Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1944—Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I am sorry that I was not able to fulfil the promise which I gave when I started to speak last night to the effect that I would be, if at all possible, as brief as Senator Douglas was in the consideration of this Bill. As I went on, a number of points occurred to me which I thought it essential to bring to the notice of the Minister and of the House. Last evening, just before we adjourned, I was referring to the necessity for the board to see to it that every precaution would be taken to ensure that, when the scheme got under way, the quality of the appliances which would be put on the market would be up to a standard that would satisfy them. As I said then, a great deal will depend upon the quality of the equipment that will be produced, whether the scheme will prove economic or not.

The second point which occurs to me in that connection is, that there is clearly a necessity for the establishment of some kind of committee of experts to consider the kind of appliance which should be provided to suit the type of farms peculiar to this country. The board itself, in its excellent report, did not overlook that particular point. They have dealt with it in a paragraph starting at the bottom of column 2, page 30. I suggest that the Minister might consider the establishment of some kind of joint board of engineering and agricultural experts to examine this matter at once. It is something which is bound to take a considerable time, notwithstanding the fact that there must be on the market already quite a number of machines and appliances suitable to agriculture. In view of the size of our farms, and in view of the peculiar types of production engaged in, it is clear that some serious consideration will have to be given to this point, since special equipment may be called for. It would be a pity if we were to wait until the lines had been erected and the farms connected up before we undertook this investigation. I should like to see the educational activities which I mentioned last night undertaken at once; I should like also to see this investigation into the type of equipment that may be necessary undertaken at once, so that the fullest use can be made of the introduction of electricity to the rural areas as early as possible. The scheme proposed will prove of enormous benefit to the housewife. There is no doubt whatever that it will prove a great boon for domestic purposes but, great as that advantage is, I do not think it is the most important result that we expect from this scheme. It is clear that the State is already committed to a tremendous programme of social development, and it is quite clear also from the statements of the Government from time to time, that they are determined that standards in this country will go very much higher if that lies in their power. It is obvious then that any further development in social services can be achieved only as a result of further economic production, and it is clear also, as Senator Johnston mentioned last night, that there is considerable scope in the agricultural industry in particular for that extra production. It is because of that that I want to stress, or underline, this particular paragraph to which I have referred in the board's report, where it points out the necessity for engaging in this particular type of research.

With regard to the cost of electricity, it seems to me that some of the speakers are inclined to be too pessimistic. For one thing, it must not be overlooked that if the system as proposed is introduced, the Government is clearly committed to subsidising, to a very great extent, the introduction of electricity in the rural areas. It is a question then how much further we should go in this matter of subsidisation. With regard to the rates, I do not feel uneasy. They may prove to be too high or they may not. But, as the board itself points out, there will be this difference between the use of electricity in the rural areas and its use in the urban areas, that in the rural areas practically the whole use of it will be directed towards production, and I do not think that the charges as forecast will present any great difficulty.

A further reason I have for not feeling as uneasy as some of the speakers is that the Electricity Supply Board, while it is a monopoly, is not a monopoly in the same way as monopolies generally with which we are familiar. What I have in mind is that the Electricity Supply Board, while it is a monopoly, is not a profit-earning body. It is not concerned with the levying of charges with a view to making a maximum profit. That being so, one can rely on it that whatever charges are levied by the board will be those believed to be in the best interests of the community, and agriculture in particular.

I should like to have been able to follow the discussion by Senator Duffy and Senator Sir John Keane somewhat better than I was. Here, at any rate, I was not able to grasp the force of their arguments—I really had to make a guess at what they had in mind. Without question, this Birmingham Bank experiment to which Senator Duffy referred is most interesting, but if I might comment on it in a negative kind of way, it is rather surprising, in view of the success of that experiment, Birmingham should have allowed in any bank or any other system, other than the bank in question. It does seem extraordinary that the commercial banks have been able to thrive and make progress to the extent they have in view of the results of the experiment referred to by Senator Duffy.

Why should they not?

That is what I do not quite understand. If the bank mentioned by the Senator has been able to work in the way he suggested, it does seem extraordinary that that type of bank did not spread unless it be that the people of Britain have a special liking for paying high rates of interest.

May I explain that the Birmingham Bank was established by statute when a certain gentleman happened to be Lord Mayor? Subsequently, legislation was introduced in the British Parliament to give authority to establish similar banks elsewhere and it was always defeated by the Conservative Government.

I do not want to engage in a controversy on the matter because this is not the occasion for a discussion on the principles of banking and I have no intention of going into them. The Minister is entitled to some assistance, and to make a general statement and leave him to do his best in regard to it is hardly fair. That is why I referred to it at all. Perhaps on some other occasion Senator Duffy will be able to develop the idea. I must approach this question of banking, in view of my position, from a theoretic angle, and I am very anxious, if my views are wrong, to have them corrected. Senator Duffy is party to the handling of considerable sums of money, vast sums, and he will naturally have wide experience of the problem. His colleague, Senator Sir John Keane, has very practical experience and, perhaps, between the two of them, on some future occasion, we will get something constructive on this particular problem.

One other point raised by Senator Duffy was, I am sure, not intended to mislead us, but it does occur to me that there is likely to be a danger that some people might be misled in regard to it. That is his reference to the fact that Irish money is invested abroad at rates as low as 17/6 per cent. I am sure there is some truth in his statement, and I am also sure that it is quite true that considerable sums of money are invested abroad at rates as low as 1 per cent., but I do not think that gives us a true picture at all. If Senator Duffy's statement is true generally, then our external assets would be not in the region of £300,000,000 but, judging by the income we have been receiving for so long, they should be in the region of £1,500,000,000 or £1,600,000,000. The fact is that these investments are of two distinct kinds. Some of them are capital investments in the strict sense of the word, earning very high dividends or rates of interest. The other portion belongs to the short-term type of investment essential to banking.

Would the Senator say whether the Irish banks do in fact lend money to industry in Britain, although they will not lend money to industry in Ireland?

I am afraid we are allowing the debate to develop into a discussion on monetary reform rather than on the Bill before us.

I am not engaging in a discussion on monetary reform and I do not intend to, but I am entitled to say this: if it is suggested to the Minister that he can get money at certain very low rates of interest, because money of a certain kind has been earning very low rates elsewhere, I am entitled to show there may be some fallacy in the contention. I would like to give the House a little enlightenment, although I do not intend to labour the point. There are two different kinds of investment in question. One of them, at very low rates, is that in which banks generally engage because of the peculiar nature of their business. Unless we are prepared to introduce legislation or some kind of conscription with regard to wealth, banks must be in a position to meet their liabilities whenever they are called upon to meet them.

In that case, the banker must invest in securities of a short-term nature on which only a very low rate of interest can be paid. I am not quarrelling with Senator Duffy on that—I have no intention to—but it is only fair that the position in regard to this matter should be stated and understood. I would like very much to go on discussing this matter, but I am afraid, Sir, that judging by the few notes I have here, it might lead to a much deeper discussion on monetary policy than is permitted in a debate on this Bill, and so I will leave the matter at that, except to say that I would like to draw Senator Duffy's attention to this point, that there is a very great difference between what are commonly called the three C's—currency, credit and capital. I do not think that it is possible for the Government to create capital. Capital must come from the people.

Surely they can create credit.

They can create credit, yes, but I have drawn attention to this, that there is a difference between credit and capital.

I agree, but the credit would create the capital in the case of the Erne, for instance.

I agree that credit can give rise to capital but what I want to draw attention to is that in our circumstances, and especially at the moment, any attempt by the Government or the Central Bank to create what one might call capital will only result in sending the fool further.

Surely nobody suggests that.

If we take a realistic view the position is not that we suffer from a shortage of capital. Actually there is so much capital that an outlet for it all cannot be found. If we could induce the public to transfer that capital to the Government or the Electricity Supply Board we will have achieved something. That is the only way we are going to achieve it. Whether we get it at 3 per cent. or 5 per cent. is another matter. I believe that it would be possible to get it at 3 per cent. or thereabouts. Whether the Electricity Supply Board would feel that it would be worth while for them to go and look for it at that rate, or something lower, or whether they should make the contract at the rates which obtain, and whether they feel they would be able to use the capital within a reasonable time, only the board in the circumstances can say. I agree that we should obtain the loans at as low a rate as possible, but we must be very careful about this question of interest rates.

Would the Senator say whether he considers it good national policy for the Government of this country to invest in Great Britain the moneys committed to their care in the Post Office Savings Bank?

I am afraid this debate is developing into a monetary debate altogether.

The only other matter that I want to refer to is the point made by Senator Duffy, where he referred to the fact that the Government is able to get money at 2½ per cent. and lend it out at 5 per cent., thereby making a profit. If that is true certainly there is something wrong, but pending an investigation of the matter I am inclined to doubt that it is a fact.

I asked the Senator whether he considers it good national policy for the Government to invest moneys in the Post Office Savings Bank in Great Britain.

Could we adjourn the debate and leave it between Senator Duffy and Senator O Buachalla?

May I ask is not Senator O Buachalla discussing the Bill and are not the interruptions bringing it into another matter?

I am endeavouring to get the Senator to relate his speech to the Bill.

Is not his speech related in facts to the Bill, and is it not the interruptions which are taking it away from the subject before the House, on to the question of general finance?

