Are these expenses separate from the £600,000 capital sum and the annual grant? Do the expenses in this section refer to the capital sum and the annual grant?
Tourist Traffic Bill, 1938—Committee Stage.
On this section, I wish to say that there is one point in connection with the Tourist Bill to which I would like to draw attention; that is, with reference to the constitution of the Irish Tourist Board. I would like to impress on the Minister the necessity for appointing on this board people with an Irish outlook. It may seem extraordinary that I should suggest that we would want people with an Irish outlook on the board. But, unfortunately, we are aware, to use a modern expression, that there are lots of people who have an inferiority complex in the matter of everything Irish. In the matter of seaside resorts and in all those places where there is an effort being made to have entertainments and attract tourists, we find that the entertainments provided in such places are only imitations of what is done in cross-Channel places such as Blackpool and Llandudno. After all, if English people come here on a holiday they do not want to see the same things they have at home. Visitors would want to see what it is we have in Ireland in the way of native amusements. That outlook would also apply to Continental and American tourists. If we ourselves go to the Continent we would like to see what are the customs of the people there and what their amusements are. Surely in Ireland we have our own native amusements, dances and games. The Minister may say that it is not exactly the function of the tourist board. Yet I think that if we had on the board a number of people with an Irish outlook they would be able to see that something was done in the matter of our Irish amusements— dances and games. I do not suggest that we should confine our amusements to Irish dancing and music, but there is no reason at all why we should not have entertainments of Irish music, dancing and so on, at our holiday resorts. There is no reason why some effort should not be made to see that visitors to this country would be brought into contact with the various feiseanna and oireachteanna held up and down the country, where they would see what is Irish and racy of the soil and be given an idea of what our own traditional amusements were. We have a number of games that have been brought to perfection during the last century. We have our national game of hurling, which is superior to any game in the world. Our game of Gaelic football is inferior to no game played anywhere. There should be an opportunity given to visitors of seeing the finals played in September and also the inter-provincial finals, and games of that kind, which are inferior to none played anywhere. Something on these lines could be done by the tourist board. We want to show visitors to this country that we are a distinctive people and that we have our own traditions and culture. Not alone would these be a great advertisement for the country, but they would also help to keep our people Irish. In addition, these would be a much better attraction for our visitors than anything in the way of slavish imitations that might be offered them.
I also want to ask a few questions about the tourist board. At first I would like to say that I am inclined to agree almost entirely with what Senator Byrne has said, particularly from the point of view that the board selected to run this kind of tourist traffic should be composed of that kind of person who will not fall into the error of thinking that the more we make this country like England and America, the more English and American people we will attract. Senator Byrne's thesis is correct—that is the more we have of national colour the more attractive the country will be to foreign visitors. I think that on the board there certainly should be people who will not fall into that easy error of imagining that by making a place in Ireland like a place in England the English people will come here. That in the end would prove to be not so. In regard to hurling, which has been mentioned by Senator Byrne, I have heard foreign visitors on several occasions express a desire to see that game. They wanted to know where they could see a game of "hurley", as they call it, a game which is very ancient, very distinctive and very good in itself.
Having said so much, I wonder if the Minister could tell us what precisely he has in mind with regard to members of the board? Are they all to be full-time members? I gather from one of the sub-sections that every member of the board is to be paid. If it is intended that every member should be paid, will every member be full time or will the board consist of some full-time members—one or two full-time members—and some part-time members? Could we have any idea as to what type of person, apart from what individual persons, the Minister thinks would be best on the board? For example, are they going to be selected on any kind of regional basis or are they going to be selected to represent particular interests? I think that would be unsound myself. With regard to the question of whether they should be all Irish, I am not quite so sure that they should, because there are certain aspects of the tourist traffic which you might find a non-Irish person understanding better than almost anybody we have here.
With regard to a point raised on the Second Stage, I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister. It was said that the activities of this board would do harm to the Gaeltacht or to Irish-speaking districts. I dissented myself rather strongly from that point of view but, at the same time, I think that the board should certainly have on it a person who understood these districts. I am not advocating by any means now that a person who knew Irish should be appointed on the board merely because he knew Irish. That is a principle with which I do not agree but I think it would be important to have on the board a person who knew Irish and who lived in the Gaeltacht, who understood the point of view of these particular people, who understood the point of view that Senator MacFhionnlaoich put forward on a previous occasion and that, I think, Senator Byrne touched upon to-day. Merely to put on the board a person who knew Irish, but who, for example, lived in Dublin or Cork, is not what I have in mind but a person, otherwise qualified, who lived in the Gaeltacht and understood it. I think that would be not only a safeguard for certain interests for which we have a great regard, but it would also help to give the board a certain direction and it would prevent their falling into the error upon which Senator Byrne has touched. One of the things which the tourist board must get—and I find myself unable to suggest how they would get it—is the viewpoint on the country of the intending visitor. I understand that you have to catch the tourist before he leaves his own country and it is important to know the viewpoint of tourists in their own country before leaving it at all.
I wonder if this board could be put in touch in any way with an advisory board consisting of people who are engaged in the industry? We have had a certain amount of discussion on vocationalism here. I wonder if the Minister has given any thought to the possibility of having an advisory board —not a paid board—which would have power to approach the tourist board and which would consist of representatives of hotel keepers, transport offices, including motor hirers, tourist agents and caterers? This board would have some right to approach the tourist board and find out what they were doing from time to time. I should like to get some information from the Minister as to whether the tourist board is to consist of all full-time members or whether there are to be some part-time members. I should like the Minister also to consider the possibility of putting on the board a person who understands, and who lives actually in, the Gaeltacht area, who might otherwise be competent to help the board in that particular matter and prevent their falling into methods to which, even people like myself who do not subscribe to the view that the Gaeltacht should be treated as a reservation, might object.
I think that the composition of the board is quite the most important question dealt with in the Bill. I think that on the board there should be at any rate a competent administrator and a really valuable advertising agent. These people to my mind are essential. I gathered from the Minister that these two persons will be available to advise the board, but I should like to see them actually on the board. I should like to hear what are the Minister's views on the point.
On the personnel of the board the whole success of the Bill largely depends. I plead for the inclusion on the board of at least one woman. I do not do that through any doctrinaire feminism. I am not a feminist myself; I am a humanist. I believe that men are as good as women —almost, except in departments where women have more experience and for which they have a special capacity. To my mind the work of the board will be largely a matter of toning up our national housekeeping and for this the advice of a competent woman who knows the country, who understands the Gaeltacht and who knows other countries, who knows something about hotels and the management of hotels, would be invaluable. The Minister is a clever, far-seeing man and I am sure that I have only to make the suggestion to him to have it considered.
I should be sorry if the House did anything on this Bill to tie the hands of the Minister. I think he is going to have a very difficult job in resisting all kinds of claims from people with a good national record to be placed on a board of this kind. I regard this business as being every bit as technical as manufacturing sugar, cement or anything else. We have had to bring in foreign technical advisers in the case of many of our new industries. I think the Minister would be wise boldly to face the unpopularity of bringing in a foreign technical adviser as managing director of the board. Personally I should like to see one well-paid—I would not mind if he were a foreigner —hotel expert, a Swiss for instance, as managing director. Then you could have part-time members knowing the country who would be paid a small fee, certainly not more than £200 or £150 a year and a chairman, perhaps, paid not more than £300 a year. Most of the money available for salaries should be put into the salary of the managing director. No doubt there will be a lot of criticism of that proposal, but I feel that is the right way to do it.
I do not know that I can agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon that the Minister is so reasonable that he will accept a suggestion just because it is made. I think it is highly undesirable that he should. I agree with Senator Sir John Keane that there is no use in attempting to tie the hands of the Minister, and I am not at all certain that his hands are not possibly too much tied even by the Bill, although I suppose that is more or less inevitable. I should like to get more definite information on a matter which I consider of very definite importance, and that is the tenure of office of members of the board. If we are to take this section which we are now discussing, that is Section 4, by itself, it would appear that members of the board are to be appointed for a term to be fixed. Now the usual course when persons are appointed as directors for a term is that they know they have a responsibility for that term, but that they may be removed for certain specific reasons, and only for those reasons. If it were to be regarded as practical politics to bring in an expert from outside—I think the idea is good; I think it is quite likely that an Irishman, with that considerable expert knowledge in the hotel or similar business, could be found outside and might be persuaded to come back—I do not think that could be done unless there is some reasonable security of tenure, or unless he is given some rights to make up for his loss if he were removed before the time.
When we look at a later section, which is not strictly before us now, it would seem to contradict the provisions of Section 4, because it would seem that although a person is to be appointed, according to Section 4, for a specific term to be fixed by the Minister, not exceeding five years, the Minister—although I do not think it is very clear—can remove him at any time. I would suggest to the Minister that, if the intention is that he may be removed at any time irrespective of any term of appointment, some special wording will be necessary in Section 4 in order that there should be no doubt in the matter. I think it would be necessary to put in "subject to the provisions of a later section," because as it stands it is contradictory. I would suggest that possibly Section 7 might be modified as well, so that there would be some specific reasons, otherwise the position of every member of the board would be that, if he did not do what the Minister particularly wanted, his judgment being entirely to the contrary, he simply would be removed. If the board is to consist only of part-time persons, or persons who are more or less in the position of directors of a company which is managed by well paid and experienced men, then I do not think that matters very much. If you have people who are there to give advice of a part-time character, and that the main work is done by experienced all-time men, I do not think that would matter very much. If, on the other hand, you want a board that is going to plan a scheme for the development of tourist traffic in this country over a period, the members should not be in the position that if they disagree with the Minister, and do not see their way to do what he particularly wishes, they can be removed.
I am not suggesting that the Minister would exercise his power unreasonably, but I am suggesting that it is not a satisfactory position for a member of the board, and you may have difficulty —particularly if you are going to bring in experienced men from outside—in getting them to take a position of that kind. I think it is right that the Minister should have power to remove, but I think the power should be definite. I do not think it should be an absolute power, without any appeal or without any limitation whatever, as it would seem to be in Section 7, though it would not seem to be so in Section 4. It is impossible to avoid discussing the two together, because they are to some extent related. I expressed my difficulty about this board during the Second Stage of this Bill, and the Minister in replying said that he thought my view generally, judging from what I had said in the past, was that a non-departmental board would be more satisfactory when dealing with a business matter. My difficulty is that this does not seem to me to be either. It is not simply a business matter. The board will have to do a certain amount of work which will be very much like that of a company, although it will have power to make grants. They may be running hotels, and therefore be more or less in an ordinary business capacity. They may be making grants for expenditure, which, I think, would be more definitely the business of a specific department for which a Minister would be definitely responsible, though no doubt acting on advice. Altogether, it is not clear whether they are expected to pay; I think it is reasonably clear that they are not, but some portion of their work is expected at any rate to show no annual loss to the State, though other parts definitely will. Therefore, I do not think you can take this in exactly the same way as a limited company, the managing officers of which have to show a profit or loss, and stand over that profit or loss and explain it. My main point is that I think this matter ought to be cleared up. I should be glad to know more definitely what is the proposed tenure of office of the members of the board.
I should like to appeal to the Minister not to appoint this board until October, for the reasons to which I drew attention on the Second Reading of this Bill. If it is imperative for him to appoint them immediately, I would strongly urge that he should make the appointment on a purely temporary basis, and with the warning that in the case of a European war they would not be called upon to function.
In connection with the appointment of a foreign expert on the board, I am not in agreement with the suggestion at all—not that I do not approve of getting expert advice wherever it can be got, but I cannot see that there is any necessity to appoint such a man on the board. Surely it ought to be possible for the board, if and when it is set up, to get this expert advice by some other method rather than by having permanently on the board a man whose expert advice would only be required once in a while, or certainly would not be required all the time. I am in thorough agreement with the appointment of a man who would be definitely conversant with the conditions in the Gaeltacht areas. I believe that somebody of that type should be on the board. I do not intend to go into the advantages or disadvantages of Senator Mrs. Concannon's proposal. I agree with her that the Minister has sufficient wisdom to avail of any suggestion which may be put up, and also that he is sufficiently reasonable.
I should like to appeal to the Minister not to appoint this board for 12 months, not for the reason put forward by Senator MacDermot— the danger of a European war—but because I do not feel that the time is opportune for the setting up of such a board. Were it not for the Minister who is in charge of the Bill I would have still more grave doubts on the matter, but I do feel that the Minister is acting in good faith. At the same time, I am afraid there is over-enthusiasm in regard to catering for tourists who come here on holidays, while more than half the population of our own country never had a holiday in their lifetime. The class which I represent in this House, that is the agricultural labourer and the small, hard-working farmer, never had a holiday, and until we reach the time when the standard of living of those people can be improved I think we should not be so concerned about this holiday business. After all, there is some truth in what Senator Baxter said, that the ordinary man down the country who sees those people——
The Senator's remarks are not relevant to the section.
In connection with the appointment of the board then, I do hope it will be postponed for 12 months, because I feel that the time is not opportune to put more taxation on a section of the community which has never had a holiday, in order to cater for other people who have holidays. On that point, it is sad to think that we are catering for some undesirable holiday makers. I hope they will not be catered for in future. To give an illustration: On last Saturday I saw in O'Connell Street, Dublin, the capital of our country, some young ladies aping in men's attire and under the influence of drink. This is very frank, but true.
I am sorry, but the Senator is becoming more irrelevant.
Senators may laugh at that, but instead of this country spending £750,000 in order to bring in that type we should spend £1,000,000 to keep them out. At the same time you can go down to the North Wall and see many of the purest and finest boys and girls of the country leaving it. It would be far more important for us to make some provision to keep those people at home.
Before we have any further discussion on the lines of that which we have just heard, perhaps the Minister could give the House some idea as to what kind of board he proposes to set up.
I join in the request made to the Minister with regard to catering for Irish games and pastimes. I think the appointment of the board is the all-important matter in this Bill, because on the members of the board will depend the carrying out of the Minister's intentions. I thoroughly disagree with the last speaker, Senator Tunney, when he said that we should first make provision for giving holidays to those people who never had a holiday, because when I turn to Section 14 I find that that is one of the things for which provision is to be made by the board by the erection of holiday camps. These camps will be chiefly for workers. On that account I appeal to the Minister to consider the appointment of one person on the board who would bear in mind giving to Irish workers a chance of having a real holiday in their own country. I think that any fear Senators may have that the effect of tourists coming into the country would be to undermine the Irish language would be done away with if we make ample provision for giving our own workers holidays. Coiste na bPáistí are doing great work at present by sending young people on holidays to the Gaeltacht. If we could continue that work when these young people have grown up and become the factory workers of the country and through this Bill make it possible for them to take their annual holidays in places with which they have made connections as young people, it would be well worth passing this Bill.
Having supported the principle of the Bill, and having realised that the moment was opportune for its introduction, I am absolutely convinced that the tourist industry, properly exploited and efficiently directed, is definitely a national asset. We have all the elements here, both scenic and sporting, to attract visitors, as well as the charm and other attractions of our people. We have a combination of attractions that perhaps other countries cannot boast of. But we must realise, and those who have been members of the tourist board for years have realised, that we are faced with definite competition from people in other countries. Because of their intellectual direction, because of the control they had of money to facilitate and advance the interest of tourism, they have been in a position to accommodate tourists at a much lower rate than we were here. Am I going outside the section?
There is one very important matter that I think will come within the section and that is the question of the £600,000.
That would be relevant under Section 16. This is Section 4, which deals with the establishment and general powers of the board.
Under the Bill there is contemplated the giving of a grant of £600,000, which will be supplemented by an annual grant of £45,000 per year. I think I should be permitted to deal with that aspect of the matter.
When we come to Section 16 the Senator will be quite relevant, but he is not at the moment.
Then I will be permitted to resume on Section 16?
I thoroughly agree with the suggestion made by Senators as to the propagation of the games of hurling and football. But what I have in mind is that most of the complaints you hear from visitors at seaside places have reference to the lack of amusements and facilities for spending their evenings and nights. Any amusements that exist at present consist of picture houses with very poor pictures and jazz dance halls which are of very little interest to visitors, who probably have all these things at home. Some provision should be made, if it is not already made, by which local bodies in seaside places could be subsidised or assisted in the establishment of halls where entirely Irish entertainments would be provided, such as our various forms of Irish dancing. Such dances as The Walls of Limerick, The Bridge of Athlone and The Siege of Ennis are most picturesque and very pretty.
On a point of order. While I am quite in sympathy with what the Senator is saying, has it any application at all to the section about the constitution of the board?
We will hear the Senator further. He may relate it to the section.
Anyway, whether it is in order or not, I do not think anybody could object to it at this stage. It may not suit everybody's taste, but from the national point of view I hope that the suggestion will not be lost on the Minister.
Senator Hayes referred to the fact that in appointing the members of the board it would be desirable —and I agree with him—that one of the members should come from the Gaeltacht area. By the Gaeltacht area, I presume he means one which will fulfil the dual purpose of a Gaeltacht and tourist area, such as Waterville or Caragh Lake.
I had no intention of confining the Minister to Kerrymen.
With reference to the answer given by Senator Hayes, Kerry is in Ireland, and I only instanced Kerry because there are in it both Gaeltacht and tourist areas.
With regard to the general observations made by Senator Byrne, and supported by other Senators, I can merely say that the matters of importance to which they have referred have not been and will not be overlooked. Senator Hayes inquired about the composition of the board. What is provided for in the Bill is, of course, clear from the wording of the section. I can only tell him now what is my present intention concerning the first board, but he will, of course, bear in mind that circumstances may change, and that some alterations in that intention may result. Taking our experience of similar boards in the past into account, such as the Electricity Supply Board, it will be realised that the method first adopted may not prove in practice the most suitable, and that some alteration of the method may be deemed advisable. The same thing may happen with regard to this board. It is not the intention, apart from the chairman and managing director, that the members will be whole-time. It will be constituted on the same lines as a private undertaking. I regard this particular board as a business undertaking, which requires direction from persons with business experience. The board will be constituted on much the same lines as any ordinary business board.
A number of Senators made suggestions with regard to qualifications which are of value in prospective members of the board, and I will bear in mind what they said. It is not intended that members of the board will be appointed on a regional basis. It is clear that regional considerations cannot be entirely ruled out. It is not intended that members of the board will be representative of other interests.
Senator Douglas raised a question as to the advisability of giving power to the Minister to remove members of the board. There is some point in his remarks when it is considered from the position of a member of the board. It might not be satisfactory to have a member of the board removed at any time by the Minister, but neither would it be satisfactory if a member of the board who was not doing the work, or doing it in such a manner as to bring the whole project into discredit, could not be removed by the Minister. I think the balance remains by giving the Minister power to remove members if there is a good reason. I do not think Senators need be any more afraid that the power given the Minister will be abused than that the power given members of the board will be abused. I think there is as good reason to trust the Minister to act in a responsible manner towards members of the board that he will appoint.
I appreciate the force of Senator MacDermot's suggestion, that the appointment of the board should be delayed. I said before that, at times like the present, it is difficult to decide to what extent work or projects which are considered desirable in normal circumstances should be delayed or stopped, because of the possibility of a war situation arising. If there should be a war, of course, it will kill the project of developing the holiday business in this country for some time, but if there is not a war, the board, if it is going to do useful work, will want to function before October. I think we will have to make our decision in the light of the circumstances existing, bearing in mind the possibility that the project may be temporarily postponed if the circumstances to which the Senator referred arise.
I think Senator Tunney misunderstands the purpose of the Bill. Perhaps if he studied it a bit more carefully he would appreciate that there is no reference in the Bill to catering for tourists from abroad. The purpose of the Bill is to improve holiday facilities here for our own people and, as far as we are to provide facilities for tourists from abroad, it is to be hoped they will be provided.
The Minister did not deal with a point of some importance which I raised. If he looks at Section 4 (4), he will find that if a person is appointed to the board, unless he dies, resigns or becomes disqualified, he cannot be removed. I think it is necessary to put in the words "unless removed by the Minister."
I will look into that.
I am sure the Minister realises that all the power is given to the Minister to appoint the board. Usually in appointing such a board the object is to remove it outside the arena of political control. With all this power that is given, I think it cannot be denied that the Dáil has the right to criticise the Minister with regard to the running of the board.
It is not the intention that the Dáil or the Seanad should be debarred from criticising the administration of the board, to some extent. The Dáil will have the duty of voting the annual amount of the subsidy to the board and, of course, on such a Vote the administration of the board will be open to discussion. When we decided to appoint the board and to give it these functions, and not to have a board constituted of civil servants, it was because greater freedom of action in carrying out these functions would be secured. We realised that Parliamentary control to that extent would be given. The intention, of course, is that the Dáil can stop the whole proceedings by refusing to vote the money and in that way it is in a position to deal with the activities of the board.
I think you are bringing the board very close to the Civil Service position, because the Minister can change, if not dismiss, the members. Of course he can be challenged for appointing one chairman instead of another. My opinion is that in a business concern the less it is drawn into the arena of political discussion the better. I am not saying that I disapprove of that, but I say that this comes closer to the arena of political discussion than other boards that were set up more or less under the Government, but which remain largely free of the Government.
I may mention that on amendment No. 1 on the Order Paper, if it is the intention to challenge a division, the decision will be taken on the Question: "That the section stand part of the Bill."
I move amendment No. 1:
To delete the section.
I hope the House will consider the full implications of the section which the amendment proposes to delete. Under the section, not only are members of the Dáil and Seanad debarred from appointment to the proposed Irish Tourist Board, but anyone appointed to the board is, ipso facto, debarred from being nominated for membership of either House. There is a vocational commission sitting at present, and here is a piece of legislation which prejudices vocational representation in the Oireachtas and which, to that extent, prejudges the findings of the commission. Moreover, the Irish Tourist Association is a nominating body for the purpose of Seanad elections and, in fact, one member of this House, Senator Madden—who, for a number of years, has been closely identified with the development of the tourist industry—was elected as a nominee of the Tourist Association. Is the association in future Seanad elections to be debarred from nominating any of the five persons chosen by the Minister to control the industry—“the Big Five”—who, presumably, will be best fitted to decide the policy of the new board and who would, therefore, provide an ideal panel for representation of the industry in this House? In the Dáil, too, there are Deputies who have given sterling service to the Tourist Association.
So far as I can see, the section has been copied, substantially, from Section 3 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1927. I can find nothing analogous to it in recent legislation, in the Industrial Credit Act, 1933, for example, or the Industrial Alcohol Act, 1934, or the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1936, or the Insurance (Amendment) Act, 1938. The section, therefore, represents a change in Government policy though, in neither House, has the Minister given any explanation of the change. It is obvious that, in the Minister's view, no vital principle is involved, as he stated in the Second Reading debate in the Dáil that, in the event of an amendment being moved to delete the section, he did not think the Government would be found adamant in the matter.
It may be argued that as members of the Dáil will be parties to the voting of moneys to the proposed board, they should be debarred by statute from acting on it, but there is little to be said for that argument. Deputies who are directors of tariff-protected industrial companies can affect, by their votes in the Dáil, the imposition of tariffs affecting their own interests, where the profit motive might operate, as it certainly does not in the case of the tourist board. At least one member of this House is a member of a statutory body analogous to the proposed tourist board and any member of either House could, without legal restriction, become a member of the various boards constituted by virtue of the legislation which I have already cited.
On the other hand, if, contrary to all precedent, the Government are in favour of the principle of the section— which, I suggest, is a false principle, imposing an almost unconstitutional limitation on membership of the Oireachtas—then, instead of singling out the proposed tourist board, the only logical course would be to apply the principle retrospectively to the numerous boards which have been set up by statute. Even then, I feel that the position created by the section should be reversed—that instead of disqualifying individual citizens from being nominated or elected to the Dáil or Seanad, it would be preferable to disqualify Deputies and Senators from appointment to the various statutory boards.
Under the Bill the Minister is free to choose the proposed board and he can, if he so desires, adopt the principle of the section in determining his choice without enshrining the restriction in the Bill and imposing it on his successors. I hope the Minister's attitude towards the amendment will confirm the statement he made in the Second Reading debate in the Dáil.
It seems to me to be a most invidious thing that of all the citizens of this State who may possess the essential qualifications—after a careful examination by the Minister— the ones who are definitely excluded are the men to whom Senator Brennan has referred. There are men in the other House—I do not know if we have any here—whom I have known for the last 16 years. They have given excellent service, consistent voluntary service; they did the spade work, the pioneer work, in this industry; they nursed it in the cradle and looked after it during all the intervening years; they succeeded in bringing it to the position that it occupies to-day, a position of vigour, of strength, of prosperity and of advantage to the community. They know all the ramifications of this industry, the publicity and advertising ends, the hoteliers' business and so forth.
