Question put: "That the Bill be now read a second time."

I move:—

"That this House declines to give the Electricity (Supply) Bill, 1927, a Second Reading until it is satisfied that the Executive Council is unable to lease the Shannon works at a rent to cover interest and sinking fund on the capital cost."

If Mr. Winston Churchill came down to the House of Commons with a proposal to spend £400,000,000 on a scheme to acquire and operate the electricity supply in Great Britain, that would represent somewhere near the true financial perspective of this scheme, Perhaps, put in that way, the magnitude of the scheme would appeal more forcibly to the House, because I think we have still got the free-and-easy way of looking at millions as a result of the war inflation. If Mr. Winston Churchill further said he proposed to place the organisation that was to spend this money outside Parliamentary control, I do not know which Party would be the most concerned. No doubt the Labour Party would be quite glad if the £400,000,000 would be spent, but I do not think they would be so glad that it would be outside Parliamentary control. The Conservatives would not be glad to see £400,000,000 of the public money spent, but it would be a certain douceur to see that expenditure removed from Parliamentary control. But at any rate it would be a somewhat revolutionary proposal. The Second Reading of this Bill appears to be perfectly simple. The discussion round the Bill, however, has degenerated into parochialism. The whole thing seems to centre round the rights or vested interests of municipalities. To my mind that, however, is a very minor issue. The real principle in this Bill cuts right to the root of our whole economic structure, and also cuts right to the root of established Parliamentary practice. It is on these grounds that I would ask the House to reject this Bill and not to effect an improvement in the Bill in so far as certain vested and established interests are concerned. To my mind, it is not capable of redemption—I use the word "redemption" advisedly, as distinct from improvement—in Committee. Vicious principles are so worked and woven into the whole structure of this Bill that it ceases to be a Bill if you try to amend it in a manner amounting to redemption.

Certainly a criminal may be improved, but he still remains a criminal. You may make this a better Bill, but I do not see how, after any amendments, it would cease, to be a bad Bill. There are certain matters of consideration that have borne themselves down upon us during the last two years since the Shannon Electrification Act was passed. I am sure some of them at least have entered into the calculations of the Minister himself. I will deal with them as briefly as I can. When the Shannon Bill was being considered I am sure we all had an open mind, and the Minister said he had an open mind, as to the methods of distribution. I have not looked up my comments on that occasion, but I certainly felt puzzled as to how the distribution was to be carried out. I rather anticipated that the county councils would be called upon, in some cases at least, to carry out this work of taking the supply in bulk from some central body. I hoped that private enterprise might come in. But I have great difficulty in seeing how private enterprise could not come in with an over-riding Board which would impose conditions and make rates with the inevitable popular clamour against the making of profits. However, as time went on and as the matter received the consideration of the Government, and perhaps it has been considered in all its aspects, we are, faced at last with the proposition that the best method is the method proposed, and that is to trust the generation of electricity to a State Board, or, at all events, to the officials of a Board appointed or controlled by the State, right down even to the lamp of an individual consumer.

Now, the Minister, in arriving, no doubt, at the policy he has put before us, travelled through certain countries. He went to Canada, and I have no doubt that he discovered in Canada that Niagara loomed very large in Canadian politics. A book entitled "Niagara in Politics," by Professor Mavor, a professor in some university in Canada, has been published. It is not a very illuminating book, nor is it a very well documented book, nor is it supported by satisfactory figures. It deals largely with generalities, but it at least shows that Niagara is a very contentious matter in Canadian politics when a professor takes the trouble to write a book and to quote the particular discussions that have taken place around this question.

The Minister further discovered in Canada that rural electrification has made comparatively little progress there. Senators may remember that one of the great benefits we were to get from the Shannon scheme was that we were to have electricity in the countryside, and that it was to be used to relieve the drudgery in the lives of the small farmers and the housewives, and that it was to bring about that better civilisation that electricity is supposed to bring about. Senators all know that rural electrification in Canada is subsidised to the extent of fifty per cent. of the capital charge from a State grant, and yet with that subsidy electricity in Canada cannot be made an economic proposition. Senators will further discover, as the Minister has probably no doubt discovered, that in Canada there is the closest possible co-operation between the municipalities and the Hydro-Electrical Commission, which would practically correspond to the proposed board to be set up under this Act. The municipalities there pay the charges of the Hydro-Electrical Commission in thirteen monthly instalments, twelve being on an agreed figure and the thirteenth being brought in to clear up any deficit on the annual working.

The Minister may not have discovered, or he may argue that I am wrong in stating that the Hydro-Electrical Commission is not paying its sinking fund, and that to the extent of 19,000,000 dollars it has drawn upon the resources of the State. My authority for that is an article, number 2820, in the publications of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Smithsonian Institution is an institution of very considerable merit, to whose publications considerable responsibility attaches. These are the figures given in that report. They are made up partly of the subsidy, to rural electrification and partly, of the alleged failure of the Hydro-Electrical Commission to discharge the sinking fund, which it should discharge in order to be free to redeem its capital charges on the appointed day. In Sweden, where I believe the Minister also visited, I have no doubt he has found that while there is in one portion something corresponding to State control, in Southern Sweden there is also a large enterprise of a private company which deals with a considerable portion of the generation and distribution of electricity in that State; but there is nothing at all to correspond to the entire taking over and absorption by the omnipotent State Board which he proposes to establish, with control of all the electricity undertakings in the country.

In all these discussions, certainly in the discussion in the Dáil on the Shannon scheme, the Minister always took refuge behind the experts' report. He occasionally came out behind the ramparts that the experts provided. When one put a point which one wanted to be answered it was a case of "I am standing on these European experts' report. You may be right, I do not propose to go into it; the experts said ‘this is our opinion,' and that is enough for me." Now we cannot stand on these experts, however eminent their reputation. We have to apply our own judgment to the facts. I am going to give you one or two figures which at least should cause apprehension in your minds as to whether the optimistic forecasts of the contractors and the experts are likely to be justified. All I can say is that we are entitled to an answer to the questions we put. If the answer is satisfactory, most naturally we can change our views. One very important factor in cheap electricity is the capital cost of installation. The next test applied is the maximum cost per k.w. at the power house. When you go beyond the power house and bring in the distribution costs, the figure you get is variable, because it will cost more where the country is sparsely populated than where the population is more dense. The costs I will give the House are the costs per k.w. of installation in the various countries. I have these costs on the authority of a very eminent consulting engineer. I have given them for what they are worth, and if they are not accurate they can be challenged by the array of experts behind the Minister.

In Canada seventy hydro-plants generating a maximum capacity of 746,000 horse-power costs £10.6 per kilowatt installed. These are pre-war figures. In Sweden 338 hydro-plants generating 695,000 horse-power cost £8.73 per kilowatt installed. The higher cost in the smaller plants goes as high as £20 per k.w. and in the larger plants this cost went down to £5 per k.w. In Scotland the estimates of the Waterpower Resources Committee pre-war was £18.6 per k.w. The Shannon scheme, on the figures I have got from the Siemens' Report, will cost £47 per k.w. installed compared with £10 pre-war in Canada and £8 pre-war in Sweden. I am further advised that the engineers do not add more than £25 on the pre-war figure. I am prepared to double that, and yet even at this figure the Shannon is much dearer in capital costs. Obviously, it would be dearer, because it is a river with a small fall which is harnessed at great cost in an artificial canal ten miles long, whereas in Canada you have got those natural falls, and in Sweden you have got those mountain rivers which can be harnessed very cheaply. That is a fact you have to bear in mind when we meet with the extraordinary cheap charges in those countries, where the harnessing of power is a comparatively cheap operation. Now I want to give some figures as to the cost of transmission. At one time of its existence the Hydro-Electrical Commission in Canada confined itself to buying current in bulk from the company that generated it at Niagara and in selling it in bulk to the municipalities. It did no more. It made no profits. It simply bought in bulk and sold in bulk. And these are the figures: For 121 miles transmission from Niagara to the Municipality of Stratford, something corresponding to the distance between Dublin and Limerick, the cost at Niagara was a unit of nine dollars per k.w. It was increased by the transmission costs of another nine dollars on the way, and it became 18 dollars when it arrived at Stratford. The transmission costs in the case of Windsor, a municipality 237 miles from Niagara, was increased to 29 dollars by the transmission costs. And yet we are told in the case of the Shannon that the cost of 42 of a penny at the power house in Limerick is only going to be .53 of a penny in Dublin and .84 of a penny at the lower tension net works further afield.

That wants to be answered. There may be a very good answer, but I have not been able to discover it. The authority for these figures is Mr. Kensit, who is a member of the staff of the Hydro-Electrical Commission. They were published in the "Electrical Times" on January 2nd, 1919. There is one small technical matter I would like to mention, and that is with regard to these masts which we see being put up. Anybody with a knowledge of the atmospherics of the country is aware that it is not a sound practice to bury iron masts in the ground in this damp climate. Having regard to the adverse trade balance, I think it would be better to have the people engaged in making these in reinforced concrete. That would cost a little more in the first instance, but it would give employment to local labour, and more local material would be used. Even the cost of painting these structures is likely to be substantial. With regard to the estimate for costs, the Minister, I venture to suggest, knows more than he is prepared to, or is justified, perhaps, in telling us, but it is, I think, unfortunate to have on three occasions rather disquieting utterances with regard to the cost. On the 28th of last month the Minister for the third time—and apparently there must be something behind it— referred to the possibility of coming to the Dáil, as of course he would have to, if he required it, for more money for the Shannon scheme. This is from the official report of the Dáil debates of the 28th April: "I have indicated that I am going to come to the Dáil as soon as I think it is necessary to reveal to them if there is to be an increase."

Why is it necessary to say that if there is not some apprehension? How does that apprehension square with binding estimates? I remember the long argument we had about binding estimates, how we were assured that the contractor was working on binding estimates, and how binding estimates could not possibly give rise to any increase. I think everyone knows now that there are no such things as binding estimates, but there may be schedules and quantities which are binding. I think we have reason to complain that we have been kept so much in the dark about contract terms in the whole of these details. As Parliament provides the money it should be treated more frankly in this whole matter. I come to the estimates of profits and losses for this scheme. They have puzzled me, but the annual charges are going to come to about £517,000 on the partial scheme when in operation. That includes 15 per cent. to cover interest on the charges during the non-productive period. On several occasions it has been said that, roughly speaking, half the load will come from Dublin and the townships, and the other half from the towns and villages in the country. The quantity of consumption looked for to make the scheme productive is 110,000,000 k.w. The figure that has been frequently stated—the Minister may say it is not correct—is .534 of 1d. for Dublin. That is the figure on which all this battle is fought of the bulk supply in Dublin. If you take that 110,000,000 k.w., that comes to 123,000, and for the country 8d. has been stated. I am not so sure of this, but there again the Minister can challenge me. .8 has been stated, and on the basis of 123,000 that would give a total of £306,000 of revenue, leaving a deficit of £211,000. It is such a large deficit I presume the figures are too small and that they cannot be correct.

Possibly the figures given in Messrs. Siemens details are more correct, but here again we never received any information from the Government. We are guessing all the time as to the possible cost to the consumer. Supposing we take certain figures given by Siemens, on page 159, we get 2.27 for towns, and 2.8 for villages, and 3.38 for the country. I mention these figures as bearing upon those promises of cheap electricity. Possibly at .8 the Shannon scheme would be cheaper, or a good case might be made to show that it would cheapen local generation, but when you come to .53 for the country you get a totally different proposition. You are up against a claim made by local engineers that local generation can be done as cheaply as generation in a giant station and transmission. I am not prepared to say which school is right, but both schools are equally firm in their claims. Consulting engineers say with regard to steel and iron plants that the efficiency of these plants has so improved that there is no increase in cost on pre-war costs. The only possible way the matter can be tested is by competition. Let the localities, if they wish, instal steam plants, or oil plants, and let them be tried out against this hydro-plant of the Shannon scheme. In that way, and that way alone, can it be proved which is right, and can you really give the consumers the benefit of modern technique and management.

The Minister described how during his grand tour he had taken great pains to discover by listening to all that was said to him the best method of distribution, and it was only after a considerable time that he decided to reject the entrepreneur, the capitalist, the private enterprise man, because he said they go where the loads are good, they would not bother about rural electrification, and they would skim the cream of the enterprise. I ask the Minister to say whether he is going to go anywhere else than where the load is good, except he does so by State money? If he is going to give the rural consumer the benefit of cheap electricity on the basis of Canada—and I do not think there is any reason to doubt their experience—he will have to subsidise, and the taxpayer will have to pay for that benefit. Those reasons for the rejection of private offers are wholly inadequate. I have no doubt that certain of these facts, and possibly others of which the Minister has learned since 1925, and possibly he knows something we never learned, have all been borne upon him during these two years and made him increasingly anxious.

My reading as to his attitude about the Shannon scheme is: "All hands to the pump"; that if the scheme is to be saved it has to be saved by desperate methods, and these methods are included in this measure. Not the least of these methods is the audacious act of Socialism which is enshrined in this Bill. The proposal regarding the Board is an experiment in State control which, I would suggest is unprecedented in any country. A Board of this kind is removed from Parliamentary criticism, except what might be vouchsafed once a year by a report, and by such figures as the Minister may consider it necessary to give by an auditor appointed jointly by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am not fond of this piece of eclecticism, with pieces drawn from the various methods the Minister has had brought to his notice in other countries, with something of his own added. That is the power to suppress municipalities. I can only resemble the powers of this Board to what goes on in the Conclave of Cardinals when they elect a Pope. The place is walled up, and no one knows what is going on until smoke is seen emerging from a chimney, and then it is known that a ballot has taken place and a Pope has been elected.