I am afraid so.

I think, in fairness to the House and for fear of being side-tracked into discussions not germane to the matter before the House, I will leave the matter as it is.

I am glad to see that the Minister will have a very much easier time in passing his Bill through the Oireachtas than his predecessor had under the previous Government. Everybody now seems to support the development of electricity, but when the Shannon development measure was going through the Oireachtas it met with very definite opposition in this House. I think that all those who opposed it would be prepared now to admit the wisdom of the Minister who conceived and piloted that scheme through the Oireachtas at that particular time. The agricultural representatives in the Seanad at that time very definitely supported the Shannon development scheme. I think only for the attitude of the agricultural representatives then in the Seanad the Bill would not have become law. After all, there is as much sense in the agricultural representatives as there is in a very big number of representatives of this House, and in the representatives of the big industries who, at that time, very definitely opposed the scheme. When the scheme was being discussed in this House we were told of the great blessings which rural electrification would confer on the farmers. They are still waiting to get these blessings. We have seen none of them. The farmers cannot get any electric supply at any time, and I am not very optimistic that under this Bill the blessings which we are now being promised are going to materialise. If anything like half of the amount which the Electricity Supply Board has been charging or proposes to charge for bringing an electricity supply is to continue to be charged there will be very few farmers able to take advantage of the opportunity to get electricity in their homes or farmyards. I have been trying for a number of years, long before the emergency, to get an electricity supply for a number of farmers in my district. I want to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and to the Electricity Supply Board about the matter. I have been hammering at them for six or seven years without any effect. I was told by one of the officials that if we could set up any sort of a little factory in the village we would be sure of getting electricity brought there, and that then farmers would be able to get it. I pointed out to the official that there are three farmers in my district who are giving more employment than any of the little factories, that we are producing valuable goods, and that we were paying over £7,000 in wages, but I was told that a little factory in the village would have four times the effect in getting an electricity supply brought there. I hope the policy has since changed. I went to the Department later and stated that there were two farmers and myself living within two miles of a 10,000 volt line. We were able to guarantee the Electricity Supply Board £50 if we could get a supply. We would pay for wiring the houses and the farmyards, and we would guarantee £50 a year for the supply for five years. If we consumed more than that, we were satisfied to pay at the ordinary rates, but we would pay that no matter how much we used. That was turned down. If that policy is going to continue very few farmers will be able to get electricity into their homes or their yards.

The Minister has now a clear field to develop his scheme, which has the support of everybody, but if he continues to try to make money and to charge anything like half-price for the bringing of electricity to the farmers, very few will avail of the scheme, because the cost of bringing electricity to the farmhouses is entirely too great. We are prepared to pay a fair rate. We do not want it even at the rate obtaining in the towns and cities. We want the Minister to arrive at a fairly reasonable figure and bring the electricity to the villages and small towns so as to give farmers an opportunity of taking in a supply. I trust that the Minister will consider that point when he is making his arrangements with the Electricity Supply Board. I support the Bill.

A great many people are anxious to know whether the policy of having minor schemes in villages and hamlets will be part of the entire structure under this measure. There are villages and towns so remote from any main line one could think of that it would not be possible for them to secure electricity for 20 years, if ever. Through these hamlets and villages there is usually a strong stream running which, for nine months of the year, would provide an ample supply of electricity over a big area. If the material were available, and if those anxious to inaugurate schemes in places like that were subsidised by the Government at the same rate as Government assistance will be forthcoming in respect of the major scheme, they would be more inclined to carry out local schemes than wait for the major scheme, which may not reach them for many years. I am aware of two or three such schemes which were a great success prior to the emergency. When materials are available, I think that many hamlets with a water supply will be anxious to establish little generating stations on their own account. In times of emergency, those stations would relieve the load on the major schemes. I think that it would be wise for the Minister to consider the question from that angle and to facilitate those who are anxious to inaugurate such schemes.

Everybody who realises the privations suffered by many people in the rural areas since the emergency, owing to the absence of kerosene, will welcome any effort made to extend the advantages of electric lighting to houses in those areas. Whatever criticism may be levelled at the proposal to extend such benefits to rural areas, those who are the most severe critics will be amongst the first to avail of the facilities afforded when rural electrification becomes an accomplished fact. That was the case when the original Shannon scheme was established. Those responsible for the most devastating criticism and those who argued that the £5,000,000 involved would be more usefully spent on drainage and bog roads were amongst the first to avail of the amenities afforded by the Shannon hydro-electric scheme.

I am pleased that it is the intention to utilise the water power in other rivers to supplement the supply of electricity, and I should like to point out that there are other rivers in the country than the Shannon and the Erne the power of which could be harnessed with very good effect. In that connection, it occurs to me that the question of rural electrification and arterial drainage should go hand in hand. I know very well that that might present administrative difficulties, seeing that arterial drainage is a matter for a Government body while rural electrification will be in the hands of the Electricity Supply Board, which is not a Government body. At the same time, I think that, for the sake of economy and to prevent overlapping, some scheme of co-ordination should be instituted. I am delighted that it is the intention to utilise the inexhaustible supply of turf which, happily, this country is possessed of.

I hope that the plant will be so disposed throughout the country as to prevent the wastage which has characterised the schemes for the production of turf since the emergency. I fully appreciate that the cost of installation of electricity may be an obstacle to enjoyment of the benefits to be conferred by this scheme. I believe that something could be done to bring those costs within the capacity of the people who will have to bear them. Certainly, the charges made by the Electricity Supply Board for installations, even in normal times, were excessive and would be regarded as exorbitant by many people who would like to avail of this scheme. The charge was, on the average, about 21/- for each light. That was too much. Senator McEllin suggested that an effort should be made to give people free installations. I am not in favour of that. There is the danger that, if it were possible to do that, and if it were done, the people might expect free light afterwards and there is very little respect in this country for anything which is obtained for nothing. So far as the administration of the Electricity Supply Board is concerned, I feel that that body is not so anxious to accommodate people as it should be.

I know a case in which a very valuable building site was made use of by the Electricity Supply Board for the erection of a transformer. The people who owned that building site made no question about it, and the amount of compensation paid was merely nominal. Afterwards, an offer was made for the site by a gentleman who was anxious to extend his business, and the people who owned the site made application to the Electricity Supply Board with a view to finding out whether it would be possible to transfer it to them without any loss. The answer was that the Electricity Supply Board were prepared to do that but the charge involved was unreasonable and amounted to about three times the value of the site.

Now, there is no reason why the Electricity Supply Board should not be prepared and even anxious to facilitate members of the general public in a matter of that kind, and I think they should not be allowed to stand in the way of public progress. When an offer was made to them in the case I have mentioned, to move a transformer to a more suitable site, the cost of the removal of that transformer was excessive, and I do not think there is any reason why that should happen. I think that the more ready and willing the Electricity Supply Board are to accept such circumstances and to facilitate the public, the more ready will people be to avail of the facilities provided by the board.

Having listened to the speeches that have been made here, it was a relief to hear somebody coming down from the stratosphere of high finance to the ordinary things that matter. Being a woman, I do not know much about high finance but, from the chorus of welcoming voices which greeted this Bill, both in the Dáil and in this House, I think that the woman's voice should not be missing because, of all the beneficiaries of its provisions, women—and especially the women of the countryside—stand in the front rank. It holds for them the promise of one of the most fundamental "freedoms"—though I do not know whether that "freedom" was listed in the famous declaration—freedom from senseless and unnecessary drudgery. Moreover, the Bill will make it possible to add enormously to the amenities of home life in rural areas, and help to render the domestic hearth more attractive to the young people, balancing, against the lure of the cities, the pleasure of the home circle, such as reading, music, wireless listening, games, needlework, etc.—all those good things which the provision of electric light and power brings to the most modest dwelling. All this would be in addition to the stepping-up in farming efficiency which a wider use of mechanised power in rural economy is bound to ensure. For instance, the supply of piped water to the house and dairy, the electric iron, the washing machine—all those helps which a scheme of rural electrification turns from a dream into attainable realities—will do more to make the hard work of the country woman easier than anything else it is possible to conceive.

Now, in farming more than almost any other avocation, the women's part is of the utmost importance, and no plans for the development and improvement of Irish farming which fail to take cognisance of that fundamental fact can go very far. I should like Senator Johnston to bear that fact in mind in connection with any scheme of post-war planning. What I fear, however, is that our countrywomen will not rouse themselves to take full advantage of and claim their new "freedom". Too long have they allowed themselves to accept the role of uncomplaining drudge, working from the dark of morning to the dark of night at the heaviest tasks, without any of the mechanical aids which women in more progressive countries than ours look on as their right for the alleviation of toil. Too long have they pandered to an attitude on the part of their menfolk which finds illustration in a story I read long ago in an American journal—when I used to go, like Senator Johnston, to American magazines for light reading. Apart from my obvious antiquity, that was in the days when incubators were still a new invention, and, according to the story, a Yankee salesman was exercising all his art to dispose of one of these incubators to a backwoods farmer. As a clinching argument, he stressed the great saving of time the more modern method assured, to which the farmer countered: "What the dash"—he did not say "dash"—"do I care about a hen's time?" Unfortunately, a great many men, and, what is more disconcerting, the women themselves, set the same value on women's time—it is "hen's time" and therefore does not count.

