Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1944—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1, 2 and 3 put and agreed to.
SECTION 4.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 are related, I think.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In sub-section (2), line 15, after the words "Minister for Agriculture" to insert the words "the Minister for Finance (acting on behalf of the Commissioners of Public Works) and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health".

I should like, in the first place, to congratulate the Minister on this Bill, generally, and, in particular, in relation to the clauses relative to compensation for fisheries, the part of the Bill in which I am specially interested. That, I hope, will save me some trouble later on, because I wish to assure the Minister that there is no doubt in my mind as to the satisfactory nature of the compensation clauses. However, just as Senator Sweetman this afternoon expressed a doubt as to the utility of speaking to amendments concerning which the Minister has already arrived at a decision, I, too, am doubtful whether, in speaking now, this is a case of wasting one's sweetness on the desert air. There has been a certain amount of prejudice exhibited, in some of the previous discussions, regarding the question of fisheries, and I should like to deal with these matters for a little while. To begin with I should like to point out that the birds in the air, the animals in the field, the fishes in the river and, I might say, in any portion of the sea surrounding our coasts are all, just as much as the people of this country, part of our nation or of our native land and our environment. Hence, it would be a serious matter to allow to take place the destruction of any of those components which go to make up our native environment. Accordingly, I want to have an examination made into this matter from a broadminded standpoint.

I am afraid that we are proceeding rapidly towards the mechanisation of everything, and that we may ultimately arrive at a condition of affairs in this country such as exists at present in some of the very large cities of the world, where they are surrounded by nothing but artificial things and where everything is mechanical. Our only chance of living a natural life at all is to get away from that kind of thing. In these large, modern cities of the world, the dwelling places are only places in which to shelter for the moment, instead of being places in which to live. I do not know whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce is absolutely impervious to argument. Had I the opportunity of dealing with the Minister for Finance, I think I could have got at his soft spot much more easily, since I had the privilege of knowing him many years ago, and of being in very close personal contact with him. Now, on a previous occasion, I mentioned that our fisheries at the moment are valued at about £242,000. That, perhaps, is not a very large sum in proportion to the sums we have been speaking about lately. Still, it is something, although it is not by any means an adequate sum for fisheries, if conditions were normal. I should like to quote here from an article by Dr. Went, who is, I think, the Chief Inspector of Fisheries. He says:

"In recent years a considerable number of local angling associations have been formed."

Then he refers to the good work these have been doing in protecting brown troust fisheries, and so on, and he stresses, above all, the value of fostering a healthy state of public opinion with reference to the protection of our inland fisheries, particularly during the spawning season. He says that the Department welcomes the formation of these angling associations, and then he goes on to say:

"The value of Ireland's trout fisheries from the point of view of our tourist traffic is very high, and I am inclined to agree with those persons who would place trout fishing before that of salmon as a means of attracting tourists to this country.

Just before the war the anglers' association in Manchester had arranged for large numbers of coarse-fish anglers to visit this country... As an indication of what can be expected I need only cite the example of a small hotel in County Cavan, the proprietor of which was guaranteed 30 guests for the whole of the period from April to September."

He gives that as an indication of what can be expected from the development of our fisheries. Now, I am sorry that the Senator I expected to be here is not here to continue a sort of opposition to this motion, because if he were here I think I would have something to say later on in reference to his possible attitude. However, since he is not here, I shall pass on to the next point. My amendment provides for the inclusion of two committees in the Bill. One of these committees we may call, to be brief, an amenity committee. There may be a better name for it, and I am quite prepared to admit quite frankly to the Minister that this is taken from a Scottish Bill dealing with the same matter, and accordingly I am not claiming any originality for these two amendments. I admit that right away. Under the Scottish Bill the Secretary of State for Scotland was given power to appoint those two committees, but since our Constitution here is rather different, naturally some changes were required.

Perhaps since the three amendments standing in my name are more or less related, I might be permitted to deal with the amendment providing for an amenity committee. With regard to that no change is suggested and no addition to the public expenditure is involved as under the National Monuments Act of 1930 there is a National Monuments Advisory Council already in existence. Similarly as Senators know the Tourist Board is in existence. In a nutshell, the object of the first amendment requires that these two boards shall be consulted in the first instance. When the Minister first introduced the Bill, I called his attention to the fact of which he appeared to be ignorant, that preliminary plans for the development of the Boyne had been lodged by the Electricity Supply Board with the Meath County Council more than 12 months ago. Since I made that statement, I have been making further inquiries and I find that, as a matter of fact, the National Monuments Advisory Council was consulted by the Electricity Supply Board as to the possibility of interference with the various national monuments in the Boyne valley. The Minister himself claimed that the Tourist Board is a sufficient protection and that they had all the powers necessary for the preservation of historic bits of scenery, etc., so there is nothing new being suggested here. What I am afraid of is, supposing the present Minister, sympathetic as he appears to be from the provisions of the Bill, is promoted to a higher post and that the Senator who spoke so strongly here against the protection of monuments, and the preservation of fisheries in particular, takes his place as Minister for Industry and Commerce, could he not ride the high horse and say he has no obligation whatever in this respect?

I simply want to make arrangements for the future by providing for consultation between the bodies concerned. Surely there is nothing unreasonable in that? The Minister for Agriculture necessarily belongs to the same Government as the Minister for Industry and Commerce and it is impossible to conceive that they will get into a warlike attitude, one to the other, and fight in an unreasonable sort of way. There is an opportunity for reasonable consultation between the two Ministers provided in these two amendments, and I feel that even the terms of the Bill make it certain that the Minister for Agriculture would not act in an unreasonable fashion.

I want to be quite frank as regards the fishing side of the question. I have been interested personally in fishing for a considerable number of years and a close relative, a brother in fact, is a member of a board of conservators. I can speak, therefore, with a certain amount of authority regarding the unsatisfactory nature of the arrangements relative to the protection of fisheries which exist at present. There are no doubt a number of inspectors of fisheries. I find, analysing the public estimates on the subject, that there would appear to be six officials of one kind or another whose special function is to look after fisheries. In addition to the six officials, there are various clerks, but that is not very much use when you consider that these six officials have to deal, not only with inland fisheries, but with sea fisheries as well. Now you have Dr. Went in his excellent symposium read at the Royal Dublin Society on the occasion of the centenary of Dr. Kane, referring to the importance of the subject. I should also like to refer to its importance from the tourist standpoint, the sports standpoint, and its importance generally from the financial standpoint.

