National Development Plan, 1989-1993: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Wednesday, 12 April 1989:
That Dáil Éireann takes note of the Government's National Development Plan, 1989-1993.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
"condemns the failure of the Government to consult Dáil Éireann on the National Development Plan prior to its submission to the European Commission on 31st March; resolves to amend the Plan by taking into account the contributions in the Dáil debate of 12th April-14th April 1989 inclusive. Dáil Éireann further instructs the Government to establish, on a formal and legal basis, the seven sub-regional working groups and their advisory bodies, so as to provide for an open democratic forum which would actively engage the energies of local and regional community groups throughout the country (atógáil)."
—(Deputy Quinn.)

Irish agriculture was never in a better position to avail of the new opportunities that arise for the agriculture and food sector under the national plan. After four years of depression, it is now acknowledged in the official reports of the EC that farm incomes in Ireland have increased well ahead of all other countries in the last two years. I am well pleased that Government policies promoted by my colleagues and myself at home and in the European Community have been so successful.

The income increase of almost 50 per cent over the last two years has not, of course, been enjoyed equally by all sectors in agriculture. Some producers in the dairy sector have enjoyed considerably more than the average figure while small producers and producers in the cereals sector would have experienced considerably less. As Minister for Agriculture and Food, I am determined to ensure as far as possible that application of the benefits under the plan will take account of the disparity of incomes now existing.

There is no other country in the European Community in which the farming sector represents such a crucial element in the overall economy as it does in Ireland. The major beef and dairy sectors provide vital employment throughout the country. Employment in the agri-food sector accounts for almost 20 per cent of the total employment. Exports of food, drink, and live animals exceeded £3 billion in 1988 for the first time, accounting for about 25 per cent of total exports. The contribution of the agricultural and food sector to the balance of payments is proportionately much higher. When account is taken of FEOGA payments relating to agricultural production and exports, estimated at over £1 billion in 1988, and the low level of import content and profit repatriation of the sector, the contribution of the agricultural and food industry to the balance of payments is equivalent to that made by the rest of the manufacturing industry. I should like to point out that there is no repatriation of profits from agriculture; they are all held at home.

There is an encouraging buoyancy in our main production sectors. For the first time since the introduction of the EC milk super-levy system in 1984, the decline in the beef herd has been arrested; market prices for cattle throughout 1988 were in the order of 10 per cent up on their levels a year earlier; the December 1988 livestock enumeration revealed an increase of 114,000 in beef cow numbers and 41,000 in heifers in-calf.

In the milk sector, prices have risen by 40 per cent in less than three years and prices of over £1 per gallon for milk, something that no one could imagine a few years ago, are commonplace. After a difficult year in 1988 prospects for the pigmeat sector are now particularly encouraging. Prices have been steadily increasing since the beginning of the year and this trend should strengthen as the year progresses.

As regards cereals there is an increasing export demand for quality malting barley, and our cereal producers are now very much aware of the need to meet the necessary quality standards which will ensure further expansion of this lucrative market. Current world grain shortages have reflected a reasonable return to grain growers and this situation should continue beyond the 1989 harvest. The agricultural and rural development measures in the plan are designed to ensure that the agricultural sector and our rural community will contribute to, and share in the fruits of, our overall national economic and social development.

These measures will involve the combined efforts of farmers, food processors and others in the private sector, the State and the European Community. Those measures which fall within the ambit of the Community's agricultural fund will cost £1,428 million over the years 1989 to 1993 — I wish some person would convey that information to the backroom boys who prepared Deputy Harte's speech; they did not seem to be aware of that simple fact — of which £344 million will come from the private sector and £416 million from the State, with the balance, £668 million, being contributed by the European Community. In addition, the agricultural sector and the rural community will benefit both directly and indirectly from substantial expenditures within the scope of the Regional and Social Funds, which will, of course, be applied widely and effectively throughout rural Ireland. By any yardstick expenditure of the magnitude proposed in the plan represents a strong vote of confidence in the future of Irish agriculture and in the future of the people of rural Ireland.

The measures which the Government are proposing, and the resources necessary to fund them, will, of course, have to be the subject of negotiation with the Commission, but we are confident that what we are proposing will be favourably received in Brussels.

The FEOGA guidance section has already played a pivotal role in the reshaping of Irish agriculture since our accession to the Community. It helps finance the common policy of improving agricultural structures and in the period from 1973 to 1988 total payments from it to this country amounted to £520 million. That figure is an indication of the significance of what will be done in the next five years. It amounts to almost three times the amount paid since we joined the European Community. A wide variety of schemes operate under FEOGA Guidance Section but I will confine my remarks to four main areas where Community intervention has been of particular assistance to Ireland.

Headage payments encourage the continuation of farming in those areas of the country which have been designated as disadvantaged. The total FEOGA Guidance Section funding of these payments to date is over £208 million. These have proved to be a major contribution to the maintenance of the population and the continued conservation of the countryside.

The food processing sector has benefited from EC investment of £74 million in the form of grant-aid for marketing and processing facilities. Apart from providing an outlet for the primary producer, the food industry is responsible for the enormous export trade which has been established, a trade which has exceeded £3 billion for the first time in 1988. That is an increase of 8 per cent over the figure for 1987. FEOGA Guidance Section investment has made an important contribution to the expansion and modernisation of the food industry, particularly in recent years and, consequently, to the rapid growth of exports.

Under the farm modernisation scheme and the farm improvement programme, the Guidance Section have been effective in promoting on-farm investment for controlling pollution, increasing efficiency and improving quality of products. The Guidance Section's contribution to this investment exceeds £46 million to date.

More important still has been the operation of specific regional measures to meet the problems of farming in the west. Under the western drainage scheme, which is now terminating, and the western package the Guidance Section has contributed £102 million to on-farm investment. The revised western package has now been extended to all the less-favoured areas of the country. The agricultural elements have been redesigned to place emphasis on the solution of the most important problems of pollution, basic winter-housing for stock, fodder and storage.

The decline in the market support mechanisms under the FEOGA Guarantee Section will increase the emphasis on guidance measures in addressing structural and income problems and in enabling Irish farmers to adjust to the realities of agriculture in the future.

The structural problems which beset Irish agriculture are too well known to be repeated. We are all well aware also of the consequences of these problems, particularly the low average incomes and serious under-employment on many farms, especially in the west. These problems, allied to the shortage of non-farm employment, are the main contributors to the continuing migration from rural areas and their consequent decline. The current market restrictions, arising from the changed orientation of the Common Agricultural Policy, tend only to exacerbate the situation and highlight the need for urgent action to find solutions.

However, perhaps this is an appropriate juncture for me to make the point that the European Community is not simply about operating a common market. It is about creating a community and all that this implies. In that context it is understandable that the present emphasis in EC policy, as far as the rural population is concerned, is on seeking ways that will enable people to find prosperity, satisfaction and fulfilment in their areas rather than pulling up their roots and moving to the large towns and cities.

It is against this background that those measures in the plan which relate to agriculture and the development of the rural community have been formulated. I would now like to outline the measures involved.

We did, of course, take a big step forward last year when I negotiated the extension of the western package to all the less-favoured areas of Ireland which, incidentally, now represents 62 per cent of the country. This enabled the people in almost two-thirds of the country to benefit from a measure which was tailored to meet our specific needs. As a result of the revised package we are now in a position to pay grants of 55 per cent for the control of pollution on farms in the areas covered by the package, thereby enabling farmers to make the necessary investment to solve what has become one of the greatest problems for them. I may say, in passing, that the 55 per cent rate of grant is the highest which it is possible to pay under the EC regulations.

Of course, pollution does not stop at regional or administrative boundaries. We are well aware that it is as much a problem for the farmer in the east as in the west. That is why, as part of our plan, we are proposing to extend the western package-type of pollution control measure to all the other areas of the country. Subject to the agreement of the Commission to this proposal and provided the 70 per cent rate of FEOGA recoupment available in the western package is also forthcoming, a scheme will be introduced to provide and enable higher rates of grant for pollution control to be paid in non-disadvantaged areas without the necessity, on the part of the farmer, to draw up a farm improvement plan. This measure is a matter of top priority for me. It is my intention to press for an early decision from the Commission on it. Nevertheless, there are two points on which it is necessary for me to lay particular emphasis. First of all, the requirement relating to prior approval by the FDS of any envisaged works will remain. Secondly, the fact that the plan proposes that the scheme will be introduced at a future date cannot be used as an excuse by anyone for not carrying out work to control farmyard pollution now which he is now legally required to carry out.

While the control of farmyard pollution will have to be a top priority for many farmers in the years immediately ahead — it is, as it were, "an gad is goire don scórnach"— but it will not, of course, be the only item which will call for investment. Later this year, the Community's horizontal regulations governing on-farm investment will be reviewed. The outcome of that review that I will be seeking to achieve will be to ensure that Irish farmers will be put in a position to obtain adequate assistance for measures which will increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve the quality of production. These measures are necessary if farm incomes are to be protected and improved and if primary production is to be geared fully to the needs of a flourishing food-processing sector.

The control of pollution arising from farming operations is only one side of the coin. The other side is the need not only to preserve and protect the environment but to take positive action to improve it where possible. I scarcely need remind Deputies that the protection of the environment and natural resources is a matter of much concern all over Europe at present. Happily, we here have not encountered problems on the same scale as has been experienced in several other countries and long may it remain so. But nevertheless we have to be on our guard lest the situation should deteriorate and we must facilitate the rural community in enhancing their surroundings so that not only they themselves but visitors, both Irish and foreign, will find in our countryside a source of pleasure and peace. To this end, it is one of the proposals in our plan to identify areas which are particularly sensitive from an environmental point of view and to offer incentives to farmers in those areas to conduct their operations in such a way as to retain the character of the countryside, its flora and its fauna, and to protect and guard the rural heritage in all its manifestations.

Diversification of production plays a large part in our strategy for the future of Irish agriculture. The term itself may sound a bit grandiose but plainly and simply what is being said is that the market can no longer absorb all the traditional products and that there is a need to orientate farm businesses towards products for which there is an outlet on European or world markets. Let me emphasise that this is not purely and Irish problem; it is a problem for all farmers in Europe and, indeed, for farmers in most countries of the world. Government policy — and this is stated very clearly in the plan — is to promote the viability of the maximum number of farms in Ireland. To bring that about, however, we must not alone promote increased efficiency, improve quality and reduce costs, but also encourage and assist the farmer to produce only what can be readily sold. This is not as easy as it sounds, because almost all the traditional products are now in surplus. However, there are sectors which are relatively under-developed in Ireland and which have great potential — I mention horticulture, sport horses and on-farm food processing merely as examples. The plan envisages the introduction of the necessary measures to enable activities of that kind to be developed to the full.

A sector which in my view has great potential and for which we in Ireland are particularly suited is rural tourism. Admittedly, this sort of activity may not be new to many Irish farm families. But it seems to me that by and large such developments as have taken place have been the result of individual decisions to invest in tourist facilities which, in turn, were almost totally dependent on passing trade for their utilisation. There is nothing at all wrong which that approach — indeed, many farm families have been very successful in the business — but I do not see it as being adequate for the future. The Irish countryside and Irish rural life have many attractions for visitors but we need to promote and market what we have to offer in a co-ordinated, efficient and planned way. We must consciously plan and create organised tourist facilities of a kind that will offer visitors the inducement to prolong their stays in local areas. That is the proper way to develop the full potential of rural tourism. The way forward, as the plan outlines it, is to place the emphasis on collective effort to provide more and better tourist amenities and to market the group rural tourism product in a coherent and integrated way. Just now, the final touches are being put in my Department to a draft scheme to promote rural tourism under the western package. This scheme will reflect the kind of thinking I have outlined. I expect to announce its details as soon as possible. This new scheme will also serve as a pilot scheme for a wider measure embracing the entire country which can be introduced under the framework of the national plan.

We here think of the on-farm diversification primarily as a measure of supplementing the earning capacity of the farm. Elsewhere in Europe it has a somewhat different constitution. It would be seen as one of a whole set of Community measures aimed at reducing surplus production. As Deputies will be aware, a set-aside scheme to encourage the withdrawal of land from farming for a period of five years is already in operation. This will be followed in due course by schemes to encourage extensification of production — which in practice will mean encouraging farmers to adopt less intensive production methods and, by a further scheme, to encourage the conversion of production from surplus products to alternative lines of production. The extensification measure will be introduced in the beef sector this year on an experimental basis before being applied to all surplus production next year. The introduction of the scheme to encourage conversion must await the finalisation of the relevant EC regulation which is at present being discussed by the Council of Ministers.

I did, of course, during last year obtain the agreement of my colleagues in the Council of Ministers to the extension to Ireland of the Community regulation relating to aids for producer groups. Initially it is to apply in the cereals, beef, sheep and potato sectors. If there should turn out to be a demand to apply it in other areas I will have no hesitation in going back and asking that it should cover other sectors where it is likely to be utilised effectively. Properly availed of, this regulation can be of great assistance to groups of producers who want to organise themselves so as to have more control over the marketing of their products in order to secure greater advantage for themselves. I would also envisage possibilities for contractual arrangements, for example, between producer groups and meat processors to the advantage of both sides and to help tackle the particular problem of seasonality of supply.

The plan fully recognises that, no matter what investment aids are provided, farmers in less-favoured areas will still have to cope with natural disadvantages which, though calling for a greater effort on the part of the farmer, nevertheless result in a lesser return for his labourvis-á-vis his counterpart in the better-off areas. The plan, therefore, envisages that additional support will be available for such farmers' incomes through the greater use of headage payments.