Now the Minister has made it plain that the success of the scheme of rural electrification—in so far as that success is defined by a low cost of provision— will depend on the co-operation of the people whom it is intended to benefit. The extent to which people may be willing to take a supply will react on the proportion that may be supplied within that criterion area. It seems evident to me, then, that we must get the women of the countryside clamouring for electric current, and forcing their menfolk into a realisation of its benefits, both economic and social.

How can that be done? Taking a long view, we must aim at the adequate training for their vocation of the girls who are to be the future farmers' wives. Such girls, trained as the girls in Belgium, Holland and Germany were trained in pre-war days, will not be content with muscle-power farm methods; and if there were enough of them the Electricity Supply Board will not have far to go to look for a large percentage of rural customers. But the problem of "a bigger and better supply" of farmers' wives only incidentally arises here, and I do not propose to do more than refer to it now.

Two problems do arise, however, and if we are to get our countrywomen "electricity-minded", we must not overlook them. They are a part of our traditional rural economy, and have to do with the scarcity of ready cash in the average country home. As most of us are aware, the majority of country people do not handle much money except at certain seasons. The local merchants give them credit, until they get paid for their cattle or crops. Now if the Electricity Supply Board does not take cognisance of this state of affairs and expects payment on a two-months' basis, there will be a great hesitancy in a great many farmhouses to change over from the oil and candles they get on credit from the shop to electricity. There may be difficulty too about the money for wiring and installation. But that could be spread over a long term and included in the consumption bill. A still better solution would be if ready money were actually brought into the country houses through the introduction of electric current. What I have in mind here is the fostering of home industries such as have been the salvation of France. It is a fact familiar to many Senators that in whole districts in France every farmhouse was a little factory and it was the abundance and cheapness of electric power, derived from small local plants, which made this state of affairs possible. Different districts specialised in different crafts—glove-making, toy manufacture, the grinding of glass for watches, etc. There was in each case a central selling agency which took care of the marketing of its products. I think we might aim at something of this sort and realise that the Bill we are considering brings advantages well within the radius of practical plans for the economic and social advancement of the Irish countryside.

I agree with Senator Ruane and Senator McEllin that the cost of installation will be a deterrent, as country people do not believe in spending a lot of money on things for which they do not see an immediate return, and nobody would think of suggesting that electric light should be installed in these houses for nothing, but the cost should be spread over an extended period, because I do not think many country people have reached the stage when they would willingly part immediately with the sums required to defray the cost. There may be the solution, I suggest, and I commend it to the Minister, by which we might make ready cash more freely available by the introduction of electric current. What I have in mind is the scheme that worked really well in France, by which home industries were fostered. France was covered with a network of small electric plants which supplied light and very cheap power to all the farmhouses. Virtually every farmhouse was not only a household but a sort of miniature factory, and regions specialised in the production of different commodities. I remember reading a most extraordinary book, which showed how France, in spite of all she went through, was able to survive. That was largely through the operation of the family rooted on the farm and of industries carried out in connection with the farm. There was an excellent scheme of marketing, and then, as I say, different regions specialised in the production of different commodities. The scheme worked out extremely well. The Minister might give some attention to this matter in his post-war planning. I believe that we need some fillip like that to give the people a real interest in securing for themselves the benefits of electric light and power, otherwise they will think only of the cost. They have not been sufficiently accustomed to see the advantages. That is to say, if the advantages can be expressed in money power or earning power, it will bring home to them more than anything else the value of the scheme. I am very glad that the Minister has brought forward this Bill. I hope that it will have all the success that he envisages for it and that it will secure all the benefits which we are entitled to hope for under it.

I want to refer very briefly to some statements made by the Minister in introducing the Bill yesterday. I do not know if I heard the Minister properly or not, but I understood him to say that at present there is no power vested in him to deal with schemes that have water as their source of power. That statement rather surprised me because unless my information is very wrong a very elaborate series of plans was lodged for the development of the Boyne some time ago—roughly about a year ago— and some of the most historic parts of the country were to be submerged in connection with that scheme. The plans were of a very elaborate nature, so far as I know. If the Minister has at present no power to deal with schemes other than generating schemes, it does seem a bit surprising that these elaborate plans would have been lodged at that time. There is a serious aspect of this matter to which I should like to draw attention. If a scheme is projected in connection with a river and no action is taken on that for a considerable time, a great amount of uncertainty is created in the minds of property owners along the river as to what is going to happen. The tendency of that uncertainty is to depreciate very much property adjacent to the river. I would suggest, therefore, taking the Boyne as an example that if any mistake were made—I do not say that a mistake was made—there should be great hesitation in taking action in view of the possibility of inflicting very severe losses on the people concerned. I probably misunderstood the Minister's remarks on the matter, but perhaps he would deal with it again in his reply.

The Minister also referred to turf as a source of power, and he mentioned that it was very necessary to have a stand-by station. He mentioned that the Pigeon House was a stand-by station, depending on coal for its power. What exactly do we mean by a "stand-by"? Is the stand-by station in constant operation concurrently with other sources of electrical power? If these other sources of power break down, to what extent will the stand-by stations meet the needs of the whole country, since, by hypothesis, it requires power from the Shannon, the Erne and the Liffey to supply the full needs of the country? Is the Clonsast station to be in constant operation or is it going to be in operation only at intervals? Perhaps it may mean that instead of being used to its fullest extent only portion of the power available from that station will be used. These are a few questions which I should like the Minister to answer when he is replying.

Senator Baxter yesterday referred to the advantage of removing turf from the surface of the country in the shortest possible time. From time immemorial the bog was regarded as the farmers' coal mine. I am not so happy about a station such as Clonsast which will use enormous quantities of turf and do away with this coal mine in a comparatively short period. I do not think that turf is the type of fuel which should be applied to purposes like that because, should an emergency occur again at some time in the future, when our turf supply has completely disappeared, matters may be very serious for us. Of course it may be said that electricity will be developed to such an extent that it can be used as a source of heating as well as a source of light and power as at present.

Before dealing with other points, I should like to express the pleasure with which I heard Senator Honan refer to the desirability of allowing small schemes which have been operated successfully in the past to continue in operation. I called attention to this matter in connection with the Arterial Drainage Bill. I hope there will be no tendency, as a result of the passing of this Bill, on the part of the Minister, to exercise powers the effect of which would be to insist upon the closing up of these small schemes. I can see that he may say that, in the case of certain villages where schemes are dependent upon oil or some such source of power apart from water power, there may be a possibility of the exploitation of consumers on the part of the owners of these schemes. I can see that point, but then it is up to the people in those places, if that exploitation is being imposed upon them, to see that the advantages of the larger national scheme are availed of.

Senator O Buachalla referred to the need for educational work in connection with this big scheme. I should like to point out that within the past six weeks the committee with which I am connected put up this suggestion to the Department of Education, but unfortunately, as we see it, these Departments are very independent, one of the other. Where a good thing involves a certain amount of expenditure, each of the Departments is fighting for safety. That is a bad spirit, and personally I see a great need for propaganda work generally. There will be, in the first place, a great amount of danger involved in the use of electricity. Probably, before we have got to understand it properly, a lot of people will have met their deaths. The number of casualties ought to be reduced to the minimum, and, from that point of view, I suggest that there should be a series of lectures in the various rural areas, lectures of a popular type, explaining generally the idea of electricity, its powers, its advantages, its dangers, and so on.

Now I come to submit the desirability of providing for advisory committees in connection with this scheme. I was sorry to see that the Minister in the other House rejected those advisory committees. The Scotch are a very canny race, as we know, and in regard to their big hydro-electric scheme they thought it desirable to have two committees, one an amenity committee and the other a fishery committee. Dealing with the amenity committee first, I would go back again to what I stated about the Boyne scheme. Many of you who are familiar with the valley of the Boyne and the well-known beauty spots there are familiar with the fact that the part that was to be affected or may be affected is the burial place of the old kings. Some very ancient raths would have been submerged. Slane Castle, I understand, would have been submerged. I do not say that it is a particularly historic place, but it housed and sheltered Archbishop Hurley on one occasion. Practically every square foot of the ground in that neighbourhood contains the remains of our ancestors. Here, I might say behind the backs of the people—they do not know anything about it—it was proposed to submerge all that ground, without any question of protecting the ancient monuments alongside the river. That is one reason for the appointment of an amenity committee—to advise the Minister regarding spots of that kind which may be affected by those schemes.

As regards the fishery side of things, no doubt we have the Minister for Agriculture, who has a certain number of advisers, but, from my contacts with people who are interested in the sport of fishing as well as in the fishing industry, I would say that they are of the opinion that some great improvement in the present methods is very necessary.