I shall give the House one example of which I have personal knowledge. One of the most valuable fisheries we have is at a place called "The Mollies", near Navan. I am not quite sure what the name is derived from. It covers a very short distance, but it was formerly one of the most valuable fisheries in the whole country. An attempt was made by some conservators to try to get diseased fish removed from that stretch. These fish were suffering from that dreadful disease, furunculosis, to which fish are liable and there was no method by which the conservators could assert their rights and protect the fisheries by removing dead fish. The result is that this year it is absolutely valueless as a fishery. In fact that has been the case for some years. The hatchery has been out of action for some years. Similar remarks apply to the Suir, a river of which I have also an intimate personal knowledge. What harm would it be to link up these various anglers' associations and conservators of fisheries and provide that an advisory committee would be established and that that advisory committee would have an organised method of putting their views before the Minister for Agriculture? Then the inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture will have an opportunity of discussing these matters with the members of the advisory council. I am not even suggesting that the Minister be asked to provide any additional money, because I feel and know that the people associated with these boards would be spirited enough to pay for any expenses that may be incurred in connection with attendance of meetings of the advisory committee. It is the one sport that remains where the purely material side of things does not count so much.

In introducing the Bill in the Dáil the Minister made some statements which I went to the trouble of analysing. I wish to say that there appeared to be some slight mistakes made by the Minister as to matters of fact and I should like to avail myself of this opportunity of pointing them out. To begin with, he points out that their source is the Scottish Hydro-Electric Bill. He says that the amendments submitted in the other House were proposed without reference to the other provisions of the Bill then before that House. That may have been true with reference to the amendments in the form in which they appeared in the Dáil, but I maintain it is not true as regards the amendments before this House. He says that these provisions may have been necessary in Scotland but that they are not necessary here. It will be my job to convince the House that they are as necessary here as in Scotland. The Minister says that an amenity committee is not required to enable persons to bring matters to the attention of either the Electricity Supply Board or the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Now let us consider what that means. Does it mean that any individual can write to the Electricity Supply Board and call attention to this, that or the other? Are matters of great importance to be left to the good will of a public-spirited citizen?

I pointed out that the provisions of this Bill were such that in relation to the River Boyne, the burial places of the ancient kings of Ireland would have been submerged and that many raths of great cultural and historical interest would be damaged. I am not talking about Newgrange. I know every inch of that country because I have sailed through it in canoes; I swam and cycled there; but Newgrange is on a higher level. What I am calling the attention of the House to is the fact that there are certain raths, and there are places like St. Erc's Hermitage, which would be submerged. Probably one of the most beautiful pieces of scenery, not excepting that of Killarney, would have been lost for ever.

I say to the Minister that this is part of the nation, and if we are to get rid of our national monuments in that way, we should not do it until the public have some organised means of giving a verdict on the subject. The organised means I suggest is that the parties interested should be given an opportunity to make reasonable representations. I do not for a moment suggest these parties would try to hold up a scheme for ever. There is no danger that they would adopt an unreasonable attitude.

The Minister said that the House could be in no doubt that he would be as interested as anyone else in the preservation of amenities, where that is possible by administrative action. Another Minister is concerned in this, the Minister for Local Government, and there are the local bodies. Some organised way of doing this should be devised, and the people concerned should have an opportunity of expressing their opinions. The Minister stated that reference to fisheries is completely irrelevant and that no account is taken of the provisions of Section 19 of the Bill. I have already stated that the section is very satisfactory indeed. In fact, I was more than pleased at the generous provisions made for compensation. I have taken the reference to Section 19 from the existing Dáil Reports and by now it may not be correct. The Minister says that Section 19 obliges the board to comply with the requirements of the Minister for Agriculture in the avoidance of injury to fisheries, but emphasis was laid on "during the construction and before". Presumably he was referring to the design of the works. I say if the construction effects a big disturbance of the natural contour of the river, it may not be noticed for several years, and it is in these after years that the greatest damage would possibly arise.

The Minister further stated that the Scottish Bill contained no provision for the protection of fisheries. I have a copy of the Scottish Bill here and it contains express provision for compensation for the acquisition of land. Will any member of the House say that legislation adopted by the British Parliament has ever failed to provide for the acquisition of land without reasonable compensation? I do not think that that can even be imagined. The Minister may have been misled in the use of the word "land" but if he reads up the fishery laws he will find that land really includes the water passing over that land. If a person owns the land on one side of a river, then the land up to the mid-point of that stream is his property. If he happens to own land on both sides of the river, it is all his property.

When, therefore, provision is made for the acquisition of land, that provision also includes compensation for fisheries. To that extent the Minister was not right in saying that there was no provision for compensation for fisheries. There are a number of other items which I should like to raise, but I shall confine myself to one or two of them. The report of the fisheries section of the Department refers to the high prices obtained for salmon by persons engaged in pelagic fishing, and also to the pollution of rivers. It is stated that some of the cases of pollution were such as to cause some concern. I know that there is very great dissatisfaction generally with the present arrangements regarding the protection of our rivers.

I see no reason at all why more attention could not be paid to the advice of people who have given very considerable thought to these matters because they are interested in them, and not always interested in them from a material viewpoint. I do not see why they should not be given an opportunity of organising a means of expressing what they think should be done, and of getting into contact with the officials who are the advisers of the Minister for Agriculture. There is nothing unusual in that.

I do not suggest that there even should be one penny of additional expenditure. In reading this amendment it will be found that certain of the words are taken from the Minister's own Bill regarding transport. He wanted an advisory committee regarding transport and the House consented. The Vocational Act also provided for an advisory committee, and you have the Minister for Agriculture getting the advice of an advisory committee about post-war plans. In every way, this, I suggest, is a reasonable amendment. I do not want to incur any expense—I merely wish to ask the Minister to take account of the future and to remember that a Minister may have a bias such as the bias expressed by one of our Senators earlier in this debate.