Where did you get that inside information?

The Senator will have the opportunity of speaking later on.

We are not electing a Pope here.

I leave myself in the hands of the House. That is what I have read on many occasions takes place when a Pope is being elected. Then, again, even the ordinary precautions for eliminating any favouritism in appointments is very much whittled down in the case of this Board, for it is left permissive to the Board to go to the Civil Service Commissioners. Why should all the patronage be rigidly tied to the Civil Service Commissioners, and be only optional with this Board, which is removed from Parliamentary control, to use the Civil Service Commissioners or not as they like? Parliament is being asked to abrogate its sovereign rights and not to be allowed to ask any questions during the session as to what the Board is doing. The reason put forward for that is lest political pressure might be brought to bear on the policy of the Board. It is true there is the opportunity to criticise the Board at stated periods indicated.

Why it speaks very badly for other bodies under Parliamentary control that they are influenced by Parliamentary pressure in their action. In fact, it is so great an innovation from the orthodox Parliamentary practice that even such a thorough-going Socialist as the leader of the Labour Party in the Dáil found himself unable to vote for this part of the Bill.

What are the objections—may I state them briefly—to any form of State control? First of all, there is the financial objection. Once you place a body of men in an executive position divorced from reality, you invariably get a spirit of lethargy and a lack of initiative. You have only to look at the Ministry of Munitions, with which I had a great deal to do during the war. The keenest men who in their own business were successful, and vigilant, once they got into that atmosphere of having the money provided by the State—not of malice prepense but unconsciously—became lethargic. There was not the real driving power, the fear of the balance sheet or the criticism of shareholders, none of the incentives which made them so alert in other ways. Surely the Minister must have realised the deadening effect of official methods. I do not say that these things can be avoided in official life. Many have done their best to cut them out, but it is impossible. These things are inherent in the system. They are elements that make all Government action what business people would call inefficient.

There is the recent example in the Post Office. The Post Office started to manufacture, and within a year the Auditor and Comptroller-General, in his report, showed that bicycles which originally cost £8 10s., cost £8 2s. to repair. A motor van which cost £10 was broken up for the spare parts, and this operation cost £30. Then the spare parts were found to be no good. I am not blaming the Postmaster-General. That is going on in every country. There is no charge being made against civil servants, and I hope the Minister will not accuse me of making an indictment against the Civil Service. It is inherent in the system. Then you have inevitably the importunity connected with patronage.

Do we all not get letters every day asking us to help people to get this job or that job? That cannot be eliminated from any form of Government control. I am sure it will not be eliminated from this new Board. These circumstances, combined with apprehension about the scheme, have—I say it for what it is worth—driven the Minister to take this extraordinary position, to make sure as far as he can that the scheme is to be carried through on a monopoly basis. Under this Bill there is to be no alternative method of generation. There is to be no test to see if local plants are the best or most economical. Even the municipal undertakings are going to be suppressed, though local generation may be more favourable to consumers than if the current was purchased from the Shannon in bulk. I argue that the Minister's solicitude, which he has advanced for the welfare of the consumer, genuinely, no doubt, is misplaced inasmuch as the consumer's safeguard would come best from rival methods of competition. Try which is the cheapest and let consumers get the benefit.

There is only one way out of this position. I give it for what it is worth. That is, for the Minister to go back to what he originally had in mind. He stated that he had offers from some private people to lease the scheme. Presumably there are some private people who have confidence in the scheme. If they have confidence, at least, they will take it over at a sum to cover capital charges and sinking fund. I would not ask for any profit. I would like all the profit I could get, but I say that, in the interests of the State, it would be better to avoid the gamble and make sure that the capital and sinking fund charges are covered. Let whoever can make what can be made or lose what they like. It is suggested they may profiteer. If you want to get this State to go ahead advertise for profiteers. Profit is the fertilising power which produces wealth and business. Against that we have the doctrine that all profiteers are inimical to the State; that any profit must benefit the person who gets it and no one else. Profits benefit everybody. The workman gets the benefit. The inducement of profits induces other people to make more profit. If you get the profit and loss account for various capitalistic ventures in any country it will be found that there is probably more loss than gain. You see the Rolls Royce of Lord Leverhulme and Lord Iveagh and you take them as examples of capitalists. What about all those who lost everything in experiments, in inventions, in pioneer work? Have they not served the State? The doctrine that you are going to serve the State without the inducement of profits is totally wrong and has been disproved down the ages.

Why place electricity on a pedestal? Probably the whole resources of the State are now mobilised to provide cheap electricity. I do not deny that cheap electricity is a very good thing, but, if we are to examine the thing from the point of view of economic priority would you not say that housing comes a long way first? If the relative methods are assessed, would it not be far better to embark on large loans to provide better housing, or in intensive agricultural education, technical education, demonstrating to our farmers how to increase the primary wealth of the country? If these things were examined as against electricity, would it not be wiser to expand on them? Yet we are mobilising £8,000,000 of our credit for this scheme. That is not the end. Rural electrification will cost more, and we are to consider a scheme of intensive training for electricians of 200 hours, which we are told, will be sufficient to train an unskilled man to wire houses. We need not hurry there, as it will be some time before we will be ready. This is a war measure. It reminds me of 1915 and 1916 when the enemy was at our gates. Valuable as electricity may be in its appropriate place it should not be distorted out of proportion. When the Shannon scheme was under consideration I described it as a profligate proceeding. I have no reason to alter that opinion. I described this scheme as a gamble altogether unfitted for the State. I may be wrong. But I do not think I could do my duty to the House if I did not make that statement.

On a point of order I would like to ask the Minister to explain his Bill. It is the Parliamentary practice that the person who introduces a Bill should explain it. That is the custom in the Dáil. We are thrown important Bills that it is most difficult to understand, yet the Minister sits down and makes no attempt to explain them.


That is not a point of order. I cannot coerce the Minister to rise at a particular moment if the Minister thinks it more convenient not to do so. He is a better judge than I am whether he should reserve his remarks until he hears the other side. I cannot control the Minister.

No one has proposed the Bill.


The Bill does not require to be proposed. If you look at your Standing Orders you will see that the Second Stage is moved automatically without being proposed or seconded.

If the Minister does not explain the Bill I shall go away.

I understood the Bill was not moved yet, as the House is discussing this motion.


I understood the same.

I second the motion.

I think the mover of this amendment did not expect that it would be taken seriously. It is not a serious amendment, but merely an obstructionist flourish. I think it reveals the mentality of that small group of vested interests that have from the very outset of this project opposed it on principle. If it could be proved beyond yea or nay that the Shannon scheme was going to be a profit-making undertaking the opposition of these interests would be just as implacable as it is to-day. In fact, I believe it would be more so. The same people would say—in their own minds of course—if there is to be a profit made out of public needs why not allow it to be reaped by private enterprise? One would imagine that even an elementary sense of patriotism would have inspired the opposition to the scheme, now that it has been embarked on irrevocably, to do what is reasonable to try to make it a success, seeing that it is a great national commitment, or, at all events, to refrain from acts calculated to bring discredit upon it and possibly wreck it. The sincerity of the opposition is suspect because of the fact that by an extraordinary coincidence the same people who opposed the scheme on certain grounds at the outset are now opposing the scheme with equal ferocity on other grounds.

On these benches we have none but feelings of dismal and distressful associations as far as the constructional work is concerned. If the Minister knew in advance, as he must have known, that he was going to inaugurate a scheme for the institution of Coolie conditions of employment, I think, in the national interests, and in the interests of humanity, he should have thought twice before embarking on it. The scheme, from the beginning, has been disgraced and besmirched by the shameful treatment of the native human element whose toil was necessary in order to bring it into being.

Whatever its success or its failure, Irish workers can only regard it in somewhat the same way as Irish political prisoners of a few generations ago must have regarded those grand highways which as political convicts they constructed in the penal settlements in the antipodes. The Minister shamefully exploited the necessities of hungry men with starving families, and those who are now shouting loudest about confiscation, brazenly and enthusiastically endorsed his action by speech and vote. Confiscation of elementary human rights nakedly and unashamedly was applauded. The alleged confiscation of property which does not involve a moment's suffering to a single citizen in the State, has caused certain worthy patriots to tear their hair as to what the country is coming to. With four honourable exceptions, the whole of the non-Labour Senators present in the House when the debate on labour conditions was on in December, 1925, voted in favour of the exploitation of human misery which the Minister stood up to defend. Is it any wonder, therefore, that these crocodile tears which we see shed in the interests of the ratepayers, moryah, must only be regarded by us as the tears of those who can only see disaster in any attempt on the part of the State to exploit the national resources in the national interest and not for private gain?

In spite of our bitter experience, we and the Labour organisation do not wish to torpedo the project at this stage. It is good in itself. Its ostensible object is highly meritorious; its possibilities for the future development of the State can be great and far-reaching. We do not consider it is good business or good statesmanship to attempt to condemn a good scheme merely because it has fallen into undesirable hands temporarily. We do thoroughly resent the treatment meted out to our people, and we do deplore the fact that the task has not been entrusted to a Minister with a higher conception of elementary human needs. The Bill is undoubtedly bad and defective in many respects, but not in those aspects of it that have aroused the greatest noise within the past few weeks. It requires drastic amendment, and failing amendment in certain respects, we shall have to consider our vote on the Final Stage of the measure.

Irish workers have heavily subsidised this scheme by their sweat and blood. In proportion to the numbers engaged, the toll of human life on the Shannon scheme is absolutely appalling. Undoubtedly human life, the life of workers, is rated by the Minister as very cheap and is evidently treated accordingly, but fatal casualties have occurred at such an alarming rate in recent months that I think the Minister must, in the interests of public safety and in the interests of humanity, institute an immediate inquiry into the alleged safety regulations at these works. German generals were never sparing of the lives of their common soldiers. German contractors may not feel that the lives of a few score workers one way or another matter very much. In any case, if it were good policy to subsidise a scheme at the expense of labour, and if that policy were enthusiastically endorsed by a big majority of this and of the other House, then I think the same people cannot consistently complain if other sections of the community are asked to make some sacrifices also seeing that these alleged sacrifices mean no suffering to any single citizen. We do not want to have sacrifices shamefully extracted from a couple of thousand workers, compelled to live in miserable surroundings and to do the most arduous and disagreeable work under convict discipline at 32/- a week. We do not want that sacrifice to have been made in vain. It is time that somebody else put a little into the pool that so far has only been subscribed to by Labour.

A great deal of noise has been made regarding the taking over of municipal undertakings without the payment of compensation. It is stated that the taking over of these undertakings is for the purpose of subsidising the supply of electricity in districts that have no generating stations or no electricity supply at the present time. I think Section 59 of the Bill guards against any such danger as that if it means what it says. It says in subsection (1):—

"The Board, in making scales fixing the methods of charge and the rates of charge for electricity supplied to consumers shall not include in any scale applicable to such consumers any charge in respect of charges for distribution in any other area."

Each area will, I take it, stand on its own, and that should of necessity mean that the consumers in those districts that have an electricity supply at the present time shall not be made to pay for electricity supplies given to other areas.

It was very disappointing that the Minister was not able to give an immediate assurance that the price of electricity in these areas would not be lower than it is at the present time. In my opinion this is a consideration and the only justification for taking over these municipal electrical undertakings without compensation. If it is not cheaper than it is now, notwithstanding the fact that the cost of the generating station will not have to be borne, and notwithstanding the fact that electricity in bulk will be turned out more cheaply on the Shannon than it has been turned out in Dublin, then the Minister must have given an absolutely erroneous impression to the House during the passage of the 1925 Act. I think it is time that he should be frank with the House and explain whether he was mistaken then or whether he has been misled by the experts. His present attitude would seem to indicate that if Dublin had, say, to erect its own cables and its distributing machinery at the present time, and take its supply from the Shannon, the cost of electricity would be greater to Dublin consumers than it is at the present time. If that is the case it is an amazing position in view of the bright prospects that were held out to us when the original Bill was under discussion.

The Board has been criticised, and rightly criticised. It is an extraordinary cross between a private monopoly and a great department of State. The money has to be provided by the State. The whole work of construction has been really a State transaction. The Board is appointed by the Executive Council, arbitrary powers are vested in it, and yet the Oireachtas has no control whatever. It has all the advantages of a great State department with arbitrary powers and yet has none of the inconvenience of public criticism of its policy or administration. It is given a stranglehold on the principal source of light and power for the whole community. It is allowed to take over all the municipal undertakings, to suppress the production of electricity by any other authority, and yet the Oireachtas has not even power to discuss its balance sheets although it has to supply the money. The Executive Council may dismiss a member of the Board, but is not responsible to the Oireachtas for its action in so dismissing him.