Vocational organisation has not yet become a universally popular idea. Surely, here is an opportunity of employing the theories of vocational education that cannot by any stretch of imagination do any harm and will certainly do an immense amount of good. An advisory committee such as that suggested would keep the officials of the Department in touch with the views of those interested in this sport and in this very important industry. I would appeal to the Minister then to consider the advisability of setting up the two committees which were suggested in the other House. The Tourist Board is one of the bodies that would be concerned. They would be entitled to appoint a representative. If we ignore that side of the resources of the country, surely we are making no attempt to co-operate with the efforts of that board to make Ireland an attractive place for tourists. In addition to the Tourist Board, you will have a number of others, such as boards of conservators throughout the country, different anglers' associations, and about half a dozen, or if you like a dozen, people who would keep the Minister in touch with current opinions with regard to those matters. I am in touch with quite a number of people who know something about this question, and it is my view that there is very great need for an improvement in inland fisheries generally. I believe that, if the Minister could see his way to accept this suggestion, he would give very great pleasure to a vast number of people. Fishing is a peculiar sort of art in some ways, because it establishes friendships between the lord and the labourer. If we want to find a method of gradually melting away the Border I suggest that the solution of the problem should be put into the hands of the fishermen. The Border would disappear in a comparatively short time because of the friendships established through this sport. There is no question of aristocracy or of any other class. All classes, the poorest and the richest, are interested in it, and it is a very healthy sport. I would appeal then to the Minister to give this matter consideration. To enable him to do so, I will probably submit some amendments for the Committee Stage.

Like Senator Mrs. Concannon, I should not like to enter into this very contentious question of money. Some statements were made last night regarding the matter. For some time past, I have given a very considerable amount of study to the monetary side of things, but I will not go into the matter at the moment. Instead of being annoyed with Senator Sir John Keane for having suggested the possibility of getting money at 3 per cent.— some speakers were annoyed—I think we should realise that, by virtue of his position as chairman of a very important bank, he stated something which ought to be of considerable service to the Minister and to us all. He has mentioned the possibility of getting money at 3 per cent. Personally, I believe it could be got at 2½ or 2 per cent. Anyway, it is a big reduction, from 5 per cent. to 3 per cent., and probably, with a little persuasion, it might come down a little bit more. In that event, the scheme would be much cheaper, so I do not think there is any need to be annoyed at the suggestion about getting money at a cheaper rate.

I find it difficult to resist the temptation to join in the general throwing of bouquets at the Minister for Industry and Commerce as a result of his introduction of this Bill. I believe it is an excellent Bill and that it is, in fact, long overdue. It is a long time since I suggested that some such scheme should be brought into existence to deal with rural areas. I think at that time several people laughed at my suggestion that it would go a long way towards stopping the flight from the land. There has been a lot of talk about the disastrous flight from the land, but nobody seemed to suggest any way by which it could be stopped. I said then, and I say now, that I believe this rural electrification will do more to get people settled down on the land than anything else that could possibly be done for the rural areas. Senator Mrs. Concannon referred to the fact that you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. I had the experience a few days ago of bringing a horse to the water but he was so tired when he got there that, although he wanted to drink, he was not able to do so. We finished up by having to "bottle" him with the water. Anybody listening to Senator Counihan and Senator Baxter would think that the farmers would have to be "bottled" with electricity in order to make them take it. Notwithstanding those attempts to throw a wet blanket on the scheme, while at the same time lacking the moral courage to denounce it, I can assure the Minister that he will find the farmers on their toes waiting for this electricity to be sent around to the rural areas. The only worry I have is that it will not get around to the rural areas sufficiently soon. Many people in rural areas really believe that it can be done by the Minister waving his magic wand, as he has so often done in the past, but we all know that it cannot be done overnight. However, I look forward to the not far distant time when electricity will be available in many of the rural areas of this country.

Attempts have been made to throw the usual political wet blanket on this scheme as on other schemes introduced by this Government. The suggestion is made that the farmers would not pay the initial outlay which would be necessary for the installation of electricity. I do not believe that is so at all. I believe the principal difficulty is to decide which area is to get a supply of current first, and which farmer will have it installed first, and I believe that the farmers, as they have always done, will chip in and do their bit, and will not hesitate to pay a reasonable price for their electricity and a reasonable price for the necessary installation.

We all know that any house with electricity is worth far more than one without it, and it follows naturally that a farm with electric light and power is worth more than a farm which has not got it. That being so, there are enough institutions in the country ready to advance money on reasonable terms to enable farmers to overcome any difficulty which may exist in that connection.

Section 31 of the Bill deals with the right of the board to go into the manufacture of electrical appliances, if it is necessary. Certain suggestions have been made that that is an interference with individual enterprise. It is quite clear from the Bill that that is not so, and that it is far from being the intention behind the Bill. It is more or less as a precaution against the possibility that private enterprise may not come in sufficiently quickly, or in sufficient quantity, to meet the demand that may and probably will arise when this scheme gets under way.

There are numerous things for which electricity can and will be used, and I believe that as soon as the people in one area see what has been made possible in another area, they will get ready themselves to avail of the electric current when it comes along. Senator Mrs. Concannon made what was, in my opinion, a very helpful speech, and I believe a good deal of propaganda of that sort will be necessary to make the people electrically-minded, if you like to put it that way. Most of us here were reared very far away from electric light and appliances, but we know very well when we got used to them we find it difficult to get along without them. In the same way, if the young girls are trained to use electrical appliances in the technical schools, they will urge their fathers and mothers and families to instal electricity as soon as it is available.

Senator O Buachalla suggested that steps should be taken now to provide suitable machinery. I think that that is a good idea and it will be very necessary and very desirable that we should have up-to-date equipment, but I think something which is more important is that we should get somebody working on schemes now to utilise our present machinery in conjunction with electric current. I am a very long way from being a mechanical engineer. I know little about it and have no taste for mechanical things, but I think that all that will be necessary in a great many cases will be a small electric motor with a belt and sonic shafting to utilise our existing machines. In that way, we will make the installation of electricity more enticing for the average farmer.

Of course, a lot of new equipment would be necessary and desirable when current is available but, in the meantime, we should make plans to get along with what we have in the line of turnip cutters and oat crushers. Apart from the convenience of power-driven machines, I believe we would be able to use our raw materials to a greater advantage. Most of us who are in touch with the land know that there is a great improvement in the feeding of stock if you can prepare it properly. Properly prepared food is beneficial to all animals, particularly young horses, and old ones, too. It is very important to have oats properly crushed and that can be done very much easier by means of electrical equipment.

In the same way, I believe that electricity on the farm will make all the difference there. Most of us know what it is to walk out of a farmhouse on a dark winter's night and hit our toe against a bucket.

The bucket should not be there. Only an untidy farmer would leave it there.

Fortunately we cannot have Senator Baxter on every farmer's place to leave buckets in the right place at all times.

You are not going to kick the bucket yet.

Senator Baxter will have to agree that electric light in the farmyard makes conditions much easier. I wonder if he ever heard of anyone walking into a donkey at night-time. I believe that electricity will go a long way to eliminate a lot of the distress associated with farming, and I believe that far from being reluctant to accept electricity, the farmers will jump at it and will have no hesitation in trying to get the supply lines into their part of the country before they are brought anywhere else.

I think it was Senator Honan who asked if it would be possible for individual schemes to be proposed where power is available. As far as I can understand, that is possible under the Bill and was possible before the Bill was introduced at all. It was possible to have individual power schemes developed where local rivers were available, and I believe that a good many schemes have already been inaugurated in the country. I look forward to the day when the Electricity Supply Board will go around the country and examine the possibility of supplying power from such sources in every rural area, and the sooner that is done the better.

Senator Counihan said that the agricultural representatives in this House and the other House backed up the Shannon scheme when other people were criticising it and doubting whether it would be supported. We all know the blessings which have come from that scheme. I think that on numerous occasions I saw Senator Counihan enjoying to the fullest the blessings of the Electricity Supply Board when standing on a fair green at 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock in the morning. When the electric light was switched on, he soaked in it just as well as the rest of us. I think that the last scheme was a good scheme, a good beginning, and I am glad to throw one more bouquet at the Minister for his efforts to extend it.

I join with other members of the Seanad in welcoming this Bill and in paying a meed of praise to the Minister for his courage in bringing it forward. We have heard a great deal during this discussion about rural electrification, but the Bill, as such, contains only one section dealing with rural electrification. That is Section 41, which empowers the Minister for Finance to advance to the board sums not exceeding in amount £5,000,000 for the purpose of the electrification of rural areas. That section also provides that one-half of the money should be repaid to the Central Fund by the Minister for Finance out of moneys voted by the Oireachtas and that the remainder of the money should be repaid by the board. That means that the board must pay to the Minister for Finance at least £2,500,000. The question arises where the board will get the money out of rural electrification. Senator Quirke said that the farmers are on their toes waiting to take the electricity. That may be so, but are they on their toes ready to pay for it?

He did not say that.

He did not say it. Assuming they are on their toes waiting for the electricity, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are on their toes to pay for it. It appears that, as far as rural electrification is concerned, this Bill is only a half measure, because it will be necessary to enact further legislation to implement the policy of rural electrification. You cannot electrify the rural areas without electrical plant and without huge capital outlay. Now, the farmer must pay the capital cost of the installation and of the lines which will bring the electricity to his farm from the grid. It would be a good plan that the policy adopted by the Agricultural Credit Corporation of making advances to farmers for the purposes of purchasing stock should be extended to the purchase of electrical equipment and electric plant for the equipment of farms. It is all very well to talk about the blessings of rural electrification, and about making farmers and farmers' wives electricity-minded, but in the end it resolves itself into a question of capacity to pay for the electricity supply. Therefore, I think that that aspect of the matter has not up to the present received full consideration. The Electricity Supply Board must repay to the Minister for Finance half the moneys advanced for the purpose of rural electrification. The board must collect that from farmers or persons who benefit. Therefore, it is a mistake to say that this is a Bill dealing with rural electrification. It is nothing of the sort. It is a Bill for the purpose of the preparation and execution of schemes by the Electricity Supply Board for the generation of electricity from suitable rivers other than the Shannon and the Liffey, and the acquisition and management by the board of fisheries and fishery rights in these rivers. These are the main objects of the Bill. We all welcome the policy of generating electricity from suitable rivers in the country. The Minister mentioned the Erne as a suitable river, and I am sure there are other rivers of a lesser size which would be just as suitable for the particular districts through which they flow.