At one time, I must say I greatly fancied myself because I knew all about the calculus and a wide variety of engineering formulae. I had a feeling when I was going along the street that people should turn around and look at me because of the immense knowledge I possessed, but no one ever turned a hair, and in later years I became convinced that it was only one part of the knowledge which a human being should have. Therefore, if a person is suffering for a while from what Dr. Freud called repression, he may, meanwhile, do very considerable harm, particularly if he is in a representative capacity. It is for all members of this House to see that the contours of our rivers, such as the Boyne, will not be seriously upset without proper consideration. I would appeal to the Minister to consider this in a sympathetic way. The Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Arterial Drainage Bill made a remark that fishermen and those interested in fishing are not always to be believed.

There is a fisherman's prayer, for example, to which is attached a sort of stigma. It is somewhat jocular, and I do not know whether members of the House are familiar with it. There is also a fisherman's curse, and I certainly would be very reluctant to incur the hostility of the vast number interested in this very genuine and innocent sport. I appeal to the Minister that he should not do anything to interfere with it. I wonder would it be possible for the Cathaoirleach to bring him down to Lismore, and if he caught a salmon and had the experience I had on one or two occasions I would have very little difficulty in convincing him that something ought to be done.

Amendments somewhat similar to these were moved in the Dáil, and I gave my reasons for opposing them. Senator O'Reilly has repeated them and saved me some of the trouble of doing so. In fact, I have no further arguments to advance against these amendments than those I advanced in the Dáil. These amendments, as the Senator said, are based on the provisions in the Scottish Hydro-Electric Bill, but the other provisions of that Bill were so different from those in the Bill under discussion that I submit they are entirely irrelevant. In so far as the protection of fisheries is the concern of the House, I submit that the provisions of this Bill are not merely satisfactory but far more far-reaching than those contemplated in the proposed amendments.

I do not think the setting up of a commission of fishermen to consult with the Minister for Agriculture would be half as effective as the proposal in Section 11. The section I refer to is Section 11, and not 19. It is there proposed to give the Minister for Agriculture, who is in charge of the protection of fisheries, direct power to require the Electricity Supply Board to take precautions and make provisions during the construction of a hydro-electric works so as to avoid damage to fisheries. I was, in fact, twitted by a member of the Seanad for having given way to the Minister for Agriculture in that regard and for having agreed to insert in this Bill a clause which gave the Minister for Agriculture power to interfere with the construction of electricity generation works greater than he had been given in previous measures of the same kind. That is, in fact, true. The proposals in this Bill are more far-reaching than similar provisions in the legislation which authorised the construction of the Shannon works and the legislation which authorised the construction of the Liffey works. They give the Minister for Agriculture more power to direct and require the board to undertake works that will avoid damage to fisheries. Furthermore, the Scottish Bill did not provide for compensation for damage to fisheries and certainly contained no clauses such as appear in this Bill providing for the acquisition of fisheries by the electricity authorities. I submit that the proposals in this Bill and the powers given to the Minister for Agriculture in relation to the actual construction of works and the provisions in relation to payment of compensation or the acquisition of fisheries are far more satisfactory and workable than the proposals contained in the amendment.

In respect of ancient monuments and similar amenities. I do not think it is desirable to set up the machinery which is suggested here. There is a National Monuments Advisory Committee functioning under the auspices of the Board of Works. If hydro-electric works are contemplated it is desirable that there should be some authority to identify national monuments and to suggest the precautions that may be taken for their protection. I should imagine that the main trouble that will be experienced will be in the identification of the monuments that are of such national interest that they should be preserved at the public expense. We have this National Monuments Advisory Committee and they are, I am sure, competent to identify any national monuments of the class that the State should be concerned with their preservation. The board have at all times consulted with the National Monuments Committee in their work, and they have given me an undertaking that they will afford that committee every facility to identify and, so far as may be possible, preserve the monuments or other items of historic interest on the site of any hydro-electric works. Again, I think that is more satisfactory and workable than the elaborate proposals that have been suggested in these amendments. It is wrong to assume that the members of the board or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or other persons who will be concerned with the preparation or approval of schemes of this kind will not be interested in the preservation of amenities and historical monuments. It is only fair to assume that they will, and that in so far as it is practical to do so, schemes will be prepared which will cause the least possible interference. Apart altogether from the natural interest we all have in the preservation of monuments, there is the assurance that the board will consult with the National Monuments Advisory Committee and give every possible facility to identify monuments and items of general interest. I fear that Senator O'Reilly is unduly concerned in this matter because he fears works are contemplated on the Boyne.

I am not. I know that that is abandoned.

The only hydro-electric scheme that is in contemplation is that of the Erne, and that involves the submerging of only 750 acres. There is in fact a very small acreage of land to be submerged compared with the Liffey scheme which involved the submergence of 5,000 acres, although the total generation capacity was much smaller than the estimated generation capacity of the Erne works. The board stated in their report that the examination they made of the Boyne and the tentative development plans which were prepared did not appear to justify further consideration at the present stage. If at any time it should appear desirable to the board that the Boyne should be developed for power purposes, then special consideration would be given to the particular plans prepared because of the historical monuments and places of historical interest in their locality. The same applies to other rivers but not to the same extent. In all proposals for hydro-electric works the National Monuments Advisory Committee will be consulted and given every facility to preserve these monuments and places from damage.

I submit, however, that the very practical procedure contemplated in the Bill is preferable to that adopted in the Scottish Hydro-electrical Bill and proposed in these amendments. For the protection of fisheries there are special powers given to the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Agriculture has technical officers to advise him. No doubt these technical advisers can contact local representative bodies and secure any detailed information which they require. We are proposing in this Bill that the Minister for Agriculture should have far more definite powers than are suggested in the amendments. I know that Senator O'Reilly in the course of his speech on the amendment indicated a more general interest in fisheries than would be relevant to the provisions of this Bill. If he wishes to improve the general arrangements for the protection of fisheries, and I have no doubt there is a great deal of force in what he says in that regard, he must take the matter up with the Minister for Agriculture.