After they gave 18 years' unremunerated toil, year after year, in a room in one of the streets up there in the town, we find that these men, who built up this industry and met with the approval and recognition of the last Administration—so much so, that the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, recognising the effectiveness of the work that had been done by these pioneers, made a present of the magnificent premises which the Tourist Association officials have enjoyed in O'Connell Street—are not now being treated as they should be treated. As regards the attitude of the present Government, or rather the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, I have heard him, at our annual function, indicating in no uncertain manner his opinion of what that organisation has done, appreciating the great work that has been achieved, and applauding the men for their unselfish devotion in the accomplishment of their efforts. He impressed upon us that the time had come, that the moment was opportune for the recognition of the energies and services of these men under the financial terms included in the Bill.
Does it not seem the very essence of irony that, out of all the citizens in this State, under whatever category you may consider them, the one section that would be excluded from consideration in going into the board, for which they have all the essential qualifications, would include the men who were the pioneers of this organisation and brought it to its present state of effectiveness? There is one man particularly before my mind. He is a member of the Dáil. He is the only one who saw this movement in the cradle. I say that he would be a magnificent asset to the board because of the experience he has gained in this organisation. I trust that the Minister will sympathetically consider the amendment submitted by Senator Brennan and, if he does so, he will have served a useful and a beneficial purpose.
I am inclined, like the Senator who has just been speaking, to dislike the principle of this section, but there may be reasons for its having been adopted, reasons which the Minister will presently explain to us. If the Minister were to withdraw the section and make a concession on it, it ought to be borne in mind that there should be some limit to pluralism in salaries and, if a member of the Dáil or Seanad were appointed on this body, it would be reasonable that some allowance should be made in respect to the fact that he is drawing another salary. That is especially so when it is borne in mind that at the time the salaries of the members of the Dáil were raised, quite recently, it was strongly urged by the advocates of that increase that membership of the Dáil was a full-time job and that any member of the Dáil who really did his duty to his constituents had no time to make money at anything else. If that is so, it would appear, on the face of it, that a member of the Dáil would not be a suitable person to become a member of the board, because he could not give proper attention to his duties.
I rise to support the amendment. I think that Senator Brennan, in moving it, has made a very good case, and I would appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment. The only feeling I have in the matter is that I do not want to have the Minister prevented from getting the best possible men that he can get for the board. I want him to have ample room to get the best possible men for the board, and I think that if he does not accept this amendment, and rules out members of the Dáil and Seanad from membership of the board, he will probably put out some very good men indeed. I do not want the Minister to be debarred from getting the best possible services that can be got, and unless he accepts the amendment, I think he will be debarred. I agree with Senator Sir John Keane that this board should be a board, principally, of two men—two principal men— because I think that two men who know their job can always manage their business better than a number of men. I think it would be a very good thing if the Minister would keep that in mind.
I was also very pleased to hear Senator Quirke saying that it was not desirable to go outside for a managing director. I am glad to know that he has come to hold that view, because I remember that, when another Bill was before this House, the Senator did not hold that view. I believe that there are plenty of men who have had experience in this line of business, some of whom, probably, would be across in England at the moment, but who would be very glad to come back here and make a success of this job. I have pleasure, therefore, in supporting this amendment and I hope, with all respect, that the Minister will accept it.
I hope that the amendment will not be passed by the House —at any rate, in its present form. There may be a certain amount in what Senator Brennan said, in proposing the amendment, along the lines that this is a departure from precedent, but, on the whole, I think it would be establishing a good precedent for the future, in connection with a board of this character, to follow the lines laid down in the section. In the first place, I do not think it is any insult, either to the public or members of the Oireachtas, to have a provision of this kind in the Bill. Certainly, it will be admitted that some of the very best men in this country are debarred from becoming members of the Oireachtas by reason of the fact that they are civil servants or for other reasons, and I think that a certain amount of the work of this board will be of a character which is akin, at any rate, to Civil Service work, and that the complete political independence of the members of the board would be, definitely, an advantage. I think that, on the whole, the Minister would be much wiser in retaining, at any rate, the principle of the section. I am inclined to agree, however, with Senator Brennan on one point, and that is that I think the method chosen of enunciating the principle is not good. I think that the provision should be that, if a person who is a member of the board becomes a member of the Oireachtas he automatically ceases to be a member of the board. It does not matter an awful lot, but I think that, from the point of view of Parliament, that is a better way of putting it than providing that a member of the Oireachtas cannot be a member of the board. However, as I say, that is not of any great importance. I am opposing the amendment and, unless much stronger arguments are put forward than we have heard so far, I hope that the Minister will leave, at any rate, the principle contained in this section in the Bill.
Before we go any further with this discussion, Sir, I should like to be allowed to intervene for a few moments in order to make my position clear to members of the Seanad. This point was raised during the course of the discussions on the Bill in the Dáil. I stated the Government's position there, and those Senators who have read the report of the debates in the Dáil, consequently, will be familiar with what I am going to say. I told the Dáil that I was prepared to delete this section, if pressed to do so, but I pointed out that it was not going to make the slightest difference with regard to the matter of the appointment of members of the board. I said that it would make no difference, so long as the reasons which prompted the inclusion of the section remain good, because these reasons would obviously operate when the personnel of the board was being chosen. Therefore, if Senators feel that there is a case for removing the section, and if they so vote, the section will go, but I want them clearly to understand that, so long as this Government is in office, and so long as I have the appointment of the members of the board, a member of the Dáil or Seanad will not be appointed on the board, whether the section is in the Bill or not.
The reasons for the Government's decision in this matter are, I think, easily stated. Taking the more general ground first, we considered that it would become a matter of grave public abuse if members of the Dáil or Seanad were to be appointed in any numbers upon boards of this character established by statute and subsidised out of public funds, and it is because we think that the method of administering public affairs through boards of this kind is likely to develop in the future that we consider it wise to lay down a good precedent now. It is not altogether true to say that we are laying down a precedent in this Bill, because, as Senator Brennan pointed out, a similar section, or certainly a section similar in purpose, was in the Electricity Supply Act. The various boards which were established in the interim period, to which the Senator referred, are on a somewhat different basis. The Industrial Credit Company, the Air Navigation Company, and so on, are all companies established with share capital, and the Government has powers of nomination and so on there by reason of the fact that it owns the shares. In a sense, it is true, it may be said that that is because nobody else would buy them, but under the terms of the Acts regulating these bodies it is open to the Government to dispose of these shares to the public if that is considered good policy, and consequently no similar section appeared in these Acts because, in the course of time, it is possible that these may become private companies and the members of the boards concerned, in that case, would be ordinary citizens with just as much right to sit in the Dáil or in the Seanad as the members of any other boards or private companies. We are not dealing here to-day, however, with the establishment of an ordinary company, but with a statutory board, charged with statutory purposes, and financed almost entirely out of public funds. If this were an isolated incident, if this board were the only one of this character ever to exist, it would not be of very great importance whether we established this principle in relation to it or not. If, however, we believe, as I believe, that the number of such boards is likely to increase, we should recognise now the grave danger of public abuse that exists if the practice of appointing members of the Dáil or Seanad to such boards were to be resorted to on any scale.
There would not be any such danger if the salaries were not duplicated.
I appreciate the Senator's point, but it has been my experience, over a number of years, that where you have a number of members of a board, all carrying equal responsibilities and all discharging the same functions, it is very unwise to have any differentiation in the scale of remuneration given to them or the scale of allowances awarded in respect of expenses. However, it would be possible to meet that point, to some extent, by the means suggested by the Senator, but there are other practical considerations that we should not leave out of account. I referred in the Dáil to the difficulty which might arise when matters regarding the conduct of the affairs of this board were being debated there. In the ordinary course, the Minister is responsible to the Dáil and would have to account to the House if any question were raised concerning the conduct of the affairs of this board. It might be a matter of difficulty and indeed, even, of embarrassment, if on such an occasion there were sitting in the Dáil or the Seanad members of the board, who had a very intimate knowledge of the board's affairs and the relationship between the board and the Department of the Government, who could themselves be questioned in the course of the discussion that would proceed there. There is a further consideration, however. We are proposing here to establish a business board, and consequently it will be a small board. Now, the area under our jurisdiction consists of 26 counties, each of which is, or is capable of being developed into, a district where tourists might visit. This board is going to spend money upon the development of holiday amenities and publicity work, and it is inevitable that there will be a certain amount of local agitation everywhere to have some part of this money spent in each area.
Except the Gaeltacht.
That is where the agitation will be greatest.
I appreciate the Senator's point. We cannot have a representative of every area on the board, and if we have only one or two members of the Dáil or Seanad who come from particular localities they will be expected to get the bulk of the expenditure for their areas, and if they do not they will be blamed and the rest of the country will feel that their interests are being neglected by reason of the fact that certain areas will get certain preferential treatment. I think, therefore, on every ground of policy, it is undesirable that we should have members of the Dáil or Seanad on this board or any similar board. That is the view of the Government. The Government is going to act in accordance with that view. We think it best that we should put down a statutory bar to the appointment of members of the Dáil or Seanad by inserting the section in the Bill. If there is any objection to the section being inserted it can go out, but it will not make any difference in so far as the appointment of members of the board is concerned. My advice to the Seanad is the same as that which I gave to the Dáil: keep the section there; it is the wiser course in the long run.
I entirely agree with the case put forward by the Minister and I hope he will not remove this clause. The position with regard to other analogous cases has been cited as an argument against this clause. I would like to see this clause retained as an argument that unless the statutes creating these other bodies are altered the Government should do with regard to them what they intend to do with regard to this board, and I hope the Government will see that the practice of having members of the Oireachtas on such bodies will be discontinued. This matter could lead to very considerable corruption. You have here paid officers. You have in the Dáil, for instance, a Government Party and an Opposition Party, and a member of the Government Party—who is in the position of having been appointed by the Minister and who can be removed at will by the Minister from this position with its emoluments—might want to vote against the Government. I am not suggesting that that is going to happen, but it is a thing that the public must be reassured could not happen. The Minister can come along and say, "If you do not come into the lobby with us, out you go and you will lose so much a year." On the other hand, the Minister might come over to the Opposition and say to a man, "This is a very vital vote in which the Government's life is in jeopardy. If you come and vote with us there is a good job going as a member of this board." I think the principle enshrined in this Bill is absolutely vital and necessary.
One might argue that it is an undesirable thing that the Minister should have such positions in his gift. I quite agree, and I would argue against that if I had something better to propose. I do not see any better method than that the responsible Minister should have the appointment of the holders of those positions, but once he has that power to appoint and the power to dismiss, then I think the restrictions embodied in this clause should become operative. You cannot prevent the Minister appointing a partisan supporter of his in the country. That might be done, but at least we can see to it that when that partisan supporter in the country has got into that position of greater power for supporting or opposing the Government by being a member of the Oireachtas that he should not be liable to this possible form of corruption.
With regard to the wording of the clause, it seems to me that that is not very happy. "Every member of the board shall, while holding office as such member, be disqualified from being nominated or elected and from sitting or receiving payment as a member of Dáil Eireann or of Seanad Eireann". It seems to me that the order is wrong. The Oireachtas exists; the Minister is going to call this board into being. The first thing the clause should say is, I think, that the Minister shall not have power to appoint to any such board a member of the Oireachtas. It begins the wrong way about. That is the first thing that is going to happen. Chronologically it should be in that form— that the Minister shall not have the right to appoint any member of the Oireachtas. With regard to the arguments about that, if a member of the Oireachtas wants to be a member of the board, I presume he can resign. On the other hand if a member of the board wants to become a member of the Oireachtas he can resign also. I do think the wording ought to be changed to something like this—that the Minister shall not have power to appoint any member of the Oireachtas. The way in which the clause is worded seems to me a slightly ambiguous way of putting it. It does not say here that the Minister may not appoint a member of the Oireachtas. It means that if he appoints a member of the Oireachtas that member cannot sit. I am not quite sure what the legal position is. When you say a member of the Oireachtas cannot sit, does that mean that his seat is automatically vacated? It does seem to me that the proper order would be to say that no man while a member of the board can be nominated for the Dáil or Seanad and that the Minister cannot nominate anybody for appointment on the board who is a member of the Dáil or Seanad. The clause in the Bill seems to advert to a position in which a man is a member of the Dáil or Seanad but cannot receive payment and cannot sit there.
Senator Fitzgerald has referred in his concluding statement to the point I was just going to raise. Judging from the wording of Section 5 there is nothing to prevent the Minister for Industry and Commerce from nominating Senator Fitzgerald or any other member of the Oireachtas as one of the members of the board.
I would not be able to sit in the Seanad or receive emoluments.
There is nothing to prevent the Minister nominating any member of the Dáil or Seanad but that member would have to resign when appointed to the board or a member of the board would have to resign if he became a member of the Dáil or Seanad. That is my reading of it.
I do not see that in the clause. That may be the legal significance of it.
Some Senators have already referred to suitable members of the board being in one House or the other. As far as that section reads, to my mind, there is nothing to prevent any member of the Oireachtas being nominated to the board but he would automatically have to resign his seat in the Dáil or Seanad. I want the Minister to clarify my mind on that question. That is the only point I wish to raise. The wording of the clause would seem to indicate that any member of the existing Dáil or Seanad could be nominated on the board but automatically he would have to resign.
He would have to become an unpaid abstentionist.
This section is copied exactly, I think, with one omission, from the Electricity Supply Act of 1927. I would like to draw the Minister's attention to the omission in the first place and ask him whether it is an omission of intent and what is the principle behind it. The Electricity Supply Act says that every member of the board and every officer and servant of the board shall while holding office be disqualified from being nominated. In Section 5 of this Act, apparently, the intention is that a member of the board cannot be a member of the Dáil or Seanad, but there is no advertence to the officers or servants of the board. Perhaps it was thought the point did not arise, but at any rate when I looked up the relevant section of the Electricity Supply Act, 1927, I discovered that not only are members of the Electricity Supply Board disqualified, but also officers and servants of the board. I wonder whether the Minister intends anything by the omission here or if that point was adverted to.
With regard to the principle, apart from the wording, I entirely agree that a member of the Dáil or Seanad should not be a member of the tourist board or indeed of any such board. The Minister gave special cases for certain boards which may in the end become boards of private companies, but the principle that the people elected to office in the Dáil or Seanad should not be paid members of boards which are disbursing public moneys is, I think, absolutely sound. The Minister gave a number of reasons which could be added to. Dáil members are elected on a regional basis and Seanad members, in spite of all the talk about vocationalism, are elected on a political and very often on a regional basis too, and it would be most unfortunate that they should be members of a tourist board and find themselves subjected to the same kind of pressure as is put upon members of the Dáil in the ordinary way.
With regard to the wording of the section, it struck me that the section is turned the wrong way round. I understand that drafting is a very difficult thing and the Minister may have already taken advice on this matter, but would it not be possible to frame the section in this way, to say that a member of the board upon being nominated for membership of the Dáil or Seanad should vacate his office? That would give a situation in which members of the board if they were nominated for the Dáil or Seanad would cease to be members of the board but it would leave you in a situation, unless you provided for it also, that a member of the present Oireachtas could be nominated to the board.
However, as far as Senator Brennan's amendment is concerned, I am entirely against it. I am in favour of the principle embodied in the section, and I am in favour of going still further and disqualifying, not only members of the board, but officers and servants of the board from being members of the Dáil or Seanad. I hope the Minister will deal with that point, and also with the other point that this section, as drafted, in spite of the fact that it follows the section in the Electricity Supply Act of 1927, does seem to bring in a new disqualification for membership of the Dáil and Seanad. It would be possible, perhaps, to put it the other way round: for example, that of a member of the Seanad, who goes at a Dáil election and becomes a member of the Dáil. When his return to the Dáil is announced to the Cathaoirleach, he automatically ceases to be a member of the Seanad. Perhaps some scheme of that kind could be worked in connection with the tourist board. You would not then have the objection lying that you are really in this Bill providing another disqualification for membership of the Dáil and Seanad. But with the principle, however you word it, that members of the Dáil and Seanad should not be members of the tourist board, I am personally in entire agreement.
I do not feel as strongly as some members do about this section, largely because the principle has been so flagrantly violated up to the present.
The principle, after all, is the influencing by the Government of appointments to boards. This section is more on the letter of the thing, but examine the spirit of the thing for one moment. The Government are able to influence, in fact, I think, they actually have in their gift, the appointment of members to the new insurance board for example. Will the Government give a pledge that this principle which we are debating on this section will be observed in that case?
That is only true of the appointment of the first members of that board.
Will the Minister give a pledge that no member of the Oireachtas will be appointed to that board? A pledge of that kind would help as a test of the sincerity of the Government in this matter. Take the Industrial Credit Company, I cannot remember if there are many members of the Oireachtas on that board, but will the Government give a pledge that no member of the Oireachtas will in future be appointed to the board? Will the Government also give a pledge, as controlling all appointments through the Industrial Credit Company—the Government hold all the capital in that company—that they will make sure that the Industrial Credit Company appoints nobody on the various boards to which it has the power of nomination who is a member of the Oireachtas? If the Government would approach the matter in that spirit, then I would be much more convinced of the sincerity of their intentions as contained in this section.
The principle that is raised in this amendment, I think, goes a little deeper than seems to be generally supposed. The Minister made a good case for having a rule in practice against members of the Dáil and Seanad being appointed members of boards like this, but I do not know that he made a complete case for enshrining that rule in legislation, and in that way binding the hands of all future Governments on this. This is a matter that has become more complex. It has gone a great deal further in recent times in every country, owing to the increased grip of central government machinery over the whole economic life of a country. Under a system of government like ours we are going to be faced with a dilemma that will grow more serious every year that passes.
There is one aspect of the matter that has occurred to me. I think it is a serious aspect of it, especially in a small country like this. Perhaps it will not meet with much sympathy, but, still, I believe it is worth considering, and that is that we have already excluded quite a considerable number of our ablest citizens from membership of the Dáil and Seanad. Members of the Civil Service are automatically excluded and, from what the Minister has said, it is apparently the intention of the Government to go a great deal further with this system of operating various economic businesses under the control, or partly under control, of the Government by means of these boards, composed half of civil servants and half of other people. If that system is going to be extended widely——
I hope not.
It is already much wider than appears from this Bill. There are a good many such boards already in existence. There is no reason on earth why this principle, if it is to be applied to the tourist board, should not be applied to those other boards. In all decency and fair play it should also be applied to boards such as the Industrial Credit Company, the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and others. I am not at all sure, in view of the fact that the Minister has such wide powers of licensing imports into this country and of putting economic advantages into the hands of any one he pleases, that there can be any basis at all for operating a rule like this. An aspect of this that I desire to direct special attention to is that this process of excluding larger and larger numbers of citizens from the power of being members of the Oireachtas is a very serious matter, and one that I am surprised the Labour Party has not taken up before now. I do not believe that the Labour Party approves of the principle that civil servants, for instance, should be entirely excluded, as they are, from participation in the Legislature, but that may be. There is a great deal to be said for that, but if you are going to extend the principle to all sorts of other non-Civil Service boards, whose number it appears is going to grow greater and greater year by year, then I think this is a matter on which the Oireachtas should be extremely jealous: this question of limiting the privileges of citizenship to a greater and greater number of citizens.
I can see quite easily, of course, the dangers of not having some principle like this, but surely it is possible to make a distinction between legislation and practice in that regard. This is an old principle in the British Constitution from which we have inherited a great deal. One of the troubles about our whole Constitution and legislative methods in this country, I believe, is that we tend to tie everything up too much on paper rules and regulations which bind everybody. They have to be continually altered and amended: to be changed by an elaborate process in order to meet changed circumstances. It is because I dislike that principle of narrowing down the rights of citizenship, even though there may be dangers involved on the other side, that I personally would be prepared to vote for Senator Brennan's amendment. In any case, I would ask the Seanad to consider, if we are going to make this a part of the law, why should we not make the same law apply to all these boards of the same character?
It is not as easy to come down on one side or the other of this question as it may appear. We have so mixed up things up to the present that we have certain statutory bodies on which members of the Oireachtas may serve and certain other statutory bodies from which they are debarred, so that it can hardly be said we have enunciated, or carried out, any principle at all in relation to this matter. The line that is being taken here is being taken, according to what the Minister says, for certain reasons which, from his point of view, appear to be good enough. But, as far as I can see, they do not meet the whole case.
A section like this is included in this Bill apparently because the Minister fears that if members of the Oireachtas are put on any of these boards they are going to do something that is not absolutely straight; in other words, they are going to yield to pressure of one kind or another, to do things which they would not do if left to their own free will and conscience. We are to assume, apparently, that there would be some sort of political pressure. If one were not certain that the people whom the Minister is going to nominate would be high-minded individuals and would look upon every action in an impartial and disinterested fashion and would not be influenced by any consideration of political opinion or anything like that, it might be all right. But I put this to the Minister as being my view that, if I had the choice of putting on boards like this members of the Oireachtas or tools of members of the Oireachtas, I would prefer to put the members of the Oireachtas on.
What is going to happen? Quite obviously, the Minister is afraid of the sort of pressure which might be put upon him to nominate to this board members of either this House or the other; but, is he going to rid himself of that other pressure which is going to be put on him and is going to be exercised, to put on nominees of members either of this House or of the other? It is all the same. This board, however—and, I hope, its activities in the future—will be under the microscopic examination of the Dáil and its activities will have to be answered for there by the Minister; and, if there happened to be a member of the board in the House, I do not very well see how he could absent himself on that particular day and why he ought not be able to champion the policy which he had to stand over in the place where the decision was taken. So far as that would apply, either to officials who were going to be appointed by the members of this board or to any particular line of policy which might be pursued—either in the building of new hotels or the reconditioning of seaside resorts or anything like that— I confess that it would seem to me to be sounder and straighter and probably more honest that these people would be able to publicly stand over their activities and policy they pursued, rather than this other sort of thing which is likely to happen.
Unless we had from the Minister a categorical statement here that he was not going to nominate anyone to this board except people completely and absolutely dissociated from political life in this country, no one would believe that he is going to put in anyone but nominees of a political Party. It has happened in the past that quite a number of admirable, efficient people have had their services dispensed with and much less efficient people have replaced them, all on a political basis. I believe that we have been, somehow, running on parallel lines, adopting a sort of principle which is not being carried fully into effect at all. There is a great deal to be said for Senator Tierney's point of view, that, if you go on excluding all sorts of people who are not eligible to represent the people of the country in either House of the Oireachtas, it makes one feel that it is impossible to be an elected representative of the people—or a representative of the people in any sense—and be honest and straight. That is a point of view which ought not to be enunciated or enshrined in legislation. We ought to try to look at this question from another angle.
On the other hand, I think there is a great deal to be said for the point of view of Senator Hayes, which has been elaborated to a certain extent by Senator Keane; but the fact is, that we have been doing neither the one thing nor the other, nor are we going to do either one or the other in this Bill. Apparently, we are not going to have members of the Oireachtas on the board, but we are going to have members of the Oireachtas exercising all their political pressure to have their nominees on the board. There is no doubt about that. If we follow up that line of thought, what do we find? If a particular Deputy or Senator, or groups of Senators or Deputies are able to get a particular individual elected or nominated by the Minister on this board, are not they going to see, so far as they possibly can, that he is going to do just the very thing which the Minister says the Deputy himself might be pressed to do if he were there? All these considerations are present, to my mind, and in circumstances like this it is difficult to take a decision at all, because we have not been consistent with regard to the people who have been put on these boards in the past. I do not know that there was so very much wrong with what was done in the past, but I wonder whether we are going to do anything better by the new line of policy. I have very grave doubts about it. I am afraid that we are going to put men on these boards to do jobs that Deputies or Senators in their capacity as public representatives could not stand over if they were challenged, but they can shirk the responsibility because some of their nominees or tools have been given the job that they could not do.
I am very doubtful about the wisdom of this thing on its merits, but assuming that it is going to receive its merits, I would ask the Minister to say whether he is prepared to apply this condition in future to all appointments that the Government can influence—nominees to boards, either directly or through companies that they control. If the Minister can give that pledge, I am prepared to support the section: otherwise, I will vote for the amendment, as I think the whole principle has been much violated in the past and will continue to be violated unless the Government intends to take action.
I intend to vote against the amendment. I think that the principle enshrined in this section is a step in the right direction, as it blocks up, in my opinion, one avenue of jobbery in the future. That being so, the prevention of Deputies or Senators from holding positions on this board will more or less ensure that the people who are on the board are competent and must realise that they have a job to attend to. I think their being nominated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, brings it within the power of this House and the Dáil to criticise the Minister and the work of the board. Consequently, I am wholeheartedly in favour of this section, and I would be still more in favour of the amendment that is on the Order Paper making all the appointments to the board through the Appointments Commission. I think it would make for efficiency and for the abolition of jobbery and that it would help towards the development of tourist traffic which is so desirable in this country.