This Bill also gives the board power to acquire fisheries. Senator P.J. O'Reilly spoke about the comradeship of fishermen and said that all our ills, according to my impression of his speech, can be cured by the comradeship which exists amongst fishermen. We had in this House a very short time ago a Drainage Bill in which the interests of drainage in my opinion were sacrificed to the interests of fishermen. It appears to me that in this Bill the Minister for Agriculture as the protector of fisheries is driving a very hard bargain with the Minister for Industry and Commerce who is promoting this Bill. If we look at Section 11 of the Bill, we see it is entitled in the margin "protection of fisheries" and we will find that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has agreed to the Minister for Agriculture deciding whether or not any particular work which the Minister for Agriculture requires to be carried out for the protection of fisheries is or is not detrimental to the hydro-electric work or is a substantial increase in the cost of the hydro-electric work. I should like to know how the Minister for Agriculture has expert advisers or machinery at his disposal to decide—and he has the final word—whether or not any works substantially increase the cost of the hydro-electric work or are of substantial detriment to them. I say that this policy which has been adopted recently of the Minister for Agriculture as protector of fisheries forcing his views on the Parliamentary Secretary in the case of the Drainage Bill and now on the Minister for Industry and Commerce is going too far. I say that this is primarily a hydro-electric Bill and if it should so happen that the fisheries should suffer slightly, well, they must suffer. There are as good fish in the sea as were ever caught. I mean there are more fish there. It is easier to get fish than to get electricity. Therefore, I think that in this Bill we should regard our main object as the provision of electricity. I have no objection to fishermen or to fish. In fact I like fish very much but we must, in legislation, have a sense of proportion, and the Minister should reconsider the power which he has agreed that the Minister for Agriculture should have in connection with the hydro-electric works.

I say that the board alone is entitled to decide what types of work are or are not detrimental to a hydro-electric scheme. These are suggestions of mine but I am merely pointing out what was already provided for in the Shannon Electricity Act of 1925 and the Liffey Reservoir Act, 1936. By Section 16 of the Liffey Reservoir Act, 1936, the Minister for Industry and Commerce was empowered to decide what type of work was or was not detrimental to the Liffey works. He has surrendered his right since that time, and now he is giving the Minister for Agriculture in this Bill power to decide what type of work is or is not a detriment to hydro-electric work. I just mention these matters to show that this is not a Bill for rural electrification at all. It is merely the thin end of the wedge. A great deal of legislation must yet be enacted before rural electrification can be carried to a successful conclusion. The Minister has given us some figures as to the cost of the project and the length of time which will be required to carry it out. Rural electrification must be dealt with on a long-term basis and this is just the beginning of the matter. A great deal of work must yet be done before electricity will find its way into the farmhouses and farmyards and before electricity will wash the clothes and boil the kettle in the farmer's home. While the Minister should be congratulated on introducing rural electrification, he should not stop there, but should plan further for the carrying into effect of rural electrification by legislation enabling the farmers to pay for the equipment which will be necessary if the scheme is to be a success. With these words, I support this Bill and wish it every success.

I hope that all the speakers who have gone before me are right in their views and that I am mistaken in the views which I intend to express on this Bill. I am very sorry if I disagree with the Minister because nobody knows better than I do the good work he has done by way of industrial development since he became Minister for Industry and Commerce. Some of the figures which he gave yesterday rather frightened me. If I understood him rightly, he said that there would be 75,000 miles of wire laid down, as against 3,840 miles under the present scheme. If I am wrong in those figures, I hope the Minister will correct me. If that be a fact, the mileage of wires will be 19 times what it is at present. I see that £13,500,000 was advanced to the Electricity Supply Board for the schemes which have been carried out. I assume that it cost about £8,500,000 to erect the works at Ardnacrusha. I take £5,000,000 as the cost of the wiring of the 3,840 miles. If that be multiplied by 19, it amounts to £90,000,000—an enormous sum. That assumes that the work will be carried out now at the same cost as it was under the Acts of 1927 and 1937. Senator Duffy says that it will be 75 per cent. more. That would add very much to the cost. That is one of my troubles.

Apart from that, if you develop other rivers, you will have to put down turbines and other engines such as had to be put down in connection with the Shannon scheme. That will cost a great deal of money, too. The old scheme has paid about £1,000,000 a year since 1927 but, after all, they tapped the cities and towns. Here it will be necessary to have the wires running from house to house. Senator Baxter suggested that great care should be taken to secure that people living in mountainous districts would get a supply of electricity as quickly as those in other parts of the country. Senator Baxter probably knows Connemara and areas of that type. I do not know how many transformers would have to be erected to bring electricity to the houses of persons in those areas.

I now come to the question which Senator Concannon touched upon. You may bring the horse to the water but you cannot make him drink. In this case, we are bringing the water to the horse. In other words, we are bringing electricity to the people, but will they pay for the installation? Senator Quirke thinks that they will. I sincerely hope he is right. I suggest that, before any scheme be carried out under this Bill, not alone should a demand come from the people but the people who say they desire to have electricity should be required to sign contracts to pay the estimated cost of getting electricity into their houses and the charge for the electricity when installed. If the Electricity Supply Board proceed along those lines, they can make no mistake. I believe that, under those conditions, the scheme would be a success, but if the Electricity Supply Board proceed without those contracts, there is a grave danger that electricity will be made available in certain areas and not used as it ought to be used. A great deal has been said as to what electricity will do on the farms. Senator Counihan and a few other big farmers want electricity extended to their farms. Big farmers and industries will require this service, but will that pay for bringing it out to the rural areas if the smaller householders do not take it in and agree to pay their share of the charges? This is a very big problem. I shall not go into matters of finance, but the amount is big, whether the rate be 3 per cent. or 5 per cent. There is an idea abroad now that money is of no value. So far as I can see, the Central Bank is withdrawing a certain amount of notes from circulation every year. I presume that that is done to prevent inflation and make money of some value. Money will, I trust, be of some value in this country even in the post-war period.

I am just as anxious as Senator Mrs. Concannon or other speakers to see rural houses brightened up, rural conditions made better, and thus keep the people on the land. I should like to see our people industrial-minded, and I trust that education in our different types of schools, whether the primary schools, the vocational schools or the secondary schools, will be directed towards making use of the facilities that will be provided by this extension of electric power, once it comes to their doors as is proposed under this scheme. I think it must be admitted that the trend of our education is not in that direction at the present time and that our young people are not being trained to know what to do with their hands. They are trained for occupations which might seem to be more respectable and easier than work on the farm. Perhaps my views are entirely wrong—I hope they are—and, personally, I wish, as other members of the House have wished, every success for the Minister so far as this Bill is concerned, but I do want to express my fears on the matter.

It is, of course, correct to say, as stated by Senator Ryan, that this is not a Bill designed merely to facilitate the operation of the rural electrification scheme. The Electricity Supply Board, under existing legislation, has all the powers that it needs to carry through the rural electrification project. The only thing it requires is the money, and the purpose of the relevant section in this Bill is to provide the money which the board needs for that purpose. The main parts of this Bill are designed to facilitate other development projects which the board have in contemplation. If the board had already obtained, through legislation, general powers to carry through hydro-electric works—powers which this Bill proposes to give them—then the measure that would now be presented to the Oireachtas would be very much shorter, indeed. It will be noted that a very large number of sections of this Bill are designed to give very general powers which will not have to be repeated in the future. The main purpose of the Bill is, firstly, to provide capital funds for the provision of steam generation stations which the board has full power to construct, to facilitate the board in the carrying through of hydro-electric schemes, to provide the finance for the rural electrification scheme, and to give the board powers to promote the manufacture of apparatus, subject to the restrictions which are suggested.

A large part of the discussion on the Bill related to the finances of the Electricity Supply Board. In that connection, I find it hard to know where to begin in order to put Senator Duffy right. Senator Duffy brought his horse to the post, and he certainly started off with a good gallop, but it would appear to me that having started his gallop, he got on to the wrong track and was chasing himself in circles. In his gallop he was gaily followed by Senator Baxter and Senator Sir John Keane, although I think that Senator Sir John Keane knew, or, at least suspected, that his horse had got on to the wrong track. Later on, however, Senator Duffy evidently felt that his horse had come a cropper, but, even so, he gallantly remounted and carried on. First of all, however, I should like to make it clear to Senator Duffy and Senator Baxter, who was misled by Senator Duffy——

I was not misled by Senator Duffy.

