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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Jan 1952

Vol. 40 No. 9

Undeveloped Areas Bill, 1951—Fifth Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

On that question I should like to make a few remarks on the Bill as we now find it. I do not wish to detain the House very long and, more particularly, I do not wish to detain the Minister, who had a very trying and difficult morning and who had to take very great pains to be here at three o'clock for the beginning of the Fourth Stage of this Bill. Perhaps I should say for my own part, and I am sure it is the desire of everyone in the House that I should say it, that we appreciate the fact that the Minister went to such trouble to keep his appointment with us here to-day.

With regard to the Bill, it has been discussed for three days in the Seanad and now leaves us exactly as it came to us. It has not been changed by a word, a comma or a full stop. It is a Bill which is not, as the Minister has frequently stated, standard practice. It is a Bill which involves a completely new principle. It is quite different from a Bill with regard to Bord na Móna for the extraction of turf for public purposes or a Bill for the making of electricity for public purposes. It introduces a new principle whereby assistance is given, through a board, to private enterprise in particular areas in the country. In order to assist that private enterprise, enormous power, which has never before been entrusted to any board except for completely public purposes, is given to An Foras Tionscal. Now, that is not standard practice. It is a completely new practice. We are giving enormous powers to a board to assist private enterprise. I know that we are assisting private enterprise in the hope that public good will result, but that, I think, might be said about any assistance given to private enterprise, not only in these areas but in any other area.

Now, in spite of that, it has to be said that we here gave this Bill a very fair reception. It was argued in the other House with some vehemence that the Bill was, in the main, a political device. There is no doubt that, if one were to lay one's mind to it, considerable arguments could be found to support that view, but as far as we are concerned in this House we welcomed the Bill. We took a reasonable view of it—we took the Minister's view of it—and we discussed it in a calm and, we thought, a helpful fashion. As I have said, it is a Bill which involves a completely new principle. It contains, as the Minister himself pointed out, sections from the Electricity Supply Bills, and the Bills dealing with Bord na Móna. They are in it in their entirety.

The Minister's line throughout was that the Bill contained standard provisions which could not be altered. He has taken power to add areas and to make Orders, but he omits from the Bill the standard provision which makes these Orders amenable to the two Houses and makes it possible for either House to annual an Order. The Minister's argument, therefore, amounts to this, that, for certain purposes, the Bill is a standard Bill, but for other purposes, when it suits the Minister, the Bill is not a standard Bill at all. He is like a fellow playing pitch and toss with a penny with two heads on it or two harps; whichever way the penny comes down, the Minister wins.

It is quite clear from the Minister's statement on the Second Stage that he regards this Bill as something very much in the nature of an experiment. His own desire is to play the Bill down as much as possible. It is also clear that the Bill was hastily drafted. Any Bill which is drafted by the process of putting one's hand up to a shelf and picking out a section from another Act and planting it in this Bill is, on the face of it, hastily and far from perfectly drafted. That being so, considerable efforts were made by way of amendments on the Second Stage to improve the Bill, not from a political point of view and not in an endeavour to cramp, confine or crab, so to speak, the Minister, but in order to improve the Bill so that it might the better accomplish the purpose the Minister has in mind.

Despite all these amendments and despite the manner in which they were discussed, the Minister has consistently refused even to consider putting in any of these amendments in any degree, shape or form whatsoever. Despite the admitted difficulties and complexities of the Bill, not one single amendment to it was put down by those who support the Minister. In spite of their desire to assist him and their combined wisdom—perhaps I should say their separate and combined wisdom— not one of them was able to suggest a single amendment which might improve the Bill. In fact, one Senator on the opposite side declared with horror in his voice that not only did he not support a particular amendment but he did not want to amend the Bill in any way. He seemed to regard the idea that he should be taken as wanting to amend this Bill in any way as a grievous political sin.

The Minister had several differing views about this Bill. The measure sets up a board which is to be independent. The truth is, as all of us who have been accustomed to this kind of legislation know, that no matter what one says in debate or what one provides in a Bill, a board appointed by a Minister is never entirely independent. That is one of the problems always inherent in legislation of this kind, not only here but in Great Britain and elsewhere.

We had this problem debated at some length in the Dáil as far back as 1925 when the Electricity Supply Board was started. The question was raised then as to how its operations could be discussed in the Dáil. That problem has not yet been solved. That problem has never been solved in England. It is a difficult problem to solve anywhere. Despite all the protestations to the contrary, there is no such thing as an independent board appointed by a Minister and supplied with public funds.