Under our disadvantaged areas schemes it would be the intention to increase the rates of headage payments gradually over the period of the plan, if possible, to the maximum at present permitted under EC rules. The extent to which this objective can be achieved will be dependent on the rate of FEOGA recoupment that will eventually be sanctioned by the Council of Ministers. We believe that there is every justification in accordance with the philosophy that underlines the strengthening of the Structural Funds for securing a recoupment of 70 per cent. If that happens, it will be possible to raise payment rates from their present levels of £32 to about £84 in the case of cattle, other than beef cows, and from £9.50 to about £12,000 in the case of sheep.

These substantial increases in payment rates clearly have the very positive effect of stabilising the farming population in our disadvantaged areas by pumping increased funds into those areas that can be used as both income supplements and extra support to the development of farms in these underdeveloped and handicapped regions. In the long term, this can make the difference between viable and prosperous rural economies and a continuing decline of the areas as a result of depopulation. For this reason, it is of vital importance that the necessary EC funds be secured to implement these planned increases in payment rates.

I expect that the EC Commission will shortly be presenting proposals to the Council of Ministers on this issue. At any Council, my main objective will be to secure the highest possible level of recoupment. I see this as a vital issue for our disadvantaged areas. Increased funding from the EC Commission is also a key element in relation to the extension of these areas and any reclassification of existing areas. As the nationwide survey of areas which I got under way earlier this year is not yet completed, I am not in a position, at this stage, to speculate as to how large the extension or reclassification of our disadvantaged area will be. I do want to make it clear, however, that where the survey results indicate there is a case for extension or reclassification of any particular area, I shall put that case to the Government and EC Commission and pursue it vigorously and persistently.

Since taking office, the Government's policy has been clearly focused at restoring confidence and investment in our agriculture and food industries. The food sector has not been slow to react to the favourable policies which we have initiated. Our food and drink exports have increased from £2.2 billion in 1986 to £3.1 billion in 1988, a growth of almost 41 per cent over the period. This compares with a 31 per cent increase in total exports. It is clear that there is a growing confidence and new sense of purpose in the food industry. This is due, in no small measure, to the stimulus which the revitalisation of Government policy has provided. An essential ingredient in that policy is the emphasis on the importance of the market led approach and the critical need for firms to have a clear strategy for developing their markets. As a result, the State agencies are now targeting their grant assistance towards those enterprising and ambitious firms which are commited to providing quality Irish products for our export markets.

The five year strategy for the food and drink industry published in December 1987 is well underway and accelerated development programmes involving investment of £0.6 billion have been agreed across the various sectors of the food industry. This investment will lead to the establishment of internationally competitive food firms in Ireland having a range of products comparable, and indeed superior, in quality to the best worldwide. Strategic overseas acquisitions by Irish food companies are being encouraged. This will leave the industry well placed to take advantage of the opportunities in the single market of 320 million consumers.

The FEOGA grants scheme to the agri-food sector has made a major contribution to the development of the industry. All sectors of the industry have benefitted from the £140 million EC grants approved to date, but it is worth highlighting the pigmeat and beef sectors as industries that have undergone great change as a result. A major rationalisation programme has been introduced in the pigmeat sector which involves an investment of over £150 million and which will result in a modern efficient industry capable of competing on the international scene for the nineties.

I also welcome the increased investment in the beef industry, particularly in the area of added value consumer products. Indeed, I was particularly pleased to announce recently the launch for the first time of a branded Irish beef product, which will be targeted at the UK and continental markets. This is a major breakthrough for the Irish beef industry and reflects a fundamental change in the marketing attitude of our major meat processors. There is no doubt that we have the expertise and ability to produce quality food products comparable to the best anywhere in the world.

As I have said, these sectors have benefited particularly from EC aid under Regulation 355/77. The total investment in the agri-food industry over the next five years is estimated at £750 million. This represents an enourmous investment in the sector and is indicative of the confidence in the sector of the Government's economic policies. In this year alone, 81 projects, involving a total investment of £150 million, are already in the pipeline and I am confident that the doubling of the Structural Funds will facilitate the financing of this new investment.

Up to this I have been talking mainly of agricultural developments and I would now like to turn to the wider question of rural development. Farming will, of course, continue to play a major role in rural Ireland but I think we all recognise that, increasingly, recourse must be had to the non-agricultural sector to provide the jobs and income required to maintain a stable rural community. I want to stress that farming will be the core of the continued development of the rural community and the other developments will be complementary and supplementary to that.

All the measures to which I have referred up to this will have a developmental impact on rural areas. For example, the industrialisation programme, supported by the Regional Fund, will contribute to rural employment, particularly through the provision of assistance for small and craft industries. The roads programme also supported by the Regional Fund will mitigate the major constraint on rural development represented by our inadequate road network.

As the House knows, the Government have already launched a pilot programme for integrated rural development in a number of specially selected areas. This is the first such programme undertaken on this scale by any member state and its progress is being watched with great interest by the EC Commission and other States who are making a contribution towards the cost of its implementation. At the end of the two year experimental period, an analysis will be made of the results and this will enable us to decide on the overall design of the nationwide programme which will be launched in due course. The results will, needless to mention, be of considerable assistance to the Commission in finalising their own policy on the development and preservation of the rural population. Before leaving this subject perhaps I should say that the promotion of forestry and fisheries will play a large part in this overall intergrated rural development programme but I am sure that my ministerial colleagues who have direct responsibility for these areas will cover them fully.

The overall programme I have outlined is a very broad one extending not only to the agriculture and food sectors but to forestry, fisheries, industry and services. It is asine qua non that its implementation will require new skills, improved standards and better product quality. To meet these requirements we need to develop the necessary human resources and make the maximum possible use of all forms of modern technology. This means training — or retraining, as necessary — advisory staff, educating farmers, both those already on the land and new entrants, so that they may be able to adapt to the new circumstances of farming, providing advice to local communities where it is needed and carrying out all necessary research. To do all this we must not alone maintain our existing training facilities but in addition provide the extra training to meet the special needs of, say, diversification, afforestation and integrated rural development. Support for this will be sought from the Social Fund.

To conclude, I would like to say that I see this plan as a challenge to us all, to the rural community as a whole, to the Government and to everyone involved in any way in its implementation, but it is a challenge well worth meeting. It has been claimed by many commentators that, in the early years of Ec membership, we as a nation did not take full advantage of the opportunities available to us. We are now getting a second chance and we must ensure that we do not miss any opportunities on this occasion. The additional resources which will become available to us from the Structural Funds will be of considerable assistance to us in exploiting the completed internal market. But, essentially, the key to success lies with ourselves. We can choose to take less than full advantage of the internal market and the additional resources from the Structural Funds or we can grasp the opportunities that are opening up to us with enthusiasm and determination. I am confident that the Irish people will respond appropriately to the historic challenge now confronting them.

(Limerick East): I should like to congratulate the Minister for Agriculture and Food on completing a 40 minute script in approximately 18 minutes. I am sorry the Minister is leaving because I have a few things to say to him, but obviously he is in a hurry. Jimmy Doyle at his best would not have caught the Minister going up the wing as he streaked away into the middle distance.

Thank you for that, Deputy, and you a Garryowen man.

(Limerick East): I am sorry the Minister has left. I do not want to criticise anything in the Minister's speech but there is one glaring omission in it, and I was going to volunteer ten minutes of my time to let him rectify it. Nowhere in his speech did the Minister refer to the recent agreement at the GATT talks in Geneva which I believe will have a more profound impact on the future of Irish agriculture in the course of this plan, and especially in the years 1991, 1992 and 1993, than anything the Minister has announced. Since he has gone I cannot develop the point but I presume I will get an opportunity to return to it again.

This document is a rather modest proposal. In effect, it is a public capital programme projected over five years but it is not even a full public capital programme. It is a public capital programme for infrastructure and would fall into the tables in the first part of that programme which describes the provision of infrastructure. So far as it goes many of the projects are worthy but it certainly is not an economic plan. It does outline, though, for the next five years the projects in which the Government intend to invest Irish taxpayers' money and the money which will come from Europe.

I do not make light of the difficulties in putting an economic plan together. The planning process is quite difficult. There must be at least 40 variables in the Irish economy which must be analysed and worked through to an integrated conclusion. Whoever worked on this one did not have the patience to bring all the threads together and continue them through the process. It certainly is not a plan, it is a series of projects which the Government intend to fund over the next five years and it is as such that it should be evaluated.

It is also, I believe, more of a public servant document than a political document. I do not say that in any way as criticising the public service in this country. To a large extent it is the combined wisdom of the county engineers together with the engineers working for the semi-State bodies. So far as that goes it tends to build the programme on policies already in place because that is all a public servant can do. The kind of new policy decisions which would turn a project-centred programme into an integrated development plan are not there. As a public service document I accept its accuracy and its competence but it is not an integrated plan and it could not be because the people who put it together did not get the policy decisions to centre it on programmes rather than projects. What we have here is a list of infrastructural projects which the Government hope the publication of this plan will enable them to convince Brussels to fund together with a 25 per cent injection of funds from the Irish economy and some private investment.

I would like to state my position. I believe that any economic plan would have to start from one particular premise. There is only one question to be answered in putting an economic plan together. How can we organise the country so that we can produce more and sell it more effectively and more competitively? That is the question. All planning is an attempt to answer that question. You might ask me: "What do you mean by producing more?", I mean to produce sufficient to occupy all the citizens of this country who want to work. That is the level of production we require. We must use the land and the spare capacity in our factories together with the massive amounts of either under-used or unused labour we have in this country.

We must look at the factors which inhibit production in Ireland, and at what are the factors which inhibit us selling our production overseas. Many of the answers come very quickly indeed. Until recently the burden of the economic debt was an enormous constraint on our productivity. All of us in this House have agreed with that, even the parties on the Left. Parties such as Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats have actively supported the Government in stabilising the national debt. There is no doubt that progress has been made and we are certainly glad to be associated with that progress. A target of the budget, just three months ago, was that we would have an EBR in 1989 of 5.3 per cent of GNP. It now appears from the returns for the first quarter that the end of year result will be better than that. It will certainly be 4½ per cent but it may be as low as 4 per cent. The target in the plan for five years down the line is 3 per cent. How is it reasonable to have a target over the next five years where we will only improve the position by a single percentage point and at most by 1½ per cent when, in fact, the position has been improved by, say, 9 per cent over the last two years? I do not believe that is a reasonable target. It is a target which will keep the Government out of trouble while everything is going right, both internationally and domestically, but it is not a target that allows for any margin of safety against a background of uncertain exchange rates and uncertain interest rates worldwide and at home. I would like the Government to have a more firm approach to the problem of the debt even though I realise it is a political issue which is moving to the back burner but it could come to the front burner very quickly again with changing circumstances abroad. We still have a situation where the debt is rising and where it continues to rise. The only reduction in the debt is not in its magnitude but as a proportion of GNP.

I have advocated here that we should have as a target the total elimination of the current budget deficit, and go back to traditional budgeting where we separate the capital programme from the current programme. I can see the difficulties that were faced by those who drew up the plan. Once they decided to include sufficient funds in the plan to match resources coming from Brussels that meant, in effect, that there could be no further cuts in capital expenditure. For the first time the capital budget becomes sacrosanct though major gains and reductions in the debt were made by cutting capital expenditure over the last three or four years. If we are to make further progress on debt control, cuts have to come on the current side. It is implicit in the plan that the Government intend to make no further cuts in the supply services and that they are relying on whatever buoyancy comes through to make the 1 per cent gain and the improved EBR-GNP ratio over the life of the plan. That target is so modest as to be ridiculous. If it were presented to the economic commentators in any other background but the background where the tax amnesty meant that last year's end of year figures were dramatically better than expectations and where now there is consumer spending which would indicate a buoyancy of revenue to make this year's end of year figures better than those for which we have budgeted, there would be an outcry in the markets with the paltriness and the lack of foresight in that particular target.

I would like to look at some of the main projects in the plan. There is no doubt that our peripherality as a nation is one of our major difficulties if not the major economic difficulty we face. If we are to produce more and employ our people productively we cannot sell it on the home market, because it is too small. It is a logical conclusion that we must transport what we produce to the marketplace — the marketplace is the UK or the European mainland but that costs money. Shortly, when the channel tunnel is built we will be the only member state without surface access to Europe. Obviously, we must develop our road network in a manner which reduces transport costs so that what we produce can be transmitted to the marketplace and sold competitively without huge added costs arising from transport costs.

I will refer now to my primary criticism of the plan. The Government are investing an enormous amount of money in improving the road structure. I agree with that completely but it is a series of projects. To make a plan out of it they would need to look at the other factors which are driving transport costs through the roof and seek to eliminate those at the same time. There is no mystery about those either. The excise take by the Revenue Commissioners — the Government in other words — on, say, articulated vehicles and even on motor cars is colossally out of line with the rest of Europe and that factor is making the cost of lorry transport in Ireland excessive. Also the excise take on petrol and diesel is out of line with the rest of Europe.

This document proposes the investment of an enormous amount in road structure. This would improve our road structure network but the Irish lorries travelling over those roads will still be filling up at diesel pumps where the excise take is enormously out of line with the rest of Europe. The owners of the fleets will be buying articulated lorries where there is a 30 per cent disadvantage between them and owners buying elsewhere. In an integrated Europe the roads run both ways. Any advantage to the Irish distributor will be also shared by the UK distributor when they come across on the ferries into Ireland. The difference is that the fleet run by the French company, the German company or the UK company will be acquired at a much cheaper rate than that acquired by the Irish company and the petrol which fuels the tanks will be acquired at a much lower rates as well.

In talking about the improvement of the roads structure, the major emphasis is on a series of projects brought forward by county managers and county engineers, projects which were on their shelves for years and for which they could not find funding. Those projects were included in this document. If this was a plan the Government would have decided contemporaneously that in the process of harmonising VAT and excise duties they would systematically reduce fuel costs and the excise on the purchase of articulated vehicles so that the economic disadvantage in this country in so far as it arises from excessive transport costs could have been eliminated. That is as good an example as I can give of my major criticism that this is project based on infrastructural projects rather than a programme to deal with the real problems of the economy.