One had to smile at Senator Sir John Keane denouncing the suggestion that the municipalities should have taken away from them control over the electricity supplies that they have at present. One heard no protest from Senator Sir John Keane or his colleagues when Commissioners were appointed arbitrarily by another Minister to take over the whole affairs of Dublin, Cork, and elsewhere, to administer them without let or hindrance, without criticism or control from the citizens over whom they were placed. He cannot denounce the proposal in the Bill in that respect and support the appointment of autocratic Commissioners without any public responsibility. Fancy what would be the position if the Great Southern Railways, which have a monopoly of a limited kind, were given the powers that this Board is being given, even to the extent that they have got a monopoly. There is very close control over rates and fares. There is a Rates Tribunal which controls the rates and fares. They are hemmed in by a whole series of regulations apart from the fact that there are various methods by which traffic, on which they exist, can be tapped by competitors.

In Section 34, provision is made that certain rules and regulations made by the Board shall be laid on the Tables of both Houses, and each House has a right to annul these rules and regulations; but the farcical part of it is that there is nobody in the House to explain these rules and regulations, to explain their nature and effect to the House that is supposed to be in a position intelligently to deal with these rules of which they know very little. This is bringing contempt on the procedure of the House and making it a laughingstock. Members of the Board and its employees, even to the man who puts up posters advising people to use electricity, are prohibited from being candidates for the Oireachtas. In other words, they are treated as civil servants in that respect, while treated as non-civil servants in all other respects. Employees may not even be recruited by competitive examination, even the clerical employees, although it was thought necessary and advisable to compel local authorities to recruit their employees by competitive examination. It was thought equally necessary to compel the Great Southern Railways to recruit their clerical staff by competitive examination.

Section 74 compels a local authority which is an authorised undertaker to have its electricity accounts kept separately and audited in the same manner as its other accounts are audited. If that is good for local authorities, I think the same principle should be adopted as far as the Board is concerned. The Auditor-General should audit the accounts of the Board. The State is providing a huge amount of money. An absolute monopoly of the only real source of light and power is vested in the Board. It controls to that extent the economic and commercial activities of the country and yet the Auditor-General is debarred from examining these accounts and seeing that the moneys advanced by the State are spent for the purposes for which they were advanced. We find that in Section 88, where an arbitrator is necessary, that arbitrator shall be appointed by the Minister, but the Minister is an interested party in all disputes arising under this Bill on questions of compensation.

It seems to me an absolutely immoral proposition to say that he shall be the person who shall appoint the arbitrator to give decisions in relation to disputes. Why not the Chief Justice, as in the case of the Railways Act and many other similar enactments? I notice according to Section 104 that part of the existing duties of the Commissioners of Public Works may be handed over to the Board, and those will be removed from all criticism when the Estimates are under discussion. If that is the case I would like to know if the State is still to supply the money for the purpose of those duties, because if it is, it should have the right to criticise the manner in which it has been spent. The first schedule deals with compensation.

Paragraph 10 provides that if there is a dispute between the Board and redundant employees of one of the existing concerns and it cannot be settled between them, the employer may appeal to the Minister, who shall act as an arbitrator, and from whose decision there shall be no appeal. That is an absolutely unfair and immoral proposition. The Minister is an interested party in the success of the scheme, and he will desire that as little compensation as possible shall be paid. For him to set himself up as a judge in matters of that kind is grotesque. In view of our experience of his attitude towards compensation, as far as redundant employees are concerned, no sane worker, redundant under this scheme, would think of accepting the Minister as an impartial judge. There is no provision in the scheme for the payment of wages. There is no fair wages clause, although it is inserted in ordinary practice. Public contracts have a fair wages clause to govern the rights of the workers. The Minister has resisted it in the present Bill. Evidently he desires that the Board should perpetuate the barbarous conditions with which he launched the scheme. Certainly if his influence is to be felt either as Minister, chairman or a member of the Board, the outlook for Labour is going to be black. The terms are not going to stop the tide of emigration to any extent, except so far as the unfortunate and incompetent are concerned.

Nevertheless, with all its faults, we think the Bill is capable of amendment and that the House should address itself to the purpose. We believe the scheme has gone so far that there is no drawing back, and that it is to the interest of all parties to try and make it a success, but if we are going to give over this great monopoly there must be that Parliamentary control which Senator Sir John Keane advocated, and there must be some safeguard to the consumers of electricity, whether of light or power. We should see that this Board is not going to be a sort of juggernaut that will impose its will on the community without leaving the people some sort of redress. I shall vote for the Second Reading, in the hope that on the Committee Stage we will be able to pass those amendments which are essential in the public interest.

I should like to make some remarks about the invitations which have been recently issued to the Seanad to act in a certain way. Two Dublin newspapers asked the Seanad to throw out the Shannon Bill. One paper published a letter by a gentleman called "Omega Squared," who told us to scrap our losses before they had occurred. Another gentleman called "Apex" writes——


Is it worth your while criticising these?

We then have Captain Redmond, who asks us to join his mustard club.


Are we not quite competent to determine these things for ourselves?

I shall confine, myself to Sir John Keane. Even if I had not read the papers his speech alone would have made me vote for the Second Reading. He made great play with a book written by Mayor, called "Niagara in Politics." I read some of that book last night. It deals with the hydro-electric scheme in Ontario and shows how this scheme, by corrupt influence, finally began to dominate the whole of Ontario. Commissions were set up to inquire into certain of the proceedings, and men were found belonging to the company who actually converted public funds to their own use. Apart from the exposure of corruption, the one thing he did not tell us was the point of contrast. The touchstone for the failure of the hydro-electric power company of Ontario was the success, on the other side of the Falls, of the American hydro-electric plant. The case of what occurred on the American hydro-electric plant confirmed the facts of the Professor who wrote the book, and we are not inexperienced of professors in politics. I could not find out his politics. That might be owing to the confusion that arises in one's mind from reading a highly technical book. When that scheme was exposed, as an extraordinary example of corruption and perverted power, at least misdirected influence, it did not occur to Senator Sir John Keane to give the Minister credit for having provided against such happenings here by separating the Board from politics. The Board, to my mind, is in the same position as that of the Dublin Commissioners, who are only responsible to the Executive; of their success in the manipulation of the rates I think we all have experience.

I do not pretend for a moment that I am capable of analysing figures like Senator Sir John Keane is, but it requires very little to see that as regards the failure of the scheme on a point of economy there is nothing in the world to prevent it succeeding even on a point of economy by its using the already existing distributing system in Dublin. He said there was to be no possibility of any competition. Surely it is open to the Minister to retain, not the very ancient or antiquated, but the present existing generating stations in Dublin, in order to provide against the amazing fiasco which is supposed to ensue. I believe the Dublin generating station is to supply Waterford before the Shannon scheme comes to Dublin. As regards the contrast between diesel engines and others, all those figures are arrived at and those engines have been running for a few weeks. We have no account of the diesel engine in Pembroke after it had been running for a year. The thing I wish to call the Minister's attention to is the fact that oil, on which those engines are run, is in a worse position than coal. Oil has no price. It depends purely on the arbitrary arrangement of certain combines. Coal is at a definite price. It is £1 a ton to the Tramway and Corporation Companies. It is subject to the chances of labour in England, and the chief advantage the Shannon scheme would represent to anyone in Ireland, in view of the late coal strike, is the assurance that there would be no interruption in the provision of power.

Senator Sir John Keane brings in every stick to arm himself with, and he even brought in what to me seems in the nature of the thing, that is red tape. In every office there is a certain amount of red tape. If we were all efficient, as we would like to be, life would be so short that it would be like being electrocuted by one of the overhead wires. I do not think it is fair to say that the Shannon scheme may be damned by conditions common to every scheme. The detachment of the Board of Control largely provides against that difficulty. I am glad the Board of Control is separated from politics, because a farmer in a distant place where there are only a few farmers might find his current much dearer than one in a place where there were a good deal of voters if there were a good man manipulating the central Board.

Senator Sir John Keane took exception to my remarks on profiteering. This Shannon scheme, which was damned by him before it was born, he now sees might possibly be a means of advantage to profiteers. You cannot have it both ways. Either it is not going to succeed or it is going to provide a profit to those who are distributing. I agree with what Senator O'Farrell said about the provisions about compensation. I think the Minister should meet him half way, because to be judge, jury, gallows and all, is very hard. I suggest that a labourer or anyone else passing by one of those wires—there seems to be an extraordinarily long span of wire— might be injured if there were a fall of snow and the wire and the snow fell together. For a man asking for compensation to be up against a man directly interested is a bad principle. I think the principle should be reconsidered by the Minister and that he should give a detached mediator between the man seeking compensation and the Board.

There is a good deal of discussion in the papers about what they call "social istic action." The chief socialistic action was that the supply of current to the distributing stations in Dublin was supposed to be changed. In other words, the Dublin consumers were asked to pay for the thing over again. I have been a consumer of electricity for twenty years and it would be very hard on me if I were to get a high-priced current in order to pay the overhead charges and distributing charges from new sources. Take a parallel case. For instance, if water comes one day from Lough Dan and not from the Vartry it is the same as when the current comes from the Shannon and not from the English coal at the North Wall. It is merely transferring what is now on the rates to the taxes, and to give that the aspect of "socialistic action" is far beyond the facts. Those people who are constantly asking the Government to be less Mussolini-like elsewhere are the last people who should be lamenting a socialistic tendency in transferring the charges from the taxes on to the rates. It is a surprise that amongst those many invitations of people not very responsible in their attitude to the country, we should have Sir John Keane, who, after all, is a Senator, adding his voice to the voice of those newspapers.

I rise with some diffidence because I am generally considered as an opponent of the Shannon scheme and, also, prejudiced in consequence of my connection with the Liffey. I hope in anything I say to-day I will disabuse the minds of Senators on those points. I have no possible ground for opposing the Second Reading of this Bill. I regret, in many ways, from the point of view of friendship, that I cannot support Senator Sir John Keane in his proposal. I do not think it is a practical proposal. If carried, I think it would kill the Shannon scheme. I do not believe that any independent firm of contractors or company would undertake to develop that scheme on a paying basis. The present Bill is, from my point of view, merely a corollary of the Bill which received the assent of both Houses in 1925. It was, as we remember, received with acclamation practically. The Minister guided it through its intricacies in a marvellously capable manner. I am afraid I used the words of him in things that I have written, that he was a first-class advocate from a German-prepared brief. But I can only say he threw his whole energies in support of it and obtained the almost unanimous support of not only the Seanad, but the Dáil.

The present Bill is essential to the success of the Shannon scheme. Without it there would be no machinery to work that scheme. If you kill this Bill you simply throw back the interest and sinking fund on the very large sum of money which has been spent on the Shannon—£5,200,000—and if you do not give the powers in this Bill you will simply have to pay, until the time of redemption comes, interest and sinking fund on this large capital cost. That is a state of affairs that I do not think anybody in this assembly could even contemplate, and the question is whether the present Bill fulfils what is needed for putting the Shannon scheme on a sound financial basis. I think it should be the endeavour of every member of this assembly to do his best, even if it is necessary to maltreat the Bill, to attain this object—the one object we should have in view—namely, that the Shannon should be worked for all it is worth. My conviction is, after a great deal of careful consideration and examination of the scheme, that we cannot hope for an average price of the Shannon electricity which can compete with our Dublin station. Though it is possible, of course, to agree to supply the current at a lower price from the Shannon, but as soon as you do that, if I am right in my estimate, you must increase the price of the balance supplied in various parts of Ireland. Personally I see no way out of it. From the facts that have been disclosed we learn what is to be charged or what is to be paid for out of the rates on the Shannon.

There is no need for me to enter at the present stage, because it would only tire the Seanad and would give no illumination on my views as to how the cost of the Shannon supply to Dublin is made up. But, generally speaking, I may use these words. I believe it cannot be supplied at a bulk price on the average for the whole country at as low a rate as current is generated in the station at Dublin. There is, as I have always said, power in the Ministry and in Parliament to say: "We will give Dublin current at a lower rate and we will make up the difference from the country or from the general taxation of the country." My own belief is that in the interests of the Shannon it is desirable the Minister should decide on as low a rate as possible for its delivery in bulk and make up the difference out of the general taxation of the country. That is a sound economical proposition.

By that means if you improve, as you can do, and supply your current at a low rate from the various sources, you will be able to relieve the country possibly of a good deal of taxation for maintenance. I am in the habit of taking rather broad views of these things and I believe it is safer to deal with an average price of current as delivered from the Shannon all over the country. We know from the reports given us and from the statement of the Minister the ultimate amount of electricity we may expect from the present Shannon scheme.

Knowing that, and knowing the cost of delivery, you can, by a very simple sum in arithmetic, discover what the average price will be to the community at large. You can distribute this price differently in accordance with what you may call the extra cost of delivery, but if you do that you will raise the price to the country areas to such an extent that electricity will not be taken. That is my belief. You will encourage individual plants for manufacturers, right, left and centre, and we should be all disappointed as a result. My great plea is that we should endeavour by every means in our power to arrive at the maximum output of the Shannon and use it. I should strongly like to see a decision made, and without hesitation, as to the expenditure of more capital on the Shannon scheme proper. I think myself that you can supplement the Shannon scheme once you reach 110 by other and better means that exist by utilising the original Shannon as proposed by the completed scheme. With the views I hold I think we shall have to ask the Minister to modify such clauses as those fixing the rates.