Again, the Minister with his two-headed penny, had it both ways. Sometimes the Minister's action was of no importance whatsoever because the board was independent; at other times he sought to give all kinds of assurances to the House and to the country as to what the board would or would not do. He was sure, for example, that the board would be reasonable. He was sure the board would not do this; he was sure the board would not do that.

It should be remembered by Senators who are passing this Bill without amendment that this is not a Bill to confer power upon the present Minister for Industry and Commerce. This is a Bill which will go on the Statute Book and confer powers not only on this Government and this Minister for Industry and Commerce, but on successive Governments and other Ministers for Industry and Commerce. It is from that angle and not from the point of view of what we think of this particular Minister or the promises and assurances that he gives, that this particular piece of legislation should be considered. I feel it is quite wrong that we should have in this Bill all these powers, as originally framed and intended for boards carrying out public policy, for a board which will exercise such powers on behalf of private persons who, as the Minister very clearly indicated, will be promoting industries for their own profit.

I do not object to profit. Far from it. This Bill confers all these powers on a board which will exercise them for the purpose of helping private enterprise. Not only will the Minister give them these powers, but he has been quite adamant in not accepting any amendments. He does not like amendments. He does not like lawyers. He does not like courts.

I think he very often does not like Senators. At any rate, he does not like Senators as a body and, in particular, he does not like them when they propose amendments. His reason for not accepting amendments is simply because he does not want to bring this Bill back to the Dáil under any circumstances.

I suggest that, having spent three days discussing this measure in a spirit of co-operation and having failed to make any impression on the Minister, the Minister having behind him a majority prepared to support him in all circumstances without discussion, we are doing a very bad day's work. There is a fantastic, complicated and illusory system of election to this House.

No more fantastic than it was in the past.

The system is fantastic, complicated and illusory because it purports to elect a certain type of House and, in fact, succeeds in electing a completely different type. There is only one thing clear in that confused state of affairs and that is that the Government in the Dáil always has a majority here. If that majority does not want to give consideration to a Bill, does not want to discuss it, put down amendments to it or allow amendments to be passed, then no Seanad can ever succeed under the Constitution that we have now in passing amendments to a Bill. If the majority does not take part in revision, then there can be no revision. There can even be no discussion. If this House is not a revising Chamber, then it has no power and it is of no value at all. If it is run on the basis that a Minister brings in a Bill, wanting all its stages on the same day, first of all, and subsequently getting all its stages as fast as he can while never yielding to any kind of amendment whatever, with the full support of his own side of the House all the time for that attitude, then this House has no function to perform and no reason for its continued existence.

The majority of this House can dig their own graves as Senators. That process is well on its way and this Bill, in its present form, is evidence.

Surely the point raised by Senator Hayes is not new. We have had a similar experience when he was on this side of the House.

That is not so.

On many an occasion we were met with a stonewall attitude when we were in opposition. No amendments would be accepted.

Are you admitting that is your attitude now?

That is not something which has happened since the present Government took office. It happened on many occasions during the period of office of the last Government.

How many amendments of Senator Colgan's were rejected?

I am not in the habit of moving amendments.

I would like to have from Senator Professor Hayes the number of times the late Minister for Agriculture refused to come here to discuss amendments tabled by his own colleagues.

I should like to support what Senator Colgan has said on this matter. My experience for three years here under the previous régime was that there was a kind of principle of inertia at work in dealing with amendments to Bills. I think it is a little unfair of Senator Professor Hayes to imply that this is a new phenomenon. I can say quite emphatically from my own experience that it is not.

The point he has raised is scarcely relevant to the Bill but since it has been raised I wonder may we pursue it for a moment—that is, the constitution of the Senate as it now stands and the resulting nature of our debates. It is a thing to be very seriously considered by this House. I suggest one of the more senior members of the Seanad should put down a motion to discuss the present method of election to the Seanad and its effect on our work and have a full-dress debate on that point. I think nothing could be more helpful.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid I cannot allow the Senator to go further in this matter.

On a point of order, I think the discussion that Senator Stanford is now starting is going to widen the debate very much and it is altogether outside the terms of this Bill. If Senator Stanford is allowed to continue I cannot see the House adjourning at 10 o'clock.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have asked the Senator not to proceed on those lines.