Two years ago we had an announcement that we would have a national roads authority but the Minister for the Environment has not yet come into this House to legislate to give that body any authority, and the implementation of this plan is still the fuction of innumer able local authorities throughout the country. The plan cannot be integrated if there are 40 local authorities implementing it. It will only be implemented if a national roads authority is put in place.

The local authorities cannot provide toll roads. The tolling of roads is a function for the elected members who have consistenly refused to do this. It was intended to put a toll on the Nass by-pass but Kildare County Council refused to toll it. It will not be possible to fulfil the projects here which depend on the tolling of roads unless a national roads authority is given the power to toll over the heads of the country councils. We have project centre development, the implementation of which has gone to a multiplicity of local authorities. There is neither the horizontal nor the vertical integration necessary to do the job properly.

I am saying a lot about roads because billions of pounds have been dedicated to roads in this document. The existing roads structure has been allowed to remain the same. Here I will diverge to the plans for the mid-west. We were told that the Shannon Estuary will play a major role, yet the two roads serving both sides of the estuary in Counties Clare and Limerick are not national primary roads but national secondary roads. The road from Limerick city to Foynes, which will be the main port on the estuary, is a national secondary road and yet the bulk of the investment is in the national primary roads.

To make any sense out of this and to integrate the plan nationally and regionally one must look at the status of the roads and upgrade those roads which are fundamental to the development of the ports which is outlined on the other side of the plan. Again, it is project, not programme based. We have great emphasis on the Shannon Estuary as a key area for development. According to the national plan and the local plan we must put investment into it, but the roads which will take the lorries to the ports have not been upgraded in status. They are still secondary roads. That is the thrust of my criticism right through this plan. The variables have not been analysed and worked through to an integrated conclusion. This is a series of projects for which the Government hope to provide funding, but it is not an economic plan.

If one looks at the other cost factors which inhibit growth and prevent us from producing the maximum and thus employing more people, the same thing applies. In relation to energy for example, how do we stand on nuclear energy? Where is the reference in the plan? Are we against it or for it? Do we have an Irish solution to an Irish problem? According to the plan we are going to have integration with the European electricity network. Are we only going to accept that generated by oil or coal and not accept what comes from France and the UK which is generated by nuclear energy? Why is the plan silent on that when one of the objects of the plan is to reduce energy costs? I am not saying that I am a supporter of nuclear energy, but if we are projecting our energy position for the next five years we cannot dodge one of the crucial issues of the day worldwide. What is to be the situation in relation to the electricity generated by peat in the midlands? Where is the reference to that in the plan? Are we to conclude that the Government will proceed to get the lowest possible engergy costs, that there is a threat hanging over the peat production stations?

A certain amount of attention has been given to energy over the last few days, with the petrol prices and the announcement by Marathon Gas of another find in the Celtic Sea. Will the Minister for Energy clarify if that was a new find? There is widespread speculation now that it was a drilling into the old field because everbody knows that this Government have made an arrangement with the company involved, which allows a higher level of royalty for new finds than for an old find. Could we have clarification on that? It is being widely discussed in the city at the moment and Deputies have a right to know whether the Minister for Energy has categoric evidence that the announced find in the Celtic Sea is a find and the establishment of a new gas field and not simply the boring into the existing gas field from a location five and a half miles away from the epicentre of the old one. These question are not addressed in the plan and neither has the cost of energy in relation to industry been addressed.

There is very little in the plan concerning telecommunications costs. There is a statement of the present position, that our costs are grossly out of line with the rest of Europe. Telecommunications costs here are still 25 per cent or 30 per cent higher than in the UK, our nearest neighbour. If all the objectives of the plan concerning high-teach industries, information industries and the telecommunications industry are to be achieved, how can we process data here and transmit it electronically to mainland Europe if our costs are 30 per cent higher than those pertaining elsewhere? How can we compete with Bristol to attract, for instance, an American company here to process credit cards if all the work has to be done on telephone lines that are 30 per cent dearer? These are a series of admirable objectives, but the whole thing does not tie up. Much of what is in the plan is contradictory and it certainly needs more than the half hour at my disposal to deal with it.

The cost competitiveness of wage costs is probably one of the factors that most inhibit the provision of jobs. If we get everything else right, if we keep the debt down and interest rates stay down, if our transport costs are down to the European average or lower, if our energy costs are down and our telecommunication costs are down, of course we will attract industry. We are already beginning to attract it, but will be industry which is asset based and capital intensive rather than industry which employs people. We will get enormous industries costing billions of pounds to put in place, producing billions of pounds in exports and they will employ very few people because anybody investing in this country wants to make a profit. The American multi-nationals do not come here because they like the greenness of the fields, the blueness of our eyes or the beauty of our women.

They are looking at the bottom line, which is profit. It is possible to make a profit with machinery and very few people and it is possible to make a profit with people and little enough machinery.

Everything that we are doing in terms of industrial policy is making it impossible to employ people and easy to instal machines. This problem has not been addressed at all in the plan. The industrial policy set out in the plan is a restatement of industrial policy as it has existed over the last ten years. The plan does not address the single issue which is inhibiting employment, which is the cost of labour. To give somebody an extra £1 at the moment on the average industrial wage would cost an employer £3.30.

Workers are like any other commodity when it comes to the factory floor. There is a man upstairs running the numbers and seeing how much they cost. If it costs £3.30 to pay somebody an extra £1, if the choice is between 20 people and a machine that will do the work automatically, the machine will be put in. The machines have been put in and will continue to be put in and our highly educated young people will be in Boston, New York, Manchester, Birmingham and London — scattered around Europe. They will not be working in this country. There is nothing in this document which suggests that the Government are aware of the situation. Even if the targets in the plan are achieved, we will still have an economy which is more conducive to capital investment and high production by automatic processes than one in which people can be employed productively to ensure that profit can be made. We need to reform taxation, to reduce the burden of PRSI if we are to make Irish workers competitive with those right across Europe.

I move very rapidly to the area of tourism. Tourism could provide a huge boost to this country in the next five years. There is one aspect of the tourism industry which I admire more than anything else. Not only does it provide investment and jobs, but it distributes income right down to the most out of the way places. The tourist will travel to see the scenery and, either by accident or design, the best scenery is in the most out of the way places, as the Minister, Deputy Geoghegan Quinn, knows quite well, having come from an out of the way place.

Did I not do well?

(Limerick East): The Minister did very well. The Minister might go even further. There is nothing is this plan which suggests that anybody knows what needs to be done with the tourism industry. There seems to be a notion that because it rains a good deal here what we need is to get the tourist under a roof. The main thrust of the plan is that we will put roofs on to various things. It often rained when I was abroad but that did not have me scurrying down to the local swimming pool or squash court, simply to get in out of the rain. There is plenty to do in this country and any other country.

I shall throw out a couple of ideas. First, I do not think that we know what is happening. I do not think that the Minister or Bord Fáilte know. There is no attempt to collect proper statistics about the tourism industry. Everybody who arrives in this country is supposed to be a tourist. Our sons and daughters coming back from London seven or eight times a year go into the statistics each time as tourists. The Minister states that we had a 15 or 20 per cent increase in tourists visiting the country last year. Would it not be simple for the very attractive air hostesses of Aer Lingus, Ryanair and British airways to hand out a little form so that the status of visitors could be established? The questions could be: Where have you come from? What nationality are you? Are you here on business or on pleasure? Where will you be staying while you are here? Will you be with relatives? Will you be at home? Will you be in an hotel? Will you be in a guesthouse? It would take only 15 to 30 seconds to tick the boxes and give the computed form back to the hostess to be put on computer cards so that the information can be evaluated. That is the first thing that should be done. It would cost little or nothing but would give the information, which is not available at present, on which policy should be based.

Secondly, the last Central Bank report shows clearly that tourists going out of the country spend more abroad than tourists coming in spend here. For the first time since the foundation of the State, the balance of tourist trade has been negative. The projection for 1989 is that it will be negative by a figure of £80 million. Why is that? I do not see the Spanish Government having tourist offices here or the Portuguese Government, or the German Government or the United States Government. There is no Bord Fáilte in these countries with offices in Dublin. Yet our people are going to those locations. This is because the local travel agents are selling the holidays as one would sell any other commodity. Sometimes you are not sure where you want to go and you look at brochures in the travel agent's office and somebody behind the counter tells you that there is very good value in the Algrave this year.

With a budget of about £25 million or £36 million, I would strongly advocate that the Minister for Tourism should consider acquiring major shareholdings in tourist promotion companies abroad. I would like to see the Irish Government with a stake in a major travel agency in the north-east of the United States. I would like to see our Government with a stake in a major agency down around Georgia, in Atlanta from where Delta fly when they are coming to Ireland. I would like to see our Government with a majority stake-holding in a travel agent company with many outlets in the United Kingdom. The kind of money that we are spending on general promotion is only a drop in the ocean.

Let us look at the marketing by an international beer company or a tobacco company or any of the biggies. These are spending literally billions of pounds on promotion. The Irish Tourist Board have a budget of £24 million or £25 million, most of which is going on wages and salaries. Bord Fáilte are not even known in the United States or in the United Kingdom. It would be much better to use that money to buy directly into the travel agent business in our travel target markets, and for this country to be sold at the counter rather than have this thinly spread marketing which is going on at the moment. Bord Fáilte are not delivering because they are not being put in a position by the Government where they can deliver. If we use the budget as I suggest, of course there would be redundancies in Bord Fáilte but if we have a stake in a foreign travel agency we need people in there to show that our stake is properly looked after. I have no objection to Bord Fáilte staff operating overseas in this kind of situation.

We must think differently about the tourist industry. We may go around saying that if this or that Government were in office the position would be grand, that it would be vastly different. There has been a massive expansion of the tourist industry worldwide in the last ten years. It has expanded certainly by more than 100 per cent. The Irish tourist industry has expanded by 2 or 3 per cent. It has been a real failure. If we had a plan rather than a series of projects this might have happened. You have to decide on the commodity and how to sell it abroad. I am saying to sell it abroad directly by buying into the travel agencies. The other aspect is, what will they do when they come here? Many people holidaying like a few drinks. If you try to wine and dine around Ireland for a fortnight you could be around the world and back for what it would cost. The price of drink is outrageous, especially for those coming from countries where it is cheap.

It might become cheaper now, because we might be manufacturing a special type of vodka after Gorbachev's visit.

(Limerick East): As well as looking at infrastructural products for tourism in the context of harmonising excise duties and VAT, which we must do anyway as we approach 1992 and 1993, we should look again at those things that inhibit the tourist industry. We should start bringing down the price of wine, for example, and the price of beer and of liquor generally, in the same way as we must bring down the price of petrol. People will not come here to indulge themselves in the typical summer and pay much more dearly for everything. Why is it that one can get good value for lunch here, and after 6 p.m. get the menu written in a French patois with exactly the same items costing four times as much? That does not happen in France. Lunch can be expensive enough there. It is probably better value at home. You will probably be paying £7 or £8 for it rather than £4 or £5 here, but if you go to the restaurant in the evening, the price will be the same. Lunch is great value here, both in the restaurants and in the licensed premises involved in the lunch trade. You can still get a good lunch in the city for approximately £3.50 or £4. However, if you were to go to the same place at night it would cost you £20. Why? If you order a bottle of wine, which can be bought in Quinnsworth for £3.99——

No free advertising.

(Limerick East):—it will cost you in the region of £15 or £16 by the time they take the cork off.

I know that you, Sir, have been very tolerant of me. I know you like listening to me as you have a rather boring time in the Chair most of the time, and you like to be entertained now and again by stimulating ideas——

The Chair is eternally learning.

(Limerick East): I am making a very simple point: an economic plan cannot be a series of projects, no matter how well funded, and individual decisions must be integrated to turn the projects into a plan. When it comes to tourism, it is not that there is anything wrong with what is said here, but unless it is matched with some of the ideas I am talking about, we will go nowhere.

Even though I had been advised officially that I have been captivated by your contribution, I must ask you to conclude.

(Limerick East): I would have liked to deal with agriculture. I am seriously concerned about the outcome of the GATT talks in Geneva. The only information available to me is a press release by Commissioner MacSharry reported in the newspapers. It seems that things will be reasonably all right for two years, but this is a five year plan. Before we discuss the plan further, I think that information should be supplied to the House. What the Minister for Agriculture and Food has just said — and I know he does not realise it — is not that relevant in the context of these decisions, because time is passing. I do not know whether the Minister was in Geneva, but somebody should have been there to look after the Irish interests. The last time the talks were held in Toronto it was the Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce, Deputy McCarthy, who attended and not a Cabinet Minister. These talks are vital to European agriculture and to the future of this country. In the plan it is recognised how vital agriculture is to this country, but nobody bothers when there is an agreement between the European Commission and the United States Government that the aids to agriculture in Europe will be dismantled.

The Deputy is now trespassing on the Minister of State's time.

(Limerick East): I will conclude. I realise the planning process is quite difficult. There are variables that have to be worked through, but these variables were not worked through on this occasion. I propose to return to some of these issues early next week when we start the Second Stage of the Finance Bill.

Tá bród orm labhairt anseo inniu sa díospóireacht ar Phlean Forbartha Náisiúnta na tíre seo a raibh sé de pribhléid agam é a thabhairt don Choimisinéir Réigiúnda, an tUasal Bruce Millan sa Bhruiséal le déanaí. Ócáid stairiúil ab ea an ócáid sin agus creidim go láidir gur go mór chun leasa na tíre seo a rachthas na moltaí atá sa bplean agus go bhfeicfidh muid uilig athruithe suntasacha dá bharr sa dtréimhse chúig bhliana atá amach romhainn.