The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for the administration of the legislation for the protection of fisheries. In so far as the Electricity Supply Board will acquire fishing rights or have acquired them under the Shannon Acts they are of course subject to the fishery law just as any other fishery proprietor. It would not be practicable to effect an improvement or amendment of the general law relating to the protection of fisheries through the provisions in this Bill nor would the committee which is proposed in this amendment have any functions unless a hydro-electric works were proposed for a particular river. If the Senator desires to have brought to the attention of the Minister for Agriculture suggestions for the improvement generally of the fishery law or to urge upon him the need for the strengthening of that law, I suggest he should do so by motion or upon some occasion upon which the Minister for Agriculture will have legislative proposals relating to fisheries before the Seanad.

Is the amendment being pressed?

Mr. O'Reilly

I note the argument that in dealing with a hydro-electric works this advisory committee might be conceived of as having power to deal with fisheries in general. That would be no disadvantage. I am suggesting that if the National Monuments Advisory Council might be asked to extend their functions to hydro-electric schemes the opposite thing might occur. Supposing an advisory council for fisheries were established, it could be asked to extend its functions to every branch of fisheries. There is a very small attendance in the House and the Minister might change his mind. I hope he will, but I can assure him that if he has the same fixed idea and does not accept these amendments I will not press them very strongly on the Report Stage. I think the House is far too small to judge a question of such importance and would ask permission to withdraw the amendment. I assure the Minister that if he is not converted in the interval—and we will only have to pray hard during the intervening period for his conversion— I will not press the amendments very strongly.

I must take exception to the remarks of the Senator that the House is too small to deal with a question of this importance.

Acting-Chairman

It has been intimated to the Chair that the intention is to take the remaining Stages of this Bill to-night.

I did not understand that. I understood we were only taking the Committee Stage.

The idea was to finish it.

I have no objection to taking the other Stages, but I did not realise it was proposed.

Acting-Chairman

I gathered there was an understanding, but if such is not the case that is another matter. Is the Senator objecting?

No, I only want to have it clear.

Acting-Chairman

I thought it only fair to make the announcement since the Senator is about to withdraw the amendments, and I considered he should be made aware that a suggestion had been made, as I understood, to finish the Bill. Senator Sweetman does not object.

Oh, no, I am not objecting. Of course Senator O'Reilly is at perfect liberty to object.

Mr. O'Reilly

I am not familiar with what I can do.

May I suggest that the amendment should be disposed of?

Acting-Chairman

But the Senator states he does not wish to press it, but wishes, I understood him to say, to withdraw and to retable it for the Report Stage. Does Senator O'Reilly object to finishing the Bill to-night?

Mr. O'Reilly

I would really like the Bill to be carried over until after the holidays and the House could be given an opportunity of considering this matter when there is a normal attendance. There is not a normal attendance now. If there were a normal attendance I would be perfectly satisfied that the matter should be reconsidered.

There is only one way of deciding this question. If the Senator is not prepared to withdraw the amendment the only way is to divide and let us get a definite decision.

Acting-Chairman

Do I take it the House does not give permission to withdraw?

Oh, no, it is a question of finishing.

I suggest that question does not arise. That will only arise when the Committee Stage is disposed of.

Acting-Chairman

But I suggest it is only fair to Senator O'Reilly since he said he was going to retable it on the Report Stage that we should make him aware of the suggestion made. It is a matter for him whether it should be divided on now or withdrawn.

I suggest it is open to the Senator to object on the motion for the Fourth Stage.

Acting-Chairman

Of course it is.

He can dispose of it then.

Amendment put and negatived.

Acting-Chairman

I take it that disposes of amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

Amendments Nos. 2 to 4 inclusive not moved.
Sections 4 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 18.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (3), page 11, line 54, to delete the words "or for any other reason".

This section relates to the compensation which will be payable to certain people in the event of interference with their employment or income by the action of the Electricity Supply Board. As I understand it, the position is that, where it can be shown to the arbitrator that a person who was engaged in fishing, or who was employed by somebody engaged in fishing, is entitled to be paid compensation, that compensation is to be awarded by the arbitrator. Sub-section (2) is concerned with the manner in which the compensation is to be calculated. In sub-section (3), there is some difficulty regarding the words which I seek in my amendment to delete. That sub-section states that a person shall not be entitled to compensation where it is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that, by reason of an undertaking by the board to continue the employment of such persons or for any other reason, such person would suffer no loss or diminution of earnings or employment. I draw attention to the insertion of the words "or for any other reason". The way I read that is that the person shall not be entitled to compensation where it is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that, by reason of an undertaking by the board to continue him in employment, or for any other reason, he will not suffer a diminution of earnings or employment. It may be that the Minister has in mind something in relation to those words which is not clear to me. I cannot understand the general inference to be drawn from the words "or for any other reason" in relation to the undertaking by the board. I do not propose to argue that the matter is not satisfactory. I did not put down the amendment for the purpose of challenging what the Minister is doing but for the purpose of enabling the Minister to show to the House that there is adequate protection for a person whose livelihood may be interfered with by the action of the board. I do not want the Minister to think that I am endeavouring to put any difficulty in the way of the board's carrying out its duties under this Bill. I am anxious that there should be no impediments in its way but I recall that, in the case of former legislation relating to fisheries, some difficulties did arise in respect of certain people not in this particular area but in other parts of the country — persons whose livelihood was interfered with. My information is that there was substantial cause of complaint in that case. If the Minister satisfies the House that the provisions of the Bill are adequate to ensure that there will be proper compensation if there is diminution of earnings, I shall be satisfied.

I take it that the Senator will agree that it is reasonable to provide that a person will not be entitled to compensation where the arbitrator is satisfied that, for any reason, the person will suffer no loss or diminution of earnings or employment. It is only where there has been loss of earnings or employment that compensation will be payable at all. This section relates to the compensation of fishery employees. Other sections provide for compensation of fishery owners. Unless these words are inserted, it is feared that a person who is both the owner and manager of a fishery may secure double compensation. As owner, he would be compensated for loss of profit, including loss of his own income, but he might have a subsequent claim under this section as an employee of the fishery. The matter is left entirely to the discretion of the arbitrator. If the arbitrator is satisfied that a person has suffered loss, he can award compensation. If he is satisfied that a person has suffered no loss, he is entitled to refuse compensation.