Before the Minister rises to reply, I would like to refer him to Section 15 of the Industrial Alcohol Act of 1934 which, I think, to some extent applies to the board which was set up and which was a somewhat similar board to the board to be set up under the Tourist Bill. I think that we ought to endeavour to have a uniform policy with regard to these matters and I feel that where there is not any precedent up to the present that the Tourist Bill should follow upon that particular precedent.
I notice that Senator Foran welcomes it, but the only precedent we have in any section is in Section 3 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1927, which reads:—
Every member of the board and every officer and servant of the board shall while holding office or employed as such member, officer, or servant be disqualified from being nominated or elected and from sitting or receiving payment as a member of Dáil Eireann or of Seanad Eireann.
That is the only precedent which the Minister really has and which this House has, and I wonder if the Minister adopted that precedent rather than create a new precedent in this Bill, whether Senator Foran would give the section the same support as he does to the existing Section 5.
Would the Minister state what remuneration it is proposed the chairman of the board should be given?
That has not yet been decided. I cannot agree with Senator Brennan that there is any similarity between this board and the Advisory Board under the Industrial Alcohol Act. The Advisory Board, under that Act, have no power to do anything themselves. They can only advise the Minister to act on their recommendation, if he thought fit. I am not prepared to give Senator Sir John Keane any pledge whatever. I have stated here the principles on which the Government acted when framing this Bill, and I believe I will follow as consistently as most people. The Senator mentioned the Industrial Credit Company and the new insurance amalgamation company. I appointed the directors of one, and I think the Minister for Finance, the directors of the other, and in no case was a member of the Oireachtas appointed on either board. I think the Senator is going much too far when he suggests that the Industrial Credit Company should not, when appointing a director to represent its interest on some company in which it is financially interested, use for that purpose a member of the Oireachtas. I think that is expanding the principle too widely altogether, and I would not agree with the Senator in that at all.
I limit the principle to boards which are established by statute, which are financed out of public funds and in respect of which there is the same amount of direct responsibility for the discharge of the statutory functions given to them by the Oireachtas, as this board has; but I agree that, except in very exceptional circumstances, it is undesirable to have members of the Oireachtas functioning upon these boards in relation to which the Government has complete, or some, responsibility; but exceptional circumstances have arisen. I can think of only one case where a member of the Oireachtas is acting on a board in connection with which I have any function. In that particular case the member was appointed before he was elected to the Oireachtas He was particularly useful upon the board, and I left him there deliberately, because I felt that, in any event, no difficulty was likely to arise for the period during which the joint responsibility was likely to continue.
The form of the section is one that caused me some concern. The question of the form was raised in the Dáil also, and I again consulted the law advisers of the Government. They have advised me that to achieve absolutely what is desired, that is, to provide that in no circumstances will a member of the Dáil or Seanad be a member of this board at the same time, this form is required. It is undoubtedly possible to achieve it in another form, by a more elaborate section, but they, from a Constitutional point of view, see no objection to the section as it stands. The omission of reference to officers and servants was not deliberate in the sense that it was not that we took the section from the Electricity Supply Act, and changed it for some deliberate purpose, but that we instructed the Parliamentary draftsman to provide a section which would debar members of the board from being members of the Dáil or Seanad. I think the same principle would apply to officers of this board. I do not know that it is essential to provide a statutory barrier as in the case of the Electricity Supply Board, which is a larger undertaking, with a greater number of employees, but if there is any Senator who thinks we should have a statutory barrier there, I have no objection to inserting it.
I move amendment No. 2:—
In sub-section (2), lines 11 and 12, to delete the words "by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance" and substitute therefor the words "by the board with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance."
The appointment of the board's officers by the Minister represents, I think, another departure from established practice. Hitherto, the auditors of such bodies have been appointed by boards or organisations set up by statute, subject only to the approval of the Minister, and, in some cases, perhaps, of the Minister and the Minister for Finance. If the change now proposed is justified, it must be because the system which has been in operation in the case of other boards has proved unsatisfactory, because the new method has some particular advantage, or because there are some peculiar circumstances about the working of the tourist board which do not apply to the other cases. I think the House is entitled to know the reasons which influenced the Minister's decision to frame the section in its present form. I feel that if the Minister intends to leave all other appointments to the board, there is no logical ground for his retaining power to appoint the auditors, particularly when the previous practice will allow him to veto any appointment made or any nomination sent to him by the proposed board. There is actually a double veto because the amendment provides that the auditors be appointed by the board, subject to the sanction of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.
I think that if the board can be trusted to do the right thing in a number of other matters, it can be trusted to do the right thing in this important matter of the choice of suitable auditors. Those of us who have to consider the question of the appointment of auditors, who have ample experience of this country, know the importance of the appointment of practical auditors to assist the work of boards or organisations such as that proposed to be set up here. Only comparatively recently, we had here a measure arising out of the amalgamation of life assurance business. The Minister for Finance holds all the shares of the company, with voting rights, but Sections 13 and 16 of the Act allow the company to elect auditors, subject only to the Minister's veto. I suggest that the position would be amply safeguarded by giving the right, which is inherent in every board I am aware of, to elect the auditors, particularly as it is to be subject to the veto of the Minister and of the Minister for Finance.
I do not think that the position was properly enunciated by the last Senator. Boards do not appoint auditors. Shareholders appoint auditors, and one of the things always safeguarded——
Might I point out that I did not say that boards appoint the auditors? I said that they nominated auditors. I think that boards do so nominate auditors, because, so far as my knowledge of the country goes, auditors are there, even before an issue is made, or the shareholders are actually there. Subscribers to the articles of association are aware that the company nominates the auditor.
The auditors are appointed at a general meeting of the company. But leaving aside the principle of commercial analogy, I would prefer to have nothing to say to the appointment of auditors by nomination or otherwise. I do not think that the words "with the consent of the Minister for Finance" are a safeguard.
I do not think that Senator Brennan has correctly stated the precedent. It is true that in certain public companies in which the Minister is authorised to invest public funds, the corresponding section provides for the appointment. In a board of this kind which is not the board of a company the auditors have been appointed by the appropriate Minister. We follow that precedent in this case. In the case of this board it is intended to go a step further than is usual in maintaining control over expenditure by utilising the discretion conferred by this section and appointing the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
In view of the statement made by the Minister that the intention in this case is to appoint the Comptroller and Auditor-General to audit the accounts, there is no purpose to be served by pressing my amendment.
Sub-section (2) of Section 10 reads,
the accounts of the board for each year shall be audited within 90 days.
Does that mean that the audit shall be completed within 90 days? I think it ought to be made clear that the audit should be completed within that time. Is that the intention? Are the law advisers satisfied that that is the meaning of these words? If the Minister is satisfied that these words secure that end, I will not press my objection.
The intention is that the audit shall take place within a limited period unless with the prior consent of the Minister postponing it.
It is meant that the audit shall be in progress?
Would the Minister accept some form of words which would prevent the holding up indefinitely of the auditor's report? There is nothing in the section to say that the Minister shall lay copies of these documents before each House of the Oireachtas within any given time. These reports may not be laid before the Oireachtas within a period of ten years. Would the Minister put in the words: "forthwith" or "during the session" or words of that kind?
Yes; I have no objection to the form of words provided they will allow for the delays of the Stationery Office. The section is in the standard form; the only cause of delay in the publishing of these reports is the time that elapses in arranging for their printing by the Stationery Office. When the reports are presented to the Minister they are automatically transferred to the printer through the Stationery Office.
The Minister cannot say that the audit shall be completed but he could say that it will be started. The audit may sometimes take a long time if it is to be thorough. The only way to get this done is to worry the Minister about it when it is overdue.
Does not sub-section (3) say "immediately"?
It is to avoid these very considerable delays that take place with regard to departmental reports that I have raised the matter. Sometimes these reports take two years.
I think the delay has been considerably reduced in recent years. We have been priding ourselves on the improvement in the way in which statistical reports are speeded up.
Some of these reports take two years.
The Revenue Commissioners at one time used take ten years.
I can see no reason for these delays. The Electricity Supply Board's yearly accounts are published with the speed that commercial companies might envy and these are very complicated reports.
The Senator might know that this section is taken word for word from the Act setting up the Electricity Supply Board.
I move amendment No. 3:
In sub-section (3), line 25, to delete the words "may if it so thinks fit" and substitute therefor the word "shall."
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the board in the making of appointments will employ the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners. The intention of the section, as it stands, gives the board the option of making the appointments directly themselves or by any machinery which it may set up or through the Local Appointments Commissioners. Sub-section (3), as it stands, is taken from the Electricity Supply Act. Now, the Electricity Supply Board never employed the Local Appointments Commissioners. Personally, I think they should have done so. I think it would have been much better if they did. The amendment is directed towards having all appointments made by this board through the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners, so that there may be some guarantee for everybody, so that for expert or non-expert there will be a measure of fair play, and patronage will be removed entirely from the board. So far as Government appointments of a routine or Civil Service character are concerned, the days of patronage are now entirely gone and there is general agreement that that is a sound state of affairs, even more a sound state of affairs from the point of view of the ordinary people, and the children of the workers, for example, who have no pull of any kind with anybody. The last Government went a very considerable step further and provided that appointments under local bodies should be made by the Local Appointments Commissioners in a form as nearly analogous as they can to the Civil Service appointments. That measure, which I think was one of the greatest achievements of the late Government, was very hotly contested and fiercely denounced at one time, but it has been continued by the present Government and there is to-day nobody who will state that we should go back to the older system.
I cannot understand why this tourist board should have the power which Ministers themselves do not enjoy; I do not understand why they should have a power which the Uachtarán does not enjoy, a power which the Taoiseach does not enjoy. Neither the Taoiseach not the Uachtarán can employ a messenger, gardener or clerk, neither can the Minister for Industry and Commerce, without going through the machinery of the Civil Service Commissioners and ensuring that the appointment is made through a form of competition. I cannot understand why this tourist board should have power to appoint its own staff. First and foremost, you might consider what sort of a staff they may have. They may have a staff of one or two expert persons. Besides these they will have the ordinary routine staff of clerical officers and shorthand typists. There is no reason in the world why these posts should not be filled through the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners. There is no validity whatever in the argument that if they are filled through the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners the proceedings will be slow and dilatory.
The Local Appointments Commissioners have very wide powers. They can make the selection by such means and in such a manner as they think proper. I would imagine that if this particular board wanted a shorthand typist, the machinery would be of the simplest. They would look up the latest examination list for shorthand typists by the Civil Service Commissioners. Many Senators know how that arrangement works. The Minister for Finance announces 30 vacancies in the Civil Service. There is very severe competition. The 30 who get the highest marks amongst the competitors are called for the first 30 vacancies. But the Minister for Finance calls more than 30. He may call up 50. Now, the candidates between 50 and 100—that is the first 50 unsuccessful candidates—are candidates of a very high standard, indeed, and I would suggest that if this board wants a shorthand typist, it should get the shorthand typist from that particular list—I think that is possible under the Local Appointments Act—rather than bring in some girl because she has some influence with somebody and who irrespective of whether she is good, bad or indifferent will get her job, not by virtue of her merit proved in open competition, but by virtue of her relationship with some person or other who is able to exercise sufficient influence. I do not suggest the board would not appoint very competent people, but I want to make this very important distinction. There is a very important distinction between getting a competent person and getting the most competent person under the most open competition possible, that is, to give fair play all round to all people in the State who consider themselves competent. I think that that can be done with regard to the routine staff.
With regard to the other staff, I should like to point out that the Local Appointments Commissioners do furnish machinery for nominations and appointments as important as the city manager in Dublin, the city manager in Cork and, in a short time now, the city manager for Waterford. Similarly, they appoint county medical officers of health. Although the procedure is at times slow, there is no necessity whatever why it should be slow in particular cases. There are posts regarding which they have perfect power to agree to any procedure the board pleases. For example, the present High Commissioner in London was appointed by machinery suggested by the Civil Service Commissioners. It is a much more important post than the tourist board is likely to have at its disposal. I think the matter is one that does not call for very much argument.
The suggestion that the board is a commercial body and that it should have the power to hire and to fire at its own sweet will is altogether without validity. The great argument is that the board will be spending public money and everybody knows that once it makes appointments, it will be very difficult to get rid of the people who have been appointed. Therefore, I think the appointments are quite analogous, except for differences of form, to appointments made by the Local Appointments Commissioners for local bodies. I think that in all the circumstances everybody should have a fair run and that, instead of the tourist board having power to make appointments, the Local Appointments Commissioners should be asked to suggest machinery. It may be said that that will not be rapid enough. We have not had a tourist board for quite a number of years and, when it starts to function, it will not be in the position of being put into office to-day and starting to work to-morrow. It surely can allow some lapse of time. For my part, even if there was some small lapse of time, it is much preferable to having the board pulled and dragged in all directions by requests for jobs. I think one effect of adopting the amendment will be that the board itself will be grateful to this House because the board, particularly the full-time members, will be entirely relieved of any obligation in regard to providing jobs or from any pulling in any direction. I think the arguments are all in favour of the board appointing its staff by this particular method and I, therefore, move the amendment.
I wish to support Senator Hayes and to express my approval of the line of argument which he has adduced. There is here involved what I might term a colossal figure of £600,000, as well as a further sum of £45,000 a year. That is to be further supplemented by a sum of £14,000, all of which comes either directly or indirectly from the taxpayer. A great many of us in this House since we entered it have been trying honestly to indicate to the Government the economic condition of the country as a whole. Since the introduction of this Bill, to which I have myself given a certain amount of support, I have been questioned on the public board to which I belong, as to whether this was an opportune time for introducing a Bill of this kind. I have been asked whether the Government really appreciated the terrible condition of the country, whether they visualised, in its true perspective, the report of the Banking Commission in relation to the stability or instability of the country. Questions have been asked about expending this colossal figure at a time when the country is suffering from economic depression. Therefore, this question of appointing the personnel of the board——
This amendment is concerned with the appointment of the staff.
The appointment of the staff. I feel the Minister for Industry and Commerce has an awful job. I am not going to question the Minister's integrity but it seems to me to be unfair that his personal predilections shall be the deciding factor in selecting the personnel of this board.
This amendment deals with the appointment of officers and servants of the board.
I agree with Senator Hayes that these appointments should be left to the selection of the Appointments Commissioners. Some years ago there was some very severe criticism about the Appointments Commissioners. I remember, shortly after Fianna Fáil came into power, the Taoiseach was asked in the Dáil about a certain appointment or selection that was made. It was alleged that it was not made on the basis of efficiency, and he promised that he would himself personally investigate the circumstances of the particular case. I remember distinctly—and I was delighted to hear it—that after making due and proper inquiry, he announced to the Dáil that not alone was he perfectly satisfied that the appointment in that particular case was made on the basis of efficiency and that due and proper care in every detail was given to it by the Appointments Commission, but that on making a review of its work, in a larger and more comprehensive way, he was satisfied that the establishment of the Appointments Commission was justified and should be maintained. On that account, I agree with Senator Hayes that appointments in this particular case should be submitted to the Appointments Commission. Such a decision would be received with satisfaction by people in the country who feel that such appointments are sometimes made through the agency of Party machinery and for Party expediency.
I support the amendment but I am not quite satisfied that it is clear enough. It provides that all appointments shall be made by a selection board. I think that, when it comes to the Report Stage, the Senator should specify the particular classes of appointments which should be made by a selection board, because if the board wants to appoint a temporary man in Killarney, at £2 a week for a few weeks, according to the amendment as it stands, the appointment will have to be made by the selection board. For that reason, I think the Senator would be well advised to withdraw his amendment, on a promise from the Minister that he will bring in another amendment on the Report Stage to rectify the matter. Many members of this House who, like myself, have experience of the selection board, will agree with me when I say that I have never yet heard anybody giving anything but the greatest praise to the justice and fair play with which every candidate who came before the selection board was met. I think the Government would be wise in having recourse to the selection board as far as possible for their appointments.
I just want to make my position clear at this stage. This point was raised in the Dáil, and was pressed. I said then that I was not prepared to accept the amendment, and I am not prepared to accept it here. I am prepared to hold the Bill if necessary for the full statutory period rather than accept the amendment. I think that those who have given any consideration at all to the type of work that is to be done by this board could not seriously suggest that the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners is a suitable one for the selection of its officers. This is not a local authority. Even in the case of Government Departments and local authorities, the procedure of appointment through the Civil Service Commission and the Local Appointments Commission is only in the case of permanent and pensionable posts. No post on this board is going to be permanent or pensionable. This is a business undertaking, and the board should have, in relation to its staff, the same power that the board of a private business concern would have in relation to its staff. What would happen if you approached any man running an industrial undertaking, and told him that he has got to appoint his charwomen through the Local Appointments Commissioners? That is what the amendment means. If the board had to appoint somebody to clean windows they would have to go to the Appointments Commissioners, have a selection board set up, have the position advertised through the country, receive applications and wait for six months——
That is not so. That is not what the machinery means at all. That is not what the Local Appointments Commissioners need do. The Minister is wilfully misunderstanding the Act.
I am quite prepared to agree that, in the case of this type of organisation as in the case of the Electricity Supply Board, there are certain types of appointment in respect of which the machinery could be used. That is why we put in the power to use it. The Electricity Supply Board, with a large number of clerical workers, could quite easily arrange for a competitive examination, and get the Local Appointments Commissioners to give them a list of suitable persons from which they could draw as vacancies arise. In fact, they utilise the results of the Leaving Certificate Examinations for the purpose of making appointments. This board may in time have a number of workers of a particular grade in respect of which the same arrangements could be made. It will not have them at the beginning. It will merely have a few typists, a few inspectors and general staff, until its activities begin to grow. At that particular stage, if their staff can be standardised to the extent the Senator thinks possible, they may be able to avail of the section. Until then, I think they must be put in a position to recruit staff as they require and with the qualifications they require, dismissing them when they find they are no longer needed, or that their services can be temporarily done without. That is what a business organisation does. This is a business organisation. It is not a local authority.
When the Local Appointments Commissioners were established to select officers of the local authorities, the reasons for that step arose out of the nature of the body that previously did the appointing, the local authority, the members of which were elected for political reasons and probably felt that they had obligations to the persons who voted for them or the persons who resided in the areas that they represented. Arising out of the political pressure that could be applied to such persons, or the belief that political pressure could be applied, there was a feeling that the power of appointing the officers by the local authority could be abused. It was even said that it was abused, and it was generally felt that it would be better to take the power out of their hands and give it to an impartial non-political organisation.
It was not generally felt at all. The Minister did not feel it himself.
In any event this is not a local authority. It is not a political body. The members will not be bound by political considerations; they will have no political responsibility to anybody. It will be a business organisation, carrying out a business undertaking in a business way, and it cannot function if it is going to follow the same procedure as the local authority in getting staff. It will have to have the same power to recruit, dismiss, suspend, pay or refuse to pay staff, as any private business organisation.
The amendment would not take away that power.
If the Senator would explain that, I might be prepared to consider the amendment. Otherwise, I would prefer to take the section out of the Bill altogether than accept the amendment.
How is the staff of the Electricity Supply Board appointed?
They are appointed by the Electricity Supply Board.
Are they not permanent and pensionable?
Some of them are. This section is from the Electricity Supply Act, word for word.
The Minister apparently thinks that this body can apply to the Local Appointments Commissioners after a time. That is the important point about it—after a time, when the important posts have been filled.
I said for certain grades of staff.
They can apply to the Local Appointments Commissioners after a time, when the important posts in the organisation have been filled. I do not know who those supermen are who are going to compose this board. I have yet to be convinced that they are going to be so free from the taint of Party politics that the whole country will accept them as being high above all of us, and not capable of being influenced by any consideration of politics whatsoever, considering only the merits of the people who are going forward for a post.
Who appoints the members of the Local Appointments Commissioners? Will the Senator answer that question?
At this stage, I am not going to get into a discussion on the capacity or efficiency with which the Local Appointments Commissioners do their work.
I do not want the Senator to misunderstand me. I am not questioning the efficiency of the Local Appointments Commissioners. I am pointing out that the members of the Local Appointments Commissioners are appointed by the Government, just like the members of this board. If the Senator is going to suspect the impartiality of the board, why not suspect the impartiality of the Local Appointments Commissioners?
The Senator does suspect the impartiality of this board, because he has experience of what other boards appointed by this Government have done. I could mention other boards, and give the names of the staff employed, and their politics, and the way they do their jobs, and it would not be any credit to the Minister.
Let us hear it.
It may not be very satisfactory to the irresponsible Senator.
We have heard enough innuendoes, so the Senator might as well come down to facts.
It would not be relevant to the section.
And the Senator would not be any happier after he had heard it. There would be so much truth in it that he would want to make another speech. What situation will this board be confronted with when set going? We already heard who some of them are to be, and we know all about the pressure that is being exercised already to get certain people put on the board.
Is this all relevant?
The Senator can contradict it and say it is all untrue.
I suggest that the Senator mention the names.
The names cannot be mentioned here.
I suggest that you, Sir, rule this out of order.
When the Senator is appointed to the Chair of this House he can make the rules.
At least my opinion was taken yesterday by the Leas-Chathaoirleach when the Senator's was not.
Senator O'Donovan is much thinner in the skin than one would think by looking at him. It is very difficult to say anything about his Party in this House——
Then I am entitled to retort that it will be a long time before my skin is as thick as the Senator's.
The Senator will be entitled to make his speech, and I will not interrupt him. We do not hear him making so many constructive speeches in the House.
Or throwing nearly as much mud as the Senator.
I was going on with my case, and I have a perfect right to make it. If I had to answer the Minister, I could go back a few years and talk about some of the statements he made in public about jobs, and all the rest of it. What are we up against in this amendment? We are up against the fact that a considerable amount of the taxpayers' money is going to be handed over to a group of people to spend. What certain members of this House feel is that, if there are posts to be filled under this body, every boy and girl and man and woman in the country ought to have a fair chance of competing for those posts; that the people who are going to make appointments to those posts ought to be perfectly disinterested; that no considerations should weigh except the capacity of the people to do their work, and that it ought not to be possible for a member of this House, simply because he may be very intimate with one of the members of this board, to go along and say to him: "I would like you to do so and so, or so and so." It would be a much better and happier position for the members of this board to be free to say: "We have no responsibility for the officials who are going to be elected. That has been taken out of our hands by another body, and thank goodness we are free." The question, of course, arises as to whether or not the Local Appointments Commission will give the right sort of people. The main consideration for them will be that they will give the right sort of people to this board. If they were not going to give the type of official necessary it would be a great mistake. What would the Local Appointments Commission do? If you want people to man an organisation to deal with the tourist traffic you will obviously want certain officials who know something about tourism. The commissioners would want to get people on the selection board who would know something about it.
Surely it is not going to be suggested that the people whom the Minister will nominate to this board are the only people who can be regarded as competent to pass judgment on the capacity of anybody to serve in a tourist organisation? It may very well be that, for certain reasons, the Minister will have to leave more efficient people off the board than he would be able to get to go on it, but people like these would be free to serve on a board set up under the ægis of the Local Appointments Commissioners to select the staff. The main and fundamental consideration is that the taxpayers who are finding the money would have the feeling anyhow that their children are getting a fair chance of competing for the posts. With all respect to what Senator O'Donovan thinks, I do not believe that they will think they are getting a fair run from the board itself. There are considerations that must weigh with this board when these appointments are made and these considerations must be of such a nature that not merit alone will be the dominant thought in their minds. For these reasons, I believe, from the point of view of the machine being an efficient and successful one, that the Minister would be well advised to accept the amendment. He says that he cannot, that he would rather delay the Bill or eliminate the section altogether.
What is Senator Hayes asking for in this amendment? He is only asking for fair play and a fair chance for every boy and girl to compete for the posts. He is asking for that because he feels that this machinery is the only machinery which could be made to operate which will give that fair chance. A great many other people in the country will think the same thing. Even though this board, when set up, might appoint the very same people that the Local Appointments Commission's selection board would select, the people of the country would not believe that everybody got a fair chance. There are dozens of other reasons why the Minister would be wise to accept the amendment.