We on the Government side particularly welcome this debate on our National Development Plan which contains the largest budget ever mobilised to modernise our economy, accelerate economic growth, provide increased job opportunities and contribute to narrowing the gap between our living standards and those in the more prosperous regions of the European Community. As such, this plan is of fundamental importance and its success will have a critical bearing on all our people in their everyday lives in enabling us to prepare for the single market in 1992 and to reap our fair share of the significant economic benefits which will accrue from this at Community level.

In parallel with theProgramme for National Recovery, the Government have also been very active and effective in protecting and advancing this country's interests in the European Community. The success of our efforts compared to the previous Government is a testament to our strong political determination, coherent overall strategy and well co-ordinated negotiating stances which we have adopted and successfully pursued.

With the co-operation of the Opposition.

Our record of solid achievements on the EC front, which has an ever increasing impact on our economy and on our living standards, is one of which we can be justifiably proud. In particular, the agreed doubling and the new régime for the Structural Funds, achieved after arduous negotiations, was an important breakthrough in tackling the problems of regional disparities in the Community which is central to the Government's approach to the Community and its further development.

The relaunching of the European Community and the strengthening of its impetus towards European integration under the provisions of the Single European Act has given the Community renewed momentum and confidence in its future. The major priority task now facing the Community is to build on this progress and carry through the full implementation of the range of policies provided for in the Single European Act in areas such as the internal market, not neglecting its social dimension, economic and social cohesion including the reform of the EC's Structural Funds, research and technological development and the environment. This will represent a further step in the strengthening and development of the Community and in enhancing its role in the world, while at the same time providing substantial rewards in terms of greater prosperity and increased employment opportunities. Particular attention and vigilance will, of course, be necessary to ensure that these benefits are shared equitably among all the member states and throughout the regions of the Community.

As the House will be aware, the Government established special co-ordinating arrangements to plan and supervise the preparation of our economy for the increased opportunities and inevitable structural changes arising from the completion of the internal market and to oversee the preparation of our National Development Plan. These arrangements represent a significant new departure and a strengthening of relations between the Government and the Commission, which is unique in the Community. A framework of co-operation and consultations has been established between the Government's EC Committee of Ministers and Secretaries over which the Taoiseach presides, on the one hand, and a task force of relevant Commissioners and Directors-General on the Commission side, headed by President Delors on the other. The overall objective is to ensure that the Government's policies and Community policies are more effectively co-ordinated under the plan so as to maximise their effectiveness in the development of our economy and thereby help us in our efforts to attain the level of living standards enjoyed by our Community partners.

These arrangements, coupled with our development plan, offer us major potential benefits in accelerating the pace of economic and social development in this country. With a view to ensuring that this process is well co-ordinated and that the necessary momentum is maintained, President Delors and the Taoiseach will meet regularly to set strategic objectives and review developments. These novel arrangements were very successfully employed in the preparation of our plan and complementary operational programmes and we will continue to avail of these innovative co-ordination and co-operation procedures to ensure the successful implementation of the plan and the programmes.

The Government's commitment to closer integration and to the further development of the European Community reflects our belief that this offers the best prospects of ensuring that this country's overall interests are protected and accommodated in the increasingly competitive and rapidly changing world in which we now live. However, we cannot expect that the Community will provide us with the solution to all our economic and social problems without further and sustained efforts on our part. What Community policies and assistance under the Structural Funds offer us now, through the "partnership" arrangements between the Commission and the beneficiary member states established under the new regulations, is the unique opportunity to obtain major Community support for our own national efforts in realising more quickly our development objectives.

The internal market, if it is to succeed and create the necessary solidarity among the member states and support from the public and the social partners, must be accompanied at the same time by a social dimension directed at ensuring that all Community citizens benefit and that there is a progressive improvement in social standards and working conditions throughout the Community. An important element of the social dimension is that of consultations with the social partners which the Government fully support, and it is a concept which is entirely in line with the approach which we initiated with the social partners in preparing and implementing ourProgramme for National Recovery, in the preparation of the national plan which we are currently debating and which we have also carried forward in our EUROPEN campaign to promote awareness and the necessary preparations for the 1992 Internal Market deadline.

The outcome of the negotiations on the reform of the Community's Structural Funds, which were of vital importance and significance for this country and other less developed regions of the Community in the context of the completion of the internal market, represents a major achievement by the Government in ensuring a meaningful follow-up on the cohesion provisions of the Single European Act and provide us with major opportunities resulting from the doubling in the level of the Structural Funds resources for the less-developed regions, the commitment to a special effort for the least properous of these regions which, at our insistence, will also include this country, and the provision that for these regions the rate of assistance from the funds can be up to 75 per cent.

In addition, we were also successful in obtaining agreement that certain infrastructural projects with private sector funding will be eligible for assistance — a provision which will be particularly helpful to us, given our budgetary constraints, in ensuring that we will be in a position to maximise our take-up from the funds and, through partnership arrangements with the private sector, ensure that certain projects can proceed much more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.

In this context, Deputies will note that a special feature of the plan is provision for funding from the private sector where such private funding can be regarded as similar to public expenditure and thus, under the regulations qualify for Structural Funds assistance. This is particularly so in the case of roads where we have already identified a number of projects such as the Dublin Ring Road, the Newbridge-Kilcullen by-passes, the LucanKilcock Road and the downstream crossing of the River Lee.

Another area is that of tourism facilities and amenities where substantial investment by the private sector, with assistance from the ERDF, is envisaged in the plan in line with the high priority we have given to tourism development since our assuming office.

Because of the still precarious state of our public finances and the massive overhang of Exchequer indebtedness, I need hardly emphasise the constraints which we face in regard to expenditure by the Government here. Against this background and the need for a continuing reduction in the Exchequer borrowing requirement, which was again underlined in the recent Community's Annual Report on the Economic Situation, the increase in the Structural Funds and their deployment in enhancing our economy's potential output as we are proposing in the development plan assume critical importance in providing a firmer basis for our economy to return to a sustainable growth path.

We do, of course, welcome any constructive comments and suggestions for improvement to the plan. While there is no real scope for significant changes in the fundamental provisions, however, and as the Taoiseach emphasised in opening this debate, the Government will be flexible as regards the more detailed aspects of the particular sectors and in the timing and implementation of particular projects. Thus the procedures which we are following are as open as possible in the circumstances to receiving submissions and proposals from any quarter or particular interest groups.

The work involved in formulating the national plan and complementary operational programmes has had an important regional input from the working groups in the seven sub-national areas designated by the Government. These working groups represented the relevant Government Departments, State bodies and local authority management and had the assistance of advisory groups which included elected representatives of the local authorities such as the chairpersons of each county council and corporation within the area and of the larger urban district councils as well as representatives of a wide range of vocational groups with an interest and involvement in the local development such as the CII, CIF, Chambers of Commerce, FUE, ICTU, ICMSA, ICOS, IFA and Macra na Feirme. Criticisms that the views of local elected representatives were ignored are, therefore, totally without foundation. Indeed, specific arrangements were made to ensure that the views and suggestions of the advisory groups were taken into account by the working groups.

The Government adopted these arrangements against the background of their strong commitment to regional development and their desire to have a regional contribution in planning the best use of the increased resources from the Structural Funds. We believe that these arrangements struck an appropriate balance between, on the one hand, representation of central Government which will have to provide the great bulk of the matching national finance and which has to assess the expenditures involved in the total national budgetary context and, on the other hand, representatives from the areas themselves who brought to the task their knowledge of the needs, assets, weaknesses and resources of their areas together with a spirit of local enthusiasm and enterprise. This is the first time that regional participation of this kind has been instituted in this country. We did this on our own initiative, because we firmly believe in the stength and vigour of our regions and local communities and their indispensable role and contribution to overall development efforts at national level.

The criticisms from the Opposition of our arrangements in this regard are, therefore, devoid of any substantive content and are a bit hard to take, especially from those who participated in the previous Government which consistently refused to introduce any regional or sub-national dimension into the operation of the Structural Funds in this country. As Ireland remains a single region for Structural Fund purposes, we could have adhered to the position established up to now that the national Government was the single regional authority to be involved in the process. Instead, and in line with the stance on consultation and involvement which we have adopted at national level on domestic economic and social matters, we introduced these new arrangements to ensure that regional and local knowledge and experience were drawn on and utilised to the full.

I should now like to take up several points, including some that contradict each other, which have been made by Deputies opposite, including Deputies Dukes and Des O'Malley. It has been suggested that the Government introduced the regional dimension as an afterthought and only under pressure from the Commission. This is nonsense. Let me remind the Deputies concerned that I announced the Government's intention to introduce this regional dimension as early as October 1987 when the negotiations on the Commission's proposal were only in the early stages. There was no pressure from the Commission — and could not have been — since we had already spontaneously announced our intentions to proceed according to the spirit of the approach we had advocated in successive elections. Those Deputies who think there would have been a basis for pressure from the Commission are also misinformed. I refer them to the new regulations on the funds adopted in June and December 1988. They will search these in vain for any provision that would provide the Commission with a legal basis for pressing us to adopt a regional dimension within Ireland.

The reference in the regulations are typified by Article 4.1 of the framework Regulation Number 2052 of 24 June 1988. This states:

Community operations shall be such as complement or contribute to corresponding national operations. They shall be established through close consultation between the Commission, the member states and the competent authority designated by the latter at national, regional, local or other level.

There is more but I simply want to underline that it was left to each member state concerned to designate the competent authority and it was completely optional whether these included regional or local bodies. Moreover, in Irish terms, since we are one region for Community purposes, the reference to a regional authority referred in our case to the national Government. The language of the regulations has to cover varying situations in all the member states concerned and the reference to regional authorities is primarily relevant to countries like France or Spain which are divided into regions, most of which have larger populations than that of the entire State here. For example, in France the average population of the 22 regions is 2.4 million and the most populous of its regions has 10.2 million people. In Italy the populations of regions are also in general quite large by reference to the population of Ireland, ranging in fact to 8.9 million.

In Opposition contributions here it was claimed, on the one hand, that the programme documents drawn up by the working parties were subject to a rigid pattern imposed from Dublin. On the other hand, there were complaints, as summarised in the national plan, that they varied and showed differences in approach and style. The Deputies opposite cannot have it both ways. While there were general guidelines from the centre no rigid pattern was imposed and the approaches and priorities of the different working and advisory groups did show differences, as is only to be expected in view of the varying nature and needs of the subregions.

It was also suggested that the regional breakdowns in the plan had as their point of departure figures which were pre-determined at national level without refof departure figures which level without reference to the inputs from the regions. This is also wide of the mark. Precisely because we had the central Government Departments as well as the local authorities represented on the working groups, we had a constant feedback from these groups to the process of preparing the national plan. Due to the time constraints the two exercises had to proceed in parallel, but they did not proceed in sealed compartments. As a result of a process of interaction, the regional breakdown set out in the national plan matches quite well with the results emerging from the working and advisory groups, all of which incidentally have essentially completed their reports.

It is regrettable, of course, that the valuable work of the two groups in the south-west region, covering Cork and south Kerry, has been so badly misrepresented by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Fine Gael Deputy Bernard Allen. The facts of the matter are that Deputy Allen was rarely present at meetings of the advisory group to put forward the interests of the people of Cork. In fact, of the seven meetings held by the advisory group he only attended one meeting. He failed also to attend the important joint meeting in Killarney between the working group and the advisory group. Instead of making a constructive contribution as his other colleagues on the advisory group did, as indeed was the case with practically all other advisory group members throughout the country, Deputy Allen chose to ignore the serious problems, particularly unemployment, facing the south-west and preferred to issue a constant stream of mischievous and ill-informed statements to the media on every possible occasion. So much for responsible Opposition, which we have heard so much about from the benches opposite.

I should like to avail of this opportunity to publicly thank all the representatives on both the working and advisory groups for their commendable efforts which facilitated the significant regional input to and dimension of the national plan and the operational programmes. The results of their work were taken into account and incorporated, as appropriate, by the Government in the National Development Plan which, for the first time ever, contains planned total expenditure, including the amounts which we are putting forward for EC support from the Structural Funds in each of the seven regions in response to the assessments of needs and objectives made by the groups.

As Deputies will have noted, chapter 6 of the National Development Plan contains a summary of the objectives and strategies which were identified for each region together with financial tables outlining a detailed sectoral and functional breakdown of the planned expenditure over the period 1989-1993 in each region. It is clear from these tables that each region will benefit substantially in the developments planned. Given the substantial role of the Exchequer in funding the expenditures involved, the decisions on the allocation of resources as between the different regions had to be taken by the Government, but let me emphasise that these decisions took fully into account the needs and priorities as identified by the groups. It also needs to be clearly understood that within the constraint of the limit on the resources available, increases in the share of any region could only be at the expense of other regions.

I would now like to turn to the regional component of the national plan, using as an illustration the west region covering the counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon with which I am, of course, particularly familiar. This region is especially disadvantaged in terms of its peripheral location, is one of the least industrialised in the country, with income per capita at only 80 per cent of the national average, while difficulties in its agricultural sector are further exacerbated with the small size of farm holdings and extensive areas of marginal agricultural land.

On the basis of the development strategy and priority development needs which were identified by the working and advisory groups, the Government envisage over £1 billion expenditure on development projects in the region over the next five years, in respect of which nearly £450 million is being sought in assistance from the Structural Funds. The greatest component of that £1 billion expenditure, nearly £370 million, will be in respect of agricultural and rural developments in the region such as the strengthening of marketing and processing facilities and the development of alternative enterprises, including agritourism, by farmers themselves as well as by rural communities in the regions. Included in this figure also is provision for forestry development as well as the further development of the region's assets and significant potential in the fishing and aquaculture sectors.