I think that it is not a question of having suffered loss; rather that he may, in future, suffer loss.

I do not think that that arises here at all. The sub-section could have been worded: "Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that, for any reason, a person would suffer no loss or diminution of profit in consequence of interference with the fishery by the board..." The words "by reason of an undertaking by the board to continue the employment of such person or for any other reason" are put in because it is the most likely circumstance that will arise. That is designed to put on the board a certain amount of pressure to deal with those employees, where possible, by reemploying them in its own fishery interests rather than by paying them compensation. The intention definitely is that a person who suffers loss of earnings or loss of employment by reason of interference with the fisheries will be compensated. That is clear— that the section merely operates to exclude from compensation those who have, in fact, suffered no loss.

Has the Minister adverted to the doctrine of ejusdem generis? How does that effect the relationship of those words “or for any other reason” with the other portion of the sub-section?

The example given to me when I made inquiries concerning the wording of the section was that which I have already mentioned—the case of a person who was both owner of the fishery and employee in the fishery, say, as manager. Under Section 26, that person, as owner, is entitled to full compensation for any loss of income. It is necessary to have some wording here to prevent his subsequently claiming for compensation for loss as an employee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 18 to 25 agreed to.
SECTION 26.
Question proposed: "That Section 26 stand part of the Bill".

I want to say this, without even asking for comment from the Minister, that I hope the system exercised in the case of the Liffey-Poulaphouca scheme, in trying to get agreement to compensation in the first instance, will not be operated in the case of the Erne. The Minister probably knows what I am referring to.

There were delays, but I do not know that the board was in every case responsible for the delay.

That was not what I had in mind. It is not fair to criticise a person who cannot defend himself in this House, but without going into the matter more deeply, people were sent out as representing the board and it subsequently transpired that it had not been intended to give them the full bargaining power the people with whom they were treating believed they had. If anybody is to be sent out to bargain, his terms of reference should be made very clear, so that neither he nor the people with whom he is dealing will have any doubt about it.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 27 to 30, inclusive, put and agreed to.
SECTION 31.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In page 18, to delete sub-section (2).

In proposing to delete sub-section (2) I will admit right away that there is likely to be a conflict of view between the Minister and myself in regard to the object of the amendment. The section relates to the manufacture of electrical apparatus by the board, and sub-section (1) of the section appears to me to be a complete statement in itself. It provides that

"where the Minister is of opinion that the existing or future requirements in the State in respect of any particular class of apparatus, machinery, or equipment, for the generation, and so on, of electricity, are not being used and are not likely to be met sufficiently and efficiently by businesses then lawfully established in the State, the Minister, if he thinks fit, may authorise the board to manufacture or arrange for the manufacture of that particular class of apparatus, machinery or equipment."

That seems to me to be a very complete statement. It leaves it to the Minister to decide whether, in order to supply the needs of the people, the board should be authorised to meet whatever deficiency there may be, but in sub-section (2) he limits his authority considerably. I should say, before I refer to that limitation, that in the first instance, sub-section (1) is merely permissive, it imposes no obligation on the Minister to authorise the board to do anything. It merely authorises him, if he thinks fit, to empower the board to do certain things; but in sub-section (2) he is inserting a provision that, before giving an authorisation, he must publish a notice so that anyone who wants to object may be enabled to come along and make objections. I do not say that the Minister will not deal with such objections. He can ignore them, but he must take notice of them. I cannot understand why there is this limitation in the Bill.

In subsequent sub-sections of this section he is authorised to proceed on certain lines, after having heard the objections that may eventuate from the notice referred to in sub-section (2). I want the Minister to take the view that if he is satisfied that the requirements of the community are not being met or are not likely to be met in an efficient or satisfactory manner in the matter of the provision of apparatus or equipment, he should be free, without having recourse to all the roundabout machinery here, to issue an authorisation to the board to make good that deficiency.

It seems to me that the provision contained in the sub-section here is an assurance to private interests, not with regard to what they are doing, but to what they may do in the future, and I do not think it would be in the public interest that the Minister should be restrained in this manner. I could understand members of this House putting down sub-section (2) of this section as an amendment to the section, if it were not here already, but I cannot understand the Minister himself putting forward a sub-section of this character, and I would strongly urge that he should do something such as I have suggested in my amendment, because, if this were inserted, it would make a very big difference.

Without entering upon contentious matters, may I say that I am surprised to see an amendment of this kind being inserted in the Bill by a member of the Vocational Organisation Commission? Perhaps it was because of the fact that he was a member of the Vocational Organisation Committee that the Senator has introduced this amendment.

Will the Minister agree that I did not sign the "slovenly report"?

At any rate, it is rather extraordinary that the Senator should propose that the Minister should extend his powers in this matter. He is quite correct in saying that without sub-section (2) we would have had an amendment by some Senators anxious to limit the growth of Ministerial control. May I say that the intention here is that the Electricity Supply Board should not undertake any process of manufacture where private firms already established are satisfactorily producing the goods concerned, or where private enterprise is likely to produce these goods, under competitive conditions, in quantities and qualities which would be regarded as satisfactory? I think it is undesirable, on the whole, that the Electricity Supply Board should have to go into the manufacturing business, except in circumstances where the board itself is likely to be the sole purchaser of equipment of a particular kind.

I mentioned here, in the course of the Second Reading discussion, that I would regard it as more desirable in the case of consumers' apparatus, that is equipment required in the ordinary household, farmstead, or industry, that it should be produced by private enterprise and, if possible, under competitive conditions. The development of electrical apparatus and equipment has proceeded very rapidly in recent years. Nobody could possibly suggest that it has reached perfection. On the contrary, most electrical equipments or apparatus on sale at the moment are still a long way short of being reasonably efficient, and one may expect very substantial improvement in their efficiency in the years to come. I think we are more likely to get the benefit of new designs and new technique if we have the production of such equipment by private enterprise rather than by a State monopoly undertaking such as the Electricity Supply Board. Sub-section (2), therefore, is deliberately inserted on grounds of policy. While it is giving powers to the Electricity Supply Board to manufacture certain forms of equipment, if there is no other way of getting it, nevertheless, the Minister's power is subject to the restriction that he must make this inquiry as to the intentions of private enterprise because, if private enterprise is willing and able to do the job, it is the policy of the Government to encourage it to do so.