The people of the country that Senator Baxter will endeavour to influence will not believe it and these are about all the people who will not believe it. Section 11 (3) says that the board may, if it so thinks fit, get the Local Appointments Commissioners to do it. They have the right to do that and they may do it. All that the Senator wants in his amendment and all that Senator Baxter wants, apparently, from the eloquent speech he has made in support of it, is that the word "may" shall be changed to "shall", and compel them to do it. Obviously to have a system worked efficiently the word "may" should not be changed to "shall". What Senator Baxter wants is that, although you have an efficient board, a less efficient or equally efficient second board should, for the sake of some brain wave he has, have the matter referred to them, or otherwise a political tinge, or some sort of ulterior force or argument will be used in connection with these appointments, no matter how big or small or indifferent such an appointment may be. It is unfortunate that any time Senator Baxter gets on his feet he seems to irritate me. I do not think I will be ever thick-skinned enough to be able to listen to him without protesting, at any rate.
I have no experience of acting on boards. Senator Counihan and perhaps other Senators have. But, let them examine their conscience and ask themselves: "Did we in every case appoint the best men and the best women?" and I fancy that they will say: "We did not; we were mistaken". It is very hard for the Local Appointments Commission or the Civil Service Commission, in the ten or 20 minutes they have to decide on a candidate's personality and his ability and suitability for the position, to do it. They cannot do it. They are bound to make mistakes sometimes. On most occasions they will be right, but in several cases they will be wrong. I could develop that argument against the Civil Service Commission or the Local Appointments Commission.
It would be irrelevant.
I think it would be as relevant as some of the remarks made already. While human beings inhabit the earth there will be criticism and there will be mistakes made. If this matter were discussed on those lines, I would be satisfied. What I am objecting to is the suggestion that, no matter what the Government do, they are bound to be actuated by unworthy motives. I am satisfied that every appointment they made was made on merit. I am satisfied that all boards can make mistakes, whether Local Appointments Selection Boards or Civil Service Selection Boards. That is no reason why this system should be indicted here.
I feel that there should be a possibility of compromise in this matter. The Minister seems determined about it, and I cannot quite see the reasons for it. The Minister says that they will be a business body. Surely the whole background cannot be quite that. They will have their limitations if they are going to try and act in a businesslike way. They will be a Government board and, to start with, there will be limitations in the selection of those who can be on the board. Any member of the Oireachtas cannot be on it. Essential business is free. The power of the Minister to waive the interest on this large sum of money is a total negation of proper business. You cannot get away from the argument advanced by Senator Hayes and his supporters that the public have certain rights in this matter. They have not got a purely business body. I think there is good reasons for applying, but not in full, the principle of abstraction or neutrality, or whatever you like to call it, in the matter of the appointment. Why I think this is capable of compromise is that while I feel the bulk of the employees would be suitable people to be appointed by the Local Appointments Commissioners, there may be certain exceptions. The bulk of the clerical staff to be appointed will be similar to people appointed to the local authorities or to the Civil Service and will not require any special technical qualifications. Surely the point the Minister has tried to make, that the question of pensions and power to dismiss will be hampered by having the appointments made through the Local Appointments Commissioners, does not apply. Where the conditions of service include pensions or contracts, that remains within the discretion of the board. What I am concerned about is that there should be some power to appoint outside the Commissioners. I have a hankering after the Swiss, although Senators do not seem to be keen on that. I do not think the Appointments Commissioners could take the Swiss.
It should be mandatory by statute to have appointments made by the Appointments Commissioners, except in cases where the Minister may approve otherwise. In the case of technical appointments, of Swiss or of engineers, for instance, he should have power to exempt them from the machinery of the commissioners. There could be a compromise on these lines. I think the Minister is too insistent on the other aspect which, really, cannot be justified under the circumstances. I do not think the Electricity Supply Board is a case in point. That board must have a large number of technical and highly-trained people for which the machinery of the Appointments Commissioners is not suitable. In any case it is dangerous to be bound by precedent, and not to do something different because of some Act that was passed ten years ago. Perhaps the Minister would be prepared to leave the matter open to the Report Stage with a view to some compromise.
I am prepared to leave it open in face of the discussion.
It is unfortunate the Minister had not a case that is more worthy of his ability than the one mentioned. The case he made was very unconvincing, as to the reason why these appointments should not be filled by the Appointments Commissioners. Is there anything different in these appointments from those made by local authorities? It will take all the energy and ingenuity of the Minister to induce the Minister for Local Government to abandon the principle of filling positions under local authorities through the Local Appointments Commissioners. The position of a junior clerk cannot be filled under a local authority except through the Local Appointments Commissioners. I thoroughly endorse that principle. I think it is sound, and that it would be a bad day if the Minister for Local Government abandoned the principle.
No one is disputing that point.
I am endeavouring to point out that there is very little difference between the positions under local authorities and the positions under this board. If a junior clerk, an accountant, a shorthand typist, or a receptionist are wanted, is there any reason why these positions should not be filled through the Local Appointments Commissioners? What is the peculiarity about these positions that they cannot be filled in the same way as other positions? I am not pre- pared to express any opinion against the members of the board. I do not know them. I believe the Minister will make the best possible choice in the interests of tourism, but I do not see any reason how he will be able to pick five men or women who will not be amenable to some influence. There is this advantage about the Local Appointments Commissioners that they are civil servants and that they do not care about anyone. The commissioners are presided over by the Ceann Comhairle, and they are not amenable to influences that the board that is to be set up might be amenable to. I cannot see anything wrong about appointing a junior clerk through the Local Appointments Commissioners.
Or a boots, or a lifeguard. The board can own an hotel.
Possibly the section could be more tightly drawn. It is quite possible that a porter might be appointed by a selection board. That is an exception. It is the principle we want accepted, so that there will be no difference in the filling of these and other appointments. All public bodies are not in favour of the Appointments Commissioners. They want to fill these positions themselves and, in some cases, they want to have patronage in their hands.
Some of them.
Yes. In nine cases out of ten it will be found that the appointments are well made, and that those selected by the Local Appointments Commissioners are the very best that could be got in the circumstances. The Minister has not indicated the peculiar characteristic of the positions that this board will have to fill, or that they will be different from positions that are filled under other boards.
It seems that there are two types of appointments, the temporary ones and the big ones which, I believe, will be made through the Appointments Commissioners. I suggest that the amendment should be incorporated in sub-section (3) and that when the board has selected someone, such as the Swiss to which Senator Sir John Keane referred, it should add a rider to the particular qualification which is required, so that if the Appointments Commissioners found that a suitable person could not be got here, then they could seek someone outside. That would be for permanent employees. Then there would be the case of a charwoman or someone like that to be dealt with. As regards sub-section (1) the board could appoint temporary officers as they are required in the usual way if they were suitable, and when permanent appointments were being made these could be regarded as candidates. I think a compromise on these lines on the Report Stage would probably meet the case.
Is the board bound to give notice by public advertisement or otherwise of these posts when there are vacancies? If there was publicity from the start that would meet the case.
The board may take up the debentures of an hotel, and may find itself on Monday morning with the job of running the hotel, staffing it, and carrying on the business. It could not possibly work on the lines that the Senator suggested. A local authority could make temporary arrangements to get over the difficulty of vacancies in the staff, but we must think of this as a business concern, anxious to make money. It is not a public authority and has not the machinery of a local authority.
Is it not possible to make a distinction? I am inclined to agree with the Minister that a person who is manager of an hotel should be responsible for the appointment of the staff. If he is going to dismiss the staff in the hotel he must have authority to get someone else the next day. Otherwise he could not carry on. That is rather different to what one regards as the central staff of the board. I do not think any of us visualised, on reading this section, that "staff" applied to the staff of an hotel or of a particular institution that might be set up under the board. If it did I would not support the amendment, because I think the manager must have responsibility, particularly in a business of the nature of an hotel. It should be possible to give the additional confidence that would be gained by submitting the regular standard appointments of the board to the Appointments Commissioners. I think a way could be found between the two. I would not go so far as to say, if this section covers every employee who might be in any institution set up, I could not support it. I did not think, until the last speech of the Minister, that it did so imply.
It all depends on what type of employees the Board will require. Senator Hogan has referred to junior clerks and typists. So far as I know, local authorities do not apply to the Appointments Commissioners for junior clerks and typists; they appoint them by examination.
I said so.
Therefore, I do not see that any appointment under the board, except the accountant, would apply to the type you would require the Appointments Commissioners for.
There is nobody that I know in public life who can be more emphatic than the Minister. He is a past master in the art of emphasis. He is riding away over this amendment on the word "business." He says this is a business proposition. That is a favourite word of his. Everything is a business proposition. He is basing himself on two things, first, that the board is a business proposition, that it is a business concern and must have the same power over its employees as a business man has. The other part of his argument is the nature of the machinery which the Appointments Commissioners must use for the filling of vacancies. The Minister is going to appoint those people and give them public money to spend, and they do not own the business. They are going to spend the ordinary taxpayers' money and, if it can be done without altering the efficiency of the system—and I think it can—then they should not be given the power to employ their own choice without some form of competition.
The board will not be in the position of a person who owns his own business and hires and fires people, as the Americans say, at his own sweet will, and for his own purposes. This amendment was framed for the purpose of testing a question of principle, as to whether the board should have power to appoint all the staff or whether the staff or part of the staff should be appointed through outside machinery. If the board builds hotels, I am not sufficiently foolish to think that the Local Appointments Commissioners should be asked to appoint the boots in an hotel. Mind you, getting a good boots for an hotel is not as simple a job as it might appear—that is my own experience. Maybe an advertisement and a selection board might be a great improvement for the hotel they are going to build at Rhynanna.
If the board builds hotels and appoints managers, I am at one with the Minister that the manager should appoint the staff. There is a distinction between a temporary and a permanent staff. We all know what happens in this country. This board is going to appoint a temporary staff. If the tourist traffic develops, as we hope it will, the staff will grow and eventually, if they are any way competent, these people will get permanent appointments and pensions. The question whether they will be permanent and pensionable will not arise until 1949. In the meantime they will have been selected arbitrarily by the board or by some form of political influence. There is no use in the Minister or Senator O'Donovan getting all hot and bothered when people suggest political influence. One would imagine that no one was ever appointed in this country through political influence.
We know what may happen in the case of the board. The board will have a headquarters staff, presumably the same as the Tourist Association, but extended and supplemented by certain technical people and by a bigger general staff. I make the Minister a present of the fact that if the amendment were accepted it would have legal effects which I do not want it to have and which would be foolish if put into operation. If we were agreed that as many as possible of the staff should be appointed by non-political machinery and not by the board, then we could find a form of words which would enable us to do what we want to do. The difference between temporary and permanent as regards the headquarters staff is another matter. The board will be in the position of saying in the next five years what staff it will require. We all know that the temporary staff will eventually become the permanent staff.
The Minister says the machinery of the Local Appointments Commissioners is a slow one. It is not true to say, if you are going to have an appointment by the Appointments Commissioners, it must be by advertisement and the selection board. It need not be by selection, and need not be by examination. Section 9 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act of 1926 says:—
"Whenever a local authority, or the Minister, requests the commissioners to recommend a person for appointment to an office to which this Act applies, and the commissioners, with the concurrence of the Minister, are of opinion that, having regard to the nature of the duties of that office, the knowledge and experience necessary for the efficient performance of those duties, and the qualifications described under this Act for that office, the person or persons to be recommended for appointment to that office cannot be satisfactorily selected by competitive examination, the commissioners may dispense with the competitive examination required by this Act and may select the person or persons to be recommended by them to the local authority by such means and in such manner as they think proper."
They need not have a competitive examination or a selection board. I understand that competitive examination was considered as meaning the selection board. They need not have any form of examination at all. They could appoint Senator Sir John Keane's Swiss quite satisfactorily without submitting him to any examination except a kind of interview to which our Minister in Berne might submit him. If you wanted a Swiss you could ask our Minister in Berne to send you on a list of applicants with reports in regard to each. The board could then make a selection and consent to that appointment.
The Civil Service Commissioners were once asked to do what the chairman thought was a very foolish thing —to issue an advertisement setting out the scale of salary for High Commissioners in London. The chairman of the Civil Service Commissioners said that that seemed to him to be a situation which should not be filled after that fashion, that it should be filled after a different fashion. And it was so filled; and I think that one of the things we are in agreement on is that it was filled in a very competent and satisfactory manner indeed, both to the last Government and the present one. So that there is no necessary slowness about this procedure at all.
Now, if the Minister agrees—and I think he is inclined to agree, in spite of his emphasis—that the headquarters staff of this board should not be entirely in the gift of the board, we can easily find a form of words which would enable the Local Appointments Commissioners to come in and relieve the board and the Minister of that responsibility, and enable them to have these appointments made without any possibility of people pointing out that the board was now proceeding to appoint political friends to various jobs. There is no doubt about it, there will be all kinds of wirepulling for all kinds of jobs. Everyone who is in touch, as I am, with young people looking for jobs, knows the immense difficulty that there is in getting jobs for these young people, and knows the immense satisfaction there is in being able to say: "Well, there is a scheme anyhow; make your application, put up a case, go for the examination, appear before the board concerned, and see what happens." The number of jobs available, however, as compared with the number of people who are seeking them, is so small that there is every kind of wirepulling going on in connection with any of these jobs, and even in connection with ordinary business appointments, and we all know it.
I consider that a situation such as Senator Counihan mentioned, that of a temporary inspector at Killarney, is a matter of making regulations. The question of a charwoman or a "boots" in a hotel is similar. I do not suggest that it is an argument that the Local Appointments Commissioners do not always appoint the best person. I am not arguing that at all, but I think that they do give a fair trial and that this particular scheme is one that will get a person a fair trial. The Minister endeavours to put us into a dilemma by saying: "I am going to appoint the board, and since the board will appoint the people for the various positions, is it not all the same?" It is not. It seems to me that, instead of remaining adamant on this matter, the Minister, as has been suggested, should agree to redraft this section so that the board will not be hampered in any way in the performance of its functions, but also so that its ordinary staff, its inspectors, clerical officers, and shorthand-typists, should be got by fair competition and not by patronage. That is what I am asking for. Perhaps the amendment accomplishes more than I am asking for, but if the Minister were agreeable to the principle that the headquarters staff and the clerical and other staffs of that kind were to be appointed in that manner, then I am sure there would be no difficulty whatever in framing an appropriate amendment, but I think that the appointment through the medium of the commissioners by any method is much better than patronage. I am opposed to patronage, and it is for that reason I am proposing the amendment. If the amendment has any defects these could be remedied for the Report Stage, if the Minister would accept the principle.
On the amendment, Sir, I merely want to say that I do not think it is desirable at all to tie down the board in the manner suggested. I think that the question has only been raised because we inserted in the Bill the same provision as appeared in the Electricity Supply Act, which gave power to the Electricity Supply Board to seek the assistance of the Local Appointments Commissioners, in making appointments, if they think fit. I do not think it is desirable to restrict this matter of appointments to the Local Appointments Commissioners as regards the machinery for the filling of any of the offices.
Is the amendment being pressed?
I would advise Senator Hayes to withdraw the amendment and bring forward a more reasoned amendment for the Report Stage, making certain exclusions. I am prepared to support the amendment now, but I would much rather have it in final form.
The Minister's concluding sentence was that he does not want to tie up the board in the appointment of any of its officers. He is adamant on that, and at any rate he cannot be accused of not being clear. With regard to Senator Sir John Keane's suggestion, however, I think that this particular form of amendment tests the matter just as well as a more elaborate one.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Byrne, Christopher M.
- Colbert, Michael.
- Healy, Denis D.
- Honan, Thomas V.
- Johnston, James.
- Kennedy, Margaret L.
- Keohane, Patrick T.
- Lynch, Peter T.
- MacCabe, Dominick.
- McEllin, Seán.
- Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
- (Cú Uladh).
- Concannon, Helena.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Coulding, Seán.
- Hawkins, Frederick.
- Magennis, William.
- O'Donovan, Seán.
- O'Dwyer, Martin.
- Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
- Quirke, William.
- Robinson, David L.
- Rowlette, Robert J.
- Stafford, Matthew.
- Alton, Ernest H.
- Baxter, Patrick F.
- Butler, John.
- Campbell, Seán P.
- Counihan, John J.
- Crosbie, James.
- Cummins, William.
- Douglas, James G.
- Doyle, Patrick.
- Hayes, Michael.
- Hogan, Patrick.
- Johnston, Joseph.
- Keane, Sir John.
- Lynch, Eamonn.
- McGillycuddy of the Reeks, The.
- Madden, David J.
- Parkinson, James J.
- Tierney, Michael.
On the section, it now appears that the Ministerial attitude is that he is to appoint this board, that the board is to appoint its servants without any restriction of any kind from the Legislature, entirely on a patronage basis. We have ample experience to know what is going to happen. The ordinary person in the country who has paid for his child's education or the ordinary person who has got special technical qualifications will not get a fair run for those qualifications or that education.
I think that statement is most unwarranted and entirely uncalled for.
What did the Minister say?
I said that that statement is most unwarranted and entirely uncalled for.
We will all live to see it. Temporary people will be appointed to this board before next Christmas. We will know who they are. We will be able to judge who the board are. And if we live, as I hope the Minister and I will, for the next five or ten years, we will see—if this board is successful—that all the temporary Fianna Fáil hangers-on who were appointed to the board will become permanent, pensionable servants of this board. There is no doubt about it.
I move amendment No. 4:—
In paragraph (d), before the word "improve" in line 17, page 6, to insert the word "provide".
I think this is a most important section of the Bill because it specifies wide and varied duties. I am proposing to insert the word "provide" in paragraph (d) so that the paragraph will read: "provide, improve and maintain amenities and conditions which appear to the Board to be likely to affect tourist traffic." This is a matter that I raised on the Second Reading of the Bill. Unfortunately, I am still at sea in regard to it. The words "at sea" are literal here becaused this deals with the matter relating to the seaboard. I am proposing the amendment mainly to afford myself the opportunity of raising this question again. It was suggested to me by Senator MacDermot and other Senators that the correct method of doing that was to put down an amendment. I am sure Senator MacDermot will be pleased to know that I took his advice.
I am proposing to insert the word "provide" because it seems to me that you cannot improve a condition or an amenity which does not exist. It is possible that you may want to provide an amenity or a condition. Then improve it, if possible, and maintain it. I thought that the word "provide" was necessary relative to the point that I wished to bring before the House and the Minister. It is necessary to provide the amenity in the case that I propose to refer to.
The circumstances surrounding it apply to other places along the seaboard. On the last day I referred to the danger that exists in the tidal waters at Dollymount strand, which is a very important tourist section, to the extent that it is a holiday resort for the majority of the artisan and poorer classes in Dublin. On bank holidays they spend the day there. Dollymount, and the corresponding strand on the south side at Merrion, are very much frequented on public holidays by the poorer sections of the community in Dublin. My point is that it does come under this Bill to provide amenities, and to improve amenities, at both these places.
At present you have a condition obtaining at Dollymount which is a danger to the public. Arising out of this fact you have five notices pointing out that a danger does exist there. What is the psychological effect which these notices must have on a mother going down to the strand to spend a day there with her family? You have a notice to this effect: "Anybody bathing here is in grave danger of drowning." Sixty yards away a similar notice is displayed, and altogether you have five or six such notices. If that woman is inclined to take things seriously she will argue to herself: "This is a very dangerous place to come to, and nobody should be here"; but she is faced with the situation that, notwithstanding the display of these five big notices, she sees thousands of children and adults amusing themselves in sand and water in the vicinity of where the notices are erected. Naturally, she says to herself: "Ah, these notices mean nothing; sure there is no danger anywhere." The effect of all these useless notices is that the tourist or the citizen who frequents the strand thinks there is no danger anywhere. What I want to bring out is that where the danger does exist at present there is no notice.
I have walked that strand since we had the debate here last week. The only difference I noticed was this: that on the last day I referred to a bank, a depression or channel. That bank has now more or less subsided, and is a shelving slope, so that instead of a child falling into three feet of water it would, on a shelving strand, if swimming, find itself out of its depth quickly.
That is why I am moving this amendment proposing to provide amenities. This, of course, will apply to several places along the coast. Wherever there is a headland and the tide is going out, great care needs to be exercised by a person who does not know the place well. The current around a headland when the tide is going out always creates danger, and in places of the kind people have been drowned. I am moving this amendment with the object of providing amenities and of improving them where they exist. I do not know whether these places are under the control of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or whether they will come under the control of this new board. They certainly do not seem to be under the control of the local authority.
To come back to the situation at Dollymount. As Senators know, people have been drowned there. The Port and Docks Board put up the notices I have referred to. It was decent of them to do that, because I do not know that there was any obligation on them to do it. Perhaps they felt that people would blame them if they did not do it, since they had put up the Bull Wall. On the other hand, they may be to blame in this way, that they put up the notices because they would prefer to have nobody on the strand, while the fact is that you had, I am sure, at least ten thousand people there on Whit Monday, the last bank holiday. I suppose that on the first Monday of August next there will be another immense number of people visiting that strand. I might say, in connection with the pools at Dollymount, that there is not the danger there now that existed some years ago. Both pools were very deep. The one known as "Curley's Hole" was about six feet deep a couple of years ago. The other, at St. Anne's, was about the same depth. Neither is there now. There are just channels, and are practically safe. Next year you may have pools there, because the site of these pools changes from year to year.
Here is my solution to the board, or to anybody who wants to cure the danger that I see at these places. There are voluntary sea scouts who would be very glad, for a small subscription to their funds, to supervise and guard the seashore during the swimming season, or during that portion of the season when it is being frequented by visitors. Perhaps that provision could be applied under Section 14, as (c)—"Services"—to my mind includes practically everything. It is very wide, and the only trouble is that when a person gets obsessed with an idea of this kind it is hard to know where to stop. I wonder would this word "services" cover such a proposition? I am not sure that it does, nor am I sure that it does not.
There is another amendment which I might deal with now as it is practically on the same lines. It is the second amendment in my name, and provides for the insertion of the word "improvement" in Section 49. I believe these two amendments could be taken together, if there is no objection. On Section 49 I would include—having inserted the word "improvement"—also the following words: "including provision for personal safety". A case that came to my mind was the tragedy that occurred in Killarney last year. I would like to see provision made by this board, which is being set up, so that such a tragedy could never occur again, by providing improvements or amenities—as well as improving the amenities where they were present. A disaster like that which happened in Killarney should not, with anything like ordinary care, occur again, and that is why I have suggested the insertion of the words "including provision for personal safety." Provision should be made to obviate any chance of such a disaster, as a repetition would be a very bad advertisement for Killarney and for the Irish Tourist Association. I believe it would be an addition to the Bill to have this word "provide" inserted in Section 14 and to have the words as suggested in the amendment, inserted in Section 49.
The amendment appears to me to be unnecessary. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding about the terms of the Bill. The board is given power to provide services and facilities and it appears to me that the Senator has been speaking about services and facilities. The term "amenities" is intended to cover natural amenities. The board will take steps for the improvement of such amenities and provide services and facilities there. I am fully in agreement with the Senator's desire in the matter and will have the suggestion passed on to the board when it is appointed. The amendment is unnecessary and one which does not add to the powers of the board.
Has not the word "amenities" a wider interpretation than that of simple scenic amenities?
When putting this amendment down I concluded that the existing phrase "improve and maintain amenities" left ample scope for the insertion of the word "provide." Perhaps, I interpreted the word "amenities" in a wider sense than the Minister interprets it.
The provisions of Section 14 (c) enable the board to provide the facilities the Senator has in mind.
On the section in general I would like to ask the Minister, regarding "(d) improve and maintain amenities which are likely to affect tourist traffic," does that give power to the tourist board to compulsorily remove a great many of those derelict buildings that we see both in the country and in the small towns? We have only got to go out of this city to the town of Balbriggan and see outside a flourishing town like that what I might call four memorials of misery. In no other country in Europe where there has not been a war—a major war—will one find things of that kind. That is commented on by many people who come here as visitors. Senator Quirke and I raised this question the other day on the Town Planning Bill and the Minister said that he had no power and that in no circumstances was he going to make it mandatory to remove such buildings, but, now, we have got another opportunity and another Minister and possibly he may be able to do something in the matter, and have these four miserable memorials at Balbriggan removed forthwith by the local authority at the expense of the person who owns them. They do no good to the country at present and the land might be useful for the growing of wheat or beet.
Regarding the remarks of the last Senator and the section generally, I suggest that there is bound to be an enormous amount of overlapping. I feel that most of these things are properly the function of the local authority and that it may be disastrous if the Tourist Board cuts in with their own fanciful conceptions of what may be useful for tourists or pleasing to them, such as the planting of trees on the side of a road and the setting up of seats and benches in beauty spots. One may reply that the board is going to consist of sensible men, but I say that they will be largely under certain statutory powers. I do not know what the Minister's views are on that point or who is going to prevent the Board overlapping with the local authority and doing things which could be done more economically by the local authority.