Now that we have reached the final stage of this Bill I would like to say a few words on some of the things contained in the Bill. I hope the objects of this Bill will be achieved and that they will result in industrial development in the hitherto undeveloped areas. I think it is true to say that the Bill is, in fact, a recognition of the need for giving incentives to private enterprise and I would suggest that the Bill sets out to provide incentives in those difficult areas. I believe it does that very well.

I hope this Government, and not only this Government but future Governments will not stop at merely the birth of such a measure. There is no good in bringing forth this child from an incubator and by incubator methods if later on it is going to meet the very harsh conditions that industry must meet in this country to-day, both as regards taxation and as regards the public attitude to successful people in business. I feel that there is good work being done in this Bill and I hope that when the plant is springing up from the ground it will be sheltered by a reasonable Government approach and by reasonable public opinion. As you will see there in the Bill grants will be given to industries that are started for machinery, equipment, roads, bridges, etc. There is a question I should like to ask the Minister. Is it intended to finance these disbursements out of taxation or by borrowing?

Various points have been raised by Senator Hayes and the powers that we are now discussing have been dealt with pretty well in this debate. Therefore, I do not intend to go over the ground again except to reiterate at this stage that I deplore the delegation of parliamentary authority to Ministers by giving them powers by ministerial Order, especially in this particular case. I hardly think it is necessary.

In connection with one of the amendments I want to say a few points on another principle, the principle of the right of the citizen to appeal to the courts. I was not here when the amendment was discussed, and on that point I would like to say that I feel it is vitally important that the right of appeal to the courts of law should be maintained by citizens as far as possible and it is only in very extreme circumstances that this power should be taken away.

I must say that while our experience in this country, on the whole, has shown that official arbitrators are fair and reasonable, I do think it is important that, not only from the point of view of the citizen whose land or property is being taken away obtaining a proper and just compensation, but in the interests of the State I feel it would be desirable that there should be some authority that would decide that the State is not paying too much for property so acquired; therefore, this appeal to the courts of law is not a one-sided matter.

Finally, I would like to say what I have said before. We ought to recognise the desire for speed and efficiency, especially in modern times, but I think sometimes it is much better to sacrifice some of the speed and efficiency for the preservation of the freedom of the individual and the property rights of the citizen. There is a tendency in this Government and in all governments to be impatient of delay and criticism. I do think if we could only have changed even one word in this Bill here in the Seanad it would at least have shown that the Seanad had some use, but I do think it cannot be denied that on this and other occasions it has been just a talking shop. We do not really achieve anything. Many of the amendments put down to-day were put down, it will be admitted by the Minister, in a spirit of co-operation. I do think it is a pity that the Minister did not even say that he would consider doing something about it. I know what is behind the Minister's action. Like all Ministers, he wants to get this thing through quickly. If anything is done in this House, the Bill has to go to the Dáil again, and that is all delay. This terrific urgency and speed is a danger to our liberties, and it is a danger to our thinking. There has grown up in the Seanad, particularly noticeable by people who come in here for the first time, a tendency to build up a sort of sacredness about a Bill. You would think Bills were drafted and written by some omnipotent person who could not make a mistake.

Those of us living ordinary lives, engaging in business, and so on, make changes. If the managing director in a firm adopted the attitude that nobody else could make improvements, I think Senator Colgan and a few others would take a very poor view; they would soon amend some of his decisions.

I would probably be sacked if I interfered with the decisions of the managing director.

Is that what you are afraid of?

Senator Colgan is in the happy position that he cannot be sacked by the managing director, anyway. But, seriously, I do think we ought to use this House more as an amending body for legislation. Very often it is true that in the Dáil it is very difficult for the Government to accept amendments because a Government may stand or fall by an amendment in the Dáil. That should not be so here. The Government can be put out of power, but here it is different Ministers have admitted to me that they do not like certain things, but they dare not change them because they would lose face. I suggest there is no change of face in amending a thing for the better.

Finally, I would like to say that I wish this Bill every success, and I hope it achieves the aims it purports to achieve.

In the few remarks I made on the Second Reading of this Bill I thought it wise to utter a word of caution, and having listened to the various debates on the different stages of the Bill, I am more than convinced that we should show some caution in our approach. Like every other member of this House, I want the objects of this Bill to be achieved, but let us have a sense of proportion in the matter. The Bill is a small Bill. The amount of money at its disposal will be small.