I take the view that, in the Minister's Department in particular, there seems to be a case for authority to get things done. That is dealing with the economic matters. Other Departments of State might be criticised on other than the administrative grounds. I have the feeling that where a Government Department is dealing with things of the mind, with political activities, there is a danger in permitting them bureaucratic power. I have put the view that where a Department's functions are connected with the economic activities of the nation, they must have power and I have argued along these lines on the Minister's behalf in this House very recently on the Minerals Bill.

I think my view has generally been consistent in that respect. I do say that the remedy, if there is a tendency for the Minister's Department to spring too far ahead—of course there is not the slightest danger of that—is a report to both Houses. I think the Minister will recollect that I argued to some extent to that effect on the Transport Bill and therefore my activities are of a piece. I am not taking one attitude in regard to one thing and another in regard to something else, simply for the purpose of being at loggerheads with the Minister.

I have the feeling that there is a case for part of the proposition advanced by the Minister, that is to say, if there were private firms manufacturing, on a competitive basis, equipment and machinery and the other things that may be required by the Electricity Supply Board, there should be no interference either, but this goes further. This section deals with the possibility of creating these institutions, private institutions—in other words, profit-making institutions —and as we shall see from later sub-sections, creating these profit-making institutions, with the assistance of grants or loans from the board. I do not think that is good policy. I think it would be a better line for us to take to say to the Minister that while he is not himself directly responsible for producing machinery and the equipment needed by the board, he should have no hesitation in authorising the board to go into the field themselves as competitors. That will not rule out anybody else coming in with new designs, new plans and more efficient machinery if they can. I think the Minister should not hedge his activities around in the manner suggested in this section.

I do not like the section at all. I suppose it is necessary to have this section to give the board power to manufacture, but it is inconceivable, if they go about their business in the right way, that the country need ever be short of electrical apparatus. It is only because there is this very undesirable element of protection behind the whole mentality of the Government that this section is necessary at all. Why, electrical apparatus will be manufactured all over the world. If we are allowed access to the markets of the world, we shall have an infinite range and variety of apparatus.

Surely it should be the desire of the Government and the Electricity Supply Board to give the public the widest choice of electrical equipment and machinery at the cheapest possible price? How can that ever be done if the Minister or Senator Duffy have in mind the closed shop, which is certainly intended by this section? It may be that I am trying to flog a dead horse, but I shall not cease to plead that the unorganised consumer has not got an adequate voice in securing the best amenities of life. I shall resist at every possible opportunity this tendency to shelter manufacturers, to limit variety and price and to give us home-manufactured articles irrespective of whether they can stand competition. I dislike the section and I shall resist any effort to limit the full play of private enterprise in these matters.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 7:—

In page 19, sub-section (4), lines 16 and 17, to delete the words "either alone or in conjunction with other persons".

This deals with the same section and I have referred to the matter already.

It deals with the authority which the Minister may give to the board to permit them to form a limited company either alone or in conjunction with other persons. I suggest that the words "other persons" be left out. If it is to be a company promoted by the board, let it be a company of the board and not one of private enterprise. The case made earlier by the Minister was that he wanted to get private enterprise to do this job, if they could do it on a competitive basis.

Senator Sir John Keane is very anxious that private enterprise would display its talents, wisdom and resourcefulness in regard to this problem of providing machinery and equipment. If they are going to do that, let them do it, but I do not think the board should associate itself with the formation of a company which, although promoted by the board, will to all intents and purposes be outside its control. I think the Minister will see that there are going to be difficulties in the promotion of such a company. The board merely comes in as a kind of step-brother, taking the risks, if they are risks, and, I am very much afraid, not getting much of the gains, if they are gains.

The board, as a board, could not form a company. It would have to be the officials of the board—is not that so?

It is to provide for more than that.

Other Departments do that frequently. You have the Condensed Milk Company and a number of other concerns promoted by the Minister for Agriculture in which the officials of the Department are constituted a company for the purposes of the Companies Acts. The same applies to a number of other companies. This means something different. My argument is based on the assumption that the Minister will give an authorisation to the board to promote a company for the purpose of manufacturing machinery and apparatus. The statute will authorise the board in promoting that company to do something either alone by incorporating a number of their own officials or members of the board as a company, or in conjunction with other persons. These persons may be nationals or may be aliens. I hope I am not annoying Senator Sir John Keane by drawing these distinctions, because there are no such things in the capitalistic world as aliens. We know here in Ireland that there have been suggestions that there are aliens, and I have no doubt that if Senator Summerfield were here we would have heard something from him on this matter. I have suffered the rest of the section to stand so far, with all the restrictions imposed by the Minister on his own activities, but I think, at this stage, having got to the point when the company is promoted, it ought to be a national company—otherwise, leave it to private enterprise.

I may say that I agree with the Senator as to what ought to be, but here we must deal with the practical realities that may arise. A great range of electrical apparatus is covered by patents. The board may decide, in the discharge of its functions, that a particular type of transformer or a type of switch gear manufactured in Britain, Sweden or Switzerland is best suited to conditions in this country. To get that apparatus manufactured here may not be possible except in conjunction with the owners of the patent rights. The manufacture of electrical equipment is a different proposition from, for instance, the manufacture of boots or other commodities of general application, because of these patent rights.

I am certain that these rights will continue to exist as various improvements are made from time to time. If we have to manufacture in this country, by the board or under the auspices of the board, electrical apparatus of that kind, we must be prepared to consider, in certain cases at least, to associate with the board other people who have the patent interests and, in fact, it may be necessary and desirable because these people will bring to the process what the board could not itself supply, namely, the technical experience and competence in the work. I think, therefore, that it is desirable that we should retain in this section this power to enable the board to promote companies in conjunction with other people. If we are to delete that power, we might make it impracticable for the board to undertake the work connected with the projects we have in mind.