Has the Board got power to give grants to local authorities? That point arises on the question of those danger notices, which would be much better and much more economically erected by the local authority, though I do not know if there is any statutory obligation on anybody to put them up now. I hope the Minister is going to take steps in this matter. This board is being given enormously wide powers and I think that there should be some control other than the control of common sense on the part of a Government-appointed and Government-financed board.
There is one general principle which I wish to raise and, if the House agrees with it, it might be possible to introduce an amendment on the Report Stage. The Minister had said on the Second Reading that he is in agreement with measures to encourage private enterprise. Would he agree with me that this board should not have power to do anything that private enterprise could reasonably be expected to do at a profit? If he accepts that, I think paragraph (b) is most dangerous. My contention is that hotels should not come into being except where they are a reasonable commercial proposition and, that being so, they should be run by private enterprise. On the other hand, within the framework of the Bill, excluding, possibly, finance alone, that sort of work could now be done directly by the operation of the board. Once that sort of thing begins, not £600,000 but £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 will be needed soon. I was hoping the Minister would agree definitely to keep temptation out of the board's way. One may say that they will not do it, that they will be reasonable men, but, surely, they have enough to do for years to come without giving them these powers at all?
If, later on, you feel that these powers are needed, have an amending Bill. There is no objection to that. We have amending Bills every session, and I suggest that it be approached gradually and little by little, as one might say, and not to give these very wide powers like those given in the articles of association to commercial companies where the analogy is quite different.
I do not know if the Minister really feels it himself—he is a very good debater, and people, when debating, do not show their real selves but I see a completely changed mentality in business men when they are spending other people's money from their mentality when spending their own. We had an outstanding example of that during the war. Men in industry who were running successful companies were put into the Ministry of Munitions, where they had unlimited Government funds, and they were far more extravagant than the soldiers. The money simply went through their hands. I hope the Minister will have regard to that, because I think it is the real danger in this Bill. You can brake them to a certain extent by keeping outside their power certain things which, at the present stage, at any rate, are quite unnecessary. Sub-section (b) has the words "build, establish, equip and operate", which means to completely finance and have direct management of hotels. If there is a need for a private hotel, and it is a commercial proposition, private enterprise should do it, and I ask the Minister whether he will not consider, on Report, an amendment to take out that provision. Again, why guest-houses? These guests are going to be tourists who, presumably, are able to pay their own way. Why should the Government, then, have power to provide facilities which commercial people, if there is any profit in it, should provide?
With regard to holiday hostels, I cannot see much difference between guest-houses and holiday hostels. They are places where people who are paid by their employers to take holidays are going to spend their money, and presumably they again can be made financial propositions. I regard a holiday home as a home for old, convalescent people, and I fail to see the difference between a holiday home and hostel. In that connection I notice a total absence of all definitions. What is a tourist? How far does a person in Dublin have to go to cease being a tourist? If he goes to Blackrock, is he a tourist? If he goes to Cork, I suppose he is. I can see that question coming up in some unforeseen legal point. I can see, to a certain extent, some sense in holiday camps, because these are in the nature more or less of a charitable undertaking for, perhaps, poor children who could not be financed by private enterprise. I ask the Minister to consent to a drastic change in the section, so that the powers of direct operation will be confined to services which cannot reasonably be expected to be financed by private enterprise, such as services of a charitable kind for poor people. I think it would remove a very considerable temptation to the board to squander money, which, I am afraid, with the very best intentions will be done.
I agree that the power given in this section is very wide indeed, and I think there is everything to be said for the argument of Senator Sir John Keane that the Minister should reconsider it. If there is a necessity for the establishment of a hotel in a particular centre, it would be much better for this Tourist Board to encourage a group of private people, if needs be, to get together and establish it, even if they were to be subsidised out of the funds of the Tourist Board, rather than this Tourist Board should go in for the business itself. There is this consideration, in addition, that you can have a body like this, a State institution, State controlled and State financed, getting £600,000 in the first year, growing into a very powerful organisation, and going into a centre where there may appear to be a necessity for a hotel, and building a palatial hotel there for which there may be some business, but the net result of the establishment of which in that particular spot is going to alter the value of quite a respectable old-established hotel, with a very fine business connection, one hundred miles away. You can see that taking place now and again, and we can see how business will go from one hotel to another simply because of some change difficult to explain. It looks scarcely fair that such a body should, by its policy of building new hotels, be put in the position of altering and depreciating the value of business premises fifty or one hundred miles away.
We know that it is possible to go to the South, to the West, or even to the North, anywhere along the coast, erect a hotel there and make it so attractive that the business within 50 miles on either side would leave people who have been doing quite a respectable tourist business for a number of years. There is a sort of terrifying provision, I believe, in that section. There is this consideration as well, that if the Tourist Board feel that there is an obligation, very early in their career, to build hotels in particular centres, I believe that instead of attending to what the Minister thinks is the job of this board, their activities and energies will be diverted into channels into which they should not be diverted at all, and I think we should go as far as we can to eliminate that section from the Bill.
With regard to the point raised by Senator The McGillycuddy, which we discussed on the Town Planning Bill, the Minister assured us that it would need a special Act to clear these unsightly buildings out of the way and it may be a long time before that Act comes into force. The position at the moment is rather peculiar. Many of these unsightly buildings are the property of the local authorities. They are abandoned hospitals and workhouse buildings, many of them being in very prominent positions, adjacent to tourist centres. The position, apparently, is that the public health authority is not in a position to remove them, and the Board of Works point out, when they are approached, that the building and the land on which it stands is the property of the local authority, and between the two nothing can be done. Many of these buildings, as I say, are in some of the beauty spots, and they are really appalling. They are ruined buildings, many of them being in a dangerous condition and it would be well if this board could get authority to remove them. It would certainly be an amenity if they could be cleared out of the way and, if possible, some arrangement should be made between this board, the local board of health and the Board of Works to get powers to remove them. Otherwise, some of our beauty spots will not be very beautiful for tourists for many years to come.
With reference to the building and establishment of hotels, I want to say that personally I am against hotels being run by this or any other board. No business is so well run as the business that is run by an individual for his own profit. Of course, public companies are running hotels as a business. But a board such as this cannot operate a hotel efficiently. They could not do it, because it is nobody's interest to make a profit out of it. The staff would fall into the belief that it did not matter whether they made a profit out of it or not, because the board is provided with funds to make up the loss. The result is that the hotel will be run inefficiently, and instead of doing good to the tourist industry in the country, it would only handicap that industry. It would be very much better if people who are running hotels as private enterprises could in some way be helped to run those hotels, and some pressure brought to bear on them to provide the best possible accommodation.
That raises another awkward question. In section 14 (a) we have the words that the board may "assist, financially (including by way of loan) or otherwise, in the provision ... of accommodation for tourists". The board should only assist by way of loan. There should be no grant of money whatever to any private individual. No money that is given should be given by way of grant. I do not know what "otherwise" means. Whatever help can be given to a private hotel proprietor apart from financial assistance, I do not know. We have to be very careful that we do not demoralise people by giving them free grants. The idea that hotel proprietors who cannot run their business efficiently can apply to this board for grants is most demoralising. If these people could get money easily it would do them more harm than good.
The Deputy has not read the section at all. There is nothing to that effect in the section.
Yes, there is.
It says "assist financially (including by way of loan)."
The section says assist financially "or otherwise" and that is what Senator Goulding is saying.
Undoubtedly many of these people have got the idea into their heads that they can get financial assistance. If they get that into their heads, if they come to believe that people who are not running their places efficiently can get financial assistance it will be bad for them. People who are not running their places efficiently should not be helped unless they can give an assurance to the board that any assistance given to them is going to be spent in such a way that their accommodation is going to be vastly improved. We have to be careful that careless and indifferent people do not get the idea into their heads that this tourist board is going to help them.
Like Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks, I would like to get a clearer notion of the extension or full meaning of some of the sub-sections of Section 14 with which we are dealing. As Senator O'Donovan says, this is the most important section of the Bill. It is the kernel of the Bill. It sets out the objects of the Bill for which the rest of the Bill merely provides the machinery.
It is, therefore, important to know exactly what it means. I hope I am right in assuming that under sub-section (d) the words "improve and maintain amenities and conditions which appear to the board to be likely to affect tourist traffic" mean the tourist board will have some power of improving transport as well as accommodation. The Bill seems to concentrate upon the provision of accommodation and the control of such accommodation, and I have not seen any direct reference to the improvement of transport. If the board is to deal effectively with the tourist problem, it must pay a considerable amount of attention to the improvement of the present means of transport.
There is nothing which, perhaps, is more likely to discourage the visitor to the country, or to deter our own citizens from moving about the country than deficiencies in the means of transport open to them. There is no doubt that transport facilities in the country are inefficient. Many of the conditions are demoralising to ourselves and deterrent to visitors from other countries. The dirty and insanitary conditions of many of our public conveyances is disgusting to anybody who is not accustomed to them. I would not say that description applies to all our conveyances without exception, but it applies to some in all classes. One finds some taxis in Dublin that one can sit in without being repelled, but the majority of them are objectionable and likely to deter any visitor, and certainly do not encourage anyone to come back to the country. The same sort of criticism is true of our trains, buses, and trams. Many of them of every class are dirty, untidy, and discouraging to travellers. Those visitors who are able to bring their own cars with them into the country are not affected by this. If the tourist traffic is going to be made an asset to the trade and prosperity of the country the transport facilities must be improved. If we are to attract visitors from other countries and to encourage our own citizens to make use of their extended opportunities for holiday travelling we must put before them improvement in the means of transport.
Again, there is a curious lack of coordination between the different kinds of transport. A traveller may have to walk a half-mile or hire a conveyance in order to get from a railway station to a bus station, or vice versa. That happens when the trains and the buses are owned by the same people. It happens in many places. There are examples where you have to drive a half-mile from the train to get to the bus, and that half-mile in a taxi very often costs as much as it has cost to travel 25 miles by bus. I do not know what the reason is or if it is due to some tenderness with the local taxi owners, but whatever it is I see no excuse for it. If we are to have hotels supervised and to some extent controlled and registered, there is no reason why the tourist board should not supervise public conveyances, and railway premises.
There is to be found hardly in the slums more uncomfortable rooms than the ordinary waiting-room of an Irish railway station, whether in the cities or in the country stations. There is one point that I welcome, and that is that it will be within the power of the board to prepare and publish timetables for the benefit of tourists. I do not know whether any Senator has come across any time-table in this country which can be relied on to give with accuracy the time and the fare for any journey. I have not found any such time-table yet. That will be a matter which the board should consider as one of the conditions likely to affect the tourist traffic business. Some of these amenities are badly needed.
There is one other point: I would be glad if the Minister would inform us whether this board will have any influence in trying to persuade the Government to carry out its own responsibilities affecting the tourist traffic. Some years ago a gift was made to the nation of one of the most beautiful demesnes in this or indeed in any other European country. So far as the citizens of the nation are concerned, they have received no more amenities or benefits from that demesne now than they did when it remained in private ownership. When the demesne was in private ownership we were able to walk through it on payment of a very modest fee. Today we pay the same fee. The demesne is no more open to the citizens than it was when it was in private hands. There is now just this small difference, that there is access to some parts that previously were regarded as private. That is the only advantage. But there is this disadvantage, that the demesne is now kept in a worse condition than when it was in private hands, so that the benefit to the citizens is not increased by this munificent gift to the nation. In some respects the amenities now are worse than formerly.
Will the tourist board or any other authority have any power to influence the Government to act in such a matter as this and to show that it is really interested in making the country a pleasant place for strangers to visit, and a pleasant place for the people of the country to move about in?
I should like to join in the plea of Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Goulding to the Minister to reconsider on the Report Stage paragraph (b) of this section which gives power to build and operate hotels. It appears to me to be a very drastic and serious step for the Minister to contemplate. The board that the Minister contemplates setting up is, to all intents and purposes, a Government organisation. It is going to be financed with public money provided by a vote of the Oireachtas. It virtually comes down to this, that the Minister intends to become, to all intents and purposes, a private trader. If he permits this board to build, equip and run hotels, he is going to compete with the private individual. Presumably he is also going to compete, in whatever locality this board builds a hotel, with the local licensed vintner and the local restaurant. Surely it is against all principles of sound democracy that the Government of the country should enter into competition in trade with its citizens? I should like to join in the appeal made by Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Goulding on that point, and also to reiterate what Senator Goulding so aptly pointed out, that any hotels built or established by this board, no matter how ably they may be run, are very likely to prove very sore financial failures for the taxpayers who are providing the money.
With regard to paragraph (a) of this section, which has reference to the provision, extension or improvement of accommodation at tourist resorts, I should like to offer a suggestion to the Minister. This £600,000 is going to be spent, whether we like it or not. I should like to suggest to the Minister that he should utilise the £600,000 to develop a tourist resort in say, Dollymount. After all, if we take Blackpool, I think he said that places like Blackpool would probably be developed in this country to satisfy a certain class of tourist. If that is the case, I think there is no more suitable place for such amenities as Dollymount.
"Black pool" is the English for Dublin and, I think a few years ago, there was a suggestion made that there should be a Blue Lagoon established in "Black pool" or in Dublin, if you like. That being the case, I think the Minister should sink most of the £600,000 in the development of Dollymount. It would stop what some Senator termed here on the last occasion as the vomit forth from the cities and divert those people into a sort of side-water. It would prevent such people from this city or any other city over running the country and from spoiling what the decent ordinary tourist likes.
When the railways were closed down and bus routes were substituted—I have in mind particularly the route from Galway to Clifden —no thought was given to the necessity of providing sanitary accommodation convenient to stations and places along the route. I took this matter up with the transport authorities. It was extremely awkward for people travelling along the route. I heard many complaints about it but I was told there were legal difficulties in the way of making such accommodation available. I think something should be done speedily in that matter. The point that arises in this connection is how this board is to work in with other bodies, with the railway in this particular case. I do not know, and I have no suggestion to make in the matter, but it is one of the things that should now be looked into.
The provisions of Section 14 were fully discussed in the Dáil and I stated, as clearly and as specifically as possible, that the intention of this board is to stimulate and assist private enterprise and not to compete with it. There are no two views as to the desirability of the board proceeding on that line, and those Senators who have spoken as if the function of the board was to compete, to destroy or to interfere with the prospects of success of private enterprise, are far wide of the mark. It is true that under the section the board is given very wide powers. It is necessary to limit these powers, and in process of delimiting them, the Bill appeared to give a direction to the board as to the manner in which it should operate these powers.
That is not the intention, of course. I did mention that in certain exceptional circumstances the board might find it necessary, in pursuit of its general administration, to build and operate a hotel. I gave one example —that the board might establish a hotel at Rhynanna Airport, should air traffic at the port develop to a certain extent but not sufficiently to make the establishment and operation of a hotel by private enterprise a paying proposition. It might be considered desirable in such circumstances to provide an hotel there through the instrumentality of the board. I want to make it clear that nobody has thought of that but myself and that there is no intention of building a hotel there at the present time. I mentioned that merely as an illustration of the type of circumstances in which the board might conceivably build an hotel but it is not intended to operate such an hotel if private enterprise can be induced to undertake the task.
The object of the Bill is, as I say, to assist, stimulate and encourage private enterprise. The board might in certain circumstances of course build an hotel for the purpose of leasing it just as in England in certain areas factories are being built for the purpose of leasing them. The board might find itself the owner of debentures on an hotel and might find itself obliged to operate the hotel for some time, owing to the difficulty of securing another owner for it. It is necessary for the board, therefore, to have all these powers. Senators will see that the functions of the board in the matter of making advances are all subject to Ministerial supervision and I am telling you what Ministerial policy is.
We cannot give this board power to supervise and regulate the conduct of transport services. I think that would be going altogether outside the limits of what we had in mind. But when the board is in existence there will be an authority to which complaints can be made, and which will have extra statutory obligations to approach the particular interests concerned and endeavour by persuasion to get them to undertake the improvements which appear to be necessary and desirable. The same will apply in relation to a number of other matters raised by other Senators here. The board, in the ordinary course, would not have power to do many of the things suggested here, but later on in the Bill there is a section which enables the Minister to declare any particular area to be a special area, that is a special holiday area, and when such an Order is made by the Minister he can give the board more specific power to preserve the amenities, prevent the erection of unsightly buildings, and do other similar things which would prevent the destruction of the scenic beauty of the amenities and facilities of the area, subject, as one of the sections provides, to conformity by the board to a town plan made by a town planning authority.
I think that there is amongst the hotel proprietors of the country no apprehension that the powers of paragraph (b) of Section 14 will be used to their detriment. I have been assured that the Hotel Proprietors' Association is quite satisfied that the board should have those powers, and are not in the least concerned about the prospects of the powers being used to their detriment. The whole purpose for which the board is set up, in so far as hotels are concerned, is to stimulate the improvement of the existing accommodation provided by private enterprise, and to assist the proprietors of those hotels to that end.
One of the principal arguments used against the staff of this board being appointed on an honest and fair competitive basis was that you could not appoint a hotel "boots" on that basis. Now it appears there are not going to be any hotels. Therefore, I suppose there will be no "boots."
It is very awkward to be put in the position of reading into the statute other words than are used in the statute. The statute says one thing and the Minister says there is no intention of doing it that way. It is not logical, and it is not very convincing. I would again ask the Minister to hold back those powers for the time being. I submit that those matters can be adequately dealt with, at present at any rate, by private enterprise. Later on, if he finds the contrary to be the case, let him come in again with another Bill. I will put down an amendment on the Report Stage to test that. I do think that the Minister, if I may say so, is treating the House in a very niggardly way in regard to this whole measure. The only amendment he has accepted is one to ensure that he will lay the Report on the Table sooner than the Act requires. I do ask the Minister to be a little more liberal and accommodating in his attitude to the measure before the House, because a lot of what we are asking is not at all unreasonable. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that those things which are at present being done by private enterprise, and for several years to come can be done by private enterprise, should continue to be done by private enterprise? In view of the fact that the Minister already has power to finance and give loans to those bodies, why go the whole hog straight away when we know that amending legislation could easily be brought forward and carried when a case is shown for it? The Minister said also that all items of expenditure have to be approved either by himself or by the Minister for Finance.
That is not the way I read the statute. It may be so.
I can conceive the board coming along with a number of general propositions in regard to piers, promenades, band stands and so on, and getting a lump sum. Do I understand that the expenditure on every single swimming pool, promenade, band stand or danger-sign, has got to be approved of by the Minister?
Perhaps the Minister will tell us to what extent the sanction of the Minister is required for expenditure, and where in the statute can that be found?
The sanction of the Minister would not be required for detailed expenditure of that kind. The board, I presume, will act in much the same way as the Electricity Supply Board. They will come along periodically with a programme for a certain period. If that programme were to include a substantial capital sum for the building of hotels, then the question would immediately be raised as to whether that was a purpose for which an advance should be made. I am telling the House what the policy of the Government is, and when I make a statement in that regard I think it ought to be accepted. The Senator is complaining that I am acting very unreasonably. I have come here with this Bill, as I have come with other Bills, and I have been met from that side of the House with nothing but allegations that the Bill is designed to favour corruption, and that it is for the purpose of packing Government supporters into jobs. The whole discussion has been underlined by that basis of suspicion, and then Senators ask me to be reasonable. I am prepared to be reasonable if I am met reasonably.
Might I offer a protest? The Minister's whole action does away with the idea of Parliamentary Government. He comes in here with a Bill, which is to become the law of the land, and is to be interpreted by the courts, and he tells us to take his word for what he intends to do. He comes in here with a Bill which provides that this board may build, establish, equip and operate hotels, but he suggests that they are not going to do it. He objects to any criticism. He has brought in a Bill here. He might die to-morrow, and somebody else would take his place. This Bill is to become the law of the land. The building of hotels by the Government is definitely wrong in principle. It is bound to be harmful in practice. He is giving this board powers, which fundamental principle refuses to the Government, to start a commercial enterprise in the country. He has said it is practically certain that the board will not use those powers. He talks about the board possibly having to take up the debentures of an hotel. You do not have to take up the debentures of an hotel and then operate an hotel. Surely we must object strongly to any suggestion that the Government be given power to run a private commercial enterprise in this country? The Minister says there might be some unforeseen circumstance which might make that desirable. Fundamentally, it is undesirable in principle, and in practice it is bound to be harmful. It has all sorts of repercussions.
The Minister says we must take his word for it that they do not intend to do it. He says it is practically certain they will not do it. Then, why put it in the Bill? Here we are giving the Government power to run a commercial enterprise when the Minister himself says he does not think it is necessary. When this practically unforeseeable circumstance comes about, when all human experience, which is against the running of commercial enterprise by the Government is washed away, and when that case is plainly to be seen in the concrete instance, the Minister can come along with another Bill. I must say that I think the Bill is typical of the Minister. The constant idea is that the Government must increase its power all over the place, that it must interfere in every aspect of human activity in this country, and control every aspect of human activity.
The typical attitude of the Minister is that when we take the words as they are put in here, and take the only meaning they can have, he gets up and tells us he does not intend to act in that way, and that we should accept his statement. This is to be the law of the land, but we should accept what he in his good pleasure may decide from time to time to do, and regard the written law as meaning nothing. Is Parliamentary Government to mean anything? Why bring Bills in here? When we try to anticipate what the interpretation of the courts would be, we are told we must trust the Minister. If we are going to do that, why have a Parliament? Why not let the Government do what they like? Why bother bringing in a Bill? We have to trust him as an archangel. Why not let him do away with the Dáil and the Seanad? The Minister's attitude is perfectly absurd.
The Senator either misunderstands or does not want to understand. In certain circumstances the board may have to build an hotel, may have to establish an hotel, and operate an hotel. I gave an example of the circumstances in which they may have to do that. We are setting down here the limits of the board's powers. Consequently, because circumstances which I visualised and described may arise, we think they should have those powers. I have told the House that the intention is that the board will act for the stimulation of private enterprise in the main, but we are setting down the limits of its powers, and in circumstances that can arise, and that may arise, the board might have to exercise the powers we are proposing to give it.
The Minister starts off by saying that I either misunderstand or do not want to understand. I understand perfectly well that he gets up here and protests because we take the words which we see here. He then tells us that we must take his word when he says it is not the intention to do those things, but that certain circumstances might arise. There might be circumstances in this country under which the common good would require that a man should be executed for sheep stealing. Should we pass a Bill and say that the Government may, at its good pleasure, execute for sheep stealing? Not at all, although it might be possible that it would be necessary at some time. The Minister says that all sorts of things may be necessary at some time, and that we must incorporate them in the Bill. I could name a hundred things which may be necessary.
The Minister is quite offended by the fact that, when he tells us they are not going to do it unless it is necessary, we do not accept that. In this Bill the Government is taking power to use public money in order to embark upon commercial enterprises the whole nature of which indicates that they should be run by private parties. He complains that we question that, and then says it is merely in the case of some exceptional circumstances. If the exceptional circumstance is there, he can set it out here and now, and if it is not, when the exceptional circumstance is there he can bring in exceptional legislation. In any country which is not a completely socialist country it would be regarded as absolutely exceptional legislation for the Government to take power to spend public money on running an ordinary commercial enterprise.
The Minister has had a very long session, and he is a rather tired man, and as a result he has given us extremely short shrift in his reply on what is really the most important section in this Bill. This is what you might call the axis of the thing. I should like to correct one point. I do not think Senator Sir John Keane either suggested or inferred any wrongdoing on the part of anybody in the course of his remarks. I made the very simple suggestion that the Minister should clarify the question of derelict building, but in his reply he did not find time to do that. I think we should know definitely whether there is power in this Bill to deal with these things.
I refer the Senator to Section 49, which relates to the exceptional powers which the board may be given to deal with the preservation of amenities in an area which may be declared by Ministerial Order to be a special area. It is only in such circumstances that the board, I think, could interest itself in the question of derelict buildings in so far as they might be held to interfere with the amenities of a special area. I should say that, in the ordinary course, the board will act through local authorities when it comes to the provision of services and facilities in their areas.
If the local authority will not act, will this board have power to make them, in the interests of the tourist traffic?
If the local authority have not the power to do it, the board cannot give them the power to do it. The board can only assist them financially or otherwise in the doing of it.
With regard to the question of mutual accommodation, it is no doubt very exasperating for a person in the Minister's position to have to listen to a lot of innuendoes. It would be equally disastrous to say that, because there are innuendoes made, his attitude towards compromise on this Bill has hardened. Surely each case should be taken on its merits and, where there is a reasonable demand made, the Minister should not suggest that, because on a previous section things were said that he disliked, therefore he was not going to be reasonable on any amendment. The Minister may not have intended it, but that was the inference I drew from his remarks.