If you take the trouble to look at clause 21 you will find it lays down specific directions to the Board which to my mind, are almost impossible to be fulfilled. It divides the period of the Board's control into two periods. Up to December, 1932, they are instructed to endeavour to promote the use of electricity by every means in their power. That, I believe, can only be done by keeping down the costs. Once you pass the 31st December, 1932, a mandamus comes on and the Board are required to fix the rates so that they will cover all expenses, and when you come to discover what those expenses are you begin to find that the cost of current will be very high.

That clause 59, to which Senator O'Farrell referred, if put in force in favour of Dublin, will inevitably result in very high rates for other places. I sincerely hope the Minister will be able to see his way to modify this clause, because I can scarcely imagine that any man of independent thought and rectitude could undertake to act on that Board with such conditions as that. As regards the Board itself, I do not like it, but I do not see what else you can do. When you come to look into the question of how Ontario deals with it, you find they are at the present moment passing a Bill through their Parliament which forms an attempt almost identical to that proposed by the Minister.

There is to be a Board of three, one of whom, I think, if I remember rightly, is on the Executive Council. I may say, at once, that I received, last Monday, rather to my surprise, a Bill which is at present going through the Parliament in Ontario respecting the hydro-electric power of Ontario. It is of extraordinary interest in view of the problems that we have been discussing here. It is what I may call a Consolidation Bill. In the appendix there are 12 Bills under the name of the Power Commission Act, ranging from 1914 to 1926. These are repealed or portion of them absorbed. That must mean that after those years experience has led the Government of Ontario to introduce this Bill into Parliament to remove difficulties that have arisen and mistakes that have been made, and I think it is a valuable contribution to the discussion of the clauses of the present Bill. I shall not attempt to do anything more than mention the fact that that Bill only received its Third Reading on 27th March this year. I do not know whether it is actually through yet, but by a curious coincidence it came to me on Monday evening from Canada.

Now, there are one or two things that I should like the Seanad to keep in mind when discussing this Bill in Committee. I have a very strong objection to the compulsory expropriation of any property without compensation. Compensation is a measure that can only be determined by arbitration, and in my opinion no property should be expropriated by the State without arbitration to see whether there is value or not. For that reason I strongly object to the proposal to take over the Pigeon House Station without any compensation beyond the outstanding capital.

I may be wrong in some statements I am making, but I am perfectly sure the Minister will set me right. There are one or two other sections that I have taken exception to. One has been mentioned by Senator O'Farrell, and that is transport and navigation, and the drainage interests of the Shannon are transferred to this Board. I can hardly imagine that a Board constituted for the purpose of this Bill would be a competent Board to have any such control. I do not think they would have the capacity. I do not see where they would get the money, and I do not see where there would be any control. That is simply a detail in one of the sections relating to the Board under the Bill. I have only endeavoured to outline the reasons for my support of this Bill. I might have digressed to explain to the Seanad why I have no objection to German engineers because I profited very largely by German engineers in my early days, when I travelled through Germany and learned much of my profession at the principal ports there. In later years I travelled with the Royal Commission on which I spent practically six years as a representative for Ireland. We travelled through Germany in 1907 and saw a great deal of the work of German engineers. We saw many of those machines that are now working on the Shannon scheme digging the Kiel Canal, and one or two others, all showing the capacity of these machines. We have got these machines here now; they are very spectacular and are doing good work, I have no doubt. They catch the eye and are a splendid advertisement.

I think in the present stage of the Bill this is all that is necessary for me to say. I have endeavoured to explain the position I have taken up. I support the Bill. I cannot support the amendment. With goodwill and care, I cannot help thinking that the Bill could be amended in such a way that the Seanad might safely pass it.

I presume that we are on the Second Reading of the Bill and that Senator Sir John Keane's motion is simply a direct negative.


We are dealing with a motion now.

I would like to say something on this motion. The Senator himself said precious little about it. I doubt if he touched on it at all except in a few sentences towards the finish of a fairly long speech. Senators have read that motion. What does that motion mean? That this scheme, promoted and financed by the Government on the authority of an Act passed by the Oireachtas, is to be put on the hazard with a great probability for a reason that nobody in Ireland, having at the same time the capital and experience to use it, would be able to form a syndicate to work it effectively. Accordingly, we would have it go forth and we would be told at once that we promoted this great scheme in order to hand it over to the foreigner. Can anybody doubt for a moment that that would inevitably be the result if this motion were passed?

In his speech Senator Sir John Keane dealt with the lack of Parliamentary control over this Board and condemned this Board. He objected to the powers conferred on it. Having referred to the lack of Parliamentary control, he went on to say in a few sentences afterwards: "Let us consider the number of letters we have asking us to exercise patronage in regard to various things." That is quite true, and I am glad to say that most of those letters, when anybody tries to make them effective, are ineffective by reason of the strong line the Ministers take up, and will not, under any circumstances, give way to political pressure, and exercise patronage in making appointments. If we want to take this matter beyond criticism and beyond the danger of political pressure and political jobbery, this Bill offers the safest way. I say that because the men who will be put on this Board must be men of the highest eminence, great experience, and considerable knowledge, with their reputations at stake. They will hold office terminable at the end of a comparatively small number of years. In the circumstances these men will be absolutely adamant against any external influence that would be liable in any way to thwart the efficiency of the methods which they would think fit to adopt. Senator Sir John Keane went on to refer to the inevitability of loss on this scheme. Surely, that is provided for. Any scheme of this kind, until it reaches a certain stage of development, must lose money. Any undertaking must lose money for the first few months after its inception. A scheme so far-reaching as this, the finish of which must be delayed for a certain number of years, must of necessity lose money. That is provided for in the original Act. The original Act provided £4,600,000 for construction and a contingency fund of £600,000 to provide for such losses as would accrue up to a certain date, at which date it was presumed that 110 million units of electricity would be used in the country. By the time that quantity of electricity would be used the scheme would certainly pay.

But profit and loss are not always quite what they seem. I was associated, for a considerable number of years, with business in Manchester. I was there when the Ship Canal was started, and for a good number of years after that canal was a going concern on paper it lost money. But I know that within twelve months of the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal you could not rent a reasonably decent warehouse in that city. The canal so improved the conditions of trade that even though the canal itself lost, the trade of the community was so much improved that really the community was a gainer by the canal. During a certain number of years for which this £600,000 is set aside to cover losses which will occur, I believe myself that on the balance the entire community will gain, although that gain cannot be shown on the balance sheet or the trading figures of this organisation.

I want to make another comment with regard to this Board, which has very great powers. I want to say, first of all, that when I read the Bill in the first instance I was prepared to oppose it. It was the nature of the opposition to the Bill which compelled me to look into it very closely. I followed the debates in the Dáil, and I looked into the matter again. The powers conferred on this Board are very drastic and very wide. But, except it is necessary, these powers will not be exercised. Senator Sir John Keane knows, and so do I, that when a company is preparing its Articles of Association they take powers to do practically everything. I am a member of a small trading concern, where we have taken powers to construct railways, build ships, erect and such things as that. Those who prepare those Articles of Association take very wide powers. Naturally if, as I assume, there will be an opportunity for some traders to take advantage of the enormous rush for electrical implements and fittings and so on, and if advantage is taken of that rush by profiteers, it is only right and fair that this Board should be able to step in and do such things themselves, so as to put a curb on the cupidity of those traders to profiteer under the conditions for which this Bill would otherwise give an opportunity.

I followed very closely the Minister's explanation as to how he intends to deal with the municipalities. I must say that I am fairly well satisfied with his explanation. I am perfectly satisfied with the way he intends to deal with the various authorised undertakers, that is the undertakers who have got some legislative sanction. The small unauthorised undertakers, those who supply a small local area at some risk and enterprise, are still in the air. I would like the Bill to be strengthened in a way that would secure that when these undertakings are to be taken over as going concerns after six or twelve months, the compensation allowed would be liberal. I will not say a generous view should be taken when dealing with such men as that, particularly if no profits have accrued, though potential future profits should in some degree be taken into consideration in fixing the small compensation to be given to them.

As regards State and municipal trading, I am not going to get into any paroxysm of anger as between one and the other. I consider the position of the Dublin ratepayer and the position of the Dublin user of electricity is in no way prejudiced by the substitution of this Board for the present Commissioners or the members of the old Dublin Corporation. If this measure is socialism, it is an extraordinary thing that, I suppose, the most enlightened professor of socialism in the Free State has voted against it.

I do not agree with Senator O'Farrell with regard to the substitution of the Auditor-General for an auditor or an accountant in this matter. If you bring in the Auditor-General, very useful as is his function in dealing with public accounts and bringing to light some indiscretion or lack of care in expenditure of public money, you immediately bring in Parliamentary control, and put the members of this Board in a position of subservience, which does not tend to efficiency, and efficiency is the only thing that will make the scheme a success. Having listened to Senator O'Farrell's speech, I can only say that if my duty compelled me to make such a speech I would vote honestly against the Bill. I cannot understand the Senator making such a speech and supporting the Bill. If the discussions of this question are entered into in the tone and temper in which Senator Sir John Griffith's speech was couched, the Bill will emerge a more useful measure.

Like Senator Dowdall, I was in some doubt as to whether we were discussing Senator Sir John Keane's motion or the Second Reading, but it amounts to this, that it is the Second Reading that is before us.


You cannot discuss one without the other.

As I understand it, Senator Sir John Keane's motion is that the Second Reading of this Bill be postponed until it is ascertained whether it would be a better proposition to lease the Shannon undertaking. I listened very carefully to his speech, but I did not hear him give any reason which would satisfy me that such a procedure should be adopted. The controversy which has raged around this Bill since its introduction by the Government is of such a character as to compel any public representative who ventures to make any remarks on the Bill, and still more if he intends to vote on it, to give the most careful attention to its provisions. Since the Government came into office, many, if not all, of their legislative proposals have been criticised severely, and sometimes very severely, but I doubt if any legislative proposal by the present Government has been subjected to such a fire of criticism as the Electricity (Supply) Bill. That in itself is a reason why the House should give the most careful attention to the provisions of the Bill, and carefully weigh its pros and cons before giving a vote. After all that criticism, although outside the House, has come from people occupying very responsible positions, and from newspapers which claim, and properly so sometimes, to guide and educate public opinion. Therefore, I think it is incumbent upon us in every case, and particularly in the present instance, to give careful consideration to legislative proposals. I have endeavoured to do that, not from an expert point of view, but with the aid of such commonsense as I may have, and I cannot help thinking that no grounds have yet been put forward by anybody that would justify this House in refusing a Second Reading to the measure, and certainly no grounds which would justify this House in what is popularly known as holding up the measure.

I am very powerfully fortified in that conclusion by the speech we had the privilege to listen to from Senator Sir John Griffith. He has told us that this Bill is a necessary consequence of the Shannon scheme. A statement of that kind coming from a Senator enjoying a professional experience such as his certainly is, to my mind, a very convincing reason in influencing one's attitude when it comes to voting. The Shannon scheme, which, of course, is not under discussion now, was reviewed from every point of view both inside and outside the Oireachtas, and, rightly or wrongly, the scheme received the sanction of Parliament. It behoves every Irishman to do his best to make it a success. When, therefore, the Government and the Minister responsible for this Bill tell us that they think it is an absolutely necessary sequence to the Shannon scheme, and when that opinion is supported by so eminent a professional authority as Senator Sir John Griffith, I will not take the responsibility of voting against this Bill. I cannot help thinking that a great deal of the criticism this measure has provoked has been, unintentionally no doubt, ill-founded, and due perhaps to the fact that some of the people who indulge in that criticism had not such opportunities as others enjoy of examining the measure in detail. This Bill does nothing more and nothing less than to set up a Board for the generation and distribution of electric fluid which will be generated by the Shannon scheme. I know there are many matters of detail which may require serious consideration when we are in Committee, but, broadly speaking, that is the object of the Bill. It is only another way of saying that the object of the Bill is to make the Shannon scheme a success. Like other members of the House, I naturally viewed the provisions of the Bill, so far as they affect Dublin, with I will not say suspicion, but certainly with some anxiety, when an undertaking which has been in operation in Dublin for many years is imperilled by its proposed absorption, but when we come to consider that aspect of the Bill, we find that it does not necessarily mean the Dublin undertaking will be acquired. The section relating to that is permissive, and perhaps when the Board is in existence it will be found that in the best interests of the scheme as a whole it may be better to leave the Dublin situation as it is. It seems to me, and, as I said before, I speak without expert knowledge, that, having regard to the vastness of the scheme, it is likely when the Board get to work it will find plenty of scope for its activities in establishing generating stations in different parts of the country that are not already catered for by authorised schemes.