I am satisfied with the explanation of the Minister. I think that his approach is on the same lines as my own, if it is possible to carry it out.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 19, sub-section (4), to delete paragraph (c).

This is the provision I mentioned earlier for the assistance by way of investment, advances, or guarantees to persons engaged in manufacture for sale. There may be an argument in favour of the section as it is.

Again, the same circum. stances may arise here. One can contemplate the manufacture of some kinds of apparatus by persons in this country. The board may approach them and say: "We want you to undertake the manufacture of some other apparatus we require, and if you undertake to do it we will assist you by loan or guarantee of the additional capital required in your undertaking." One can easily contemplate certain instances in which certain firms are manufacturing a limited number of products which the board would desire to have extended, although it might not be prepared itself to undertake their manufacture. The board could inform the firm that the necessary capital would be made available, and the section enables the board to assist them by one or other of the methods indicated here.

Perhaps the Minister would say how, under the Act, he will be able to check up on the activities of firms in which these investments are made? In other words, will the board be free to invest in a private concern in the circumstances such as he mentioned without having regard at all to the manner in which the private firm is carrying on?

The board cannot do any of these things without the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and without consulting the Minister for Finance.

I was wondering what powers the Minister had taken for himself?

Full power.

But once he gives his consent, has he power?

He may impose whatever conditions he thinks fit, in accordance with the provisions of the section. The grant is made subject to the conditions which the Minister may impose. The section provides for that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 9 is already covered.

Sections 31 to 39, inclusive, put and agreed to.
SECTION 40.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In page 24, sub-section (1), line 5, after the word "rate" to insert the words "not exceeding three per cent. per annum".

This is the section which makes provision for the repayment by the board of the advances which were made to it by the Department of Finance from the Central Fund. The provision is that every sum advanced out of the Central Fund shall be repaid by the board at such times and in such manner and with such interest as shall be prescribed. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Minister shall not prescribe a rate of interest higher than 3 per cent.

I do not, want at this stage to go over the ground that was covered on the Second Stage of the Bill, but I do submit that there is available for the Minister for Finance very large sums of money which are costing him less than 3 per cent., moneys, for instance, in the Post Office Savings Bank. I think that money is to a considerable extent invested outside this country. I remember seeing a return some years ago of the moneys held by the Government or by different Departments of State in foreign securities, and the Post Office Savings Bank figured prominently in that list. It may be argued, of course, that there is a theory of finance that you cannot borrow short and lend long. I have heard that so often——

It is quite true.

——that it has penetrated into my mind, but I have heard so many doctrines and canons of finance enunciated in the past 25 years and all blown sky high by the practical facts of life that I am no longer impressed by these doctrines. I believe that the previous Government utilised the Post Office Savings Bank receipts for financing the Shannon scheme. The Minister shakes his head.

That was stated in the Report of the Vocational Commission, but it is not correct.

It was asserted in very many quarters that that was so. In fact, there was a rumour floating around Dublin some years ago that certain important officials found their souls and consciences so scared by that practice that they resigned their positions. I do not know if that is true. I did not participate in the investigations of the Vocational Commission. I do suggest that if money is obtained by the Post Office on deposit at 2½ per cent. there is no reason why that money should cost the Electricity Supply Board more than 3 per cent. I make this further suggestion—that, if the Post Office Savings Bank were permitted or induced to go out on a campaign to increase its deposits, that could be achieved. If the Minister refers to the report of a commission— I do not suppose it is more sacrosanct than the report of any other commission—which investigated the affairs of the Post Office in 1922 or 1923, he will find that this was one of the questions adverted to. I was a member of that commission and it considered this question of inducing the public to use the Post Office Savings Bank on a large scale. It was subsequently pointed out to me that bankers did not like the idea of the State going into the market to induce depositors to put their savings in the Post Office. It was represented that there was some virtue in placing money in a commercial bank and that, therefore, it would be bad for commercial banking if the Post Office were a serious competitor with it, as it would be if it set out in a commercial way to induce the public to put money in its savings bank. If that were done, the amount of deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank could be doubled in a short time and it would provide the Minister for Finance with a large sum of money for State investment at a cost of 2½ per cent.

It is on the assumption that that can be done that I am endeavouring in this Bill to fix the maximum rate of interest which the Minister may charge to the board at 3 per cent. I feel quite sure that, as the Minister responsible for the success of this undertaking, the Minister for Industry and Commerce would not be averse from that suggestion. I do not know what his powers in this matter are. He is a member of the Government and I suppose his voice in the Government is as loud as that of any other Minister and his influence as great. I know that the Government acts collectively and that the Minister for Finance is, in the long run, the arbiter in these matters, but, if the Minister for Industry and Commerce believes in this proposal as practical, I am sure he will be able to induce sufficient of his colleagues to overwhelm the Minister for Finance and induce him to accede to these proposals. I know that the Minister may say that this is not his function, that he will do his best, but that the Minister for Finance must have the last word. Up to a point, that is true, but I submit that the Government is a unity and that there is collective responsibility. The Minister for Industry and Commerce and all the other Ministers are just as much responsible as the Minister for Finance for seeing that the economic activities of the State are not throttled by the policy at present being pursued.

The Senator appreciates that the proposition he has put down is somewhat different from that which his speech would convey. He is proposing that, no matter what rate of interest the Minister for Finance has to pay on the money he borrows, he must not charge the Electricity Supply Board more than 3 per cent. That would be an entirely wrong provision to insert in the Bill. If that provision were inserted in the Bill and the Minister for Finance found that he could not borrow money at 3 per cent., he would not only, in my opinion, be entitled to refuse to make advances to the board but it would be his duty to refuse. As custodian of the national finances, he would, I think, act wrongly if he were to subsidise the board without the consent or the cognisance of the Dáil. Therefore, if the Minister for Finance found himself in a position in which he could not make advances to the board at 3 per cent. without losing on the transaction, it would be his duty, in my opinion, to go to the Dáil and inform it that this situation had arisen and that he was refusing to make any advances until the Dáil would vote money which would recoup him the difference between the rate of interest he had to pay and the rate of interest which he would receive from the board.