On tourism, the region is one of the most important destinations in the country and expenditure of over £40 million is planned in developing the region's facilities and amenities for tourists. On the industry and services front, nearly £270 million in expenditure is planned in further development the region's strengths, expanding the region's capacity in the high-technology areas, centred in Galway and University College Galway, the facilities of Horan and Galway Airports, as well as other developments such as improved linkages and technology transfers. On the services front, the region's attractions have been further highlighted with this week's announcement by the US firm Cigna Corporation to locate a project in Loughrea which will provide ideal job opportunities for our school leavers. In the human resources area, over £200 million in expenditure is planned in the further development of education and training programmes to respond to increasing technological needs and the upgrading and the provision of technological infrastructure and facilities at all levels, which in turn will be particularly important in overcoming the region's isolation and in attracting firms demanding high technology qualifications.

The other major block of expenditure is that of infrastructure with over £40 million planned in the improvement of national roads and £36 million for regional and county roads. These will mark an important contribution to the development of the region's assets and in mitigating the present level of transport costs arising from its peripheral location. On sanitary and other local services, nearly £60 million is being provided to cater both for existing as well as future needs.

Apart from their input into the preparation of theNational Development Plan, the work undertaken by the groups has also provided a valuable input into the formulation of the operational programmes which will set out in greater detail the development measures which are set out in outline form in the national plan. A number of these programmes, the coverage of which is set out in chapter 5 of the national plan, have already been submitted to the Commission and the remaining ones will be forwarded very soon.

These programmes will be examined by the Commission in parallel with its examination of the national plan and we expect that they will be approved at the same time or, possibly, in some cases in advance of the six month maximum period set in the regulations. Indeed, by acting quickly in this area we are ahead of nearly all our Community partners and are, therefore, well positioned to ensure that projects can go ahead and that the assistance from the Structural Funds can flow as quickly as possible.

For the information of the House, I should mention that a provision in the Co-ordinating regulation, dealing with the transition from the old to the new régime for the Structural Funds, permits approval of programmes once the plan has been submitted, but before the Community support framework for the five year period is agreed with the Commission — a provision which we wish to see availed of to the fullest extent possible to ensure that there is no interruption or undue delay in our take-up of assistance from the funds this year.

Responding to recent criticisms on the future role envisaged for the working and advisory groups, I should mention that the co-ordinating regulation provides that, within the framework of the new partnership, the member states and the Commission are to ensure effective monitoring in the implementation of programmes which are assisted from the funds. Such monitoring is to be carried out by way of jointly agreed reporting procedures, sample checks and the establishment of monitoring committees set up in agreement between the member states and the Commission.

The manner in which these provisions will be applied in our case has yet to be discussed in any substance with the Commission and it is, therefore, too early at this stage to comment on this particular aspect. However, as we pointed out in the national plan, our present system of ongoing co-ordination and integration between the various State agencies and local authorities is efficient, cost effective and practical and this will continue to ensure that particular developments planned for each area are implemented in an integrated way which will ensure coherence and complementarity between the individual measures and programmes. An additional consideration to bear in mind also is that the work of the groups at sub-national level will be an important, and to a large extent, the guiding factor which will influence and will be taken into account in the detailed implementation at regional and local levels of our operating programmes.

In this debate, the relevant Ministers directly concerned are outlining in detail the approach which we have adopted in theNational Development Plan in respect of the various economic sectors such as industry, tourism and agriculture as well as infrastructure support services such as transport, energy and training. I do not, therefore, propose to repeat this or respond to the unfounded criticisms or opportunistic comments made by the Opposition in this debate and which will be, or indeed have already been, effectively disposed of by other Ministers.

Renewed and strengthened action through the doubling in the size of the Structural Funds will not in itself be sufficient to effect a significant breakthrough in reducing regional disparities at Community level but must also be complemented by additional measures and Community policies to complement the efforts of the individual member states concerned.

Foremost among these is the need for meaningful follow-up action on the provision in Article 130 (B) of the Treaty, an article inserted by the Single European Act (SEA) that the implementation of all Community policies should from now on take into account the cohesion objectives of reducing regional disparities as set out in the SEA and shall contribute to their achievement.

The Government, of course, attach the highest importance to vigorous follow-up on this to ensure that this Treaty commitment is acted on for the benefit of the Community's less prosperous regions, not only in respect of existing Community policies such as the CAP and the Common Fisheries Policy, for example, but also in the case of new policy areas provided for in the SEA, such as research and technological development and the environment. This, I should emphasise, of course, is not uniquely an Irish concern but is also in the overall interests of the Community, whose potential will not be fully exploited and whose capacity to take decisions would be seriously impaired unless all regions of the Community share equitably in the benefits of further integration.

As we have highlighted in chapter 2 of the national plan, the role of the Community in terms of the pursuit of a common macro-economic strategy at Community level designed to ensure that the Community economy expands at a rate in line with its potential and that the potential benefits of the internal market are fully realised, and the implementation of the internal market programme and the development of Community policies in accordance with the spirit of the cohesion provisions of the Single European Act are of crucial importance in ensuring that the objectives which we have set in the plan are realised.

The co-ordination of economic policies within the Community has now been given added significance and impetus with the requirement in the Single European Act that member states shall conduct their economic policies and shall co-ordinate them in such a way as, in addition, to attain the cohesion objectives of the Single Act. By way of follow-up on this the new co-ordinating regulation and related entries in the minutes of the Council provide that the assessment of programmes assisted by the funds shall take account,inter alia, of macro-economic effects and performance and the extent to which programmes complement national policies.

This provides a strengthened basis for the pursuit of the Community's Co-operative growth strategy whose importance was again underlined in the market results described in last year's Cecchini report on the Internal Market and which would provide major benefits in tackling more effectively the still unacceptably high level of unemployment in the Community and in maximising the gains from the internal market. The House will recall from the debate which we had here at the time of its publication that the Cecchini report identified that coupled with an appropriately growth-oriented economic policy, the benefits at Community level of the internal market could be as high as an increase in GNP of up to 7 per cent — additional to the economic growth which would otherwise occur — while the increase in net new jobs would be five million.

In short, given the limited size of our domestic market and with the Community market accounting for threequarters of our exports, the realisation of our economic potential is critically dependent on growth conditions in the markets of our Community partners. In this context and viewed in historical perspective, it is notable and striking that between 1960 and the first oil crisis in 1973 when the Community economy was at its most dynamic, economic convergence improved fairly steadily with cross-country deviations of GNPper capita narrowing substantially.

Indeed, during that period the four poorest countries now in the Community — Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain — managed on average to reduce the gap separating them from the four highest member states by about one third. However, since 1973 the convergence process has not only halted but has even gone into reverse and the gap between the four poorest and the four highest member states has widened by 5.5 percentage points.

One of the central objectives of the plan is, through addressing the economy's structural weaknesses and deficiencies and increasing productive investment, to accelerate economic growth here on a sound and sustainable basis. On the basis of the development measures put forward and the assistance from the Structural Funds, Deputies will have noted that the plan provides for a higher growth rate of the period to the mid-nineties than the average for the Community as a whole.

Achievement of the targets in the plan which we believe are realistic and attainable is of particular significance, therefore, in helping us to narrow the gap between living standards here and those in the more prosperous areas of the Community. To the extent that the Community succeeds in fully exploiting all the opportunities which the internal market will create, our prospects and opportunities would of course be all the greater. In conclusion, the plan and supporting programmes which we have formulated provide this country with an unprecedented opportunity, in partnership with the European Commission, to consolidate the solid progress which the Government have already achieved in theProgramme for National Recovery, and thereby opens up a new horizon of higher growth, increased employment and higher living standards for all our people.

In the process, the Community will have demonstrated in a very practical way its commitment to the achievement of the cohesion objectives in the Single European Act of greater convergence in living standards and, in turn, this country will be better positioned to contribute to and participate more fully and effectively in the prospects which are opening up towards further steps in the Community's development and strengthening to which we are fully committed and which we know is also shared by the vast majority of our people.

I welcome theNational Development Plan but it can be described as very appealing but very misleading indeed. This plan could be rejected by the European Commission if it does not comply with strict EC rules. The plan seeks £3.35 billion from the Structural Funds with matching Exchequer funds of £3.6 billion — wherever that is to be found I do not know — plus £2.15 billion from the private sector. I ask the Taoiseach if he intends to borrow this £3.6 billion over the next five years or is it to be raised by taxation on the few remaining people left in the country? I would like the Taoiseach and his Ministers to answer these questions.

It is no good producing the glossyNational Development Plan that is being debated here yesterday, today and tomorrow without knowing where this money is to be found. The EC placed an increased emphasis on value for money from the programme funded. There will be a move away from short term income support towards investment which will stress the infrastructural development of the poorer regions of the country so that they can create their own jobs and raise their living standards on a par with the rest of the Community. I am afraid this plan lacks the initiative to tackle that problem we have for the poorer regions of the State. As a Member of Dáil Éireann elected for Cork South-West let me say it is evident that there is a great deal of poverty in that constituency. There is inactivity and a lack of Government interest in the area.

In the plan the Government have reversed planned reductions in public capital expenditure on infrastructural developments. They are now planning for Exchequer spending on airports, roads, education, industry and training. I will deal with some of those commitments later in my speech.

It is clearly stated that some of the State agencies, including Coillte Teoranta and Telecom Éireann, have put forward planned Government budgets in their submission for EC funding. That is to replace planned Exchequer funding with EC funding, contrary to the additionality rule. Under the rigorous rules relating to additionality any agreed expenditure commitments for the years 1989 to 1993 must be spent on further structural measures.

The content of the plan, which has been shrouded in secrecy for the past few months, has at long last been unveiled in this document. The Taoiseach was ill advised not to consult the leader of our party and the leaders of all the other Opposition parties in the Dáil to ensure that we would reach a national consensus before he submitted this document to Brussels. Why the great secrecy surrounding this plan? If we were truly patriotic surely we would have consulted the elected public representatives. I was amazed the other day to see a Government Deputy shedding crocodile tears at a meeting of Cork County Council because he was not getting unanimous approval of the plan. Where was the co-operation from the Taoiseach and his Ministers who formulated this plan? Where was the co-operation with this House? Neither the leaders of the Opposition parties nor the elected representatives were consulted before the plan was submitted to Brussels.

There was a fanfare of trumpets at the recent press conference introducing the plan but the press reporters who attended were unanimous that they were completely at sea as far as understanding what was going on. It was a well orchestrated launch of the plan but no matter what whitewashing is done behind closed doors it will not camouflage the problems and the poverty which exist in rural Ireland.

Ireland is the third poorest of the 12 EC countries and has the second highest unemployment rate in the EC. At 19 per cent of the population it is second only to Spain's 21 per cent. Ireland therefore has a strong case for a high level of grant assistance from the EC but there is no guarantee that more will be granted in the expanded Structural Funds than has been given to date. The objectives of the expanded funds are to assist development in five areas. Ireland is classified under objective one as a less developed region. The objectives are to help regions suffering from industrial decline, long-term unemployment, those in need of aid for young people and in need of rural development. Of the three funds, the Regional Fund will be most important for objective one regions, with up to 80 per cent of allocations available.

The net benefit to Ireland to date has been from the agricultural price support fund, CAP, and the European Social Fund. The news emanating from Europe now is that the CAP is to be wound down and over the next five years the net transfer to this country will be addressed to regional and social problems.

Ireland suffers from major cost disadvantages due to its peripheral island location and consequent heavy reliance on sea and air transport. The small size of the Irish market, less than 1 per cent of the EC total, compounds this problem and makes Ireland relatively more dependent on exports. Transport costs for Irish exporters to Europe are approximately twice those incurred by countries trading with one another on the European mainland.

Agriculture plays a major role in our economy. It accounts for 11 per cent of the GDP and employs 15 per cent of the total working population. In addition, 20 per cent of the manufacturing sector is engaged in the food processing industry. The importance of agriculture to the economy as a whole leaves Ireland particularly vulnerable to change in the Common Agricultural Policy. Direct employment in agriculture has been declining steadily. Our farming population has decreased alarmingly during the past few years. Unless serious steps are taken by the Government to arrest this decline we will eventually see the demise of all the small farmers along the western seaboard from Malin Head to Mizen Head.

And further over.

Tourism is another major industry which must be nurtured and aided under the plan. It accounts for 67,000 full-time jobs, equivalent to 6 per cent of the total labour force, while export earnings from this sector makes it Ireland's third largest source of foreign earnings. Ireland has a considerable natural advantage in terms of tourism with a rich cultural heritage, a tradition of friendliness and hospitality and a relatively unspoilt environment with an abundance of clear air and fresh water.

It is most important that immediate steps be taken by the Taoiseach and the Government to restore the ferry link between Cork and Swansea and thereby give the necessary up-lift to the tourist industry in this job-starved area, the south-western region. How serious are the Taoiseach and his Ministers about the development of tourism? They have failed hopelessly to maintain a ferry service from Cork to Swansea. How are we to develop tourism in the south-western region when the major link with Great Britain and the Continent is left to die a lingering death? If the Taoiseach and his Ministers were genuine in their approach to tourism why did they allow this service to be strangled by lack of financial commitment? It is clearly evident that there will be no development of tourism in the south-west region while there is no ferry service from Cork to Swansea.

What about Jack Charlton?

It is a well known fact that when the Cork-Swansea ferry company applied to the Government for finance last year, they got a niggardly £500,000 and the boat had sailed out of Ringaskiddy for the last time before a commitment of an extra £500,000 loan was made to be paid back before 30 September 1989.

That is Fianna Fáil for you — looking for it back.