We are all naturally proud of the Dublin electricity undertaking. We are all familiar with its history. Like most undertakings of the kind, it did not pay at first, but as time went on, and its operations were extended, it began to pay, and is now paying very well. I do not think anyone will suggest, even those responsible for the working of the scheme, that its limits have been reached in the matter of distribution. I cannot help thinking that the Dublin scheme, and in that I include the schemes in the county areas, such as Rathgar and Pembroke, could extend operations. If they saw their way to join hands and engage in a joint undertaking it might be for the benefit of the undertakers themselves and the consumers generally. Will anybody tell me that this country can compare with any country in Europe in the matter of electrical generation? If one travels, say, from the North of Italy to the coast of Boulogne, you see electricity schemes in operation from your carriage window all the way. I travelled the other day on a journey of that kind, and it is true to say that the whole way I saw those steel tressels carrying electric fluid overhead, and lighting not only every city and town, but every hamlet and village through which we passed. I cannot see at this time of day why Ireland cannot emulate the example of countries, not more happily circumstanced than ourselves, in the matter of electrical development. As I have said, the section dealing with the absorption of local undertakings is permissive, and I take it that if the Board, or the Minister, find that they are doing everything that the Board could do, why take them over? It is not at all certain that any change will be made at present. I hope when he comes to deal with the measure in his speech the Minister will give us some comforting assurance on that point. I am afraid almost to say this, in view of the expression of opinion, when Senator Doctor Gogarty ventured to refer to criticism made outside the House on this measure; that these critics, even if outside critics, are entitled to consideration by us, and attention should be paid to these critics, or newspapers, occupying the positions they do. Suggestions have been thrown out as to the way in which the House should deal with the Bill.

I do not intend to dwell on that beyond saying this—and perhaps coming from so junior a mem-of the House as myself it may be presumption on my part to say it—I respectfully suggest to these people that this House will, I am sure, always consider any Bill or measure that comes before it on its merits and free from anything like political bias or prejudiced feeling, and that we will endeavour to give every measure, whether it be one of this kind or any other measure, that consideration which a deliberative assembly would be expected to give. I remember in another arena, with which, perhaps, you, sir were more familiar than I, that signals were given from one House to the other in certain circumstances, but in Ireland, apparently, people are not content with giving signals in a discreet way but actually appear to give orders to this House. As a junior and humble member, I resent that, and I am sure that the House will give to this measure, and every other measure that comes before it, dispassionate consideration. I intend to support the Second Reading of the Bill and I trust that when we come to the Committee Stage we will get an opportunity of making improvements in matters of detail.

My observations in regard to this Bill will be very brief. I listened with great attention to Senator Sir John Keane's arraignment of the Bill and of the electricity scheme as a whole. I was much struck by his attitude towards the Board. He said that a Board of this nature was unprecedented. Following on that I tried to see whether there was not something in his argument. Later on, however. Senator Sir John Griffith reassured me when he said that Ontario, which, after all, is a great source of inspiration in this matter, is going to adopt a Board similar to that provided for in this Bill.

That disposes absolutely of Senator Sir John Keane's tremendous opposition to this Board. All his arguments were, I think, based on the fact that, in his view, this Board could not be competent. All its charges were to be fixed, possibly or probably, in a most inaccurate way and on the most uneconomic basis. After all, the Board is to be appointed by the Minister and the Executive Council may, at any time they like, withdraw any member from it if they are satisfied that the scheme is not working economically. Believing, as I do, that the Minister and the Executive Council are determined to make a success of the scheme, and that they will, after a reasonable period of time, make it a success, I see no alternative to the Board suggested by the Bill.

I welcome the principle and the details for dealing with it. Practically every clause of the Bill deals with the Board or some of its functions. I think that such a Board, as here defined, will eventually do its work well. There is another matter I would like to mention. Senator O'Farrell described the conditions on the Shannon works as being those of coolie labour. The wage may be bad and, in the light of all the conditions, possibly is, but certainly the conditions of the workers there are not so bad as to justify the appellation "coolie labour." Sheds, beds, and locks-up are provided. Teas and dinners are provided at a rate which, I think, will bear favourable comparison with any civil or military canteen in any locality with which I am acquainted. I think it is my duty, after visiting the works, to say that the conditions there are not coolie conditions. I am not going to say anything further on that. There is one point to which I attach a certain amount of apprehension, and that is in regard to unauthorised undertakings. We heard a great deal of talk about unauthorised undertakings, but apparently the opposition has died down. I take it that the unauthorised undertaker has been largely satisfied by the amendments put into the Bill in the Dáil. I certainly am adverse to any appropriation of capital, especially of people who have been earnest workers in the general good in their localities, without reasonable compensation. Such details will, however, be considered in Committee, and I am sure that the House will help in clearing up the matter so as to protect the rights of the individual whether capitalist or labourer. For that reason I think the Bill is deserving of a Second Reading, and I am not going to support the amendment moved by Senator Sir John Keane.

At the outset I desire to say that I approve thoroughly of the principle of this Bill. That principle is that service essential for the community shall be owned and controlled by the State in the interests of the community at large. Under these circumstances I have no option but to support the Bill. There are, however, some matters of detail with which I do not agree, but in Committee I expect that we will be able to get over any objections we may have. On the main principles of the Bill I am in thorough agreement with the Minister. Senator Sir John Keane ought, I think, to be congratulated for being honest in his statement in regard to the Bill. The reason he opposes it is because there is no money in this undertaking for the private speculator. He may shake his head, but if you examine his speech you will find that the sum total of his arguments against the Bill is that there is no money in it for the private speculator. He has been quite honest and he is, therefore, to be congratulated upon his criticism of the Bill.

He has been more honest than other people who are opposing the Bill, who are trying to kill it, and who use subterfuges in their endeavour to arrive at the same position as Senator Sir John Keane. We have had all kinds of reasons given against the Bill by all classes of people, and we have heard all kinds of statements as to why it should not be passed. We have had a number of people talking about the Dublin municipality and the manner in which it is being treated, and how undertakings run by local authorities are to be confiscated. If my memory does not deceive me, quite a number of the people who are now shedding tears over the Dublin municipal undertaking used much the same arguments against it twenty-five years ago when it was started as they are now using against this national undertaking. We have heard speeches made by most important people—some of them important only in their own estimation. Some of them went so far as to issue orders to the Seanad as to what it should do in regard to this Bill. The anxiety of these people in regard to the Dublin municipal undertaking is certainly amusing to me. When we come to examine the position in regard to the Dublin municipality we find exactly who will gain if these people get their way and if compensation is granted. When I was going to school I used to delight in reading tales of Dick Turpin and that other character, Claude Duval. The Minister is a modern Dick Turpin, according to the statements made by some of the critics of the Bill. I must confess that, no matter what the consequence may be, I will have to be an accessory after the fact, because I will have to support the Minister in his confiscation.

The constitution and powers of the Board is a question that has raised a good deal of storm. In the Dáil one Deputy went so far as to move that three members of the Board should have previous experience of an undertaking on somewhat similar lines to this as a qualification. When I read that in the official reports I began to wonder whether I was reading right. The question that occurred to me at the time was this extraordinary thing that when private enterprises, about which we hear so much, are appointing directors in charge of schemes somewhat similar to this, do they always appoint people with previous knowledge? I have in mind the largest electricity undertaking, apart from the Dublin municipal undertaking, in the country. For quite a number of years the chairman of the board controlling that undertaking was a County Dublin market gardener. I do not think he had any previous knowledge of an electricity undertaking. He was a very nice gentleman, and I do not say a word against him. But I think when people claim that men on this Board must have previous expert knowledge they ought to put their own house in order, and when making appointments to their boards they should look for people who have these qualifications. They must be honest. They cannot say: "On this particular Board you must have three men with previous experience," while they do not put such people on their own board. That only goes to show that the arguments used against this scheme have been dishonest, and that the whole opposition has been with a view to killing the scheme because of the fact that it is a State enterprise, to be worked in the interests of the community.

With regard to the question of compensation, I think the arguments that have been used and the demands for compensation to local authorities that have been made are dishonest. They are meant to deceive the people, because if you examine it very carefully you will find that if compensation were paid the position of the people getting the compensation would not be any better. Take the Dublin undertaking, about which a whole storm has been raised. The capital outlay on the Dublin undertaking, we are informed, has been £1,400,000; the amount repaid has been £900,000, and a sum of between £400,000 and £500,000 is still outstanding. As I understand the Bill, under its provisions the Board will accept responsibility for the outstanding amount. But a demand is made that compensation should be paid for the other £900,000 that has been paid off. If that compensation is paid who will get that £900,000? We have not been told that. Are the consumers to get the benefit of it? Are the ratepayers to get the benefit of it? No matter whether you say the ratepayers or the consumers, I say they are the very same people, because every citizen of Dublin City is a consumer of electricity; the public lighting of Dublin takes the largest amount of electricity consumed, and therefore every ratepayer and every citizen is equally entitled to the compensation, and would be entitled to a share of the swag of the £900,000. Supposing it is paid and that it is divided up amongst the consumers or amongst the ratepayers— and both are the same—will they be in any better position?

According to the Bill, for the purpose of distribution, each area will be a self-contained area; electricity will be supplied in bulk to the transformer station of each area, and the price of the current to the consumer will be the price of the current in bulk, delivered at the transformer station, plus the cost of distribution. If the £900,000 is paid in compensation to the Dublin area, if it is a self-contained unit for the purpose of distribution, if current is supplied in bulk, say, at Inchicore, and the Board only arrive at the proper price paid for the cost in bulk, the distribution charges, plus the capital outlay, and they devoted the £900,000 to pay off the Dublin municipality, they will have to charge the Dublin consumer more. So that it appears to me that if compensation is paid you would be giving it with one hand and taking it back with the other. I think that that is a fair argument and that it fairly defines the position. For that reason I think that all this talk about compensation and confiscation is dishonest and is not fair criticism.

Senator Sir John Keane travelled around the world and told us about different schemes in different places. He is afraid of the bogey of State control. I think if Senator Sir John Keane is honest, and if he examines the matter a little more carefully he will agree that State control has certainly succeeded and that the results in other countries are an inducement to this country to adopt the method of State control of essential services. Senator Sir John Keane said something about the time the enemy was at our gates. I suggest to him that the time he spoke about the enemy being at the gates of the country—and when I say the country I mean Great Britain—if the country had to depend on private enterprise the enemy would have got over and through the gates. Private enterprise was used for supplying munitions to the British military in the early stages of the war, but they discovered that private enterprise could not deliver the goods. They did deliver some of the goods at certain figures. They delivered shells at 22/6, but when the national factories were established they produced shells at 12/6. The privately-owned factories produced Lewis guns at £35 each, while the national factories produced them at £14. By the end of the war period Great Britain had been saved, through these national factories, £440,000,000. I suggest that if Mr. Churchill came forward to-morrow with a scheme such as this, and that, allowing for the different circumstances in the two countries it was £400,000,000 he proposed to spend, he could safely say: "Thanks to State enterprise during the war period we saved the £400,000,000 that we are going to put into this electricity undertaking." These are not mere stories, but are statements of fact. I can give you authorities for them; I can give you Mr. Churchill's statements and Mr. Lloyd George's statements. Senator Sir John Keane travelled to Canada. I propose to go to Canada also. The most extraordinary thing was that when Sir John Keane went into Canada he did not refer to one of the things that happened there in recent years, when the greatest railway in the world, the Canadian Pacific Railway, was run into bankruptcy by private enterprise.


The Senator means the Grand Trunk Railway.

Yes, the Grand Trunk. I am sorry I made the mistake. They sent to England, and they asked the manager of the Great Eastern, I think Thornton was his name, to manage it in the interests of the State. He took over control and he ran it for the State. The result was that after a few years he made the concern, which at one time was running at a colossal loss to the proprietors, a huge success, and it is now one of the most successful railways in the world.

Further, the great railway that was run under State control in Canada was not alone a success from the financial point of view, but from the point of view of the country as a whole it rendered great service; the community at large derived great benefit from it. I think that explodes the arguments put forward by Senator Sir John Keane with regard to what he describes as State socialism.

With regard to the Board which is getting responsibility for such a huge undertaking, I think the members of it should be free from what we know as ordinary Parliamentary control. The State is putting a considerable amount of the people's money into this undertaking. We hope that the results of the scheme will be beneficial to the country at large. I think the Board that will be put in control ought not to be subject to the canvassing that a Minister, or a head of a Government Department, is subject to. This should be run as a business concern, and the Board should have a fair trial. Provision is made that if the members of the Board are not able to fill the bill, the Executive Council have power, at any time, to dismiss any, or all, of them. A report will be submitted to the Oireachtas every year, and if any member of either House wishes to raise a question of principle with regard to the management of the undertaking, he will be debarred from doing so. If he will be debarred, I certainly would be in favour of an opportunity being given under certain circumstances so that the actions of the Board, on general questions of principle, could be challenged.

I regret that in the Dáil the Minister did not agree to insert a minimum wage clause in the Bill. We, on these Benches here, will endeavour to have a minimum wage clause inserted in the measure. I think it is a blot on the Bill that such a clause has not already been inserted. In the giving of contracts, either on behalf of the State or local authorities, it is provided that the contractor is bound to comply with what is known as the fair wages clause. If the Government insists on contractors observing the fair wages clause there is no reason why in this Bill there should not be a minimum wage clause that will ensure for the future that the work will be carried out under conditions satisfactory to the employees.