Whatever may be said about the possibility of reducing the rate of interest which the Minister has to pay upon Government borrowings, I do not think that this amendment should go into the Bill. I agree that the Government should not make a profit upon the business of financing the capital requirements of the board. I agree that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would have the obligation of protesting to the Minister for Finance if he considered that the rate being charged upon advances was more than sufficient to recover the cost to the Exchequer of borrowing the money. But it would be wrong to fix an arbitrary limit in this way to the rate of interest without any advertence to the rate which the Government may have to pay for money which it obtains on loan. If done in this manner, it might arrest the whole of the development contemplated by the Bill. I take it that the Senator has not in mind the idea of subsidising the capital requirements of the board.

I do not contemplate that but I do not rule it out in certain circumstances.

If circumstances should arise in which it would be desirable to subsidise the board in any way, the Government should, in my opinion, go to the Dáil with an estimate of the amount required for subsidy and get the Dáil to vote moneys specifically for that purpose.

I agree.

I think that it would be wrong to subsidise the board by reducing the rate of interest below the rate at which the State itself can borrow.

My purpose in this amendment was to endeavour to bring pressure on the Minister, through this Bill, to seek cheap money.

Senator Duffy and I will never see eye to eye on this question. Suppose I said to the Senator that the price of milk should be 2d. a pint, under all circumstances, what would he say? He says that the price of money should be a certain figure. You can get the price of milk fixed at a certain figure provided the State is prepared to give a subsidy. If you want to stabilise in advance the price of any commodity, you must be prepared to subsidise that commodity. For some extraordinary reason, money is supposed to stand in a different category from all other commodities. I know that it is different in the sense that it is a general measure of purchasing power but it is a commodity just the same, though it is a commodity with a variety of uses. For that reason you have short-term money which carries a very low rate of interest and long-term money which carries the rate at which the public is prepared to lend. That is why you have applied to this electricity finance the rates at which the Government can borrow from the public. These are the only possible rates except you give a subsidy.

You cannot possibly utilise the moneys of the Post Office Savings Bank in borrowing for a long-term proposition. It would be utterly useless to do so. We cannot, with safety, use a certain proportion of the Post Office savings money on the assumption that you will never have it drawn out. Post Office savings may be withdrawn at any moment, and long-term borrowing would have to be on a very different basis. I do not think the Senator would be able to give us very many instances to show that that could be wrong, unless the arithmetic table is found to be wrong.

I should like to join issue with the Minister that the Government should make no profit out of the financing of the Electricity Supply Board. I go so far as to say that a profit is being made now, and I think it is generally common knowledge that the rate charged is 5 per cent. Surely that presupposes a profit. That could only be a non-profit rate if all the Electricity Supply Board finances came from borrowing at 5 per cent. The Minister, surely, does not suggest that all the Electricity Supply Board finance has its origin in 5 per cent. borrowings. When I interposed on the Second Reading debate, the official record says:—

"Sir John Keane: 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?"

Well, they have been redeemed at an average of 3¼ or 3½ per cent.; and, on the face of it, if the Electricity Supply Board is to be financed at the actual rate of borrowing, the rate of borrowing should be less than 5 per cent. Perhaps the Minister did not understand me, because he went on to say:—

"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."

That is the very thing I had in mind. The only fair way, in my opinion, to arrive at a fair rate is to take the average effective rate because you cannot attach the Electricity Supply Board's borrowings which are distributed over a certain period. It does not follow that because you pass an Act to-day and give power to the Electricity Supply Board to borrow, that the borrowings take place to-day. It may be in two or three years' time when the rate may be lower, and so I submit that the fair way is to charge the effective rate on funded borrowings with, if you like, a small charge for administration. That is the only way in which you will arrive at the position in which the Exchequer is not making a profit out of electricity finance. Of course, the fact is that the State is certainly making a profit, because the Electricity Supply Board can go out to-morrow and finance for 3¼ per cent., or even less, and that would be substantially less than what the Electricity Supply Board is paying to the Exchequer to-day. For that reason I feel that there is an element of taxation in the rate the consumers are paying for their electricity. Will the Minister deal with this point about the 5 per cent.?

I may say that a large part of the capital of the Electricity Supply Board was advanced when the State was paying 5½ per cent. The board did not commence repayment of these advances until many years later, and in later years capital has been provided by utilising its own funds, and it therefore gets the benefit of the different rate, but it is not correct to say that the current rate of advances to the board is 5 per cent. What the rate of money advanced to the board now will be, I cannot say. That will depend on future circumstances, but it would be difficult to decide what the average rate charged to the board should be to enable the Minister for Finance to recover in full the amount which the money cost him in interest charges. There are these factors to which I have referred to be taken into consideration, such as the high rate of interest paid by the Government at the time the advances were made, the delay in the repayment of these advances by the board, the difference in the times during which the State must repay the money and the board repays it to the State, and the method of utilising the funds by which the board gets the benefit of the higher rate, when operative. All these factors make the thing difficult. It may be that the State may have made a slight profit on these advances, but it may lose it again and the rate in the future will have to be different and certainly will not be 5 per cent., so long as the Government can borrow money at prevailing market rates.

Sections 40 to 48, inclusive, and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil.

I wonder would it be possible to arrange to sit for another half hour in order to conclude the motion standing in the names of Senators Tunney and Smyth?

That is a matter for the House.

Do I understand that a division cannot be taken at 9.30?

Acting-Chairman

Yes, a division on a motion before the House can be taken certainly, if the House agrees, after 9 p.m. I presume that is the purport of the Senator's query.

Perhaps it would be better to leave the matter over.

I understand that as a result of sitting late the other night some members of the staff of the House complained that they missed their buses and had to walk home.

Acting-Chairman

Not the staff of the House. I do not think so.

Well, there were some people in the House who were inconvenienced, I understand.

Acting-Chairman

If the Senator agrees, the matter can be postponed until the next meeting.

Very good.

The Seanad adjourned at 9 p.m., sine die.