How can tourism flourish in the south-west? The Minister of State is conversant with the tourist industry and knows how dependent the south-west was on the Cork-Swansea ferry service. How can the industry flourish with the type of treatment it is getting from a native Government. At the same time the same Government granted B & I over £30 million of State money to keep it going last year and to create a fares war between the Cork-Swansea ferry and the B & I ferry. The eastern part of the country is favoured with special attention from the Government, receiving £33 million in State aid for their ferry service while the south-west was denied the relatively small sum of money that they were looking for. If the Government are so committed to tourism, why did they not stipulate that the B & I should maintain a service from Cork to Swansea as well as from Dublin to Holyhead?


The Deputy over there has Knock airport and they are building another one in Sligo. They are all right for the moment. They will probably have it built for the by-election.

They are taking to the air; they do not trust the boats.

It goes to show the commitment that Fianna Fáil have to tourism in south-west Cork. Indeed it is non-existent. The Minister is a very good Minister for Food and it is a pity the Taoiseach did not give him a seat at the Cabinet table. At least Deputy Walsh has the guts to try to promote the region. No matter how hard he tries with his fine food fairs in Munster there still must be that vital link, the reintroduction of the Cork-Swansea ferry service. Otherwise the Minister is codding himself and the people of the south-west.

Otherwise we will have to try walking on the water.

Fishing is another industry which must get prominence under theNational Development Plan. For years it has been treated as a hind tit industry. There is a lack of infrastructure at fishing harbours and structural weaknesses in the fleet and in the processing and marketing sectors are significant obstacles to the future growth of what could be a great industry if it got the funding it should have got over the years. Improvement of roads leading to fishing ports such as Castletownbere is most important if the industry is to survive. Why have the Government this year reduced the road fund grant for the improvement of the Glengarriff-Castletownbere road by 50 per cent? Is that Fianna Fáil's commitment to the development of infrastructure and roads leading to major fishery ports?

It is shameful.

Is that the Government policy for developing the fishery industry here? If it is, God help the people who are dependent on fishing because they, like the people who depend on tourism, are being forgotten in the south-west. If that road were on the eastern seaboard the road fund grant would not be reduced by 50 per cent; the road would be made into an autobahn to cater for the "special" people who exist in the eastern half of this country.


I call on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance to allocate a substantial sum under the newNational Development Plan to complete the road from Glengarriff to Castletownbere. Last Tuesday morning I was in that part of my constituency. Articulated trucks leaving Castletownbere for Killybegs, for Scotland and the Continent were in great peril trying to negotiate hairpin bends, substandard road conditions, narrow bridges——

Was that the way your crowd left it? What were you doing in office?

If this is Fianna Fáil's contribution to infrastructural development at our main fishery ports——

It is a disgrace for you, after four and a quarter years in Government.

Fianna Fáil have been nearly forty years in this Parliament and have failed hopelessly. All Fianna Fáil did for west Cork was to abolish the railways back in the fifties and sell the rails to the third world countries.

You do not begrudge it to them, do you?

At that time the Minister for the Environment of the day promised an upgrading of the roads from Cork city to Castletownbere but not one mile of national primary route exists in that part of the country.

That is for election time.

At every election the status of the roads of south-west Cork was to be upgraded but when the count was over the promises were forgotten.


Is the Taoiseach aware of moves in the EC to allow Soviet fishing ships to fish blue whiting and horse mackerel in Irish waters? What steps is he going to take to vehemently oppose such moves in the interests of the Irish fishermen? Is this one of the agreements that the Taoiseach reached with President Mikhail Gorbachev when he entertained him in Shannon airport? I would like to ask the Minister of State, Deputy Walsh, if this is part of the new inter-trade agreement that has been reached between Ireland and the Soviet Union.


I would also urge the Minister to take recognition of the Castletownbere Fishermens Organisation and the co-ops who today are vehemently protesting against EC moves to allow Soviet fishing vessels to operate in Irish waters and to catch those two species of fish that are not under quota to our Irish fishermen. Those are the only two species of fish available to Irish fishermen that are not subject to quota. There are now moves a foot to let the Russians have a lucrative harvest on our fishing waters while at the same time the quotas are dwindling in the Irish fishing industry.

If there is to be a future in the National Development Plan for the fishing industry the Taoiseach and his Cabinet should adopt a more comprehensive policy towards this very important industry. It is clearly evident that no serious consideration has been given by the present administration to the development of this industry which could and would create an enormous number of jobs under the five year plan. Unless some efforts are made to renegotiate the quota system, every trawler that is owned by the Irish fishing fleet will die in debt because there is no way the fishermen can survive. We are an island and we will be the only member state in Europe separated from the mainland when Great Britain have access through their newly constructed tunnel. Ireland has access to 24 per cent of the fishing waters of the EC but only less than 5 per cent of the catch. It is high time that the Taoiseach and his Cabinet Ministers, if they are sincere in their efforts to develop fishing, take immediate steps to wipe out the anomalies that exist in the fishing industry and make sure that proper attention is given to it.

I will return to agriculture, an industry that is very important to this country. During my term as a public representative in the past 20 years, I have had the distinction of serving on the old county committees of agriculture from 1972 onwards and on ACOT committees throughout the country. I had the distinction of being in ACOT when Teagasc took over. I would ask the Minister who is now listening to me — he knows what agriculture means to this country — if the farmers were better off under the old committees of agriculture system than they are now under the newly formed body called Teagasc. Under the old committees of agriculture system representatives were elected by the people and they could demand a vote whenever the occasion arose. In ACOT that was reduced by 50 per cent and in Teagasc it is a completely closed shop. The elected representatives of Ireland are completely denied the right to speak on behalf of the people who elect them.

I would ask the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food if he is aware that no assistance or direction is given now by the agricultural instructors because they have neither the time nor the money to do so. They are not allowed to visit the farmer unless he pays £30 or £40 per visit. Is this the answer to the development of the major industry in this country? I would ask the Minister of State to implore the Taoiseach to at least give the farmers some recognition, to give them an opportunity of developing an industry that is capable of progressing.

In conclusion, it seems that commitments are given in the plan to improving the structural condition of major road networks throughout the country but it is sad to think that the five major recommendations for priority in this National Development Plan, this famous plan which, according to Deputy Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, is supposed to be the cure for all ills, are Dublin to the Border, Dublin to Kinnegad, Dublin to Portlaoise, Dublin to Rosslare and a new national road now in progress around Dublin city. No emphasis has been placed by the Minister for the Environment in the plan on the creation of a national primary road structure from Cork city to Schull, onto Bantry and Castletownbere. Neither is there any provision for the upgrading to national secondary status of the county road leading from Bantry to Bandon. This is an area greater than many counties in Ireland and yet it has not been recognised for one mile of a national primary route. I sincerely hope that the Taoiseach and the Minister will review the position when the funding becomes available from the National Development Plan and give due consideration to this area which plays a unique role in agriculture, fishery and tourism development.

Sorry, Deputy Sheehan, you must end your travels in Ireland.

Finally, this is the greatest cosmetic exercise that was ever undertaken by any Government in this country. What can you expect from a Government who took away £8.25 million of a £15 million package from the people of Bantry and south-west Cork? When our Government introduced a £15 million package we were told by you people when you were in these seats where I am sitting that it was not enough. You wanted the $40 million that was given by the Chevron company. You had the audacity to take away £8.25 million of that £15 million package.

What did Fine Gael do with the rest of it?

What did the Government do with the £8.25 million they took away from the people of south-west Cork? The Fianna Fáil Party refurbished Grafton Street for the Millennium celebrations with it.

Fine Gael had their hand in the till from the first day.

It is a disgrace. It is an insult to the people of south-west Cork that any native Government had the audacity to take £8.25 million of a national package.

Your crowd held £25 million.

What help has the south-west region got under the Government'sNational Development Plan when already they have hijacked £8.25 million of the money that was given for road development in the area?

Deputy Sheehan, I think I heard you use the word "finally" about five minutes ago. I am sorry, you must conclude now.

I would say to Deputy Walsh, in conclusion, let common sense prevail and ask the Taoiseach to return immediately the £8.25 million to the people of south-west Cork.

Your crowd pilfered £25 million.

If he does that he would then be doing the deed he should have done long ago.

TheNational Development Plan envisages total expenditure of £9.1 billion over the five year period to 1993. That will amount to an expenditure of approximately £2,000 million per annum and for that reason I cannot understand the complaining and whinging about it. After all, the plan envisages the most substantial expenditure on any plan since the foundation of the State. The plan, for the first time in the history of planning here, has a substantive sub-regional content. That includes, for each of the seven sub-regions, an analysis of the socio-economic situation, the establishment of development objectives and the identification of development measures, as well as the planned expenditure in the structural area for the five years to 1993.

I shall discuss the plan in relation to the food industry and in the course of my contribution I shall refer to its proposals for the south-west sub-region. My ministerial colleagues have dealt in detail with the other aspects of the plan. It is because of my specific ministerial responsibilities that I shall refer to the role of the food industry in the overall strategy of the plan. Since the commencement of their period in office, the Government have given the highest priority to the food industry and the reasons for that should be obvious. We have first class raw materials produced in one of the cleanest environments in the world. We have a tradition of food production and we have the research infrastructure which is central to the success of that industry.

It is because of the Government's determination to realise the full potential of the food industry that a five year strategy for its development was prepared and published in 1988. That strategy provides for a change in emphasis in State support for food processing projects away from grants for fixed assets to support for the total business. In the case of medium and large enterprises this support will be dependent on the achievement of specific targets, for example, job creation and marketing. In the case of new and small enterprises support will be dependent on the development of niche products. This strategy is not altered by theNational Development Plan. Indeed, the only changes is that additional assistance, made possible by the enlargement of the Structural Funds, is envisaged.

The total investment requirement of the food industry over the period of the plan is estimated at £750 million. In the last two years £250 million has been invested in the food industry which means that in the next five years £1,000 million will be invested in that industry. That amounts to a substantial investment by any standards.

There is no evidence of that in the Minister of State's constituency, south-west Cork.

I suggest that the Deputy reads tomorrow's edition of theCork Examiner for information about a major announcement for that area. Of the figure I have announced, it is considered that £300 million, and possibly as much as £500 million, will qualify for FEOGA assistance. It is clear that, as the plan states, a continuing and stronger role for FEOGA is essential for the development of the food industry. I should like to tell Deputy Sheehan that we had a most pleasant time in the constituency of south-west Cork, in Kinsale, last weekend. Visitors from all over the globe converged on Kinsale to sample the food and to talk to those involved in the food industry and those in the culinary business in Kinsale. Their unanimous verdict was that we have superb food and that it was served up in a wonderful area. I had hoped to meet Deputy Sheehan there because we had some nice samples of food and local beverages. It would have been nice to join him sampling some of the local brew.

There is little point in having food and beverages if we do not have the people to eat and drink them. It is a pity the Minister did not announce the restoration of the Cork-Swansea ferry service which would have been more beneficial to the people of that part of the country.

Cork were beating Kerry in the park at the time these functions were taking place but we managed to attract a massive crowd to Kinsale, I am glad to say. In my view we will reap benefits from that weekend.

One swallow never made a summer. The Minister should move further west to see the desolation.

It is the Government's aim to do everything possible to ensure that food companies are strategically positioned to avail of the enhanced market opportunities of the Single European Market. I am delighted that so many food companies are gearing themselves to avail of a market that will increase from £3.5 million people to 320 million people. Only an aggressive international marketing strategy will maximise our food exports and create extra jobs.

How does the Minister intend to bring them in? Will it be by not air balloons?

This market oriented approach is an essential prerequisite for the future expansion and development of the food industry. The plan envisages increased funding for marketing and, indeed, as a first step in this direction £3 million was provided in the 1989 budget to strengthen marketing support service for firms, including those in the food and beverage industry. There are good grounds for optimism and I am confident that the Government's current economic strategy, coupled with a practical and businesslike response from those involved in the industry, will prove the right recipe for our future success.

This amounts to a very feeble approach.

In relation to marketing I should like to say I am glad another Cork firm, Agra Ltd., based at Watergrasshill, announced a major development programme costing £151 million. Of that figure £50 million is earmarked for marketing and promotion. That is the type of confidence that epitomises the new breed of entrepreneurs here. They are getting the maximum Government support for their enterprises. I should like to tell the House that one of the major retail outlets in the Federal Republic of Germany, a co-op group who have more than 2,000 outlets, launched a programme to boost the retail sale of Irish goods. The first consignment amounted to £70 million. The reason that group embarked on that programme was because of the quality of Irish food exported from one of the best locations in Europe. I am determined that our environment will be protected because it has proved to be such a valuable asset.

I should now like to deal with the problems of the south-west sub-region. I am familiar with them. The principle assets of the sub-region include a magnificant environment for the production of wholesome food products, large areas of beautiful landscape with extensive mountains and coastline, and a plentiful labour force, many of whom are young and well educated.

They have all emigrated to Britain and the US.

Other assets include a relatively well developed physical infrastructure in the Cork area and its associated business and specialist services sector. We have the Ringaskiddy Industrial Estate and the deep water resource of Bantry Bay. There is also the potential of third level institutions. I am pleased that in the plan the third level institutions, University College Cork, the regional technical college at Bishopstown, the micro electronics centre and the research station in Moorepark, are included in the plan for the sub-region.

And there is not anything in it for our constituency.

Those institutions have been included in the plan because they have a tremendous contribution to make in the education of people from the Munster region. The micro electronics centre and the research station at Moorepark have a supportive role to play in the development of technology for industry.

What about the roads?

Major drawbacks derive from the subregion's peripheral location and its distance from major markets. This could become even more marked after the completion of the single internal market. Parts of the subregion, notably west Cork, those areas in the western part of south-west Cork and indeed south Kerry are particularly disadvantaged and isolated. In addition to low productivity and limited adaptability of many local enterprises, technology, marketing and financial resources are depleted in that subregion. It does suffer from serious infrastructural problems which not only restrict access to national primary routes but also cause difficulties from the point of view of inter-town travel within the subregion. I am always delighted to facilitate and introduce people not alone from Dublin but from Europe to Cork south-west in order to highlight for them the disadvantages we suffer on account of location and our poor run-down roads network. I will continue to make the strongest possible representations to have these structures improved.