This is a great undertaking, the greatest undertaking that the State has ventured upon. If it is properly administered, and if there is wholehearted co-operation from all sections of the community, it can be made a great success, to the benefit of the people. Some people in the cities may be asked to make a little sacrifice in order to assist the people in the rural areas. I do not think that assistance should be refused. We see the best of our blood and sinew, the best of our young boys and girls, flocking out of the country every day, and we talk a lot about emigration. Here is an opportunity offered in this Bill to brighten the lives of the people in the rural areas; here is an opportunity to provide cheap power for factories in the rural areas, and for the re-establishment of woollen mills and tanneries. When we are asked to make a slight little sacrifice in order to do that, we ought to do it.

There ought to be general co-operation. I hope, so far as we are concerned, there will be no cause for dispute. We are willing to let the past be forgotten. Let there be fair play given in the future. Let there be a general desire, in the interests of every section of the community, to make this national undertaking the success that we all hope it will be.

I would like to ask Senator Sir John Keane if, as a result of the postponement of the Second Reading, no tender was sent in sufficient to cover the interest and sinking fund on the capital cost, what would be the result?

May I answer that, sir?


These questions across the floor of the House are not very regular. I think the answer that you would suggest is fairly obvious.

I presume the Senator will have an opportunity of replying later. It is obvious that any syndicate of business men entertaining that proposal would certainly be influenced by the prospect of profit, and in tendering the minimum amount that is sufficient to cover interest and sinking fund, they would then proceed to add what, in their opinion, they would consider, in such an enterprise and with the risks attached to it, would be a fair profit. That might be anything from 10 to 15 or 20 per cent. in their estimation. The result would be their clients, the consumers of electricity throughout the Saorstát, would be burthened with a figure of 10, 15 or 20 per cent. over and above the cost of interest and sinking fund, and the ordinary running expenses and overhead charges. The Government propose to impose no such profit as that. The principle underlying the Bill is that electrical power and light shall be supplied to consumers in the Free State at the minimum cost without profit, always setting apart certain reserves to cover contingencies, risks and overhead charges.

It is well the Minister should know, if he is not already aware, that the main point of criticism now centres round the formation, the personnel, of the Board and the proposal to take over existing undertakings. In the absence of responsibility to the Oireachtas and because of the independent position in which they are being placed, the only guarantee that the public will have as to the conduct of this very considerable scheme in its administration will be the Board's personnel. In the first place one must consider the integrity of the members so as to render them entirely clear of suspicion. Their integrity will be judged by their past careers, the positions they occupied with, no doubt, great credit to themselves and beneficial results to whoever were associated with them. The public would also require to be assured that amongst the members of the Board there was a certain amount of technical knowledge or skill pertaining to the particular business for which the members were appointed. Above all, the public would require that any members appointed to the Board would be of proven business capacity. In the absence of responsibility to the Oireachtas or to any higher authority, there should certainly be some dominating principles such as I have outlined actuating the mind of the Minister and given effect to by him in respect to the appointments he may make on that Board.

The next matter of criticism is the provision made for taking over existing undertakings, and that is now narrowed down to the plea of the Dublin consumer. It is stated that it would be only equitable that the Dublin consumer should enjoy privileges no less than he enjoys at present; that the prospects of cheaper electricity to him, through the Shannon scheme, should be not less than the prospects that may fairly be anticipated to accrue to him in the future development and evolution of the Pigeon House scheme. That would appear to be a very fair plea. I discussed this particular question with one or two persons interested in the matter and with some of those associated with the Pigeon House scheme. I asked: "Can you outline the prospects to the consumer under the Pigeon House scheme for five, ten, or fifteen years in advance?" At present the consumer is paying a certain amount. Next year there may be a reduction. But in the development of the scheme and in the supply of the further needs of Dublin city, additional capital expenditure will be required. All that must be taken into account. But if, on a reasonable anticipation, the Dublin consumer can be assured that the cost to him under the Shannon scheme will be so much less in two years time and that there will be a further reduction in five years, then I would say that if I were a Dublin consumer I would support the scheme that is now proposed to absorb the scheme under which Dublin consumers are benefiting at present. But the Dublin consumer should certainly be given some assurance that he will not benefit less by his undertaking being merged in the Shannon scheme than he is likely to benefit by remaining as at present. I put these few aspects of the question forward, not by way of criticism but by way of reminding the Minister of the point to which the criticism is now narrowed, so that, in his reply, he may deal with the point. I have no doubt the Minister will effectively reply to this question, because I had the pleasure of hearing him recently in the Engineers' Hall, Dawson Street, Dublin. To every argument that was raised against the Shannon scheme and to every plea put up in respect of the Dublin consumer and the taking over of existing undertakings, the Minister there replied very effectively and convincingly indeed. I have no doubt that, on this occasion, he will reply equally effectively to the point to which I have directed his attention.

Some statements made by Senator Farren might have the effect of misleading Senators when they come to cast their votes, and perhaps the Senator would, therefore, permit me to correct them. The Senator stated that the Canadian Pacific Railway had been a great failure and that the Canadian Government had to bring over some State officials to deal with it in its working. That is not so. The Canadian Pacific Railway always has been and is to-day——


The Senator withdrew that and explained that he made a mistake. He said he intended to refer to the Grand Trunk Railway.

I did not hear that. I merely wanted to correct the statement.


The Senator withdrew the statement altogether.

I have been a consistent supporter from the beginning of the idea of developing the power of the Shannon. I think the Minister will agree that I have never said a word against the principles of his Bill, although I have, on occasion, criticised some of the methods by which we sought to carry them out. We all objected in the past to the neglect of the British Government to develop the power of the Shannon. There are two possible forms of injury. There is, in the first place, the loss that arises from absolute neglect to do anything. There is, then, the loss that would arise from spending a large sum of public money in developing the power of the Shannon and then misapplying the power or not applying it in the manner which would give the greatest benefit to the country. I should like, if the Minister would permit me, to move, by way of amendment on Report Stage, an addition to the Bill in the direction of giving more power to the Board it is proposed to set up.


Why keep that amendment for the Report Stage? Why not move it on Committee Stage?

It was to the Committee Stage I intended to refer. There is no question that the manner in which the greatest benefit will accrue to the country is by the establishment of new industries. New industries will not be established here unless certain facilities are afforded them. It is absolutely essential, in order to induce people to come here, to provide them with cheap sites for their factories. These sites must be situate along a navigable river; they must be situate in a place where there is railway communication, and they must be so situate that they will not be subject to the enormous and crushing burden of taxation to which they would be subject if forced into some of the towns. In the city of Limerick at present we have a rate of about 23/3 in the £. In Dublin the charge is very considerable also. It is only by providing sites where factories will not be subject to this heavy load of taxation that we can hope to induce manufacturers to come here. In addition, if people who might be prepared to come here have to make arrangements with a dozen different farmers to get the necessary land it would be a very serious handicap.

If this Board which it is proposed to set up got power to take up this land and then to let it or sell it to people who are prepared to set up factories under suitable conditions, it would be a great inducement. It is essential, to my mind, that such sites should be selected not far from the generating station. I want to give a few figures to demonstrate the practical effect of my contention. A factory would require 500 h.p. at least. If such a factory was situate within, say, three or four miles of the site of the generating station, that amount of power, under the provisions of the Bill, would cost them, working on the basis of an eight-hour day, from £1,000 to £1,500 a year less than if the same factory was placed here in Dublin. That is, that the loss on the transmission of the current would be equivalent to a loss of £1,500 per year. If that factory was running day and night, the loss would be at least £3,000. That is on the very lowest computation, and, on the assumption that the cable was carrying a full load all the time, which is very unlikely. £3,000 per year is a very important consideration to people proposing to start industries, and unless some power is given, which I cannot see in the Bill, to the Board to acquire land and give these facilities, I see very little chance of inducing people to come in. On the other hand, if the power is given, if they can say: "We will give you a site on a navigable river, or on a railway at such a price, with power at such a price," there is hardly any reason to suppose that we cannot induce people to come here, just as people are induced to establish industries elsewhere.

Senator Sir John Keane hardly made what I call a Second Reading speech. It is quite evident, however, that his fear was that when this scheme starts we are going to have a very considerable charge, to cover interest and sinking fund on capital cost, in order to make ends meet. He did not want that charge to be put on the State. He would have liked very much to get some speculative individual, out to make money, who had a great deal of money to spend, to take up that part of the burden and save the State from what he believed, apparently, would be a very heavy expenditure to meet those charges if the current is to be given to the consumers at a paying price. The Seanad will note the agreement there was between Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Sir John Griffith. As far as I could gather, Senator Sir John Griffith did not think that the scheme would be on a paying basis at a cheaper rate than the present Dublin rate— anyhow to Dublin—for a considerable period, that until there was a much greater consumption of electricity in the Free State, and until the load would be so steady that the price could be reduced, there would be a very considerable time during which the State would have to provide money to make ends meet. I think when we come to consider this Bill that these are the two points of view we ought to keep very seriously before us, because if we do not try to minimise this loss and to get the scheme on as sound a financial basis as possible, the loss to the State, which the people will have to pay, will be very considerable. To make the scheme succeed there must be cheap electricity, and if to produce cheap electricity from the scheme the State has to pay a part of the bill, then the State comes to be the real owner of the scheme, and the loss will fall on the State. Some Senators apparently objected to a speculator, or an individual who thinks he can make money out of the scheme, coming in and making money out of it by exploiting the price. Let us suppose, however—I think Senator Sir John Griffith said it—that there is no individual who would come in to take over this scheme, because no individual at present can see a profit in it, given a selling price anything like what the State probably expects to get, and which, if it is to be a success for the State, consumers must get their current at. That seems to me a strange coincidence between the two Senators who have spoken seriously upon the point of what it is going to cost the State to complete this scheme. We are all in it, and none of us has the slightest idea of drawing back from the scheme. I think we are going to pass the Second Reading, but we ought undoubtedly seriously to consider what we are going to do when we have passed the Second Reading, because anyone who listened to the speeches made here can see that in the opinion of every Senator who spoke there are certain sections in the Bill that require very serious consideration, and a good many of them very considerable alteration. The Dublin part of the scheme is one of them. Senator Brady seemed to think it was possible that the Dublin undertaking might not be taken over. When the Minister replies I think he will find that it is certain that the Dublin undertaking must be taken over if the Shannon scheme is to be a success.

Dublin must take the supply.

That is a different thing.

That is what I mean —that the Dublin undertaking, as it exists at present, cannot be left outside the scheme to supply the Dublin consumers as it is doing now.

Neither can Cork or Galway—the same applies to every town in the country.

Quite right. Senator Brady thought that the Dublin undertaking would be left as it is. I am pointing out that Dublin must be included in the scheme—must take its supply from the Shannon scheme—and, therefore, any undertaking existing at present, whether in Dublin or any other city, cannot be left out of the scheme. The scheme would not work unless they are all included. That is my reading of the Bill.

What I meant to convey was that Dublin might have to take the electricity supply in bulk, but that it would still be left to carry on the distribution.

That is not what I understood.

That is what I meant to convey.

Then the Senator meant that Dublin will take its supply in bulk from the Shannon scheme and that the distribution will be carried on by the Dublin authorities. I thought he meant that Dublin was to be left out of the scheme. Dublin must be included—they must all be included. Therefore we have got a very serious state of affairs to consider. How we are going to consider it before this House adjourns for the general election I do not know. I really believe that if this Bill is to get the consideration which it needs, if Senators are to study it, frame their amendments carefully, and debate the amendments as they ought to be debated, it will take far more time than it is possible to give to it within the next three weeks. Probably the Minister would tell us what time we have got to consider the Bill. It appears to me to be far too serious a thing to risk the loss to the State, if this absolutely necessary Bill is not put into proper shape before passing the two Houses. It seems to me a very grave risk to take—far too great a risk to put it through in the time available. I really think that the question of the time which the House has got to consider the Bill is by far the most important thing we have before us. If the Minister could give us some idea of the time likely to be available to discuss the serious questions involved in the Bill, that would be one of the most important things he could deal with.

Senator Jameson's deductions lead me to make a few remarks. His statement is more or less based on an interpretation of Senator Sir John Griffith's and Senator Sir John Keane's assumptions that this scheme will entail a definite loss to the State. Senator Sir J. Griffith, for whose opinion I have the very greatest respect, in the course of his speech gave rather faint praise to the whole scheme. He laid it down that there was every likelihood that the cost of electric power to Dublin would be greater under the Shannon scheme than under the existing supply system to Dublin. If that is his opinion and belief, then I would like to see him voting definitely against the Second Reading of this Bill. There are two opinions on this scheme, and inasmuch as there are two definite expert opinions on the scheme it remains for those of us who are laymen with non-expert minds, to come to our own conclusions on this matter. From an examination of the figures which I have made, I have come to the conclusion that there is every possibility that this scheme will be a success. Senator Sir John Keane indulged in an indictment of the whole scheme. He did not confine himself to his own amendment in any respect except, perhaps, in the last few remarks he made. On the one hand, we are preaching the doctrine in this country of facing up to our own difficulties. We preached the doctrine of initiative and of enterprise. Now when the State gives, in my humble opinion, a lead to those of us who are charged, in a way, to guide the destinies of the country, we should face this problem boldly and try to make a success of it. It seems to me that we are approaching the matter as if there was every possibility of loss in regard to this scheme, and we are advertising that fact to the world.