Well, if the Senator was not misled by Senator Duffy, perhaps he was misled by his own misconceptions. What I want to make clear to the Senators is that there is no relationship between developing the water power of the Erne and the rural electrification scheme. If there were no rural electrification scheme, it would still be necessary to develop the Erne for power purposes. We need to use the Erne now for power purposes. The rural electrification scheme will take at least ten years to complete, and long before that period of ten years, we will have passed, in the generation programme, beyond the Erne and other power projects equally as comprehensive as the Erne project. That misconception as to the relationship between the Erne project and the rural electrification scheme led Senator Duffy into a number of extraordinary calculations which produced equally extraordinary results.

The report of the Electricity Supply Board on the rural electrification scheme mentions a figure of 12 per cent., as representing the return which the board requires to get in fixed charges from rural consumers on the capital cost of the rural network. Senator Duffy, however, related that figure to the cost of the Erne project, and he proceeded to make his calculations on the assumption that the board required to get, somewhere, a sum which was equivalent to 12 per cent. on the cost of the Erne project. As a result of that calculation he reached a conclusion as to the price to be charged for current from the Erne, which was extraordinarily fallacious. In fact, he ended up by concluding that if we could give the board capital for the Erne development at 3 per cent., instead of 5 per cent., it would mean a difference of one ½d. per unit. Actually the cost per unit of Erne current will work out at 242 of 1d. per unit, and the difference of 1 per cent. in the cost of the capital involved to the board, as the scheme will cost something like £3,500,000, 1 per cent. of which is £35,000, would work out at about one-twentieth of 1d. per unit. It is true that in connection with a hydro-electric scheme the rate of interest practically determines the whole cost of the current, because once such a scheme is constructed the main charge involved is the capital charge, since the working cost is very low.

Senators will find, in the appendices to the report, a note showing how the board determines the cost of current generation at their stations. They relate that cost, not merely to the charge in generating, but also to the charges involved in transmission, and they give, as the average cost per unit, 82 of 1d. at the output of the 10,000 volt lines. While, therefore, Senator Duffy was right in saying that the cost of current depends on the method of financing, if, by that, he means the amount they will have to pay in interest, he was incorrect in saying that the differentiation in the rates of interest will effect such a substantial difference in the costs of current as he quoted. Senator Duffy said that he had heard nothing about how the scheme is to be financed. I thought I had made it perfectly clear that the board is to be financed by advances from the Exchequer. So far as generation works and other capital expenditures are concerned, the board will obtain advances from the Exchequer within the limits fixed by legislation and will repay these advances within the periods laid down. In so far as the rural electrification scheme is concerned, they will receive advances from the Exchequer, and will repay only one-half of the total so advanced.

In connection with the rural electrification scheme, I want to make it clear also that the amount which was estimated to be the cost of that scheme was estimated on the basis of pre-war prices; and all that has been taken into consideration in that regard is the cost of the network to be constructed in the rural areas. I gave a figure of £17,000,000 as representing the capital cost that the board would have to incur in that scheme, but there is nothing in that total for generation. There is nothing there except the cost of constructing of something like 75,000 miles of network.

Senator Summerfield, whom I may, perhaps, congratulate on his maiden speech, suggested that the Government should proceed in connection with this rural electrification scheme on the basis of fixing the price at which it wishes current to be available to rural dwellers and then to relate the costs of the board to that price. That is precisely what the Government is doing. The Government decided that it should endeavour to make current available to rural dwellers on the basis of the existing rural tariff of the board, that is, the rate charged for current which the board now provides for rural dwellers. It can only provide current to a very limited number of rural dwellers at present, but on the basis of the charge now in operation the Government decided that the supply should be extended all over the country On examination it seemed clear that the board could do that without loss, provided that one-half of the capital cost of the network was made available by way of grant. It may be that experience will show that that estimate was incorrect. In making the calculation the board assumed a rate of interest of 5 per cent. It assumed that rate of interest because it was entirely working on the basis of pre-war experience. It had no other basis upon which to make assumptions. It assumed pre-war prices for equipment and pre-war rates for interest. If the rate of interest should prove to be lower, then the calculations will have to be varied accordingly. If it is possible to provide the whole of the capital required for the purpose at a lower rate of interest than 5 per cent., then the board will not require a grant of one-half of the total cost and the taxpayer will be saved that amount.

Senator Sir John Keane suggested that we should decide to give one-half of the capital cost in any event and if the actual construction charges should prove to be less than we assumed, to let the benefit pass to the consumer. We decided to proceed on the lines suggested by Senator Summerfield, to fix the price at which we desire electricity will be available and if we can make it available at that price without a charge to the Exchequer, well and good, but certainly on the basis of keeping the charge to the Exchequer at the lowest possible level.

Again the House must keep in mind a clear distinction between the cost of the network and the cost of the current delivered over the network. It is because the board has two distinct charges to meet in providing the services over the network that the system of payment imposed on consumers is a two-part tariff. The consumer pays for his current under two headings. There is a fixed charge which is determined in relation to the floor space of his dwelling and outhouses. Irrespective of the quantity of current he may consume, he has to pay that fixed charge. That fixed charge is related to the actual capital cost of bringing the connection to his house. The board which brings the connection to his house has to meet a capital charge thereon irrespective of the quantity of current he takes. Consequently the consumer must pay an appropriate annual contribution to the board which is related to the capital cost of bringing him a supply irrespective of the quantity of current he consumes. Having entered into this obligation, he pays for the current he consumes on the basis of the quantity he may consume. The rural tariff of the board at present in operation imposes a charge of 2d. per unit for all current supplied up to 500 units and ¾d. per unit for current consumed in excess of 500 units. That system which is intended to give a supply for domestic purpose on the basis of 2d. per unit and for power purposes at 3/4d. per unit, involves a minimum outlay by the board either in the supply of current or in the supervision of the system. It is a scheme which involves the installation of only one meter per household. It may be that some rural households will consume more current for domestic purposes and others more for power purposes but by having a uniform rate applicable to every dwelling it is intended to get into a position where a domestic consumer will pay 2d. per unit and the farmer using current for power will pay ¾d per unit. It is assumed on the basis of that charge that the board will recover the .82d. which is the actual cost of the current to it at the 10,000 volt line output point. That was the cost to the board in 1939-40. It has been probably higher since.

The fixed charge is calculated on the basis of the floor space. If Senators will examine the statistics relating to the four trial areas it will be seen that the vast majority of consumers will be paying a fixed charge of less than £2 a year. Senator Baxter urged that we should contract to supply rural dwellers apart from the cost of bringing the connection to them. The Government decided against that. It is quite obvious that if we were to undertake to create a rural network capable of supplying everybody the advantages of the scheme would be considerably less attractive because there are in every county some dwellings so isolated that the capital cost of connecting them would increase the average cost of connecting all dwellings. The Government decided to adopt what is called the 16 criterion ratio. That term is explained in the report. It means that every rural dwelling where the capital cost is not more than 16 times the amount of the fixed charge payable, will be connected. The adoption of that criterion ratio means that approximately 90 per cent. of the total number of dwellers in all rural areas can be connected under this scheme. It is true, of course, that in making that calculation allowance must be made for the fact that some 20 per cent. of the dwellings will not be connected because the owners will decide not to accept connection. Again, if there are dwellings so isolated that they cannot be connected on that basis then some capital contribution towards the cost of connection may be required from the owners. I want to make it clear to Senator Counihan that this rural electrification scheme is designed to avoid imposing an obligation on rural owners except in certain cases to make a capital contribution towards the cost of the connection. For all these 90 per cent. of rural dwellers, there will be no capital contribution, and if the consumer elects to take a supply the connection will be made and he will pay only on the basis of the rural tariff— only a charge relating to his floor space and so much per unit.

He will be charged only for the amount consumed?

Yes, taking into account this two-part tariff. He will have to pay irrespective of the amount he consumes a fixed charge calculated on the floor space. The need for a capital contribution from the consumer is completely removed.

That is satisfactory.

Many Senators appear to be under a misapprehension as to the method by which the Electricity Supply Board is financed. Many references were made to the 5 per cent. rate of interest which the board pays upon advances made in the past. At the time when the bulk of the amount advanced to the board was made available, the State was paying 5 per cent. for the money that it borrowed. It would probably be true to say that 90 per cent. of the actual amount of cash advanced to the board was advanced at a time when the State could borrow at 5 per cent. and nothing less. Subsequent capital expenditure undertaken by the board and authorised by legislation was financed by the process of using for that purpose the balances to the credit of the board in different depreciation and reserve accounts. It will be obvious, therefore, that the rate of interest in respect of that proportion of the capital expenditure incurred by it is only a book-keeping matter to a very large extent, because the board is itself getting 5 per cent. upon the money advanced from the depreciation and other reserve funds, and if there was a reduction in the rate of interest brought into effect, then the board would have to make a greater appropriation from its revenue for the purpose of the depreciation fund and those other reserve funds.

Could the Minister say what was the amount of that capital?

I cannot say just now. The fact is, however, that the board is not required at present to pay 5 per cent., nor will it be required to pay 5 per cent. in the future. The rate at which the board may borrow from the Exchequer is determined in relation to the general conditions prevailing, and it is certainly not intended that the Exchequer should make any profit upon the advances made to the board.

At this stage, would the Minister deal with the point as to the extent to which the original 5 per cent. advances have been redeemed by the Exchequer? Surely portion of the earlier loans has since been redeemed?