The remarks of some of the speakers in this House would lead one to suppose that there would be a magical transformation of the congested areas overnight. It would be most unfair of me to allow this Bill to go from this House without again saying this: it would be unfair to the Government sponsoring the Bill and even more unfair to private enterprise if we allowed this Bill to emerge with exaggerated ideas as to its possibilities. It is a good Bill as far as I know but it does not go quite as far as many of us would like. Whether you promote an industry in an area under State auspices or under the auspices of private enterprise, there must be certain conditions in the area to ensure success. If the area lacks such conditions then we are not going to have a successful undertaking whether it is entirely backed by private enterprise or partly backed by the State. I feel that that note should be included in the discussion here. I would not like in a year's or two years' time that the Government sponsoring the Bill or those engaging in private enterprise should be unfairly blamed for failing to achieve improvements.

Sar a gcuirimíd ár mbeannacht agus slán leis an mBille seo, tá beagán ní go mba cheart tagairt dóibh anois.

Táim-se, agus bhíos ó thús, ar thaobh an Bhille agus níor mhaith liom a bheith á moilliú ná ag déanamh cainnte ró-fhada 'na thaobh mar gur dóigh liom gur maith an Bille é mar atá sé ar son an chuspóra atá i gceist ann. 'Sí an cuspóir í ná tionscalaíocht na hÉireann do dhíriú i dtreo an Iarthair.

Tá seacht gcontaethe go h-iomlán go mbeidh baint ag an mBille seo leo agus cuid de dhá chontae eile. Sin tuairim trian den mhéid den tír atá faoi údarás an Oireachtais. Is maith an ní iarracht a dhéanamh ar thionscalaíocht do thosnú agus do leathnú ins an chuid sin den tír. Tá a leithéid ag teastáil, agus 'sé ceart na coda sin den tír aon chabhair is féidir léi d'fháil chun an cuspóir sin a shroisint.

Ar son an méid maitheasa a dhéanfas an Bhille ins na ceanntracha atá i gceist, is maith an Bhille é. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil gach uile duine ins an Oireachtas taobhach leis.

Tá dhá ní nó trí le tabhairt fe ndeara, ámh. Ins na ceanntracha atá i gceist, tá mór-chuid de thuaith scaipithe a bhfuil an-chuid de phobal na tíre 'na gconaí inntí. De réir forálacha agus comhachta an Bhille seo, ní dóigh liom gur fé'n dtuaith a thiocfaidh forbairt na dtionscal ach ins na h-áiteacha a bhfuil caoi agus buntáistí áirithe ag gabháil leo—na bailtí móra, na cathracha agus na sráid-bhailtí. Is ionta san, dar liomsa, a bunófar na tionscail agus a fásfaidh na tionscail, agus ní fé'n dtuaith.

Laistigh des na seacht gcontaethe agus cuid den dá chontae eile, tá ceanntair bheaga atá ina gceist speisialta ionnta féin—ceist gur gá réiteach speisialta a cheapadh dhí. Is cuid den dúthaigh atá laistigh de théarmaí an Bhille seo í ach is baol liom ná raghaidh an Bille puinn chun tairbhe dhí. An Fhíor-Ghaeltacht agus Bhreac-Ghaeltacht atá i gceist agam. Tá san laistigh den Bhille seo ach tá leis laistigh ann bailte agus cathracha ar nós Tráighlí, Cíll Airne, Lios Tuathail, Kilrush, Cathair na Mart, Gaillimhe, Leitir Cheannainn agus Dún na nGall. Is dóigh liom go sciobfar tairbhí na Bhille go dtí na haiteacha sin agus ná bhfaghaidh an Ghaeltacht in's na ceanntracha tuaithe eile poinn de bhuntáiste an Bhille. Is nádúrtha é sin, mar má cuireann daoine príobháideacha a gcuid airgid i bhfiontar éigin, nó leath an airgid a bhéadh riachtanach do bhunú tionscal nua, thabharfadh siad aire gur ins na h-áiteacha a bhfuil buntáistí nádúrtha ionnta a chuirfidh siad a gcuid airgid. Ná cáintear iad mar gheall air sin.

Sé seo atá le tuiscint as, go bhfágfar na ceanntracha atá i bhfad ó n-a chéile, atá i bhfad ó na buntáistí is riachtanach do thionscail—go bhfágfar an Ghaeltacht seo ar bheagán tairbhe as an mBille seo. Thagair mé don rud sin cheana agus ba mhaith liom arís a chur i láthair an Aire, chun go mbeiridh sé leis chun an Rialtais agus chun an Oireachtais, gur ceist ar leith innti féin, an Ghaeltacht, laistigh de na ceanntracha neamh-fhorbairte atá luaite ins an mBille, agus gur ceart ceist ar leith agus dlí ar leith a cheapadh agus a chur i bhfeidhm ar mhaithe léi.