We have reached the position now in which, if we were to pursue the line outlined by Senator Sir John Keane in his amendment, we would have to offer this scheme in its completed form, so far as the constructional work is concerned, to those corporations which are likely to lease it. We are, on the one hand, publishing an advertisement of our possible losses, weaknesses and shortcomings in connection with the scheme. We are advertising all that to the world, and we are offering the scheme to possible corporations that may step in and lease it. I do not think that the suggestion at this hour will bear any analysis. As far as I can gather, the Minister, at the beginning, had three courses open to him. In the first place, he could have set up this scheme and placed it under the control of a Government Department. Those who have made investigations into the manner in which Government Departments have carried out big undertaking in other countries would certainly not care to see a step of that kind taken, because as a rule these undertakings have not been attended with great success when managed or controlled by Government Departments. In the second place, the Minister had the opportunity of handing over the management, control and development of the Shannon scheme to foreign corporations.

I think that the time has come when we should have more faith in our own nationals than think of doing a thing like that. We should have more faith and confidence in the ability of our own people to carry out a scheme of this kind successfully. Those who have travelled the world have seen in other lands great constructional works which stand as monuments to the enterprise and capacity of Irish-born engineers, and I suggest that in this country there should be no lack of faith in the capacity of our people to carry out a great work of this kind. It may be right to have on the Board men who will act in a purely technical capacity, but I suggest that the administrative offices should certainly be confined to nationals. The control should not be left, in any circumstances, to corporations whose centres of gravity are outside this country. We all know that in matters of this kind the tendency at the present time is towards world syndicates, and if we were to offer the Shannon scheme to be leased to corporations we might quite expect that there would be an understanding between them to offer something that would be very small and not commensurate at all with the actual value of the scheme. I think that at the present time we ought to face up to the problem of managing the scheme ourselves. Those who were identified with me in a partial objection to the scheme objected on the basis that the introduction of the scheme was rather premature, but as we are committed to the scheme now, we should face up to it with courage and confidence in ourselves. I may say that I am definitely opposed to Senator Sir John Keane's amendment.

I agree with the last speaker that there has been an advertisement, not merely of this Bill, but of this scheme, of the most damaging kind given by the daily Press, and I must say by this House, to a scheme the prospects of success of which never were brighter than they are at this moment when the figures are examined. I take Senator Jameson's last word: "We are all in this." That is a phrase that has been running around this assembly pretty well since this debate started—that we might as well make the best of a bad job; we are all in it and we are all committed to it. The State is definitely going to lose money; let us see that the loss will be as little as possible. If that pessimism were founded upon any appreciation of figures, I could appear here to meet it, but what was put before us was Senator Sir John Keane's inability to understand arithmetic and Senator Sir John Griffith's very definitely expressed opinion on figures which he has not given us, but which he would have given if he had been invited and may give later—Senator Sir J. Griffith's definitely stated case to which respect must be given, and Senator Sir John Keane, who simply states that he has not been able to understand the experts' arithmetic. It is a mere matter of arithmetic; it is a matter of calculations rather. There are sums of division in it. The whole idea is that simply we must make up our minds that there is going to be a loss. Let us see how little that loss can be made.

I take the other stand: The prospects of success of this scheme never looked brighter, and the situation has eased in favour of the scheme. The scheme was got through this House with two factors a little bit doubtful. One was, what were going to be the costs on the civil engineering side? That was where a great gamble was stated to be in the whole scheme. You might discover rock where you expected to find earth; the material, when excavated, might not form the embankments, and there might have to be all sorts of artificial aids required for these embankments. The costs with regard to the power house itself might go up immensely. On the other hand, it might be said that there was a gamble with regard to the consumption. When the scheme was put through this House, there was an appreciation of the fact that then there was a consumption in this country of about 43 million units. There was a calculation made and stood over here and argued that in about 1929 there was likely to be a consumption of 60 million units, and an appreciation of the fact that to make the scheme pay on the experts' cheap price, there must be sold 110 million units. Therefore, it was necessary to increase the consumption between 1929 and 1932 or 1934 from 60 million units to 110 million units.

What are the conditions to-day on these points? After nearly two years working I can repeat here a phrase that I have repeated three times, and that has caused Senator Keane such apprehension, that I am bound to go to the Dáil for money when I see that further money will be required. I stated clearly and explicitly that I saw no reason for going to the Dáil at this moment for further moneys. That is to say, that after two years of the scheme what we definitely and clearly estimated is proved now to be pretty accurate and precise and we are in the position—I am speaking of the civil engineering side—that the work is likely to be carried out at the cost estimated. That is a very definite easing of the whole situation. We are no longer in the region of estimates. We have hard facts to go on. I do not deny that there may be unanticipated underground troubles which may come along. I say that the borings made in the two years, the whole openings of the canals and the excavations have been so thoroughly investigated that the chances of that happening are negligible.

On the other hand, let us take the consumption. It was thought that we would have 60,000,000 units by 1929 with the normal increase. That was the estimate made in 1924 of the ordinary increase occurring year by year. Looking back on it over two years, we find that the figures have changed in our favour and that the normal increase has advanced beyond what we thought it would. We are faced now with an ordinary natural consumption, arising without any propaganda or educational effort to make the people realise what the Shannon scheme is, of not 60,000,000 but 75,000,000 units. I said that we are to sell 110,000,000 units to make this scheme pay. I want to make a further analysis of that. We are to sell 90,000,000 units for ordinary purposes and 20,000,000 units for heating purposes. Supposing we do not sell any units for heating purposes, we are short about £40,000 per annum on the scheme. That is to say, in setting out to achieve that—let me get into the pessimistic frame of mind of some Senators—we are going to have some loss. We will lose £40,000 by not selling any current for heating. We will have to sell 90,000,000 units for other purposes, and the automatic increase between now and 1929 will bring the 75,000,000 up to 90,000,000 units. Yet, that being the prospect, we are told: "We are all in this and must make the best of a bad job." Senator O'Farrell, even while praising the Bill in certain respects, and while definitely objecting to the amendment, asked where was the "miscalculation or blunder." Never a blunder but certainly miscalculation. The miscalculation was that we looked in 1929 to selling only 60,000,000 units when in fact we would sell 75,000,000 units.

What I meant to convey was that the Minister gave the impression that the cost of electricity in places like Dublin would be very much less than it was, but he is now unable to give any such assurance. I asked him if he was misled by the experts or did he mislead the House.

I am answering that. What is the comparison between the rates under the Shannon scheme and present rates to be based on? Will anyone deny that if the Shannon scheme can supply the number of units I referred to in the experts' figures in bulk the cost figure at Dublin is going to be less than the generating cost at the moment? If that is the case on one item the Shannon scheme is going to show a lessening of cost in Dublin. On every one of the four items that make up the final charge for electricity the Board can give cheaper and better rates—selling appliances at cost, wiring houses at cost, giving cheaper rates for wiring houses, and giving a bulk supply less than what the generating cost here could be and it is the cheapest in the country. On the distribution side where is the possibility of increase? The same network will be there. Are the engineers working in the Dublin station likely to work less efficiently because they are going to work under a specialised Board than under three City Commissioners who cannot know anything about electricity?

Everywhere all over the world consolidation and amalgamation of electrical undertakings are taking place, to the great benefit of consumers. If there was never a Shannon scheme, in time, there probably would be amalgamation between the Dublin, Rathmines and Pembroke undertakings. This would ensure better terms to consumers. If there is added the better load factor obtained all over the country, there is an immediate and decisive benefit to the consumers here. Senator Jameson says that we have a serious state of affairs to consider, and that we have not time to consider it. We have not by any means the same serious state of affairs as in 1925, and we have from now until the general election to consider it. The general election need not be held until the end of September, and as far as I am concerned, speaking here on behalf of the Government, we would prefer to postpone the general election for two months, in order to have the Electricity Supply Bill passed.

I want to put another point which is important. If I do not have the Board to get the information and to do all that I want the Board to do for me under this Bill, I would have to go to the other House to look for a sum of £100,000, to expend on officials who would have to do for me certain things which I will have done by the Board when it is set up. There are certain orders which fall to be placed soon, and for the proper placing of these orders certain calculations are necessary, and certain technical considerations have to be looked into. The Board only can do that. If the orders are not placed in time the Shannon scheme is obstructed, the date of completion is postponed, and a loss will then fall on the State if there is not the consumption we hope for. There is a vital date around about June, I hold, by which the Board must be established if orders are to be placed with proper consideration and attention to everything that must be taken into consideration before these orders can be properly placed.

Senator Jameson founds on another statement of Senator Griffith's the suggestion that no individual can come in to take this scheme over. I am prepared to say in answer to Senator Sir John Keane's amendment that the Executive Council at this moment is not unable to lease the Shannon works. It is quite able to lease the Shannon works on the terms set out in this amendment, but Heaven help the consumer. What would be leased? The power to make profits from electricity consumers. At this moment I am quite confident that out of five corporations looking for the Shannon scheme, four would purchase it on the terms of Senator Sir John Keane's amendment. I do not know what grounds Senator Sir John Griffith has for making his statement, but it is on this statement Senator Jameson founds his suggestion. I will give the answer to that. I do not know what Senator Sir John Keane would say, or what Senator Sir John Griffith or Senator Jameson would say, with regard to protection of the consumer, but I am sure they would insist on maximum rates and definite regulations. That is where one would begin to find the corporations reluctant to come in, just depending on what the maximum rate was to be, and what power of regulation was to be given a Minister or a department of Government over them.

Senator Jameson has also referred to a statement, attributed to me recently, as if it were made by me for the first time, that Dublin must be in the scheme. Cork and Galway must be in the scheme. Every one of the 15 municipal undertakings, of the 15 authorised undertakings, must be in it, and so must the 90 unauthorised undertakings. Why was the Liffey scheme turned down in favour of the Shannon? Because it was recognised that the Liffey would supply the main consumer, Dublin, and that once Dublin was supplied you would not have that consumption in the country to warrant the expenditure on the Shannon. Some people seem to have made up their minds now that there was a surprising discovery recently made—that to get the scheme self-supporting Dublin must come in—when, as a matter of fact, it was clear from the very first day that the Shannon scheme was projected, that Dublin, Cork, Galway and every place consuming electricity at the moment, must be brought in. Senator Farren spoke of an amendment with regard to the Board. I am sure he was not pretending to criticise it. He spoke of a Dáil amendment set down to ensure qualifications for the Board. No such amendment was put down. An amendment was put down the effect of which would have been to limit patronage to two types of people.

Under the amendment I was told that I would have to appoint three members of the Board from those who had experience of electricity supply undertakings, and any others from those who had business experience. I described it as having this effect: that those who moved the amendment in the Dáil were quite sure I was setting out to appoint incompetents. It only limited the class from whom I could draw incompetents. They were to be taken from the Electricity Supply Association or the business community. I do not know whether that amendment was remarkable more for its negative aspect than what was positive in it. I could not, under the amendment, have appointed anybody who had the agricultural interests of the country at heart. I could not have appointed an electrical engineer unless he had previous experience of an electricity supply undertaking in this country. I could not have appointed a financier unless he had business experience. Senator Farren has rightly called attention to the inconsistent methods of those who have spoken in this way. Do they always look for previous experience of particular work in making appointments? I saw quite recently where an insurance company appointed a new director, a young man, quite possibly a very capable man, but one thing certain was that he had no previous knowledge of insurance business. I wonder how many of the directors of the Great Northern Railway had previous experience of railway matters before being put on the Board? Senator Farren has given an example—I do not know how to describe such a man—of a man who ran an undertaking here. There is at the moment a man who is appearing as an expert in electricity matters and he is at the head of a local authority, but he is mainly known in this country as being the very eminent secretary of a cemetery. I do not know how that could be considered a qualification.


Except as an "undertaker."

Except as an "undertaker." His most recent attempt was to bury me before I was quite prepared for burial. Senator O'Farrell has asked, in regard to the annual report, what matters can be raised on it. I could hardly conceive anything relating to the scheme that could not be raised on the annual report.

If there is any doubt about that I would like to have the Senator's viewpoint to find out what the Chairman would rule out on the report of such a Board. Senator Dowdall spoke of the unauthorised undertaking. I admit, as I have already admitted, that the Bill is not precise in regard to the unauthorised undertakings. It is not precise for the reason that one cannot be precise without having accurate details on which to form a judgment. The details are not available because the unauthorised undertakings refused to supply details. They refused to supply them mainly at the request of the Electricity Supply Association. A Deputy in the House attached to the Electricity Supply Association got up to defend the unauthorised undertakers, but if I were mean enough I could have accepted an amendment which would have ruined every unauthorised undertaking in the country without one penny compensation. The unauthorised undertakings will have to be left over for further legislation. One cannot get details at the moment.

The situation is that unauthorised undertakings must be given a permit. That permit cannot be withheld, but they will be subject to the provisions of the Bill as applicable to authorised undertakings. The main thing is that they will be subject to requisitions for information. The necessary information then can be got, and I believe it will be possible to divide the unauthorised undertakings into three classes. One class can be immediately authorised; the second class will consist of those who, perhaps, do not supply a sufficient amount of consumers to warrant interference and who can be left to carry on as they are. There will be a third class which will have to be sub-divided because there will be a variety of people concerned. Nothing can happen to these unauthorised undertakings as the Bill stands, except by agreement amongst themselves. If any undertaking wants to be bought out, it can be bought out and the sale completed. Otherwise the unauthorised undertakings remain over until further legislation is brought in with regard to them.