The subregional plan identifies a strategy for future development based on the restoration of growth momentum to an internationally competitive manufacturing sector. For example, I am delighted to be able to say that in Bantry we have the Bantry Bay Mussels Company which is internationally competitive——

Thanks to the Bantry package.

Even though the Minister asked me a while ago what we had done with the money. That is one major industry.

I acknowledge that. It is great to see the initiative and innovation of that company, selling oysters in France, in Paris in particular, giving very good employment in Bantry.

Just imagine what could have been done had there been another £8.25 million given to them.

Had we the remainder we would have a great time altogether. Again I reiterate that the subregional plan identifies a strategy for future development based on the development of internationally traded services, particularly the area's great tourism potential, and the augmentation of those main elements by efforts to stabilise the rural population through an integrated rural development programme for both the mainland and island communities.

Where is the ferry service?

I was delighted that I convinced the Government to locate one of the integrated rural development programme pilot areas within the general Skibbereen area.

Very few people know much about it.

I am delighted that already substantial progress has been made, for example, in places like Union Hall where there is a thriving fisheries cooperative. Indeed I am surprised Deputy Sheehan did not mention it a while ago.

The pier is collapsing. It is a disgrace. One could not even turn a fish lorry on the pier.

I actually went down there last week. I was glad to see that the majority of one-third of a million pounds which I personally ensured be spent in that area is spent on developing access to the pier and on its refurbishment.

What about the £1 million spent in Schull?

The people there are very progressive. As the Deputy will be aware, they have acquired a premises in Skibbereen and are going from strength to strength. I can foresee the same thing happening in Baltimore, in Schull and the general integrated rural development pilot area in Skibbereen. There is now a full time officer in the farm development centre there.

The Minister's Department would not allow a herring to be landed on Schull pier last year.

The officer is there to help them out. In addition, the islands are favoured by being given integrated rural development status. I was very glad that, when the pier collapsed out in Oilean Cléire, overnight, we were able to raise funds to have it restored.

From the national lottery funds. Indeed it was not before time.

Mr. Walsh

The islanders are now ready to have officially opened the good work carried out on that pier. The islanders are entitled to every facility because of their disadvantage.

What about the generating diesel station at Cape Clear?

I am glad Deputy Sheehan reminded me of that because I personally took an interest in it.

I intervene to say that the Minister of State need not necessarily respond to queries from Deputy Sheehan. I say in all seriousness that I have no doubt that Deputy Sheehan, with his breadth of vision, and the Minister of State, would appreciate that in respect of discussion on the National Development Plan we cannot resort into a téte-a-téte on Schull.

It all relates to the south-western region.

We have just a couple of gems in the south-west area to which I will refer.

I have heard a fair few to date. However——

One is the windmill generating station on Oileán Cléire. That generating station will be retained for the purpose of supplementing electricity supply on the island.

Is the Minister sure it is now working?

I am absolutely certain about it. Indeed I should like to pay tribute to the Federal Republic of Germany authorities who gave tremendous technical assistance in relation to that project. It is not alone of tremendous benefit to Oilean Cléire but also of tremendous educational benefit in the generation of electricity from that source.

The other gem to which I want to refer is the star gazing planetarium we have out in Schull. There is no doubt but that it constitutes a tremendous resource there. I know there had been an amount of star gazing going on at all times in that region.

One cannot exist on star gazing alone.

I was glad that the President drove down to Schull recently and officially opened the planetarium there. Of course that planetarium was made possible by very substantial support from national lottery funds.

And very generous local contributions.

From the local community.

And from the German industrialist concerned.

I should like to extend our thanks and appreciation to him for his contribution to that planetarium. So much for the gems in the area.

In essence, the successful implementation of a development strategy over the next five years will require, among other things, good access to and from the south west of Cork by road, sea, air and rail to markets both at home and within the European Community.

What about the reduction announced in the budget for the Road from Bantry?

I am glad to say that I was the first representative in Cork south west to have that road upgraded; that was in June 1981. I am delighted that, from Glengarriff to Adrigole, every time I drive west there, I note an improvement and the removal of another bend. I particularly asked that the piers and slipways from Kinsale to the Dursey Sound be included in this programme of development. There are now tremendous developments taking place in fish farming off the south west Cork coast, as the Deputy will be well aware. Many fish farmers are organised——

Thanks to the pioneering influence of the Bantry package.

—— by local co-operatives. But there are tremendous impediments and drawbacks because of the lack of facilities such as slipways and piers.

What about the road to Kealincha Fish Factory?

The Kealincha Fish Factory is doing very well indeed. I am delighted about that.

What about the other——

Would Deputy Sheehan please allow the Minister of State to proceed?

We have now in this country a very high quality communications, particularly telecommunications, network. I have been making representations to Bord Telecom to have the cellular network system extended to south west Cork. For example, I can drive from Dublin to Cork. Immediately I go over the Liberty I am out of commission.

——out of touch.

Yes, I am out of touch and, in these days, one needs to be in touch. I want to reiterate my proposal that a cell to provided, perhaps at Mount Gabriel, which would give service from the Liberty to the Dursey Sound. There is in that area a major fisheries port, with lifeboats located around the coast. The people of Cork South West are as entitled to the most modern communication systems as the people in any other part of the country. There is a proposal in this plan to have the cellular network system extended to the whole country but I want it brought forward to the early part of the plan and not in five years time.

That is another day's work.

We want adequate sanitary and waste disposal services to meet industrial requirements and to prevent pollution.

Are the Government going to bring back the minor water and sewerage schemes?

I mentioned earlier the quality of the environment we have in this country and this is no credit to the authorities or individuals who pollute our streams and rivers——

And the local authorities.

——and I do not want to see or hear on television or in the newspapers reports about fish kills, pollution or toxic effluent which has been let into our streams and rivers. We have a very valuable asset in our environment and it is necessary to have the most upto-date and modern effluent disposal systems and filtering systems because our local authorities are no angels when it comes to polluting our streams and rivers.


Hear, hear.

We need technology and marketing support matched to the requirements of local business. It is encouraging that in a number of rural towns in coastal areas there is sufficient technology to provide jobs for people located in those towns and employed by firms in New York or some other part of the world. This gives me great confidence that rural and coastal areas will improve their positions substantially over the next few years. They will no longer be disadvantaged by isolation when they can make telecommunications contact simultaneously——

With New York, London, Birmingham and Coventry.

——all over the globe.

Yes, but our young people have all gone.

Last year, for the first time in many years, there was an increase of 6,000 in the number of additional jobs created and I have no doubt that in line with the improvement in the economy other additional jobs will be created, and it is the jobs in the coastal and rural areas I am particularly concerned about. We have a skilled, adaptable and highly educated work force and it is no joy for me or for anybody else to see and hear about not alone one member but sometimes all the members of a family who have had to leave this country. It is bad enough that they have to leave the country but it is worse when they end up as illegal aliens in other countries sometimes working in menial jobs but many times working in occupational which do no justice to their educational qualifications and will not enhance their particular profile, status or CV so that they can do better when they come back home or go elsewhere.

A set of coherent and integrated actions are necessary to achieve the over-all objectives under the various headings in the plan, such as agriculture and rural development. I have already mentioned the pilot programme which is in position. Deputy Sheehan referred to fisheries development and there is no doubt that in coastal regions fisheries is the single most important matter in relation to the development of the area and the creation of jobs for people. There is a major fisheries port in Castletownbere in the south-west sub-region and the co-op and companies such as Ríocht Fish Ltd., which has recently been taken over, and Fast Fish Ltd. are giving tremendous employment in that area. The developments which have taken place there in the past few years give great grounds for optimism.

I do not propose to go into all the individual actions under the various headings in this plan. However, at this stage I should like to refer specifically to what I consider to be two of the most important agricultural proposals in theNational Development Plan which will have particular significance for the south-west sub-region, the first of which is the extension to the rest of the country of the anti-pollution measures in the western package. This will enable farmers in areas outside of the western package area to receive grant aid in order to provide anti-pollution facilities and effluent disposal facilities in their farmyards. The Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture and Food have very stringent regulations in relation to the environment and effluent treatment, and rightly so, but it is fair to give some encouragement and incentive to the farming community to help them provide the very costly buildings and effluent disposal treatment plants which they have to put in at farm level.

The second proposal relates to the aid to enable farmers in areas considered to be environmentally sensitive to carry out their operations in a way which will not only prevent damage to the environment but which will positively improve it. The significance of these proposals to the south-west sub-region is considerable because of the central role of tourism in that sub-region, a role which I might mention will be further enhanced by the specific proposals in the plan to develop rural tourism, which I hope will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Total expenditure in the structural area in the south-west sub-region over the five year period 1989-93 is estimated at £1,254 million. It is proposed to put forward £842 million of that amount for assistance from the Structural Funds which it is envisaged will amount to £487 million. When all is said and done the aim of the plan for this country must be to create an environment in which people can work and live in prosperity and contentment. That is what the Government's plan sets out to do by creating more jobs and thus enabling our young people to remain at home and make their contribution to their communities. I believe immense benefits will accrue to the people of the south-west region and the people of Ireland as a whole if we grasp the opportunity now presented to us by the enlargement of the EC Structural Funds and the Government's carefully thought-out strategy to avail of the funds, to improve our economic and social conditions and bring about a better life for the generations of Irish Europeans who will succeed us.

I call Deputy McDowell.

I wonder if it would be possible for me to get 15 minutes this evening because I will not be available in the morning. If this is possible I can either speak before or after Deputy McDowell, with the concurrence of the Chair.

May I ask the permission of the House to share my time with Deputy Blaney?

Is that agreed? Agreed. How much time does the Deputy propose to give Deputy Blaney?

Ten minutes.

Will the debate return to this side of the House?

The speakers on this side of the House have half an hour and then it will return to Deputy Roche at three minutes to seven.

Having listened to the detailed debate and the cut and thrust between the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Deputy Joe Walsh, and Deputy Sheehan, I began to wonder could we be here discussing the same document; was this debate actually centred around a national development plan or was it in fact, as I think it is, very much an opportunity for many people to say a lot of diverse things in the context of a document which concentrates the minds of nobody on the real issues which confront us.

The circumstances in which this National Development Plan, as it terms itself but which I believe it is not, was launched spoke volumes about the plan itself. There was an element of absurd melodrama about the Taoiseach presenting this document with the strains of Mise Éire, which seems to have become his personal anthem, playing in the background to a captive audience of the captains of industry and the political and economic hyperbole, known as hype, all lent a sense of surrealist fantasy to what was in fact a rather sad and I believe pathetic occasion in terms of democracy and economic maturity. When the dust settled and the contrived euphoria which the publicity people had created had lifted and the adrenalin coursing through the Government's veins drained away, the process of cool, rational and dispassionate examination of this so-called National Development Plan was bound to begin, and it has.

Between its purple covers lie a set of predictions, propositions and assumptions which do not together constitute a plan, not even a programme, but I believe a rather flaccid expression of vague aspirations which are totally inadequate. Worse still, the paper deliberately exaggerated, distorted and falsified the facts — as many of us know them to be — in order to lend spurious weight of its contents. Most importantly the paper completely failed to deal with the extent of our unemployment problem and the impediments to overcoming it as central issues requiring examination, analysis and reform.

This document is devoid of original or creative planning but it is rich in spurious detail and spurious projections. This is contrived to give the reader a sense of exactitude and accuracy which is wholly unwarranted. The paper purports to concern itself with structural measures and to constitute a plan for the deployment of European Structural Funds in the Irish economy over the next five years, but the first, and most obvious whopper, is the suggestion that the paper is a £9.2 billion plan. The additional projected injection of European Structural Funds over existing levels is roughly £1.5 billion spread over five years, or £300 million per annum. That figure of £300 million sounds great and it sounds large until we remind ourselves that it represents only an annual capital investment of between £90 and £100 for every man, woman and child in this country and that it is not likely to make a real difference to their well being, assuming a real return of about 10 per cent or about £10 a year for every person in this country. That is the measure of this so called £9.2 billion plan.

Seen in this light the £300 million total annual increase in Structural Funds for Ireland is very small indeed, especially when compared with the scale of the problems which 1992 will bring in its wake, including a revenue loss to the Exchequer of between £300 and £500 million, estimated by the Government, not to mention the destructive effects on our present economic arrangements of increased external penetration of our markets. I am not against 1992, I favour it absolutely, but I think it will present huge problems for a peripheral economy like ours. I am saying that the additional investment of £300 million per annum to the Irish economy over each of the next five years is not an adequate response to the problems which an integrated market creates and that this plan, in particular, for reasons which I will set out later, is an inadequate way to plan and to project how that money could be spent.

The £9.2 billion figure which the Taoiseach used to conjure up a sense of awe and anticipation in the minds of the ordinary people of this country is an economic mirage, a phoney conflation of what is inevitable anyway — spending that will happen whether there is a plan or not — with what is irrelevant, and that is spending which has nothing to do with the European Structural Funds.

The largest part of the £9.2 billion is £3.6 billion which is supposed to come from this State in the form of the public capital programme. Let us be fair and honest about that; that amount is the present rate of public capital expenditure frozen at present levels effectively and projected over five years. That is not new; that is something which is reduced in terms of volume over the level it held, say, two years ago. There is no additionality implicit in the Irish State contribution to this so called £9.2 billion fund. On the contrary, compared with two years ago, the level of the State's capital expenditure will be lower on an annual basis.