Tá eagla ar an Seanadóir Ó hAirtnéada go bhfuil daoine atá taobhach le Gaeilge i n-aghaidh tionscalaíocht a chursar siúl ins an nGaeltacht. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an ceart ar fad aige. Ní'l eagla ar bith orm roimh tionscalaíocht a chur ar bun ins an nGaeltacht. Sé eagla atá orm ná ná cuirfear aon tionscail ar bun ins an nGaeltacht fé comhachta an Bhille seo.

Ba mhaith liom a chur i láthair an Aire gur ceart ceist ar leith a dhéanamh den Ghaeltacht féin, agus solathar ar leith a dhéanamh dí. Ní oireann an Bhille seo don Ghaeltacht. Ba cheart rud éigin a cheapadh go speisialta dí. Iarraim ar an Aire ní ar leith a cheapadh, Bille nua nó Acht nua nó comhachta nua a cheapadh agus a chur i bhfeidhm ar son na sé paróistí beaga seo atá ins an Ghaeltacht laistigh de na seacht nó ocht contaethe atá i gceist, agus b'fhéidir an oiread céadna de Bhreac-Ghaeltacht ar mholfainn a chur leo. Ba rud beag ón náisiúin é sin don Ghaeltacht go bhfuil a bhuanú ina rud chomh tábhachtach sin. Ba mhaith liom tathant ar an Oireachtas solathairtí ar leith do dhéanamh agus congnamh ar leith do sholáthar do na ceanntracha sin.

Is í an chuid deireannach den seananáisiúin atá slán fós ann agus, dá bhrí sin, ba chóir go ndéanfaí rud éigin ar leith dí.

Do mholfainn go dtabharfadh an Rialtas le chéile daoine óna Páirtí éagsúla atá ins an Dáil agus an Seanad agus déarfainn go bhfuighimís comhairle éigin ar a mbéimis go léir aontuithe ar mhaithe le leas na Gaeltachta, rud ná déanfar fé'n Bhille seo is baol.

I should like first of all to express my appreciation of the manner in which the Minister has presented this Bill and carried it through all its stages in this House. It is a Bill which represents an experiment and one which I am sure has the good wishes of everybody in the House. I should like, however, to express a certain amount of caution in connection with the measure. People should not just take it that this Bill will mean the establishment of new industries in the congested areas within six months, 12 months or even 18 months. The value of the Bill to these areas will depend on the private enterprise, initiative and organisation of groups of people or of any single person, who may have an idea and who are prepared to back that idea by the investment of his own or their own money and who then may be assisted by the board under this Bill. I would emphasise that the initial steps must be taken by private enterprise. If no steps are taken by private enterprise, then the powers contained in this Bill are not worth the paper on which they are written. Foras Tionscal can do nothing unless approaches are first made to them. They cannot act on their own initiative to establish an industry under this Bill. I should like to make it clear also that industry in the West is not something new. There have been established over the last 16 years successful modern enterprises in the counties covered by this Bill. In fact, some of these industries are so skilled technically that they enjoy a very big export market.

That brings me to my next point, namely, that whilst there is always a good deal of enthusiasm about starting new industries, frequently a lot of that enthusiasm is misdirected and misguided. People may think because they have a certain amount of money and goodwill available that nothing else is necessary to establish an industry that will remain a successful industry for all times. As one of the sections of this Bill sets it out very aptly, an enterprise that will deserve help under this Bill must give some promise of permanent employment. I think because of that, that people must not overlook the fact that there must be efficiency in all these industries and that that is just as essential as the provision of money. Some people may have the idea that they need do nothing under this Bill except hold public meetings at which all sorts of suggestions will be made. That is an entirely wrong approach. I think, too, that the opposition to this Bill, as expressed by the various amendments put forward, was fair in the sense that many of the amendments might be described as purely legal amendments, having for their object the preservation of the rights of the individual whose interests might be affected by the activities of the board operating under this Bill. Certain of the amendments proposing to alter the present method of assessing compensation where land is acquired compulsorily had that object in view. Speaking for myself, I think that the preservation of the rights of the private individual, in the final analysis, does not lie with the courts of the land. The preservation of individual rights in this country in the final analysis rests with the people themselves and if the people of this country go so far wrong that they do not adequately recognise that they, and they alone, can preserve these rights, then not all the courts in the land, even if you double the number of judges, will make any material difference.