Senator Brady has spoken of the position with regard to Dublin. He is quite right in what he says with regard to the powers of the Board. The powers are permissive. The Bill simply states that the Board may acquire the Dublin undertakings in certain eventualities. It states specifically that the Board may acquire the Dublin undertaking. I am asked what is my opinion. Again I want to give the warning I gave in the Dáil, that my opinion is almost worthless in this matter. It does not bind the Board hereafter, but what I did say on the First Reading was that I believed that the Board would have sufficient to attend to in the undeveloped areas and the areas served by unauthorised undertakings, to occupy them very fully for the first year or two. I want to add this. At the end of that same speech I said that I was further convinced that from what I observed all over the continent the sooner amalgamation and consolidation of these concerns came about the greater would be the benefit to the public and the sooner the benefit would come to the consumer. I believe if there was not any Shannon scheme within 12 months there would have to be an amalgamation of the three townships with Dublin. I believe the Greater Dublin Commission report in so far as it has made recommendations in regard to electricity——

I do not like to interrupt the Minister, but that was the point I was endeavouring to make, namely, that if there was amalgamation of the three undertakings in Dublin, it might be possible to allow them to continue to distribute, of course taking their supply in bulk from the Shannon scheme.

That may be done. The Board is not compelled to take over, and it would be very unwise to take over. All I say is that the Board must be armed with the fullest powers possible so that if consumption is not brought to a certain height then the Board can intervene. Obviously the Board, having so much on hand, in the early stages will not be inclined to go into an undertaking if that undertaking is efficiently managed and if the consumption is going up. I am asked to give a comforting assurance on this matter to the electrical engineers running the Dublin station or the chairmen of the local authorities. The people I want to bring comfort to and to whom my assurance should be a comfort are the consumers of electricity. I say distinctly and clearly that if the Board find that in the interests of consumers these undertakings should be acquired, the Board will be neglecting its duty if it does not step in and acquire them.

Senator Bennett referred to the compensation for capital expropriated. In the fuss created about municipal undertakings people lose sight of the fact that unauthorised undertakings are being left as they are, with my opinion expressed, if I have anything to do with it hereafter, that compensation must be paid to an unauthorised undertaker refused a permit. I point specially to the clause which deals with the company operating for gain. We say there certain things must be taken into consideration. There may be arbitration or there may be agreement. The arbitrator has to assess the value of the undertaking as a going concern. That boiled down means that there is going to be so many years purchase of profits. I think that is the approved method of buying out people, and certainly it is not a procedure to which the word confiscation can be applied.

Senator O'Farrell referred to a variety of points. One deals rather with the scheme than with the Bill. Nobody deplores more than I do the deaths that have occurred in connection with the scheme. It has been my constant endeavour to see that all precautions are taken and that fatalities are lessened. It is not a very pleasant subject to discuss in any way. It is not a pleasant subject on which to go into details. I may say that the insurance companies who are concerned do not think that the percentage of fatalities is in any way high for a scheme of this sort. One should use a certain amount of discretion, and one should not use strong comments in regard to a matter about which we all feel strongly. If the conditions are properly looked at—and I think every precaution is taken that is possible— one can only deplore that it is not possible always to prevent these accidents. Senator O'Farrell has spoken of the Oireachtas not having power to discuss the balance sheet of the Board. That is one of the things which the Board has to present in its annual report. It is one of the things that the Board will specially attend to. That is definitely stated in the section. The Senator made a comparison with the Great Southern Railways, and said its rates and fares were controlled. Why are they controlled? What is the difference between the Great Southern Railways and the Board I am going to set up? The Great Southern Railways can make profits, whereas this Board can not. They are controlled definitely. If it is necessary in one case to attend to that point there is no necessity for the same kind of control with regard to the type of Board talked of here.

I am rather amused to see the divergence of opinion with regard to the clause dealing with employees that the Local Appointments Commissioners may be used by the Board. Senator O'Farrell thinks that should be made compulsory. The big point is the fact that the then acting leader of the Labour Party, on the Second Reading in the Dáil, asked that this clause should be removed, and stated that a Board of this magnitude could not be trusted to make its own appointments. I do not care what happens to that section. If it is going to apply at all it should apply to the clerical staff. If you are going to make men base their reputation on making the scheme a success you should give them control over servants, the people on whose work their reputation is to depend.

We can discuss the Auditor-General on a particular amendment. I do not intend to refer to him here, and the same thing applies to arbitration. If it is considered that it is immoral that an arbitrator should be appointed by the Minister, who is said to have great interest in the Board, let us find some other way of appointing him. It is immaterial to me so long as the proceedings are carried on as cheaply as possible, because every expense has to be met by the electricity consumers. Senator Sir John Keane has a resolution before us, and he introduced it by a reference to Winston Churchill and £400,000,000. That is, I suppose, in order to give Senator Sir John Keane the feeling that he is addressing an audience adequate enough for the speech he was going to deliver. I am not Winston Churchill and I have nothing to do with £400,000,000. A very moderate estimate is to be discussed here of two and a half millions. There was an addition of £600,000. That was the old sum that was voted. We are dealing with the two and a half million pounds as far as this Bill is concerned. We get Senator Sir John Keane three times making the assertion, only once with a qualification, that this Board is to be entirely outside Parliamentary control. It is not. The Executive Council, who make the appointments, will always be subject to criticism over the appointments, if matters arise which seem to call for the criticism of either House. At any rate, appointments are terminated at particular periods, and further, certain things have to be published and a report has to be presented to both Houses of the Oireachtas annually, and on that report the whole activities of the Board for the previous year can definitely be considered.

It has been suggested that no one is responsible. No; in the sense that no special Minister is to have the Board as part of his Department. Once that is done we get into another region. Senator Sir John Keane, later, objected on the subject of the Board's minuting of evidence. He spoke of large Government Departments, and the minuting of opinions. He quoted this for your attention and then passed on to something else.

I made a speech in the other House on the Second Reading. I referred to the recommendations of Mr. Justice Sankey with regard to coal in England, and quoted from the particular scheme he advocated with regard to the coal mines in England. He specially referred to the fact that there should be no minuting of things from one man to another and no passing of responsibility from one pair of shoulders to another. To achieve that he said the Board should not be composed of civil servants with civil service methods, and that no attempt should be made to bring the Board back to day-to-day questioning and examination of its activities. That is what I set out to achieve here, and if anyone can get me the half-way house of a Minister being responsible where there is not going to be daily and unceasing supervision and questioning of the Board, and can give me better control, then I will see how I will meet it, but I would prefer to stay where I am, with the Board working as far as possible from Parliamentary inquisition, rather than have the other state of things of which Senator Sir John Keane expressed his own abhorrence. I am told that I probably read Mavor with regard to "Niagara in Politics." Yes, and I have read the opposition manual on public ownership, and between the two I say the decision would have to be one way or the other. Mavor not merely does not prove anything, but does not set out to prove anything. It is a record of allegations made against the Ontarian system. He draws no conclusions, but merely sets out to state things. If one takes what Mavor says, a strong defect alleged against the Ontarian system is that the Ontarian system is implicated in politics and always has been. To have Mavor dealing with "Niagara in Politics" quoted seems to me parallel to having the "Anglo-Celt" in Cavan quoted as against the Shannon scheme, of which it is a vehement opponent.

I am asked to speak of rural electrification, and the Senator put in the addition that it was promised. I refrained from making any wild promises with regard to electrification. My scheme was based upon domestic consumption in the towns. I had advice from everyone who dealt in this matter that we could get our load in the towns. I did not say there would not be rural electrification. I have every hope it will come, but that it will come immediately is a different matter. The Senator referred to Canada and went on in his usual way to Sweden. I wish he had directed his attention to Sweden from the point of view of rural electrification. A highly-electrified area exists in Sweden under conditions comparable with Irish conditions, and the same exists outside Copenhagen. At any rate, of the 150,000,000 units delivered at certain parts of the transformer station, eight per cent. is supposed to be occupied by rural electrification, and about half of that is supposed to be taken up by mills, so that really about four per cent. of the 150,000,000 units have to be sold on rural electrification. So that if there is no rural electrification there is to be a complete loss on the Shannon scheme by reason of it.

The Senator quoted a variety of figures with regard to the cost per horse power. He did not say from his figures whether the conditions were comparable to here. We got no details from the figures. The Senator, in a superficial way, gave out a lot of figures, and left us to make our own deductions from them. I am told certain people have made statements as to the system of transmission. I do not care what people say about other countries, with regard to costs that have to be added to transmission. I say experts have given figures which anyone can decide on for himself. From these figures it is shown that electricity generated at .42 can be delivered at the end of the 100 kilo volts' system at .5 of a penny. Why I should be asked to go into this sort of detail I do not know. The figures are there for everyone to see. If there is a calculation which the Senator finds it difficult to make, I can get it done for him by one of the clerks in the office, but I should not be asked to introduce a blackboard and chalk into an assembly of this nature and to do sums. One can understand why there was such a muddle at the Ministry of Munitions, where the Senator himself assisted. I was asked about concrete or iron poles put into the ground under the atmospheric conditions that prevailed. The Senator is not an engineer, and I am not an engineer, but there are engineers looking after this work. I take that as a class of question that would be put to this Board or to the responsible Minister. You would have men like Senator Sir John Keane asking: "Do you realise that iron poles put into the ground would be corrosive, and has that been attended to?" As if the group of engineers specially selected for the purpose would not attend to a matter of that kind. One of the most difficult things to decide is as to the relative prices of concrete, wooden, or steel poles, and it is not determined yet for the whole of the system. It is one of the questions that the Board that will be set up will be asked to give its advice upon.

I am told, in the next place, that the situation now is "All hands to the pump," and that desperate remedies are being adopted. Not so much by me as by Senator Sir John Keane, against the scheme as he sees it; and the Senator's ill-founded pessimism is still more ill-founded in the light of the present figures. There are various journals putting their views forward through this House. Everywhere there has been engendered the idea about failure, and that a blunder has been committed somewhere, and that miscalculations have been made. The net result is that we are forced into a line of action never previously intended. Can anyone say that I misled the House as to distribution? The House cannot complain of that. That raises the whole point whether distribution was to be done nationally or under private enterprise, and my answer was that that point was not being considered and that it would be hereafter determined and embodied in legislation which would be brought before both Houses for approval. Now we have an amendment which asks the Seanad:

"To decline to give the Electricity Supply Bill, 1927, a Second Reading until it is satisfied that the Executive Council is unable to lease the Shannon works at a rent to cover interest and sinking fund on the capital cost."

If I sought to do that at this moment I am pretty confident I could get any one of four corporations to take over the whole scheme on that basis. At least, I should say I could have got them prior to this debate, but let me assume that Senator Sir John Keane is going to take on the task of finding a corporation to lease these works at a rent to cover interest. One knows the usual form of an auctioneer's advertisement of the notice of a sale: He announces premises to be sold on such and such a date and on such and such conditions. However, Sir John Keane's phrase, apparently, would be: "Here is the Shannon Electric Works! Will anybody take them off our hands? We are bound to make a loss; there can be no rural electrification. People have said this in regard to other countries. Figures that experts give after detailed examination are wrong. The whole situation is involved and we will have to spend a great deal more money than it already cost and we ask you to come in and take it off our hands."

The Senator is not likely to get a great many purchasers when he puts the matter in that way. If there is to be any leasing of this, and I believe it could be achieved, I would object to it, because I do not believe it is possible to ensure by statute or public regulation that the consumer would be protected or that the profits of the lessee could be definitely looked up and checked. If one gave over such a plant as this to a corporation working it for profits you would be giving over the ordinary domestic consumer to him to be charged the maximum price, because that would become the ordinary price. You would be handing over to some Board whose position you do not know and composed may be of foreigners the whole tariff policy with regard to electricity in this country. You would be handing over to them the decision on such a grave matter whether or not there will be rural electrification. You would be leaving them to decide which industries were to get cheap power and which not. You would be asking that they should be given power to control the entire undertaking, and that strangers should be put into administrative positions or technical positions on this Board or corporation that you would set up. You would be asking definitely to give over to those people the decisions whether there ever would be electrical industry in this country, so that even if it was possible that this thing should happen I would ask that the Senate should have nothing to do with it.

Senator Sir John Keane's motion was hardly spoken to by anybody. It was seconded by Senator Goodbody. Senator Goodbody has twice appeared as an opponent of this scheme. On the first occasion he delivered a speech which amounted to 32 lines of the Official Report. To-day he did not consent to reveal his reason for seconding Senator Sir John Keane's proposal. Probably it would not bear the light of criticism. I ask the House to be as little affected by the strong silence of Senator Goodbody as they should be by the strong language of Sir John Keane.

As I am one of the few who have not spoken on this motion I would like to ask the Minister a question: Seeing that the amount of money going out of this country for coal amounts to a couple of millions per annum, and as this scheme is likely to reduce that expenditure by half has the Minister any intention of compensating the coal merchants and other people who will be affected?


I shall now put the motion moved by Senator Sir John Keane.

Motion put and negatived.

Order for Second Reading read.

Question—"That this Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
The House adjourned at 7.40 until to-morrow, Friday, at 11 o'clock.