Certainly, and that is a point which I think the Senator should have taken into account before he suggested that the board should be charged the average rate of interest which the State is paying upon all the loans floated from time to time, because there is that repayment obligation upon the Exchequer, and many of those loans must be repaid by the Exchequer within a shorter period than that in which the advances made by the Exchequer to the Electricity Supply Board must be repaid. A number of circumstances must be taken into account in deciding what is a reasonable rate of interest for the Exchequer to charge the board, even if it is agreed that there is to be no profit made by the Exchequer.

Senator Sir John Keane also suggested that the board should be allowed to issue its own stock and get capital otherwise than through the Exchequer. That suggestion may be considered. I doubt if it would be desirable to give the board that freedom at the present time. I doubt very much if the board will be anxious to obtain it at any time, because it may not be to their advantage to have that obligation of financing their own development placed upon them. They may find and I am sure do find it convenient to have the existing system under which they can obtain finances from the Exchequer as they want them instead of having to issue blocks of stock from time to time and keep some proportion of the money realised on them unemployed until their various projects have reached the stage at which capital expenditure has to be undertaken.

I am sure the House will excuse me if I do not enter into the discussion upon general financial topics which was initiated by Senator Duffy and carried on by Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Baxter. There was, however, a suggestion that the Government could make electricity available at a lower rate to consumers if it adopted the views of those Senators as to the operation of the Government's finances. I am interested in this general assumption, which, to Senator Baxter and some others appears to be unquestionable, that it is an unmixed blessing to have a sudden or a substantial fall in interest rates. Surely other consequences follow from a sudden or substantial fall in interest rates than the lessening of the interest charged on advances by the Government. The lowering of interest rates is good for borrowers. It is not necessarily good for lenders. Let us have regard for a moment as to who are the lenders of money to the Government. They are not mainly the banks, and they are certainly not this wealthy rentier class which Senator Baxter was talking about, and which for all practical purposes does not exist in this country. The people who lend money to the Government, those whose names you will see published in the papers as the largest subscribers whenever there is a Government loan, are, first of all, insurance companies; secondly, trustees of various kinds, guardians of trust funds of one sort or another; pension funds; trade unions with various benefit funds of one kind or another; commercial firms seeking investment for their depreciation and other reserves. These and similar classes are the people who subscribe money to Government loans, and clearly a substantial or sudden reduction in the rate of interest on Government loans is going to affect firms and persons of that class very considerably.

Furthermore, I want to put it to the House that a sudden fall in the rate of interest paid by the Government upon Government loans will have the immediate effect of giving an unearned increment to every existing owner of fixed interest stock. If the Government created conditions which enabled it to issue a loan to-morrow at 1½ per cent. instead of 3 per cent., every fixed interest stock on the market would double in value. Must we not take that into account? That unearned accretion of market value to the owners of those stocks is something which we must take into account before we decide that the reduction of interest charges is something which we should bring about, irrespective of other considerations. Many pension funds would, in such circumstances, become insolvent. Pension funds have become insolvent before, not always because of a lowering in the return upon their investments; it was sometimes due to mismanagement. But clearly either the pension funds operated by various concerns would become insolvent or there would have to be a substantial reduction in the amounts of pensions payable from those funds. Many life insurance companies would find themselves in difficulty, and the cost of life insurance would undoubtedly increase. The banks would protect themselves. Senator Baxter need not worry that the banks will be the sufferers from any sudden reduction in the rate of interest on Government loans. They will make up the loss of revenue by increasing the cost of commercial credit, by increasing the bank charges, or by any of the other devices open to them. Therefore, before Senators lightly assume that it is in everybody's interest that the rate of interest upon Government borrowing should be brought down substantially and quickly, I think they should give consideration to those inevitable consequences.

I do not say that it follows therefore that the Government would be justified in maintaining the rate of interest on its loans at a higher figure than the general circumstances would appear to require. It is probably true to say—here again I join issue with Senator Sir John Keane when he contended that the interest the Government must pay is the interest which the borrowers are prepared to accept —that the Government could so create conditions that all the money available for investment after the requirements of industry and commerce had been met would have to be loaned to the Government at whatever rate of interest the Government decided upon. I think that is the situation which now exists in Britain.

Our circumstances are somewhat different here, because Irish citizens and Irish banks have free access to the British stock market, but even if we withdrew that freedom of access to the British stock market and instituted here the same form of control over investment as, in fact, operates in other countries, it would not be true to say that the Government must pay the rate of interest which lenders are prepared to accept. They could pay whatever rate of interest they thought fit to pay and lenders would have no option but to take it. On the other hand, if we permit access to the British stock market to continue, then while the power of Government control would undoubtedly disappear, it would still not be true to say that the Government would have to pay the rate of interest desired by the borrower. The position would be that the borrower would have to take the rate prevailing on the British market.

And that is not very high at the moment.

Nevertheless, it is the rate which lenders would have to accept. I am, generally, putting Senator Sir John Keane right. Some Senators appear to have the impression that because the State operates a bank, a savings bank, and pays on amounts deposited in the bank by people throughout the country a lower rate of interest than it pays on loans, that rate of interest should be the rate charged on advances from the Central Fund for general purposes. You cannot place money withdrawable on short notice in the same class as money provided for long-term capital investment purposes. In any event, that money is taken into the Exchequer and is being used for the purpose of the Exchequer and it is not now available for Erne development or any immediate undertaking of that character. Perhaps I said more on this general issue of finance management than I had intended, so I will get back now to the details of the Bill.

Senator Douglas referred in his brief speech to the development in the demand for electric current in this country since the first Electricity Supply Bill was passed. That development has been very considerable. The number of units generated by the Electricity Supply Board in 1930 was 61,000,000; in 1942 it was 450,000,000, but I still think we are only in the infant stage of development, and that the demand for current can be, by various devices, expanded considerably and it is desirable to expand it considerably.

It is true that the very big development in that demand in the years immediately preceding the war was due largely to the fact that industrial development was proceeding apace at that time. There are some industries, notably the cement factories, which consume very large amounts of electricity, and, in fact, it would be true to say that the cement industry alone would take the total output of the Liffey scheme. The fact is that in the earlier stages of development people here did not anticipate how the demand would grow, and that was reproduced in other countries also. In many other countries, the demand for electricity far outran the plans of those who had responsibility for providing it.

I remember being informed by certain representatives of the New Zealand Government who were here a short time ago, that their experience was similar to our own. In fact, when they undertook the equivalent of our Shannon scheme, they were so apprehensive that the demand for current would be very much less than its output that they endeavoured to step up the demand by undertaking to provide every rural household with hot water on tap by means of electricity at a fixed charge of 5/- per month. Long before the scheme was completed, they had a demand for the current at a commercial price which they could not supply, and they had reached the stage of regretting the fact that they had entered into this commitment to give at a subsidised price a supply of current which they could have sold at a fully economic price, as they desired, for industrial development and similar purposes.

In every other country, the experience has been somewhat similar. The growth in the demand for electricity and the growth in the usage of electricity, has surprised even those who are directly concerned with the planning of electrical development. In this country, I think we can look forward after the war to a very substantial stepping up in the demand, and I know it will be many years before the Electricity Supply Board will be able to construct and get into production the number of generating stations that will enable them to overtake the demand and to reach the stage when they will have a surplus of current for sale and have to undertake the ordinary type of commercial propaganda to dispose of it. It may be of interest to mention that in the first year of the Electricity Supply Board's operations, 1930, the average price secured by the board for current was 2.66d. per unit. That price had fallen by 1942 to 1.47d. per unit. Later it came to 1.68d. per unit and those who are complaining about the increase in the cost of current in recent times will be interested to know that it is still substantially below the cost in the first year of the Electricity Supply Board's activities.

Senator Duffy objected to the provisions in this Bill relating to the manufacture of apparatus. He indicated a preference for the manufacture of apparatus by the board rather than by private concerns. I disagree with that point of view entirely. So far as consumers' equipment is concerned, we require not merely production by private enterprise but by competitive enterprise, and I would attach considerable importance to the desirability of promoting competitive enterprise in that regard.

Electrical apparatus is still in the process of development. Every day improvements are being thought of by inventors, and unless we have the element of competition, there will be a tendency to slow down upon the introduction of those improvements or the scrapping of existing plant in order to permit of a new type of apparatus being manufactured, and I think it is desirable that we should keep abreast of progress in other countries, particularly in that matter of domestic apparatus and equipment designed to facilitate farm work. There will, of course, be a substantial quantity of equipment required by the board, and for equipment of that kind the board will be the only consumer in the country, or certainly the main consumer. In respect of apparatus of that kind, I feel myself that the board should be associated with its manufacture, but very probably those who will be undertaking its manufacture will desire to have the board associated with them so that they will feel assured that when they commence production they will have interested in their future welfare the only customer for their products in the country. I do not think that it is necessary to go to the trouble of setting up a committee of experts to design suitable farm appliances. I feel sure that appliances which are devised by private firms for use in other countries will be suitable here or can be adapted to our circumstances so as to make them suitable, and, in any event, we can leave it to private firms to design appliances which will be attractive to the people to whom they want to sell them. It is necessary to keep in mind that it will be a number of years before the rural network is completed. That network will spread out from the existing 10,000-volt system, and it is only in area after area that any special propaganda work will be required, or any instruction given to the public in the use to which electricity can be put, or any advice as to the type of appliances best suitable to obtain.