I did not intend the Senator to draw that inference. I am prepared to accept any amendment that, in my opinion, has merit, but it must be in my opinion. I know Senators will resent my saying that, but I cannot be persuaded to accept amendments which, in my opinion, are wrong. I think Senators are misunderstanding the purpose of the Bill. The primary purpose of the Bill is to set up a tourist board and to give that board very wide powers to deal with all the problems that will arise in the development of the tourist traffic. There is no useful purpose to be served, I think, by ignoring what is the primary purpose of the Bill. It is to set up a board with wide powers. We have to depend very largely on how that board carries out and fulfils the functions given to it by the Bill to get the results we anticipate. If the board fail, then the whole scheme fails. But, the primary purpose of the scheme is the establishment of a board which will have these wide powers. We are deliberately proposing that the board should be given these powers, and in giving them we are taking them from ourselves.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Byrne, Christopher M.
- Campbell, Seán P.
- Colbert, Michael.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Goulding, Seán.
- Hawkins, Frederick.
- Hogan, Patrick.
- Honan, Thomas V.
- Johnston, James.
- Keane, Sir John.
- Kelly, Peter T.
- Kennedy, Margaret L.
- Keohane, Patrick T.
- Lynch, Peter T.
- McEllin, Seán.
- Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
- (Cú Uladh).
- Magennis, William.
- O'Callaghan, William.
- O'Donovan, Seán.
- O'Dwyer, Martin.
- Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
- Quirke, William.
- Robinson, David L.
- Stafford, Matthew.
- Tunney, James.
- Alton, Ernest H.
- Baxter, Patrick F.
- Butler, John.
- Counihan, John J.
- Crosbie, James.
- Douglas, James G.
- Doyle, Patrick.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
- Hayes, Michael.
- Johnston, Joseph.
- Rowlette, Robert J.
I move amendment No. 5:—
In sub-section (1), in line 39, to delete the word "six" and substitute therefor the word "one."
We have been hitherto discussing matters other than financial. We have been discussing the power of appointing the board, which is absolutely restricted, and then the power of the board, which is absolutely totalitarian. Bad as that may be, it pales into insignificance before the financial provisions. I venture to say that there are financial powers taken in this Bill which are absolutely unprecedented in the legislature of this country, or of any other democratic country, taking away financial control in the completest manner from Parliament. It is hard to treat the matter seriously. Here one comes to the dangers to which a body appointed by the Government for the expenditure of money is open. It is a thing which, if done, wants to be done with the greatest possible safeguards, because human nature is human nature, and people spending other people's money, even with the best intentions, are prone to be generous. In addition to that you have it, of course, in a political atmosphere. It is public money, and every voter thinks he has a right to a share. In this Bill you deliberately encourage laxity in procedure by saying to the public and to borrowers: "Look here, we are giving you this money, and we are taking power to waive altogether by statute the repayment of capital or the payment of interest."
Here yesterday, and for several weeks in the Dáil, we had discussions on the whole danger of our financial position in the light of the Banking Commission's Report. I wonder what would they report on a provision of this kind. This body may make bad debts. I think it will make a great many bad debts, but up will go the flag indicating whether it makes bad debts or not that we are going to take power to write them off without the authority of Parliament or the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Will the Comptroller and Auditor-General have a say as to the waiving of interest? This is a most disastrous thing. It is far more serious than these totalitarian powers to which I referred. It is an invitation to a body which will have the greatest difficulty in keeping within the powers of financial rectitude, as it will have power to write off capital and interest. Will the Minister tell us why this is necessary? We are a democratic country, governed by certain financial ethics which are the sheet anchor of democracy, the control of finance. What is the difficulty of employing in this case the machinery and conditions that the Government employs in other cases? I say that what will happen is that on the part of every person who is in trouble there will be a request for assistance—I do not say from a Party point of view. There is going to be unpopularity, and there is going to be double difficulty, ten times more difficulty, than there would be otherwise. There is going to be the cry: "Do not take proceedings; do not enforce your debt; do not put in receivers. No. Act under these lax powers that you have under the statute."
Will the Minister really say why this is necessary, and why it cannot be done through the ordinary machinery of Government? Surely the Government are making bad debts every day. Surely debts are written off as irrecoverable, but the normal machinery applies. Nowhere is there statutory power given to a body without the sanction of Parliament to write off these debts. For that reason, and in view of all the dangers, I ask the Minister to pause and consider this matter carefully. Let it be considered apart altogether from this gross laxity of finance. I suggest that we proceed with this thing by easy stages.
I remember, two years ago, a debate in the Dáil, when the Minister, in a jocular spirit, bet Deputy Dillon a small sum of money that in a year or two the Galway factory would be exporting hats. I will, in a pleasant and friendly spirit, bet the Minister that in five years' time there will be a train of derelicts following this measure. I do not see how it can be avoided. If he puts the best business people in the world on it, there is bound to be miscalculation and bad debts. Why you invite bad debts in advance passes my comprehension.
How is this test of a profit-earning character to be applied? I can quite understand the profit-earning character of an hotel, and I could possibly see it on certain acquisitions of land; but in the Bill you talk about promenades, and how are you going to apply the profit-earning test to a promenade? How are you going to apply it to a swimming pool? Are you going to test the users of the swimming pool and relate them to the capital expenditure on the swimming pool? I would venture to say that in very few cases would the legitimate objects for which money would be sought satisfy any commercial test of a profit-earning character.
Furthermore, how can you test the revenue aspect of it? More tourists may come, fewer tourists may come. Are you going, in some vague, indiscriminate manner, to say that a certain venture is succeeding because more tourists have come in one year than in another year? The whole thing, to my mind, is very unbusinesslike. It is a travesty of finance to use these terms in the Bill. Take them out and leave these people complete powers to spend the money any way they like. That would be far more honest. In order to be reasonable and to utilise the whole of the machinery of this measure, I suggest we go at it by easy stages. Let us start off with £100,000 now, and when that is spent and there is some cause shown for it, and reasonably good value is obtained for that money, then the Government can ask for another instalment. I desire to press the amendment.
I do not object to the spending of £45,000 a year and £600,000 on the development of the tourist industry, but, like Senator Sir John Keane, I think that the Minister would be well advised to go in easy stages. Even if it goes into a million, if we get value for the money I think the Oireachtas, as a whole, would have no objection to passing an amending Bill in the course of a year or two, when we see how the £100,000 proposed and the £45,000 a year would go. After all, £100,000 is a fair amount to start with. You can do a good deal with £100,000, developing the tourist industry. Together with that, you have £45,000 a year with which to pay officials and, from that, there is nothing coming back.
I have the greatest admiration for the Minister and one of the causes for my admiration is how he can force the Executive Council and the Minister for Finance to give him any money he wants. I feel rather jealous when the Minister for Agriculture puts up some proposals for the relief of the agricultural industry, proposals which, to my mind, and in the opinion of a good many people in the country, would be much more beneficial than some of the schemes for which the Minister has got hundreds of thousands. I believe the other proposals would lead to very much more prosperity in the country, if properly applied to agriculture. The Minister seems to get away with it every time; he can get anything he wants. It all goes to show that the majority of the people have only the city, the urban, outlook. When the poor Minister for Agriculture goes to the Executive Council, he gets no backing.
One of the greatest deterrents to the development of the tourist traffic is the prevalence of strikes. One of the reasons why I would object to spending £600,000 right away is that this country may be held up for months with strikes, strikes of the transport services, and so on. We have some sort of a strike every day in the week in the City of Dublin. Go through Dublin any day and you will find in some street girls or men with notices "Strike on here." I think the time has come when the Minister for Industry and Commerce should make some effort to finish once and for all this question of strikes, particularly lightning strikes.
Is this in order?
Will the Senator go on strike in this matter?
The spending of money on big undertakings may be rendered of little value because of strikes, and particularly lightning strikes. As the Labour people do not seem very pleased by the reference to strikes, I will not proceed further on that line. I earnestly recommend the Minister to consider the amendment proposed by Senator Sir John Keane. I think it is a very generous beginning, and it should be seriously considered.
I cannot see how any people could seriously support this amendment when they allowed the Bill to pass its Second Reading. If you are going to change the figure and bring it down to £100,000, you might as well say that we should destroy the whole Bill. In my opinion, there is the same reason for criticising various other works which have been carried on in this country as there is for supporting this amendment. The idea is to say that we should nullify the whole purpose of the Bill and restrict the whole development of the tourist industry in the country. I would go as far as most other Senators to economise as far as possible in public expenditure, but I certainly would not go so far as to say that we should nullify the whole Bill.
Senator Counihan comes up again with the same suggestion that the Government mentality is all a city or urban mentality, or something else like that. It is about time that the Senator would really start to examine what he is talking about before making such a suggestion. Is it suggested that the expenditure of all this money under this Bill is to take place around the City of Dublin? I say that this Bill, apart from any other Bill, is definitely designed to benefit the country as a whole, and I hope that, as a result of this Bill, we shall see development in the areas for which Senator Counihan has been pleading for a long time in connection with agriculture.
I believe that this Bill will go a long way towards solving the problem of agriculture and that, as a result of this measure, we will have a very considerable market created for our agricultural products, which we have not had in the past. I believe that this measure will help the fishing industry and various other industries which, necessarily, will be of help to the rural population, and that it will give a great impetus to agriculture and the various other callings followed by people in rural areas.
I should like to contribute a few words to this debate, but I should do so with greater confidence, Sir, if I had your assurance beforehand that what I am going to say will not be irrelevant.
It would be difficult to guarantee that.
I consider that there is a case to be made for spending public money on the development of the tourist traffic, but I consider that no case has been made or can be made for spending as much as £600,000 of hard-earned money from the taxpayers' pockets in furtherance of the objects of this Bill. I also think that the procedure proposed here for controlling the use to be made of this money afterwards seems to take that money completely away from the jurisdiction of the Oireachtas. If I am wrong on that point, I hope the Minister will enlighten me; but if I am right I should like to protest, not for the first time, against any form of legislation which removes from the Oireachtas the control of the use of the taxpayers' money. One reason why I would prefer to see only £100,000 rather than £600,000 initially put at the disposal of the tourist development board is that I think it most undesirable that that body should incur the vast expenditure that would be needed in order to erect new hotels in any part of the country. There is, I think, already a sufficient number of first-class hotels owned by the railway companies and others, and, so far as I know, those hotels are not being filled to capacity during the tourist season, and we are doing very poor service to the railway companies if we increase the competition with those hard-pressed bodies by providing new and elaborate luxury hotels to compete with the very fine hotels which the railway companies already provide. I think that no case whatever has been made or can be made for adding at the present time to the number of luxury hotels in any part of the country.
Further, I agree that rational development of the tourist industry would be equivalent, in fact, to an expansion of our export of agricultural products and, therefore, indirectly a help to farmers; but those of us who have been watching the signs of the times must have observed from time to time advertisements in the papers by the owners of big country houses, people who are probably farmers on a large scale, and certainly householders on a large scale, and who find the cost of running a large house excessively expensive, especially in view of the attitude of the State to rates and taxes. These people are experiencing serious financial difficulties in these times, the causes of which I should not like to analyse at the moment, but one of the ways in which they are seeking to adjust themselves to difficult financial circumstances is by turning their private houses into guest houses and that, I think, is a process which helps them and helps the country and with which I believe we should do nothing to provide any form of illegitimate competition. In so far as the development of new and unwanted hotel accommodation might divert a limited amount of tourist traffic away from that kind of thing and towards these new and expensive hotels, that is a process that I, personally, would deplore. Furthermore, tourists who come to visit us come here, not only on account of the charms of our country, but also on account of the charms of our people, and they are much more likely to experience these charms if they come here and become members of a household run under private auspices, whether these auspices are the auspices of a private hotel or the auspices of a private large country house run as a guest house. I think that tourists would carry away a much better impression of our people and that they would make a more intimate acquaintance with our people if they spent their time under a roof like that rather than under the kind of impersonal roof which is likely to be characteristic of the kind of hotels which this board is likely to put up.
Finally, I should say that, if we are serious about the development of the tourist industry—and I for one would welcome large-scale development of it on right lines—we should reconsider our whole attitude towards the question of commercial restrictions. I am not going to delay long on this matter, because I know that the House is sufficiently aware of my views on these matters, but I should like to remind the Minister that those countries in Europe which have most successfully developed the tourist industry are, with few exceptions, countries which maintain substantial freedom of trade. That is the case with reference to Switzerland. It is the case with reference to Holland, and it is especially the case with reference to places like the Channel Islands where, as we all know, there are practically no customs and excise duties at all. I submit that the experience that tourists derive from coming here and having their belongings rummaged about in the most intimate detail by our customs officers is not of a kind that is likely to attract these tourists or to make them want to come here a second time.
Generally speaking, I readily admit that our customs officers display the greatest possible courtesy, especially to strangers, but they make up for that courtesy by acting in the very opposite way when they are dealing with returning natives who have been sojourning abroad. Doubtlessly, they know that the Irish citizens returning from elsewhere are more likely to be trying to defeat the revenue than foreigners who are coming here for a holiday. I myself had an interesting experience of that, which illustrated the point in both respects. I happened to be spending a few weeks' holidays in a part of Ireland which is outside the jurisdiction of the Oireachtas, and I happened to forget to bring a second pair of pyjamas. I remedied the omission in Belfast and got a very nice pair in a shop there, for which I paid, I think, the sum of 17/6. I had the forethought to provide myself with the invoice, and not to take the advice of the seller of the goods, which was not to say anything about them. On returning, the other occupant of the carriage, who was a foreigner coming to visit this country, had the most favourable experience with the customs officer, but when he observed my case his feelings towards our customs officials were considerably altered.
In answer to the question, had I anything to declare, I said "No," but in answer to the question had I been buying anything in Belfast, being instinctively truthful, I had to admit that I had. "What," he said, so I said "That—and there is the invoice," and then he said "I am afraid I will have to charge you for this," and then he turned up a bill full of the usual writings in and changes. "Is this?" said he "an outer garment or an inner garment, because if it is an outer garment it is 60 per cent. duty and if an inner garment 40 per cent. duty?" I said "In that case it is an inner garment," and I am glad to say that he accepted the decision that it was an inner garment. But the whole episode left a very unpleasant impression on my mind and I think on the mind of the other occupant of the carriage. I would like to urge that the Minister if he wants to get on with his tourist traffic development should get off some of his ridiculous commercial restrictions.
Senator Quirke's remarks threw a certain light on this. He says that he thinks the outcome of this Bill may go a large way to solve our agricultural problems. Of course, if that is what is in their minds, what is the good of arguing about throwing away this £600,000? This Bill is an unimportant minor Bill dealing with an unimportant minor industry, if you look at the thing nationally.
Does the Senator suggest that it will not help the agricultural industry?
I say that it will not go a large way to solve our agricultural problems. It will not go any distance that anybody will notice, looking at the thing nationally. There are certain restricted areas in this country to which the tourist business is rather important, but to spend £600,000 on this wild gamble in the hope that something is going to turn up is, to my mind, ridiculous. There are certain districts in which the tourist industry is important and for which the Government, without this Bill, might have done something helpful.
Only last week I happened to be travelling by train to Killarney, and a Killarney man got into the same carriage who told me that business was very bad this year; that certain people have been scrawling over their places those remarks about England, and the usual sort of stuff that we see in the country supporting outrages in England, and so on. He told me that one woman who had got the remarks removed from outside her hotel got a threatening letter, and her experience of how this Government does its job in protecting the ordinary citizens was such that she felt the best thing for her to do was to get the "boots" to scrawl up again the stuff that had been obliterated. In places like Killarney, where the tourist business is important, the Government fail scandalously and criminally to give the ordinary protection the people should have there. Then we are told to throw £600,000 into the gutter and hope that something will turn up. This is a minor industry, and I think there are certain very definite limitations to it. I know a great many resorts in Europe, but as far as most of the resorts in Ireland are concerned, their maximum season is roughly about two months. I think possibly some help could be given to the industry. It might be developed, but I have no great hopes of it. I do not think this country, when it comes to weighing up our national finances and our national economic position, is going to derive any appreciable benefits from anything that could reasonably be expected from this Bill.
We are told in Section 16 that the Minister for Finance may advance £600,000. Then we are told in sub-section (2) that, except with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, moneys advanced must be expended by the board on works, investments or loans under this Act of a profit-earning character. I do not want to analyse that too much, because I might argue whether "of a profit-earning character" applied only to loans or to works or investments. What are the works to which this £600,000 is to be applied, that will be of a profit-earning character?
In paragraph (3) there is reference to the fact that the sums advanced shall be repayable with interest, and when I turn to the next section, 17, we are told that the board shall pay on every sum which is repayable, interest from the date of the advance of such sum until the same is repaid at such rate as shall from time to time be appointed by the Minister for Finance in respect of such sum, and such interest shall be so paid by half-yearly payments on such days in every year as the Minister for Finance shall from time to time appoint. In the next clause we are told that if they fail to pay any interest payable, the board shall pay interest on the interest so unpaid until the same is actually paid. I do not mind betting here and now that the most of the money advanced will not be repaid and that the board will be paying interest on the unpaid interest, and interest on the unpaid interest on the unpaid interest. Six hundred thousand pounds is going to be advanced for works of a profit-earning character. How is it going to be done? I would like to know. We are told the Government is not going to build hotels. Suggestions are made in paragraphs (a) to (h) of Section 14. The publication of guide books is suggested in paragraph (h). Are they going to make profit? Paragraph (g) suggests provision of training for persons to do work which is wholly or mainly connected with tourist traffic. Is money going to be advanced and interest paid and capital paid back on that? Paragraph (f) says that it will be lawful for the board to establish or assist in establishing any form of agency in connection with tourist traffic. Is that going to make big profits so as to enable the board to pay back the money in a reasonable time, plus interest? Paragraph (e) provides that the board may engage in any kind of publicity in connection with tourist traffic. If you advance money for that are you going to get it back? Senator Sir John Keane proposes that the amount should be £100,000. I will have to support his amendment, but personally I think that is too much to pay out on this industry.
If the Government would do its job under the Town Planning Acts or other similar measures certain things could be done. If a solvent hotel wanted to enlarge its receptive capacity or to improve its conditions, the Government could have a scheme like the old Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act for advancing money at interest to them provided they were satisfied.
Some time ago there was a proposal to assist agriculture to the extent of about £2,000,000. We were told there was no money available for that. Two million pounds could be thrown away quite easily on agriculture. On the other hand, £2,000,000 at the present moment could have a very remarkable effect on increasing the agricultural productivity of this country. Six hundred thousand pounds is not the same as £2,000,000 but relatively, having regard to the industries, £600,000 for this industry is ever so much more than £2,000,000 for agriculture. The Minister, like Senator Quirke, apparently sees the thing all out of perspective. There is an idea in this country that it is patriotism to assume that this country has such wonderful prospects in all sorts of directions. I think the tourist industry could be increased in this country but only to a certain limited extent.
Senator Counihan has referred to strikes. I refer to something which has done even more harm. This year might have been a particularly good year for the tourist business. This talk about a possible war on the Continent tends to make English people a bit shy of going to the Continent. That gave us a particularly good opportunity. What happened? Under our Government here we have a criminal organisation promoting outrages in England on one hand, to warn English people against coming here, and if some of them overcome their reluctance induced by that, they come to Killarney and see those things scrawled all over the place, and they see that the people there are afraid to act against the people who do it. If the story I heard is true where the woman when she received the threatening notice got the "boots" to scrawl the thing up again, can you expect to develop any tourist industry?
Would you yourself go to a country under those circumstances, if outrages were being committed as in our own country, and if notices were being scrawled up to hit you in the eye everywhere you went? It is no good talking about making the tourist industry a big industry in this country at the present time, as things are.
There are certain people to whom the amenities provided by this country appeal particularly but there is a very definite limitation in the short season here. The only places where they really make a real business of tourism are countries where they have more than one season. Switzerland has done very well because they have a summer season plus a winter sports season. The South of France, before the war, when I knew it, was largely a winter resort. The French people at that time believed that it was too hot to go there in the summer time. During the war, when the Northern French resorts were rather cut off, they tended to go there and the South of France has developed with a second season. There is only a definite limit to the possibilities here. That limit is further delimited by the conditions in this country which this Government has tolerated for so long and about which I hope and trust they are now going to be active. At the present time there is only one industry that really matters in this country. The hat factories, the industrial alcohol factories, and all the rest please the Minister and we have allowed him to fling our money about, and the country has stood for it. The Minister now comes along and asks for another £600,000 to be thrown out. On this occasion he wisely recognises the possibility that the money advanced may not be paid back, and as this is a futile business he provides that when they cannot pay they will pay interest on interest. At any rate this £600,000 is going to be thrown away as far as getting any of it back is concerned. That is what the Minister proposes as regards this minor industry. I regard this Bill as largely humbug. I think that Senator Sir John Keane's amendment errs in making the figure £100,000. He should have moved for a much lesser sum. One does not mind throwing a certain amount of money away on an experiment because one recognises beforehand that the money so applied may be lost, but on the other hand it is ridiculous to ask for £600,000 on a minor industry of this kind, especially when one sees what is behind it. This is a piffling Bill to deal with a minor industry already handicapped by the conditions that prevail in this country, conditions which have been tolerated by the Government.
In spite of that fact you have a Senator getting up and in the most optimistic way saying that this measure is going to solve our agricultural problems. It is going to do nothing of the sort. If this £600,000 were given by way of assistance to the agricultural industry it might help to do some good to a real vital industry. I would not object to spending a certain amount of money on an experiment, but it is absurd to ask for £600,000. I know that the Minister is used to flinging millions around, so that I suppose £600,000 seems to him to be a mere bagatelle. In my opinion £100,000 for an experiment in the case of this industry, which has certain limited possibilities of development, might be considered reasonable, but to ask for £600,000 is absurd.
Tá mé i bhfabhar an leas-rúin seo ach ní ar son na gcúiseanna a thug an Seanadóir a chuir an leas-rún ós ár gcomhair ná ar son na gcúiseanna a thug na daoine a chuidigh leis atá mé ina fhabhar. Níl mise ag iarraidh daoine coimhightheacha do mhealladh isteach san tír seo mar is é mo bharamhail go ndéanfadh siad dochar don tír agus an staid ina bhfuil sí fá láthair. Ar an adhbhar sin, bhí mé in aghaidh an Bhille iomlán ar an Dara Céim. Dá dtiocfadh linn leath-mhilliún do shábháil as an méid seo chuirfeadh sé feabhas ar an Bhille mar laghdóchadh sé an dochar a dhéanfaidh sé. An obair is éifeachtamhla agus is éifeachtaighe go dtiocfadh leis an bhord seo a dhéanamh ba é comhartha contráilte do chur suas ar na bóithre agus na focla seo do chur orra: "Faire, a Ghaedheala—Seo chugaibh na Gaill arís. Díbeartha as Caisleán Atha Cliath iad, acht tá siad ag teacht chugaibh ar bhealach eile. Ní leis an gunnai ná leis na baignéití atá siad ag teacht acht leis an chainnt, leis na cluichí, na rinnci, na nósanna, agus gach uile sheort Galldachais." Is é sin an rud is éifeachtaighe a thiocfadh leis an bhord a dhéanamh leis an méid seo—£100,000—atámuid sásta a thabhairt dóibh.
I desire to support the amendment moved by Senator Sir John Keane, although I do not agree with him on some other aspects of the finances of the measure. At the outset I want to try to dispel the idea that this tourist traffic although I should like to see it succeed, is not, in my opinion, going to do the slightest good to our farmers. The tourist season lasts for about two and a half months at the outside. The farmer has his ordinary methods of selling his eggs and his meat, and of sending his milk to the creamery. If he tries to sell his produce elsewhere, he will, in the end, get very much smaller prices for it. I do not think that he is going to disturb his organisation. We who live down in the tourist centres know that one day the hotels will take from us any produce that we have to sell at bedrock prices, but the next day they will take nothing. Two days later you may get a message asking if you can supply this, that and the other; so that, in that state of affairs, there is no such thing as a definite solid market from the tourists who come in. When Senators talk about the daily benefit that farmers will derive from this measure, they have got to remember that 240,000 people, each eating an egg, will produce £800, and that 40,000 eating a lb. of meat produces £1,000. You will want a good many tourists coming over by boat to produce those results. I really do not think it is an honest thing to say that the farmer will benefit. He is quite satisfied to sell his produce, and he does not care where it goes so long as it goes from him with the least possible labour.
The main point that the Minister stressed from the very beginning was that the whole of this Bill was a business proposition. I propose to put what other speakers have said in another way, and it is this: that if I were to write to my stockbroker and say that the Irish Government were issuing £600,000 worth of tourist traffic board debentures and asking for his advice as to whether I should buy some of this stock, I imagine that, first of all he would reply and say that tourist traffic all through the world was a variable problem; that outside the strikes which Senator Counihan mentioned and about which Labour disagree, you have various interests affecting tourist traffic, such as war. You have popularity; you have the ups and downs of finance amongst spending people who ordinarily would take their holidays out of their own country, due to financial changes on the exchange.