That brings me to the third component of this £9.2 billion fantasy figure of the Taoiseach, that the private sector is supposed to be making a contribution of £2.1 billion towards the implementation of the plan. That suggestion fools nobody, and especially it will cut no ice with the Commission of the European Community. The £2.1 billion aggregate figure is arrived at by conflating the anticipated level of private investment in IDA backed projects and the like with a tiny and economically insignificant private sector investment in what I would call structural investments, such as toll roads. Of the 2.1 billion anticipated to be expended by the private sector in support of this so-called plan over five years, a very tiny fraction — less than 1 in 10 — is represented by anything to do with improving our infrastructural base. Again, we are describing things which are either inevitable or irrelevant as a portion of this plan.

Shorn of its pretentions, stripped of its baubles and its exaggerations, this paper is no more and no less than a hamfisted, transparent and amateurish description of how the Government, while reining in their own capital investment, intend to cajole the European Community to part with the modest structural investment in the order of £90 for each member of our population for each of the next five years. That is not by any standard a new economic Jerusalem.

The absurdity of the process of regional consultation has been referred to by other speakers in this debate and, doubtless, will be referred to again. I am not going to repeat them or anticipate them. Suffice it to say that it would have been better if this paper had emerged from a real national debate at regional and national level, rather than being published and then subjected to what is, in effect, a mock debate. That is what is going on in this House because there is no real chance of changing the plan. It is very vaguely presented. We have heard speeches supporting it and underpinning it, which consist of waffle and hyperbole for the main part.

If there had been a real national debate identifying specific items and targets on which people could have exercised their critical faculties and talked about the choices which were to be made, at a time when choices could be altered and influenced, then I believe we would never have seen a document of this kind presented to this House in its present vacuous and tendentious form.

There is by now a well established system of writing economic programmes. Its chief element involves this: you cast about for facts and figures from all the State agencies, who appear to be only too happy to oblige the Government of the day by submitting an up-beat description of what their activities are and what they plan to do over the next few years. These corporate and semi-State aspirations are then aggregated and used to flesh out the skeleton of the paper's chapter structure. The immediate political purpose is to gorge the reader with details, and particularly the press who read them and give response within 12 hours as to whether it is detailed or not and looks convincing, and by that means create the impression that the document somehow is the master plan by which all the disparate and autonomous events, which are in no way related to it, are governed and regulated by it and carried on in accordance with it.

You read about the corporate plans of Telecom — they are there whether or not that document is produced. You read about the national roads plan — we have heard about that for the last two years. You read what the ESB are planning to do, what An Post are planning to do in setting up new offices in Dublin. All these things were planned and did not come into being because the word went out that this document, with its purple cover, was to be published. But they are all brought into the document to pad it out with detail and to so gorge the reader with a sense of detail and minutiae that it appears to the gullible that the plan is designed to bring these events about. Of course it is not. It seems to work as far as some of the more gullible or lazy members of the Fourth Estate are concerned.

I am afraid the Deputy cannot get away with that.

A particular example of just how dishonest this document is can be found on page 37. I would refer the Government to this page and ask them to explain to the Irish electorate how they can seriously stand over this document as an honest statement of intent as opposed to mere propaganda.

Paragraph 2.3.5 reads:

Specifically the objective will be to create 20,000 extra manufacturing jobs per year on average over 1989-1993, and to continue to contribute strongly to further employment creation in the services sector through the multiplier effect.

The phrase I want to bear in on most is "to create 20,000 extra manufacturing jobs". The word "extra" means something to me, and one does not have to be a politician, a lawyer or a third level education graduate to give a simple meaning to "extra". It means-over and above that which would otherwise be. It means a net addition. There is no point in talking about extra, when one means new and replacement jobs for jobs which are going out of existence. Yet this document has the brass neck and the effrontery to suggest that it is planned to create 20,000 extra jobs per year over a five-year period. That would mean 100,000 extra manufacturing jobs, and when one takes the multiplier effect in the service industry into account, would provide every person who is now emigrating with a job, if one assumes that 25,000 or 30,000 extra jobs will be created by this plan. The word "extra" is used there utterly dishonestly, because it does not mean extra at all. What this is talking about is gross job renewal in the context of high redundancy. It appears that where extra is used here it means the diametric opposite. It means substitute jobs. When one examines this paper rather than plan, it means that as far as the Irish economy is concerned 25,000 or 30,000 people will continue to emigrate each year. As far as we are concerned it can be confidently said that this paper is based on the premises that by year five the economy will have failed an extra 400,000 people, more than half of whom will still be on the dole and the rest will have emigrated or will be in job training schemes. About 400,000 people stand to be failed by the Irish economy on the projections implicit in this document. The suggestion on page 37 of this document that it is concerned with bringing about 20,000 extra jobs and downstream jobs in the services sector is simply false propaganda which deserves to be exposed as such.

Instead of facing that reality the paper's authors chose to phrase it as to suggest somehow that the expenditure of the European Structural and Regional Funds would create an extra 20,000 jobs in each of the next five years. That was shamefully dishonest, but the great danger in a paper of this kind is that some people may actually be persuaded that there is now in place a plan or programme which by itself amounts to some adequate response to the very real fiscal difficulties and economic disadvantages under which the Irish economy labours. It may persuade the naive that the Government have set out a programme of reform which will turn this economy round, but they have not done so.

Employment, which is the central issue in Irish politics and economics and in terms of achieving social justice and tackling poverty, is not substantially addressed in this paper. If it was, the Government would have had to spell out the actual steps the Government propose to take over five years to reduce the employment tax wedge — that is the difference between gross payroll costs and take-home pay which in Ireland is the highest by far of the European Community countries and which unremedied completely undermines any efforts to sustain employment or enterprise in Ireland especially in the context of a single market where there is mobile capital, labour and enterprise. I will never tire of restating in this House or elsewhere the glaring truth that seems to be understood by everyone except the occupants, political and public service, of Merrion Street, that is, that with freedom of movement of capital, labour and enterprise the basic laws of economic gravity will tend to pull employment away from the periphery of the Community to the centre and that this process will be compounded and accelerated if our peripheral economy insists on loading its entire tax burden on to employment.

There seems to be an error implicit in some of the responses we have heard and in some of the language employed in this document. Tax reform is not a residual option contingent on an economic upturn. It is an essential and integral part of the process of economic recovery. No amount of transfer payments from the European Community will redress or reverse our unemployment unless and until our Government accept that there must be a stated sustained and achieveable strategy set out in a five-year programme for radical reform of our tax system on employment.

I am sorry to interrupt Deputy McDowell but in accordance with arrangements made earlier concerning the remaining speakers for this evening, the Deputy has about one minute left of the time available to him.

I thought I said that I would give Deputy Blaney my last ten minutes.

That is it, actually.

The Department of Finance regard themselves as the principal policy agency to tackle our economic problems. The facts, alas, are that the Department of Finance and their compliant sisters, the Revenue Commissioners, are, as far as employment is concerned, more part of the problem than part of the solution. This paper should have been shorn of all its pretensions and of all the contextual rubbish which has expanded it and inflated it into its present size. It should have made the case for specific structural deployment of funds. All the waffle and obscurity should have been cut out of it. It should have acknowledged to the European Commission the Exchequer's inability to fund the necessary investment and it should not have pretended that Ireland was going to make a £ 6 billion contribution to a £9 billion development plan.

I should call Deputy Blaney now.

I will finish in a minute. It should have spelt out the measures that the Government propose to take to improve the employment climate in Ireland. If it had done that, it would have created a clearly understood strategy for which there would have been wholehearted political support. Instead we have a pretentious lightweight, overblown paper, a piece of propaganda. Is that propaganda aimed at internal consumption or at hood-winking the European Commission? In both respects it is an abject failure.

Deputy Neil T. Blaney, and I will be calling Deputy O'Rourke, the Minister for Education at about two minutes to seven.

I tender my extreme thanks to Deputy McDowell for affording me the opportunity to speak here tonight since I will unavoidably not be here tomorrow. I was surprised to find that the line that Deputy McDowell is taking differs only slightly from mine in regard to this plan. Had I more time I would elaborate, but I will try now to deal with the bones of what is flawed in so far as this document is concerned. There was a lot of hype about the regional and deep study and the input by vocational and other interests throughout the country. That is all a lot of poppycock. I happened to be on a committee which was given four days, starting on Friday, to consider this document and have it in with the central authority. South-west Ireland do not have theirs in yet despite the fact that the overall plan has already gone to Brussels. I also learned from those who participated in the central consideration of all that was put together and eventually sifted out, that in fact it was presided over by somebody or other from the Department of Finance, no doubt with a pre-determined arrangement as to what was to go through. Instead of discussion and elaboration within the committee as one might expect, the committee were told what they were to do. The result was a concoction that was costed before it went to the Community as an application for funds.

We should underline that the £9 billion, is the costed amount of the proposals sent to the Community. That we will get that sum is beyond anybody's conception, unless he is a fool. We will be lucky if we get two thirds, or one third. Good and helpful though the Structural Funds may be, they are only transitory, only passing assistance, to try to take us out of the potholes. They will not permanently surface the road that we have to travel. We can be sure that that assistance will disappear at some stage and then where will we be? The projections and costings in this plan are, as Deputy McDowell said, in most cases merely an adding together of the plans already established and achievable but which will be achieved more quickly with money from Europe.

Most of the proposals contained in the plan will leave no lasting benefit. They will create an economic upsurge. We may even take back workers from abroad for a five year period but it will taper off and then we shall find ourselves in a worse position than when we started. What if our roads, our harbours, our air services and our airports are better if activity within the country on a real competitive basis is not possible? And it is not possible in this peripheral area. To be able to shift our goods more quickly and more conveniently will not make those goods competitive within the overall Community market, where the multinationals reign supreme, as they do now, with the raw materials at their doorstep, their markets immediately surrounding them and a manufacturing scale to which we can never aspire. We cannot compete and 1992 is far removed from a golden age. It is the greatest hype of all time. Rather can it be the year of disaster and further decline in this country.

Any development by way of having more educated young people available will not be to the benefit of this country or adding to its wealth. Rather will they continue to be exported, as now, to add to the wealth of the multinationals in the heart of the Community. I would trade the suggested £900,000 million and the Regional and Social Funds for a renegotiated policy on agriculture that would wipe out the quotas which are suppressing us and driving our small farmers off the map and for a renegotiation of our fishery policy which is restricted to the point where we cannot move one foot further. That resulted from a stupid, unimaginative deal in 1972 made by people who obviously may have heard about the sea and even have seen it but knew little about what was in it. Its riches are there in abundance off the west coast.

There is talk about 20,000 jobs — whether these are real or imaginery as Deputy McDowell has said — and another 25,000 in tourism. There are 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs capable of being created on our west coast where they are needed most, if we are allowed to catch the fish off our own coasts rather than have the foreigner scooping them up and taking them away, all because we did not see where we were going in 1972 and paid no regard to the potential value of expansion of fisheries. It is the single largest element for progress in the future and has not been accorded a place on the list of the main items in this document. It gets a few lines further on, as does forestry. Agriculture is at the foot of the list, deliberately I have no doubt. Due to the quota system we will not be allowed to improve our position as we could improve it from a very undeveloped state.

Fisheries and agriculture are the only two elements where we are assured of the raw materials with which we can compete with any conglomerate throughout the world. Ninety per cent of the raw materials used in every manufacturing industry must be brought in at high freight costs. Practically 100 per cent of our exportable goods manufactured here must find a market abroad, on which we pay high freight charges. We can work as diligently as we like, have all the airports and sea ports that we like and better roads, but that will not overcome the disadvantages of our peripherality which is geographical, immovable, unchanging.

Let us be realistic and look for something long term to put us in a competitive position for all time. Let us forget about the £900,000 million big apple that will not be thrown to us. Those proposals have yet to be examined in Europe and undoubtedly the plans will not be funded to the full. 1992 was hyped up a year ago but the approach is more muted now. Reality is beginning to set in. We should withdraw those proposals and start again, because we are merely providing for more international dole which will balance the overall price that we are paying by being members of the Community. We are members and will remain so. We have paid the price and will continue to pay it everyday that even one of our young people goes out of the country. If computed over the last five years, the cost would wipe out the quoted figures of increased output and increased exports. We would be getting less today rather than getting more. The plan will not result in our being able to provide jobs at home for our young people. Had we that amount along with what I have mentioned, we would be going somewhere.

Peripherality is what our difficulties are all about. This is why we went to the Common Market in the first place and listened to the talk about the wellbeing of those in the least favoured areas being equated with that of those in the best favoured areas. With the best will in the world, no matter how you juggle the figures, relatively we are much worse off today than we were in 1973vis-á-vis, for example, Germany and that will continue.

I must now call the Minister. The Deputy's time is exhausted.

That graph is continuing in a downward direction and no amount of talk and hype and plans of this nature will wipe out the reality.

I am very pleased to have the opportunity this evening to participate in this debate, as I was pleased also this morning, to speak on the National Development Plan. I have listened to much of the debate which has ensued during the day. As the House will know, I share with my colleague, Deputy Bertie Ahern, Minister for Labour, responsibility for training and education in connection with the European funds. We are very pleased at the extremely high profile which that area has achieved in the plan's objectives.

I want to make it clear that I object very strongly to a statement made by Deputy Harte from the Fine Gael benches. He stated that there was no money for education included in the National Development Plan. My colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, who was replying rebutted that claim and pointed out the exact figure which was under that heading in the plan. However, I wish to state that our priorities are very clearly reflected in the section devoted to education and training. The Minister for Labour and myself share a common portfolio in this area. I am very pleased that such emphasis has been placed on the technological skills of our young people and on the need to advance those skills so that we can improve our preparedness, competitiveness and our readiness to compete on the European scene, which is the objective of the plan.

The plan is developmental. I am sure the House will share my viewpoint that had we not got our house in order over the past two years, the plan we submit would stand very little chance of success. Europe took cognisance of how we handled affairs on the domestic front in righting our finances and they saw fit to support us.

Debate adjourned.