Senator Baxter asked a question concerning the effect of the Erne scheme upon the drainage of the Erne. The experts who have advised me in the matter state that the effect of the construction works on the Erne will be considerably to lessen the drainage problem in that area. However, there is a drainage problem which is mainly outside our jurisdiction, and, for the information of the House, I might mention the total area to be flooded for the construction works will be only 750 acres, which is very much smaller than the area flooded in connection with either the Shannon scheme or the Liffey scheme.

In County Donegal?

In County Donegal. Another Senator asked about the use of tidal waters. The possibility of the use of tidal waters has been considered by the board. I do not think that there is any technical problem in connection with it. What the board reported to me was that of all the various methods of generating electricity, the use of tidal power was the most expensive, and consequently did not interest them in present circumstances. Senator Johnston said that this Bill was not part of a comprehensive plan for agriculture. That is quite true, and it is not presented as such. Whatever comprehensive plan for agriculture we may devise for the post-war period must, I think, have a special regard to post-war circumstances, and it cannot be seriously affected by a scheme for the gradual development of electricity supply over the whole rural area, which will take at least ten years, and possibly longer to complete. Senator O Buachalla made reference to the use of Irish in the Electricity Supply Board services. I will bring his observations to the attention of the board. The Senator also asked what preparations are being made to provide trained personnel for this scheme. The board has, I understand, begun its preparations for the carrying out of the rural electrification scheme. It is blue-printing the course of the various networks and has engaged additional staffs, to the extent that it considers necessary. However, the bulk of the personnel required for the construction of the network will be semi-skilled, and it is not necessary to undertake an elaborate apprenticeship arrangement. The construction of the network will not require any highly-skilled personnel, and I think it will be possible to get in every district a number of workers without any particular experience in construction activities of this kind, and to give them training which will enable them to be utilised in the construction of the network.

It is true that a rural dweller getting connection with the supply will have to undertake some outlay in connection with the wiring of his house and the installation of the appliances for the use of the electricity. The board does installation work and does it in competition with a number of private firms. While the board would, I am sure, be prepared to operate some easy payment system, it is a matter for consideration whether it is advisable that they should do so unless the private firms which do the installation in competition with the board are also able to give the same facilities. I think it is quite possible that a number of private electrical firms will be prepared to wire houses and supply appliances upon an easy payment system, and I should be surprised if there are not numbers of firms with the enterprise and resources to enable them to do so. I think we can contemplate a rural dweller getting his house wired, and the appliances installed, without having to undertake any capital expenditure whatever, merely paying for the current as it is used and for the appliances over the course of time. There is, of course, nothing in this Bill which limits, any further than it is limited by existing legislation the power of individuals to undertake the production of electricity for their own use. One must not assume that there are outlying villages and hamlets which will not be supplied under this scheme. It is true that the scheme will have to develop gradually from the existing network, and the areas most remote from the existing network will inevitably be the last to be supplied, because the new network must extend gradually from the existing network, but the intention is that all villages and hamlets will be covered in the course of time. There is a number of rivers which can be developed. The Report of the Electricity Supply Board indicates that a number of these rivers are being investigated by the board, with a view to the preparation of plans in connection with them. May I say to Senator P.J. O'Reilly that I know of no plan already lodged for the development of the River Boyne involving the flooding of ancient historic areas, or of any plan at all?

Lodged with the county council?

The board stated that it "continued its investigations into water power resources.... The development of the lower reaches of the River Boyne, for which preliminary plans and investigations were completed, did not appear to justify further consideration at the present stage." They said also "plans for a small hydro-electric development of the Lower Liffey at Leixlip were completed. Surveys and preliminary plans for the Torc Waterfall, County Kerry, and the River Lee, County Cork, were in course of preparation at the end of the year.... Further rivers included the Avonmore (County Wicklow), the Clady and Gweedore (County Donegal), the Nore (County Kilkenny), the Slaney (County Carlow), and the Ballisodare (County Sligo)." That is the only information I can give the Senator on that matter and it seems that the plans for the development of the Boyne have by no means reached the advanced stage which he assumes. I agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon, that the use of electricity in rural areas is going very largely to depend on the attitude towards it of the womenfolk. Although electricity will lessen the burden of farm work upon the males it will be a very special boon to women. I hope to see the day that when a girl gets a proposal from a farmer she will inquire not so much about the number of cows, but rather concerning the electrical appliances that she will require before she gives her consent, including not merely electric light but a water heater, an electric clothes boiler, a vacuum cleaner and even a refrigerator.

She would want to have more than that.

Nevertheless it will make the proposition far more attractive to a young lady. Senator O'Reilly asked me to say what I meant by a stand-by plant. In the calculation which I gave as to the output of electricity from the Erne, or any information which may be given from time to time in regard to the output of the Shannon or the Liffey, an average flow year is assumed. The actual flow varies from year to year, but these calculations are based upon the average experience. There are many years obviously where the flow is much below the average, and to keep up the supply there must be a stand-by steam plant. In a good year that plant would not be used at all, and in a very dry year it might be used very extensively. The aim is to have a sufficient provision of stand-by plant to ensure that in any year in which the flow was less than the average, the supply of current can, nevertheless, be kept up to meet the full demand for it. One must not think that a stand-by plant of that kind is equivalent to a reserve plant to provide against the possibility of a break-down of machinery. In a stand-by station, such as the Pigeon House station, there will be reserve turbines in case any may go out of action but the whole station is a stand-by to the water-power station. Clonsast will be a base load station, not a stand-by station, and will, therefore, work continuously to its maximum output.

I do not think that there is any ground for apprehension that the Minister for Agriculture will use the powers given to him in this Bill deliberately to obstruct the completion of our hydro-electric plans. The intention is, as expressed in a decision of the Government, that where an unavoidable clash occurs between fishery interests and the development of water power for electricity development, power purposes must get priority. The particular form of words used in the Bill is designed to ensure that, subject to the priority of power development, maximum efforts will be made to protect fishery interests.

Senator O'Dea has been misled in his calculations as to the cost of the network. The estimated cost is £17,000,000, based on pre-war prices. That is for a 10,000-volt network. The existing network includes not only 10,000-volt lines but higher-tension lines, with which the 10,000-volt lines are connected, and also a number of underground mains in urban areas which are, of course, much more costly to construct. The actual cost of the network will be substantially higher than £17,000,000. That figure is based upon pre-war prices. I do not think it is likely that post-war prices will be, as Senator Duffy assumed, 75 per cent. higher than pre-war prices. They may be 50 per cent. higher and will be, almost certainly, 33? per cent. higher.

Was I right in estimating that the 3,840 miles of wire would have cost about £5,000,000?

£4,314 was the value of the physical assets in the board's distribution system, as shown in their recent capital account.

How does that work out at £17,000,000 for 75,000 miles?

That represents a network system of a very different character. The construction of a 10,000 volt line, which can be done with wooden poles and comparatively light wire, is a different proposition from the construction of a 40,000 volt line, which involves the use of steel pylons or the construction of underground networks, which necessitates the making of tunnels. The board has estimated the cost at £17,000,000, and that figure includes the cost of the network and transformers. I think I have dealt with all the principal points. Some points of detail were raised which will, no doubt, be raised again in Committee.

What about Clonsast?

Senator O'Reilly appeared to anticipate the possibility of a scarcity of turf and questioned the wisdom of using turf for production of electricity since it might be required in some future emergency. I can assure the Senator that the turf reserves of the country will last us through many an emergency. The fuelling of Clonsast station can be done from the existing mechanised bog of the Turf Development Board at Portarlington. The question of further turf-burning stations is a question of selection——

What are the calculated costings?

The estimated cost is £1,500,000.

I mean the costings of the production of the fuel per ton.

The cost of turf at Clonsast could not be definitely estimated now because the machines required for winning the turf are not yet available and it is difficult to say at what price it will be possible to procure or construct them. There is no reason to assume that the project will be in any sense uneconomic or that, on the basis of turf being half the calorific value of coal, it will not be possible to deliver into the boilers of the stations at Clonsast turf from the Clonsast bog at, at least, half the price per ton at which coal can be delivered from Great Britain into the boilers of the station at the Pigeon House. These calculations are made on the basis of the costs at the Pigeon House, which has the most favourably situated position in the country so far as the use of coal is concerned. The cost of coal to the Pigeon House is less than it is in the case of any other industrial concern. If one were to calculate on the basis of costs to a power house on any site other than that of the Pigeon House, the cost of coal would be very much higher.

At what date?

At any time.

Is that the pre-war cost?

We shall never get coal at the pre-war cost and I do not suppose we shall ever produce turf at pre-war prices but, so long as we can get turf at half the cost of coal at the Pigeon House, the use of turf is cheaper than the use of coal. There are, of course, turf production problems to be solved. I tried to emphasise in my opening statement that the use of turf for power purposes is not a technical problem for the Electricity Supply Board but a problem for the turf board—a problem of ensuring regularity of quality and regularity of delivery to the power stations. The turf board is tackling that problem and, subject to their solving it, there will be no difficulty for the Electricity Supply Board in generating electricity from turf.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 21st March.