That was very clearly illustrated lately in Italy. The exchange there is so bad that very few people go to Italy for their holidays—very few, with the exception of the Germans, and they only go because of the desire to adjust the trade balance between the Italians and the Germans. A few years ago the exchange in France was very bad, so that people came to Ireland in very large numbers. I remember that about two years ago we had so many French people touring the country in cars that quite a number had to sleep in their cars. Now the exchange in France is immensely better. A law has been passed dealing with hotel prices and the difference in the rates of exchange. The law lays down that hotel prices cannot go beyond a certain point. Very many more people, for political reasons and on account of the state of the exchanges, are going to completely new countries and are not coming to us.
Then, we have the political troubles which have been mentioned by Senator Fitzgerald, and, finally, we have got two other points which affect our tourist traffic problem. One is the management of our various hotels. A board can spend as much money as they like renovating and improving hotels, providing amenities such as tennis courts, squash courts, and anything suitable for the young people who have only got a fortnight's holiday, to give them something to do besides looking at the view. One can do all that, but, unless there is high class management which produces very good food—and I only know of one in the whole of the country districts in Ireland which really satisfies that point of view—the money is simply thrown away. The people will go away grumbling and say that their holidays have not been spent as well as they could have been in France or Germany. The money is simply thrown away over management unless it is really good. That is what we are suffering from at the present moment.
The last point is that of our climate. Compared with other countries— Switzerland, where there is a summer and winter season; the South of France, and Italy, where they have a very long season of dry weather and are perfectly certain it is not going to rain—our position as regards climate makes a very doubtful proposition. Lord Lansdowne some years ago, in Kerry, kept a rain gauge for 14 years. I admit there is a difficult position in Kerry but, even so, the average rainfall there during the 14 years worked out at 69 inches; in the highest year it was 82 inches; and there were 216 days each year on which rain fell for a shorter or longer period.
A stockbroker, if I am taking advice, will divide investments into various categories—gilt-edged, debenture investments and speculative—and I am quite sure that when he examines this Bill and sees that there is no guarantee of even a 3 per cent. or a 2 per cent. interest on these—as one might put it —£600,000 debentures, he would give me his advice that if I had any spare money I should invest it anywhere else but in this particular venture. Although I have said that, I do not want to damp the Minister's ardour; I know that nothing would damp it, in any case.
I agree with Senator Sir John Keane that we should hasten a little bit more slowly than the Minister is suggesting we should in this Bill. After all, it is only six weeks since the Minister for Finance, in the final words of his Budget speech, told us that, notwithstanding the fact that taxation is going up this year again by one shilling in income-tax and many other things, so far as he can see, the following year things will be no better and we will have to tighten our belts. I think that Senator Keane's amendment is one which the House should consider very seriously. The Minister would be well advised to tell us that he is prepared to amend this Bill on the Report Stage.
I realise that this is a Bill of reconstruction and, while the amount of money involved is very great, I believe eventually—although not bringing a dividend directly to the Government—it will be a source of revenue to the country at large which the Government runs. Week after week in the Summer time we find hundreds of the working class people making their way to England on a week's holidays. This is only the second season in which they have had the privilege of enjoying a week's holidays. They see that provision is better for them there than it is here in Ireland where they have no such provision for a cheap and enjoyable holiday, both in regard to transport to the scene and in regard to catering at those places.
There are a sufficient number of high class hotels and I know some of them myself, where a very short time ago when appearing at lunch or dinner one would get into evening dress—and that in portions of Kerry. It is changed somewhat now: you dare not show your nose there. Yet there was no place to which the working class could go but some huckster's shop to get a cup of tea and some bread and butter, and be charged dearly for it. I hope that much of the money that is to be spent will be devoted to a good form of popular catering that will be within the reach of the working classes. They have their week's holiday once a year, and I know that the bulk of them presently are going to England as they cannot get proper catering in Ireland. I believe that there is an immense field here for the popular caterer. I was surprised to hear that there was only one hotel in Ireland that could cater for the æsthetic tastes of visitors.
I said there was only one caterer who was an expert in dealing with the foreigner in the country district in Ireland that I knew personally.
Well, I have heard from visitors to this country that there are first-class hotels, and I believe everybody acknowledges that, here. There is very capable catering, but the cost is too high. The catering to be done in the future will be largely for the working classes and middle classes who are at present rushing to England, to the Isle of Man, such places as Blackpool. As a matter of fact, I think I would prohibit their going to Blackpool; I would put an embargo against them, and try to induce them, by a seductive embargo, to spend their holidays in their own country. Thousands of pounds—much more than £600,000—will go out of this country unless something is done to keep these holiday people at home. I do not think that the hotels are overwhelmed with business in the South, nor do I think that they will be for some time to come. Owing to the present condition of world affairs, I believe it will be some time before the tourist traffic will resume its normal course, and I would be very cautious in spending a large amount of money.
I would suggest that, instead of new establishments, where possible an old foundation should be used. There are plenty of those in the country which might be reconstructed into suitable venues with money carefully spent on them, under careful supervision. That would bring better results than the establishing of new foundations. I cannot suggest at the moment where new foundations would be desirable or possible except perhaps at Rhynanna and Clonsast, or at such places where there are new developments in industry and new foundations are necessary.
I agree that catering is antiquated, that the hotel that is doing its business well is prosperous in this country, and that other hotels with equal accommodation so far as apartments are concerned are not successful for the want of proper catering. Codes of instruction, supervision, certain conditions laid down—not too strict—would improve the facilities of these hotels. There would be great discontent, I know, if an institution or establishment were set up in those towns where hotels at present exist. It is scarcely just to those people who have been good citizens of the State for many years, to put up such new institutions. I do not anticipate that the Bill will do that.
I believe that the whole idea is a very good one, but would like to support Senator Sir John Keane's amendment regarding the reduction of the expenditure to £100,000. Still I think that the Minister has discretion enough so to adjust the expenditure of the board that they will not rush rashly and without sound judgment and sound advice upon the expenditure of a large sum of money, at least for the present, until matters worldwide are more conducive to a better state of our tourist traffic.
I hope that Senator The McGillycuddy realises that the whole of his carefully prepared argument was demolished by the first sentence of Senator Cummins' speech. It does not matter what his broker would advise him about the profit-earning character of bonds that might be issued to finance this Tourist Development Board. I would not give a penny for these bonds myself. We are not advancing £600,000 with the intention of making a profit for the Exchequer. There will be no profit. If the Exchequer gets back the money, it will be as much as it will get, as much as it is trying to get.
More than it will get.
The Senator may prove to be wrong in that, as he has been wrong in everything else in life.
It is extraordinary that you should say that.
Might I vary my statement to this effect: "provided I get my money back without any interest at all"?
I want to make it quite clear that this £600,000 is not intended to yield a profit for the Exchequer. That is not the aim of the Bill. The aim of the Bill is to increase the national income, and I think it is possible, by the expenditure of this £600,000, to increase the national income possibly by several million pounds per year. The benefit of that increased income will, of course, be reflected throughout the whole of our national life. It will not be confined to one class or section of the community.
The whole of the community will benefit. We may be wrong in that; we may be wrong in our belief that it is possible so to expand our holiday business, and that is not merely the business of catering for tourists from abroad, but catering for our own citizens desiring to take holidays at home, as to increase the income from that source of activity to the extent I have indicated, but I think we can do it. After all, the indications are there that encourage us to proceed. There is a substantial revenue from this business at present and we know that that revenue, substantial as it is for us, is negligible compared with the huge revenue which other countries are getting. Can we get even a small part of the tourist expenditure of Europe?
May I interrupt the Minister to ask if he can give us an estimate of the present revenue from the tourist industry in Éire?
The Senator may not interrupt for a moment. If we can get even a small part of the total revenue of Europe from tourist traffic, this money will have been the best expenditure we ever undertook. I think it is worth trying. It surely is the acme of stupidity to argue that the £600,000 could be better spent on something else. I have no doubt that there is not a member of this House, or of the Dáil, who would not have some particular project in his own mind which he thinks is the most urgent of all the various projects before the country, the one which should be taken up first, and upon which any available money should be spent.
Might I point out that the Minister is not bound to spend the money at all? It might remain in the taxpayer's pocket, for example.
I could think of a dozen better ways of spending every penny of the allowances made to Senators——
And most of the Ministers.
——but that does not say that we can do without them.
We pay Ministers twice as much money——
And we are worth four times as much. That is the difference between us. The point, however, which the Seanad was asked to decide on the Second Reading, and which I thought was decided on Second Reading, was whether it was worth while proceeding with this particular project, in the belief that this expenditure will repay itself, and that the country is not going to lose by this undertaking, but is going to gain substantially. By gaining substantially, as a result of this particular form of development, it will become possible to do many of the things we cannot do now because we cannot afford them. Senator Johnston has, I think, completely misunderstood the main argument in support of this Bill. The question he should ask himself is: can we afford not to undertake this expenditure, and can we afford to forego the revenue which it is possible to get from this particular business?
If the Minister would learn to think clearly, it would be something.
If the Senator would learn to think at all, he would perhaps be able to follow me. The question which the House decided was that it was worth while undertaking this expenditure in order to get that revenue——
It was nothing of the sort.
——and that we could not afford to neglect this opportunity of increasing the national revenue, even though there were other projects which people would like to see undertaken, and certain arguments against this particular project at present. Let us now turn to the amendment, and perhaps I am the first speaker in the debate to refer to it specifically, since Senator Sir John Keane moved it. We have had a Second Reading debate on the whole Bill, including a speech from Senator Fitzgerald——
I was quite in favour of spending £100,000 on this, but not £600,000.
——in which he blames the Government for everything except the bad weather. The bad weather is important, and the Senator should have blamed the Government for it. It is going to have much more effect on our tourist business than all the things he referred to.
I blamed them for throwing away £600,000 in disregard of the bad weather.
The Senator made it quite clear that his attitude is one of blind opposition to the whole Bill. For some reason I do not understand he did not vote against the Second Reading, but his whole purpose in supporting the amendment is to destroy the effectiveness of the measure and to prevent the board from functioning at all. I do not think he could have made it clearer if he had said as much in so many words. Let us turn to the finance provisions. We are proposing to make an annual grant of £45,000 to the board. That money will be voted by the Dáil. The colleagues of Senator Fitzgerald in the Dáil, the Opposition, who adopted a much more reasonable attitude towards this measure than their friends here and who, in fact, were strongly in favour of the measure and trying to improve it by suggestions, urged that the £45,000 should not be voted by the Dáil, but should be paid out of the Central Fund without the necessity for an annual vote, because they thought it would be detrimental to the interests of the board to have an annual discussion in the Dáil upon the activities of the board. That is what they urged, but I retained the provision in the Bill, even though it did involve an annual discussion on the activities of the board.
In addition to that sum of £45,000, which is given to cover certain unremunerative expenses, like advertising, as well as the cost of the administration of the board, there is provision made here for capital advances, repayable advances up to a maximum limit of £600,000. It is not £600,000 a year or £600,000 for ten years; it is £600,000 to be advanced from time to time to the board, as the board may require, subject to their taking opportunities to lend out that money or to invest it in undertakings of a profit-earning character. That is the limitation imposed by the Bill.
Senator Johnson said that he wanted to protest against the control of the Oireachtas over the use made of public money being destroyed by this provision. Senator Johnston cannot have lived so completely detached from our public life here that he does not realise that this is a perfectly normal provision which has appeared, year after year, in Acts passed by the Oireachtas. The Electricity Supply Acts include the words on an average every two years, and we will have another such Bill in the next Session.
Does that not fix the rate of interest?
It does not. It is word for word what is there. It fixed a maximum limit to the advances which can be made for capital purposes by the Exchequer to the Electricity Supply Board, at a rate of interest which is now fixed, but which was fixed by the Minister for Finance in accordance with the provision of the section in the original Electricity Supply Act, which is word for word the section in this Bill.
There is no rate fixed in this Act.
There is no rate fixed in this Act, nor was there in the original Electricity Supply Act. In fact, a sum of £15,000,000 had been advanced to the Electricity Supply Board before the rate of interest to be paid was fixed.
Does this Electricity Supply Act contain subparagraphs (a) and (b) of sub-section (3) of this Section 16?
If the Senator will listen for a minute, I shall endeavour to explain the sub-section in a manner which will enable even him to understand it.
If the Minister will answer the question——
I do not propose to answer any question. I am making a speech explanatory of the section, and I propose to do it in my own way.
I was dealing with the first objection raised, namely, that the provisions of this Bill which authorises the advancing of capital sums from the Exchequer to this tourist board to the limit of £600,000 were equivalent to taking away public control over public money. Senator Johnston protested indignantly against that. I am sure that it is 50 years since the first Telephone Acts were passed and periodically every year or two since there has been a new capital Telephone Act passed which merely increases the amount of the loan to be made for telephone services.
I consider myself corrected there.
This is the capital sum which will be advanced by the Exchequer at a rate of interest; that rate of interest will depend upon the rate at which the Exchequer itself can borrow money. The argument between the Electricity Supply Board and the Exchequer continued for years before agreement was reached. The Electricity Supply Act under which the board was set up was passed in 1927, and it was the present Government in 1934 that fixed the rate of interest which the board had to pay to the Exchequer on the money advanced from time to time. We provide in this Bill, without any further enactment and without the Government coming again to the Oireachtas, that the total amount to be advanced cannot exceed £600,000. When that limit is reached the Government will have to come again to the Oireachtas. That limit may never be reached; or it may be found, as the Government has found in relation to many other projects, that the limit was too small.
The original limit in the first Electricity Supply Act was for advances up to £10,000,000. That limit has been raised now to over £20,000,000. The original limit in the case of the Telephone Capital Acts was a small amount. That limit has been raised several times during the past 50 years. We may find that under this Bill we can invest a much larger sum or, on the other hand, we may find that the money cannot be usefully expended and we may never reach the present limit at all. We are asking the Oireachtas to approve of the proposal to advance up to £600,000. If we are to undertake this enterprise in a big scale at all the sum of £600,000 is a small sum to invest.
It is a small sum for this country to invest in an industry which may be of great and significant importance. Private interests in recent years have invested substantially larger sums in much less important undertakings. The Government has invested considerably more than that sum in undertakings of more than one kind or another, undertakings, perhaps, of less importance from the point of view of their effect upon the national income.
There can be no question of the ability of this country to find the money. Some Senators here appear to be determined to convince themselves that we are bankrupt. There is no justification at all for the idea that our resources are so depleted that we cannot invest £600,000 in a new enterprise. We could invest ten times or one hundred times that amount provided we felt certain that we were to get an adequate return for the investment. If we did feel confident that the revenue to be secured would be commensurate with the investment, we would be obliged to find a larger sum than what I have mentioned, for this or any similar purpose. It is recognised, however, that the board will be confined by statute to making advances for purposes which are capable of yielding a profit; they may occasionally be asked to make advances for purposes which cannot yield a profit. Senators raised the question of the provision of lavatories, and some mentioned promenades and other amenities which will not yield a profit or income of any kind. Yet the general development of our tourist industry would justify advances in such circumstances. The Minister for Finance may release the board from that particular statutory obligation. Senator Sir John Keane obviously misread sub-section (3) of Section 16. The Senator read the section to mean that the board could waive the obligation on the persons to whom money had been lent to repay that money. He said that the Minister could give them relief.
I did not say that at all. I said that the Minister for Finance has already written off capital without reference to the Oireachtas.
We are giving the Minister power to waive or to release the board from obligations, not to individuals to whom the board has lent money, but to release or postpone the repayment by the board of advances made to them. The Electricity Supply Act of 1927 contemplated that the repayment of the capital advances to the Electricity Supply Board should commence immediately. The original Electricity Supply Act made provision for advances to the board to enable it to commence the repayment first of a fixed capital sum in accordance with a somewhat similar provision. The Electricity Supply Board has not paid one penny of the original capital advanced to it yet. The Exchequer, from year to year, has postponed the repayment of the capital advances made to the Electricity Supply Board. This thing to which objection is now taken happened before, and I do not recollect that it produced such indignant protests from this House.
We recognise that the board may make investments which may turn out to be bad investments. Having regard to the nature of the undertakings, it is quite possible that some of the money may be lost. We are giving the Minister for Finance power to release the board from the obligation of repaying that particular sum that has been lost. That may or may not happen. There may be years in which the Minister may be obliged to postpone repayment of the capital sum. But to maintain that that is unusual or that it represents a lack of confidence in the enterprise is unsound. This grant of £45,000 per annum to the board will disappear in time. The board will develop revenue of its own. It will get that revenue from the fees payable by hotel proprietors for registration, from advertisements in its publications and so on. There is no reason why the board should not, in the course of time, be able to build up a revenue which would enable it to meet its administrative expenses. It will be obliged to provide from public sources the money to advertise our tourist resorts. That has been done in the past by other organisations, and the money provided in any one year was substantially less than that which was expended in any one year by one of the British holiday resorts, and completely out of all relation to what was spent by the Isle of Man or any county in England which took up tourist development seriously. Even the small additional amount which the annual grant will provide for publicity is insignificant in comparison with the expenditure undertaken by other countries that have not anything that can compare to the possibilities we have in the way of tourist development.
I think it would be unwise to accept this amendment. The acceptance of it would entirely defeat the purpose of the Bill. It would make it impossible for the board to draw up a programme for a number of years ahead. The board will have to plan for a long period, and in order to be able to do so it has to know what is the total capital available to it. If the board were to know that the total capital available to it was only £100,000, and that any other advances depended upon measures to be passed by the Oireachtas, it would hamper their efforts and make it impossible for them to plan on a proper basis. It is only because of the fact that it can work on a basis years ahead that the board can plan properly. It is for that reason that I say this amendment cannot be accepted.
I rise to protest against the Minister's attitude. He assumes real ignorance of the method of Government in this country. The last time I spoke the Minister had been indignant that we should take the text of a Bill and construe it in the terms of its own clauses and not on his promises. Again, the Minister is indignant that this amendment has been put down. The Minister assumes that on the Second Reading the Seanad sanctioned the spending of this £600,000. That is a complete misunderstanding of what Parliamentary forms mean. Very often the Second Reading of a Bill, as I take it, is merely assented to because it is assumed that the machined majority of the Government will operate. The Second Reading actually does mean nothing more than approving the general principle of the Bill.
The general principle of this Bill is that a board is being set up and is being financed by the Government to do something of an experimental nature so that it can be of assistance to the tourist industry. The Minister then goes on—he has another string to his argument—and having said that the proposal to reduce the sum of £600,000 is a reversal of the decision indicated by the Second Reading, he turns to the second string and says that it is most improbable that it will be spent at all, or that only a small amount will be spent at a time. You cannot argue with a man who has not some degree of honesty or intelligence —and I do not know which is missing in the Minister.
Why stint yourself? Say I have neither.
He says that if we can get some small return, why should we question this expenditure? It reminds me of the advertisement for a sweep ticket, "Can you afford to spend 10/- in order to win £30,000?" I ask can we afford to spend £600,000 on this experiment when we know that so many other experiments in which the Minister was involved meant a dead loss to the country? I think it is an insult to this House for a man to come in, to begin with an "if", and to argue on that premise, as if it were a positive statement. The whole speech of the Minister was most dishonest. He can also be offensive.
You cannot, of course.
I remember one time when this Minister was challenged in the Dáil about his promise to abolish unemployment, he got up and said that unemployment was abolished. That is the sort of thing you cannot argue with. If a man has no regard for his own honour or for truth, you cannot do anything about it, but, to my mind, it is an insult to have that sort of speech made.
On a point of order, surely we are getting into a perfectly childish state of abuse and back chat? I do not think this is the way to discuss an important Bill. In order to get the feeling of the Minister on this amendment, I have sat here from 3 o'clock to a quarter to nine without having had anything to eat, just as the Minister has had to sit here for the same period without food. If we want to have our business carried out properly, we ought to avoid recriminations and allegations as to whether people are or are not——
Is this a point of order?
The Senator may resume.
I think we have had a most offensive speech from the Minister. Of course, we expect that sort of thing from him. The Minister consistently misrepresented, whether wilfully or otherwise, practically every statement made here this evening. I think it is an insult to our intelligence to have that sort of speech made here. I think it is an insult to the Seanad to suggest that when we gave a Second Reading to the Bill we automatically committed ourselves to it and precluded ourselves from making any change in the sum of money to be spent on this experiment. That, to my mind, is an insult to the House. I just want to point out that the Seanad, in giving approval to the general principle of the Bill, necessarily reserved the right to make certain stipulations with regard to finances. The Minister has come here and tried to misrepresent our action in that regard. That, I think, is most offensive and insulting to the Seanad.
Perhaps I might be allowed to say a word before this amendment is put. The whole proceeding with reference to the Bill and this amendment reminds one of the statement made by a cynic that women spent too much time in making bait and not enough time in making cages. He was referring, of course, to the eighteenth century woman, not to the modern woman. The point of the remark is obvious. The point I should like to make is that we, that is the country and the Government, are inclined to devote too much time and too much money to schemes of this kind— attracting people by advertisement and propaganda to come and visit our shores whereas what we should really concentrate our energies on is to make the country an attractive place to live in, in the first instance, for the citizens of the country. If the country is made a pleasant place for ordinary citizens, you will have lots of people coming here, not necessarily to spend a week or two but to take up permanent residence. I can tell the Minister that there are many cases in which his actions and the actions of others like him, have had the effect of preventing former citizens of this country from taking up permanent residence here. These are the people we want to attract, not as tourists or as casual visitors, but as permanent residents— returned exiles.
At this rather late hour, although there may be a lot more than can be said on this amendment, I would ask that it be put.
Before the amendment is put, there are one or two points I should like to make. I came in at the end of this discussion and I should like to say that I think the Minister has adopted a wrong attitude with regard to the Bill in this House. The House is anxious to be helpful and constructive but if the Minister adopts a certain tone and indicates that he wants to bludgeon his way through, he has to take the consequences. The Minister had better realise that reason is a much more powerful instrument here than the big stick. The House is quite prepared to be fair to the Minister but we have had experience that many of the legislative measures which he has put through have proved anything but effective, and have brought anything but the returns which he prophesied they would bring.
I could name five or six schemes for which he was responsible that have been very disappointing. Senator Johnston has said that these schemes have not brought the fruit which was anticipated from them. When you get the Minister talking in such an irresponsible fashion as I have heard him talk since I came in, one begins to consider the wisdom of the policy which he is advocating. The Minister, for instance, said that we could invest ten times or even 100 times £600,000 in a scheme of this kind. One hundred times £600,000 is £60,000,000. When the Minister makes a statement like that, surely the House cannot but think that he has not given very serious consideration to this problem. I want to draw the attention of the House to this point. In reply to Senator Sir John Keane, he said that the board will make loans and that the Minister must be given power to postpone repayment. I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that it is quite clear from that statement that loans are going to be made by the board to non-creditworthy people.
He said that the Minister would have power not only to postpone but to waive repayment.
I say that loans are going to be made to people who are not creditworthy. Because that policy is seen in advance, the Minister is being given power to waive repayment. I said here yesterday, in reply to the Minister for Finance, that if you gave £500,000 of that £600,000 to the Agricultural Credit Corporation, you could underwrite all the bad loans they would have to make in this country. I say in addition that you would get three times as much of a return in this country by using that money to make credit available for farmers as you are going to get in this way. As Senator Johnston has said, if you want to make your country and your people attractive to outsiders, you should improve the condition of the people inside first. It is anything but attractive at the moment and it is schemes like this that are making it unattractive for people who would like to have attractive homes in the country. Outsiders come to see something more than your scenery, your green fields or your good looking cattle. They want to see what the people are like. If the people are grumbling, complaining, poverty-stricken,——
They ought to come here to see that.
——and depressed because they have a Minister for Industry and Commerce rushing through all sorts of schemes that are preventing agriculture staggering to its feet, because these schemes are all bearing down upon agriculture, the country is not going to be attractive to outsiders. What we said to the Minister on a previous occasion is perfectly true, that with all his enthusiasm for schemes such as this, he is doing more harm to the country than good. All this money could be much better spent in other ways in this country. That conviction is very strong, not only amongst Senators here, but amongst hundreds of thousands of people outside, and even amongst countless thousands who do not usually share our views. If the Minister had taken a more reasonable attitude, some of the unpleasant things which were said in his regard this evening would not have been said, and this Bill would have been through the Committee Stage long ago.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Byrne, Christopher M.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Cummins, William.
