among the Whips.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 17 May 1988.