Before I sit down I should like to express my appreciation of the efforts of the Minister to keep his appointment at 3 o'clock to-day in this House. The unhappy circumstances which necessitated his absence from the country this morning are deplored by all of us. The fact that the plane which brought him back arrived this afternoon at 2.30 in Collinstown and that he was able to be here to-day at 3 o'clock is a very great tribute by him to this House, first of all, and to parliamentary institutions as such. So long as we have politicians—and I use the word advisedly—in this country who are prepared to do the job of work entrusted to them in the manner in which the Minister indicated that he was prepared to carry out his duties this morning, then I for one have very little doubt about the future of this country.

There is only one matter to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister, and that is the question of the remission of rates by local authorities under Section 9, sub-section (2).

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid the Senator is now out of order in raising that point. The question before the House is that the Bill do now pass.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that there is a great deal of unrest because of that remission throughout the country. If the Minister could bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Finance something might be done to allay that unrest. I would suggest that he might discuss the matter with his colleagues so that something might be done in regard to it.

Might I say very briefly that I am very sorry that Senator Fitzsimons did not think it appropriate to join with Senator Douglas in urging on the Minister the point which Senator Fitzsimons was just about to urge on him. I am sorry also that Senator Sugrue did not see fit in considerating amendments No. 3 and 4 to give voice to the sentiments which he expressed a few moments ago. In so far as I could follow the Senator —and I think I could follow him fairly well—I would say that the speech he made a few moments ago would certainly have induced the Minister to accept amendments Nos. 3 and 4 on to-day's Order Paper.

I would like to express my appreciation of the fact that the Seanad was able to pass this Bill without amendment. I think that I am entitled to take that as a tribute to the way in which the Bill was drafted. I understood Senator Hayes to express the view that there was an obligation on Ministers to accept amendments to a Bill, even amendments which were detrimental or unnecessary, as a tribute to the influence of the Seanad. If that had been explained to me, I might have urged the acceptance of some of the amendments; as it was, I argued about them on their merits. There is one thing I want to make clear, however. Senator Hayes misquoted me when he described me as saying that the Bill is in standard form and should not be altered. I said that regarding the Second Schedule of the Bill, not in relation to any other part of it at all.

It is true to say that the Bill does establish a new procedure for the development of industry, but I do not think that it is correct to say that assistance to private industries is a new principle. We have been giving assistance in one form or another to private industries since the foundation of the State. It is thought that the special aim of promoting industrial development west of the Shannon requires something more in the way of State help than is at present available, and to that extent a new principle is being established, but I could not agree that State aid for private enterprise is in any sense a new principle.

With regard to Senator McGuire's query, the amount which it is estimated that Foras Tionscal will require out of the total of the Grant-in-Aid to be provided to it will be stated each year in the Book of Estimates in the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce and will, of course, add to the total of the Vote. Apart from that, I would not like at this stage to indicate how the Minister for Finance will solve his problem.

By taxation, I suppose.

One thing further to correct any misunderstandings so far as Foras Tionscal is concerned—I intend to ask the persons nominated to the board to read the debate from the Dáil and Seanad and know what was said by private Deputies and Senators who spoke with personal knowledge of the problems of the Western area, by myself as indicating the purposes of the Bill and by Party leaders as indicating the extent to which these proposals have secured general support. To that extent it is not intended that the board should be independent in the sense of ignoring what was intended when the Bill was framed or what was said in the Dáil. The board, however, will be independent—and I should like to emphasise this—in considering individual applications for help under it.

In so far as a decision is to be made on an individual proposition it will be the board's decision uninfluenced by any Minister and not subject to ministerial veto in any form. It is not merely, I think, in the interests of the proper working of the scheme of the Bill but also in the interests of individual Deputies and Senators that it should be known that a decision of the board cannot be affected by the exercise of political pressure of any kind— that it will be based entirely on their assessment of the merits of the proposition and the likelihood of permanent development in the congested areas resulting from it.

I have at all stages deliberately avoided holding out any very great hopes as to the benefits which will follow from the enactment of the Bill. That is not merely due to my belief that it is always wiser to promise less than one hopes to perform, but also I would find it very difficult to make even an estimate of the results that might follow. A satisfactory interest has been shown by people contemplating entering on enterprises in accordance with the provisions of the Bill, but it is far too soon to attempt to speculate the extent to which that interest would be translated into firm projects which Foras Tionscal could accept.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.15 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30th, 1952.