- Goulding, Seán.
- Hawkins, Frederick.
- Healy, Denis D.
- Hogan, Patrick.
- Honan, Thomas V.
- Johnston, James.
- Keohane, Patrick T.
- Lynch, Peter T.
- McEllin, Seán.
- Magennis, William.
- O'Donovan, Seán.
- O'Dwyer, Martin.
- Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
- Quirke, William.
- Robinson, David L.
- Ruane, Thomas.
- Stafford, Matthew.
- Tunney, James.
- Alton, Ernest H.
- Baxter, Patrick F.
- Butler, John.
- Counihan, John J.
- Crosbie, James.
- Douglas, Patrick.
- Doyle, Patrick.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
- Hayes, Michael.
- Johnston, Joseph.
- Keane, Sir John.
- Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
- (Cú Uladh).
- McGillycuddy of the Reeks, The.
- Rowlette, Robert J.
Under this section, so far as I can see, the large bulk of the expenditure will be of a nonproductive character. We have as the result of a good deal of weariness of the flesh at last got the Minister to say that a large portion of this expenditure may be regarded as an addition to the deadweight debt. He admitted that it is not going to be directly reproductive. He hopes it is going to be indirectly beneficial in the increase of tourist revenue in a way that I suggest it will be quite impossible to relate to the expenditure, quite impossible to determine in any satisfactory or statistical manner. A large portion of the expenditure on swimming pools, promenades, publicity, holiday camps, youth hostels, etc., is not of the kind that can be expected to be reproductive. Would it not be better to set up some financial machinery which could segregate capital expenditure in the nature of grants from capital expenditure which is intended to earn revenue? That would avoid these iniquitous sections which give the Minister for Finance power to waive capital and to waive interest. The Minister has led us to believe that these powers are contained in the Electricity Supply Acts. If the Minister tells me so I accept it, but I am still at considerable doubt that the Minister for Finance can waive, without any authority but his own ipse dixit, capital expenditure under the Electricity Acts. I do not know what the machinery would be. I imagine it is in total contradiction of the financial safeguards set up in the Constitution which the Dáil is to possess. Things being as they are, I would much prefer to see some differentiation made as to what shall be clearly expenditure of a deadweight character and let it be known from the start that no interest is to be expected on it. Let us separate that from advances, and let those advances be pursued as commercial advances to the utmost possible limit of the law. It is most dangerous to give someone power to write off those advances.
The Minister must not misunderstand me. I know the Minister for Finance is going to have no contract with the borrowers, but once you give this power to waive interest to the board it will be passed on down the scale. The board itself will naturally be lax and not as diligent as a commercial house spending its own money would be in pressing borrowers to the utmost limit of the law. The whole of this thing is so lax and so loose that even at this late hour I am making this protest. To lead us to believe that the Electricity Supply Board is any guide is pure nonsense. It is a commercial body dealing with one article which is in general demand, which is supplied to business and commerce, and which obviously is an article of trade the profit-earning character of which can be clearly examined. Here is a loose, inchoate, speculative class of service dealing with swimming pools, promenades and tennis courts.
And dance halls.
Yes, if you like, dance halls, and a whole lot of pleasure amenities to which no profit earning test can be applied and of which only the remote test of general tourist statistics can give some indication whether the expenditure is wise or not. I consider that, even in the face of the amendment which has been defeated, something should yet be done to segregate this expenditure and to have some reality about the advances and also a knowledge of what is the deadweight debt, which the House and the public should equally well know.
I wonder does Senator Sir John Keane remember the section we discussed earlier? Has he no confidence in the auditors that are to be appointed under an earlier section? What are the functions of auditors? What is the idea of the section which provides that immediately after the audit, the documents should be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas? Has the Oireachtas nothing to say in regard to the expenditure of the money? One would think from the tone of the Senator's speech that everything was taken out of the control of the Oireachtas altogether, and even out of the Minister's control. That is my reason for asking him what are the functions of auditors and what is the reason for laying the audited accounts before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Auditors cannot stop waste; they can only reveal waste after it has happened.
It has to be done yearly, and neither House of the Oireachtas will be satisfied with wastage if it can be shown to be exorbitant, even according to Senator Sir John Keane's standard. I do not think any Party or any member of the House would be satisfied with it. I think, to use a vulgarism, that there is a good deal of eye-wash attached to many of the statements of Senator Sir John Keane so far as lack of control and supervision are concerned. The accounts have to be audited, and, if I understand Section 10, they have to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, and are subject to the supervision of both Houses.
Perhaps I might intervene to make clear what the position is. Senator Sir John Keane may have been misled by some remarks that were made to-day. I hope I am not responsible for misleading him. This £600,000 of an advance to the board will not be given by way of grant to the board. It will be advanced, but will be repayable with interest. Possibly some part of the expenditure may result in the building of a promenade which is not revenue-earning, but that does not mean that the board is going to give money for building the promenade. It may lend the money to a local authority for that purpose. The advance, so far as the board is concerned, will be a good advance, and will be repayable, and until repaid will be earning interest for the board. There is a provision under which the Minister for Finance may assent to some particular advance being made by the board on a different basis, but the normal procedure laid down in the Bill is that the board must invest the money on profit-earning undertakings, and profit-earning undertakings there may take the form of an advance to a local authority of money which will be spent by it in the provision of amenities which will not be profit-earning. I do not think there is any question of adding to the deadweight debt of the State, except in so far as the Minister may waive payment of advances, or authorise, in exceptional cases, the payments of advances on terms other than those set out in sub-section (2).
I did not state that the Electricity Supply Acts provided for power in the Minister to waive payment of advances. That is not so. He, in fact, postpones payment, but one could push the analogy between this and the Electricity Supply Board too far. The Electricity Supply Board had a monopoly in the sale of a commodity or a service required by the people, and it charged whatever price was necessary to cover the cost of providing it and interest on advances. This is a different type of service altogether. It might be regarded as more of an analogy with the trade loans guarantee service except that, in this case, we are making the advance over a guarantee. Certain guarantee advances were lost, and the State had to wipe out the amounts and bear the loss. On others there was no such loss, and the amounts advanced were paid in full, and until repaid interest at the full rate was met when due. We hope the board will be able to conduct the business without incurring any loss at all, but because we recognise the fact that it may incur a loss we take power to deal with the situation. That is the only reason the sub-section is there.
I think the Minister is still an incurable optimist. After the alcohol factories and the Roscrea factory, where half a million or a quarter of a million of money was involved, it should be up to the Minister now to be more concerned about repayments. We have to get down to the normal fact that a sight of this £600,000 will never be seen again. It will simply be waste, and it is time for the Minister to get back to normal things.
One cannot argue with a prophet, and I do not propose to try.
The unfortunate thing is that I am talking only of what is past.
It is an extraordinary thing to hear the Minister accused of being an optimist. I would certainly rather be an optimist, and be in the Minister's position, than be a pessimist. If we had less pessimists and more optimists the country would be better off. What is wrong with many members of the Opposition who have spoken against the Bill is that they are suffering from an inferiority complex. They cannot realise that anything can be done properly in this country. One Senator told us that our hotels could not provide food. I say that one can get as good food in certain hotels here as in any other country in the world. Other Senators told us that other things were wrong. The Minister is in possession of the facts. He put the facts before the House, and it accepted the principle of the Bill on the Second Reading; yet Senators now tell us because the Minister is an optimist that they are against it.
I want information as to whether there is any way of showing if the rate charged the board on advances shall bear any relation to the rate at which the Government borrows. For instance, the Government might borrow at 4 per cent. Would it be possible for the Minister for Finance to lend to the board at 3½ per cent?
Not without the consent of the Dáil.
Where is there any statutory provision to that effect?
Somebody would have to vote the balance, presumably members of the Dáil.
That need not be so, because you might have it in the general service in the Budget.
That is improbable.
Another factory gone west.
The Senator should join the staff of a comic paper.
Surely, the Minister is clear as to how, if there was a loss, it would be met. In view of what the Minister said on the previous section, as loan in certain eventualities might have to be made to a non-credit undertaking.
Loans will be made to the board, and only to the board.
But the board is going to dispense the money. While the Minister might forgive the board in a case where loans were not being repaid as they should be, if the board is up against the proposition that there is an undertaking about which there is a doubt as a paying proposition, is it possible that the rate of interest would be lowered? If the Minister anticipated that, he must have in mind how the balance would be met.
The rate of interest cannot be fixed, because no one can say at what rate the Government could borrow from time to time.
I move amendment No. 6:—
In sub-section (1), after the words "sporting rights" in line 59 to insert in brackets the words "(where, except in cases where the land is required for building purposes exclusively, these sporting rights have not been exercised during the previous three consecutive years)".
I have no desire to interfere with the compulsory purchase of land on which there are sporting rights. It is obvious that when a person buys land or buildings he must get all the rights attached. I have no quarrel with the compulsory purchase of land for the purpose of utilising the sporting rights and handling them over to the board. All I seek is to protect a very small number of people who own and have used their shoots for a consecutive number of years, which the board may seek to acquire. In some cases, possibly the majority, these shoots have been owned and shot over for generations, and with the enormous amount of shooting there is in Ireland, it should be possible, if hotels require shooting, that they should get them other than from the few people who have paid their exorbitant annual fees to the Minister for Finance for the right to shoot over their land. Probably they did that at considerable cost to themselves. As the number affected is not very large, I ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
I should explain that Section 19 is similar in form to a corresponding section in other Bills passed here which provided for the compulsory acquisition of land. We have had to take that safeguard in a number of cases concerning water works and projects of that kind. People read into the first sub-section of this section a significance which was not intended. They saw the reference to sporting rights and they interpreted it to mean that the board was going to undertake the reorganisation and the development of the sporting rights of the country in the same way as the Minister for Agriculture might undertake the reorganisation of inland fishing. That is not intended. It merely means that if the board acquires land it will acquire whatever rights go with the land. The fear in Senator Robinson's mind, and which caused a very large number of sporting organisations to make representations to me on somewhat similar lines, has no foundation in fact. At the same time, I am anxious to eradicate it.
When it was given expression to in the Dáil, I proposed to meet it by inserting in sub-section (2) a provision to the effect that the board could not exercise its compulsory powers of acquisition except with the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I felt that was a method of dealing with the problem, even though some might not consider it satisfactory. I gave an assurance to the Dáil that the powers of compulsory acquisition would not be consented to in any case where the board were proposing to acquire properly developed shooting rights otherwise than in connection with building operations. I do not think the board will be undertaking building operations in circumstances of such a character. If they acquire lands, they have to acquire any rights that are going with the lands—that is the sole purpose of the section. It is not the intention of the board to undertake the general acquisition of sporting rights with a view to their development or extension. We are merely inserting the section in the standard form that has appeared in other measures.
I quite understand the Minister's point. I have no delusions at all on the matter. I belong to a game organisation which last year, or two years ago, drafted a memorandum for submission to an inter-departmental committee, with representatives of Lands, Justice and Finance. I know that nothing came of it and I do not suppose anything is going to come of it in this Bill. That is not my intention. What I want to know in connection with this Bill is, has the board the right to take a shoot?
No; they have the right to acquire land and whatever rights go with the land.
Have they the right to acquire land for other purposes than building on it? I think that this Bill gives them the right, regardless of what Minister there may be in the future, to take land on which there is shooting, for the purpose of developing the shooting. There are hotels in Ireland at this moment which advertise shooting. It is a mad thing to do in many cases and it will probably destroy the hotel, because when people come along to shoot there is nothing to shoot; the guts have been shot out of it again and again by previous visitors. I want to make sure that this Bill does not give the board the right to take a shoot from an owner, a shoot on which he has shot for at least three years and in connection with which he has made a substantial contribution to the Minister for Finance, as we all have to do.
If the Senator could get a simple way of providing for that in the Bill, I would have no objection to the insertion of it. I am satisfied, however, that you cannot get a simple way. The Senator has visualised certain circumstances that might arise, but he did not contemplate the board acquiring land for the purpose of building. For instance, they may acquire land for the construction of a promenade or to give access to a beach, or for some other such purpose, and they may desire in connection with any land they purchase to secure all the rights going with it. I am prepared to give the assurance that my consent will not be given to the acquisition of shooting facilities, as such, merely for the purpose of their development. The compulsory powers of acquisition will be used only in the purchase of land required in connection with the board's general work. If the board want to acquire fishing or shooting rights, they should do so voluntarily, and I think there will be no difficulty in doing so voluntarily, and that compulsory powers will not be required.
I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance, but, unfortunately, that is only a temporary thing. Would the Minister get the officials of his Department to look into this matter between now and the Report Stage?
Take, for example, the measure that authorises the Electricity Supply Board to carry on their undertaking at Poulaphouca. The very same thing applies. Are the Electricity Supply Board going to buy a shoot as a shoot? They are not going to do so, although they have precisely the same powers. People read in this Bill a new significance because of the nature of the tourist board, but it is not intended that the board should undertake the development of sporting facilities. Some people urged that they should, but I did not consider that that should be part of their activities. I tried to meet the difficulty in the Dáil. I told the Dáil frankly that I could not see any clear and simple way of dividing between the two purposes for which the board might acquire land. The only effective way I could see was to put in this provision that they could not exercise compulsory powers without getting Ministerial consent. The Dáil accepted that as a reasonable safeguard.
Would you not consider where the rights had been exercised for three years?
I am told by the people who drafted the Bill that it would be practically impossible to prepare an amendment which would be any safeguard at all.
I feel that my amendment would be a reasonable safeguard.
But they might require land for purposes other than building purposes. I do not know if the Senator contemplated that possibility.
Perhaps I did not. I rather regarded all the activities of the board as being concerned with building purposes, whether it is a promenade or a swimming pool. I regarded them as coming within that category.
In the Dáil Deputies pointed out that the board might acquire land in a beauty spot and that might be destroyed by the cutting down of timber or the erection of unsightly buildings. One amendment was moved and it was designed to prevent any alteration being made in the character of the land from the day the board started to acquire it until they finally got possession. We have given the board power to deal with certain contingencies that may arise. It is not intended to deal with sporting rights at all. I am sorry the doubt has arisen on that matter.
One cannot cut down timber without the permission of the Government?
According to law.
On Section 20, it is set out there that the board may, with the Minister's consent, make regulations. Usually, such regulations are laid on the Table of the Dáil or the Seanad and there is no provision made here for that.
These are regulations which we are giving the board power to make. You will see throughout the next part of the Bill quite a number of matters suitable for regulations arising out of the registration of premises.
Does the Minister not consider that such regulations should be laid on the Table of the Dáil?
I do not. These are very minor matters.
On Section 24, is there any possibility of discovering what is the difference between hotels, guest houses, holiday hostels, and so on? I ask the question because I understand that certain people are in a difficulty as to how they are going to be classified, and what the definitions are going to be. I know that this is relevant to other parts of the Bill, but how does a person hold himself out as a hotel keeper?
Section 25 provides that the board shall make regulations prescribing the general character, the type of accommodation and service provided, and the other qualifications which shall be requisite in respect of any premises in order that such premises may be eligible for registration in the register of hotels, and so that a person might be entitled to be regarded as a hotel keeper. These are the names in use and the various classifications that, we think, might arise.
Is it not rather a pity that they must keep to these names? My reason for saying that is that I think some of them are not in use. I am not making a contentious point at all, but it struck me, when reading over this, that the names here were rather fixed by the Bill, whereas the board might very easily be able to get a better classification than some of these that are fixed by the Bill. I would prefer that the board should not be absolutely tied to these names and classifications. And I think that it would be better if some elasticity were allowed.
Well, it is done in other countries—in France, for instance.
Yes, but not necessarily these names. I think that the Minister, between this and the Report Stage, should consider the matter of allowing for a little more elasticity with regard to these names and classifications, and I think that the full powers at the end of the sub-section are rather a mistake.
On the section, Sir. Will not this section be very difficult to work? How does a man hold himself out as a hotel keeper?
I should imagine that if a guest walked up to the front door and asked, "Is this a hotel?" and the proprietor said "Yes," the latter would have committed an offence in that case.
Yes; but suppose he described a place in, say, Tramore, as "The Shelbourne," without describing it as a hotel, would that be an offence?
That point was raised in the Dáil, and, according to the legal advisers, I am informed that in that case the person would not have described it as a hotel. A hotel must take guests, and if a guest, in that case, asked if it were a hotel and the proprietor said "Yes," that would be the end of it, and he would be caught.
On Section 39, Sir. What is the basis of grading? Is it size or quality, or what is it?
There is, of course, a number of grades at present operated by voluntary organisations such as the A.A., and, I think, the Tourist Association itself, and they depend very largely on the requirements of the members of these organisations and, in the usual cases, the cost of accommodation determines the grade as well as the standard of accommodation. We are not tying down the board to any particular form of grading. They can grade on the basis of cost or standard, but we think that they should have some grading system in order to enable a visitor to the country, when getting the guide book, to know what type of hotel he was going to stay in.
Paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) says:
... fails or refuses to give an inspector on demand any information which such inspector is entitled to demand.
How is a hotel proprietor to know what information an inspector is entitled to demand? The inspector can ask him anything and can cross-examine him for an hour.
The inspector can ask him for such information in relation to such premises as may be reasonably necessary for the purposes of the administration of the Act.
Where is that?
It is in sub-section (1). That is the information which the inspector is entitled to demand.
And I presume that a court would decide in case of dispute?
I do not know if I am reading the section correctly, but it appears to me that an inspector may come in and, in the absence of the proprietor or manager, interrogate an employee about his employer's methods.
Surely, if that is considered necessary, there should be some restriction on it such as that, if an employee is interrogated, it must be done in the presence of the manager or the owner. It seems to me to be an extraordinary situation that an inspector may single out a particular employee and ask him questions about the business. There is a certain objectionable feature about that, I think—that you can get a man's employee and ask him questions about his employer's business, instead of going to the manager or the owner, or at least to the employee in the presence of the manager or the owner.
Well, taking the experience of the Factory Acts, where you have somewhat similar inspection of premises, very often, the most useful way of getting required information is to get it from somebody other than the proprietor, particularly where the information sought is concerned with evasions of the Acts.
As far as the Factory Acts are concerned, I am all for the position that an inspector can interrogate a person working in a factory as to the conditions under which that person is working, but I do not think that it is a fair comparison with the matter of inspection here.
In the ordinary course, I should imagine that the inspector will get the information he wants from the proprietor or manager of the premises, but it is considered necessary that there should be power there of that kind in order to ensure that there will be no difficulty in getting information. In the case of a number of Acts of this kind, in order to avoid difficulties of administration that cannot be foreseen, we have to take larger powers than are deemed absolutely necessary, and in the case of hotel inspection it is believed that difficulty might arise unless the inspector had that power ultimately at his disposal in case the information were refused by the proprietor or manager.
For instance, the inspector might have information of a particular character which we might desire to verify. The tourist board might get a complaint, for example, that a guest in a hotel had been charged more than the prescribed rate. A hotel is required by the Bill to fix the scale of charges, and there might be a question of removing that hotel from the register or penalising the hotel proprietor in some way for the alleged offence. In such a case, in order to get information that would enable the board to reach a decision on the matter, the inspector might have to go to some person other than the proprietor, such as the hotel clerk or accountant.
Would not that create very unsatisfactory situation as between the employee and the employer? I myself think that it would be disastrous. If there is one thing that you need in the hotel business, it is the loyalty of your staff, and if a proprietor felt that there was one member of his staff whom he could not trust absolutely to stand by him, he would not keep that person for a moment, particularly if he saw that employee in conversation with an inspector.
The insertion of that provision is really a protection for a member of the staff, because he cannot refuse the information if the inspector asks for it; whereas if that provision were not there then the mere fact that the waiter was seen talking to the inspector might get that waiter sacked by a suspicious employer even though they were only talking about the dog races.
That is the trouble; it will not protect. A man has to qualify for registration and has to keep his hotel up to a certain standard in order to keep his registration. If he is not prepared to keep up to that standard, the Minister or the inspector or the board should have some method other than going and prying, or spying almost, or having his staff spying on the proprietor of the hotel. I think that is very serious. It is definitely wrong.
I want to give the picture of administration. The inspector arrives at the hotel. If the proprietor has a guilty conscience he is missing, and the inspector then goes to the responsible clerk or whoever is in charge and gets the information. He does not actually establish the position of the employee he questions.
It is like the old serving of a summons.
I would like to ask the Minister would it not be a good thing to put into this section a provision that would protect people against imposters passing themselves off as inspectors?
It is provided in the Bill that the inspector must produce to the person concerned his appointment in writing as an inspector.
Is that in the Bill?
I understand the Minister's bona fides in this matter, and his desire to see that the thing will be properly administered. I did not give the matter careful consideration, but if the owner of the hotel and the manager absent themselves when an inspector comes along, I wonder could there be a provision inserted that the registered proprietor or the manager, or in their absence any person employed in such premises, shall furnish the information. I would suggest something of that kind. I understand the Minister's point well, but I do not think he will protect the employee. Granted that the proprietor is the kind of person who is evading his responsibility, the board itself could prescribe a regulation that if their request is not complied with within a certain period, the man is automatically found guilty, like the person who does not make an appearance in a court. But from the point of view of the employee, if he is dealing with the kind of employer who will not answer the inspector, then that employer is going to give a very bad time to such employee, even though he is legally entitled or legally compelled to answer the inspector.
I will consider that.
There is one point I would like to raise. The proprietor or manager is questioned by an inspector, and he knows that he has got to give such information as is reasonable for the purpose of administering this Act. If he has any doubt he will refuse the information until he is satisfied by argument that that is something that ought to be given. The position of a minor employee is that he can be accused of giving information that was not reasonable. He cannot go to a court, and I do think it is undesirable, except on specific instructions of a senior official of the board, that you should go to employees other than managers or assistant-managers. I am thinking of it from the point of view of smooth working. I think there should be some way of working it that would not make it exactly the same as the Factory Act. It was the Minister's references to the Factory Act that brought me to my feet, because I think that is not the spirit in which you want this particular thing dealt with.
There is a small point on 44. I have been asked by various hotel federations to draw attention to the fact that the marginal heading is somewhat misleading. I know, of course, that the margin does not matter as far as the law is concerned.
The section was amended in the Dáil.
I think it is a bit misleading. It is of no real importance, but I was asked to direct the Minister's attention to it.
I formally withdraw this amendment on the assurance that the subject matter of the amendment is covered in the clauses already. This amendment relates to a special area and the subject matter of the previous amendment related to all areas other than special areas.
If the Senator is desirous to see that the board will have power to do the things he has in mind, the board has that power.
In any area, scheduled or specified or otherwise?
In that case I am quite satisfied.
In connection with Section 52, I am still rather doubtful as to the working of the tourist board and the working of the present Tourist Development Association. Will the Tourist Development Association go out of existence when the tourist traffic board is established? The amount of money devoted to the development of tourist traffic up to the present time was the amount which a penny in the rates would achieve. Under Section 52 that amount may be increased to the amount that 3d. in the rate would achieve. How will that money be expended? Is it to go to the tourist traffic board, or is it to go to the present Tourist Development Association, or can the local authority itself expend it? Are there three spending authorities? For instance, could the Wicklow County Council itself spend this money or must it send it either to the tourist traffic board that is to be set up under this Bill or, as heretofore, to the Tourist Development Association?
The Wicklow County Council or any other county council can strike a voluntary rate. The rate at present is a penny and under this Bill it may be 3d. That money can only be given to an association approved by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. There is in fact one Tourist Development Association which is going to continue in existence and which will get the proceeds of that rate and use it for the purpose of publicity work in this country and Great Britain.
It will not do anything in the nature of providing amenities or conditions suitable to tourism?
Will the tourist traffic board itself, by its own act, spend money, or will it simply in all cases lend money to any authority wishing to develop tourist traffic?
It can directly expend money for any of the purposes set out in Section 14.
Senators have been speaking all day about hotels, but I am looking at it from the point of view of the development of tourist traffic in the open fields, in the open air, and in the open sea.
They have full power to expend money.
Supposing there is a local authority in Killarney, in whose area the rapids are—I am speaking of where a fatality occurred last year—if the local authority there does not provide against such a thing recurring, can the tourist development board that we are establishing by this Bill go down there and do the thing itself, or insist upon somebody else doing it? I will come back to Dublin and Dollymount: if the Corporation or the Dublin Port and Docks Board do not provide the necessary services, can the tourist development board do the thing itself or insist upon somebody else doing it? I have given two instances of preventing loss of life. Such incidents can occur all over the coast or inland. I just want to be clear.
The tourist board can provide any facilities or services that may be required. They can provide transport on the Lakes of Killarney or beach guards at Dollymount. They cannot compel others to provide these services, but they can themselves provide them.