Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill, 1951—Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

I take it that this is the section which provides money for new stations and further development; and there are a few things I would like to say arising out of the proceedings here on the Second Stage.

The Minister quite clearly, according to his concluding speech, has a very peculiar attitude towards the Electricity Supply Board. He thinks it has many shortcomings and he made a very futile and extraordinary effort to prove that there was a conspiracy of silence about its shortcomings while he was Minister. His accounts of the matter, of course, were inaccurate and misleading; but apart from that, we should, I think, know a great deal more about the details of this expenditure than the Minister has given us.

It would appear that a number of coal stations and turf stations were projected. The Electricity Supply Board themselves, on their experience, are pretty certain that in the future the demand for electricity will increase, but as between the Minister and other people there is the difference that the Minister believes that all our future development should be based upon turf alone. He seems to believe that if he had been in authority there would have been no further coal stations; yet as far as I can make out on the figures, it would appear that the best possible development of electricity in this country should be a balanced development, based on native fuel to the greatest possible extent, but also using coal and oil.

By 1960—taking the total output from water, turf, coal and oil—not quite 3,000,000,000 units will be actually available, allowing for certain losses. I think that is less than the anticipated demand. It would appear, therefore, that we will not be able to fulfil our anticipated demand in the next seven or eight years without all the stations working and without using all the forms of fuel available. It would appear also that water power may be reduced by drought; and as to turf, as the Minister said when explaining why a sufficiency of turf was not provided for the station in Portarlington, turf supply may be reduced by strikes.

I would like to make particular reference to the station at Bangor Erris, which is to be based on milled peat. It seems to me from the Minister's own statements that there is not sufficient information available about the use of milled peat to produce electricity. The Minister gave no answer at all to certain questions put to him. Perhaps he could tell us now if there is any example in Europe where milled peat, or a fuel corresponding to what would be available in Mayo, has been used to produce electricity on a large scale. What is the precise material? Can any indication be given as to the cost of producing electricity in this new station? It is going to be very costly, and before we go into it we should know what these facts are.

For example, the Minister spoke about a Batelle Institute in New York. Is that a scientific institute, because the fact that something can be done in the laboratory by scientists is quite a different thing from proving that the same thing can be done industrially, or that it can be sold commercially afterwards? It will be remembered that when the Shannon scheme, about which the Minister gravely shakes his head, was originally projected, an expert's report was made available. The experts who made the report were people who had actual experience of producing electricity from water power, and every possible piece of information about that scheme was given. I think I remember—I have not looked up the quotation, I admit—the then Leader of the Opposition in the Dáil, Deputy Johnson, saying that it was the best documented project of which he had ever heard.

Here, with regard to the Bangor Erris scheme, we have simply no documentation at all. I suggested to the Minister, and I suggest to him again, that we should have a White Paper setting out the facts about the scheme—what it is hoped to do with it, what the expense is, what the cost of fuel is going to be per unit of electricity generated and what the total cost per unit is going to be. That, as a matter of fact, has been done in a booklet issued by the Electricity Supply Board with regard to Portarlington Power Station. Having given some photographs and some information, it ends with a page which shows estimated costs, including price of turf at 30 per cent. moisture, 39/6 per ton, an estimated fuel cost per unit generated of .63d., and production cost per unit, including interest, depreciation, maintenance, repairs and fuel, 1.028d.

I do not know whether it is possible, with regard to milled peat, to produce any estimate as accurate and as close as that, but surely we should be able to get some estimate before we start off on this scheme. It was suggested with a certain degree of horror that it was extraordinary that at this stage of our development anybody should question native fuel, but one of the most objectionable features of a failure with regard to turf would be the setback that native fuel would get. So far from its being contrary to national sentiment or national tradition to make inquiry, it surely is in accordance with common sense that people who are interested in native fuel—and we are all equally interested in it and in its development—should see that if it is going to be developed it is going to be developed on lines which will show it in its most creditable form.

The Minister should tell us something more about this particular project and should lay upon the Table of both Houses and make available for the public a White Paper which, without giving any secrets away, would show what precisely it is proposed to do, what the experience of other people is, what engineers are in favour of it and, if possible, of course, why.

If he did that, he would allay a considerable amount of anxiety and we would all enter with greater enthusiasm into this matter. So far, it is true to say that Bord na Móna has never produced for the Electricity Supply Board the amount of turf promised. The price has been high and, as well, it is also quite clear that the demand for electricity in years to come will be such that the production of turf could not possibly keep up with it, if we are to rely on previous experience. If milled peat makes a difference, the Minister should take the trouble, considering the amount of money involved and the very important point of morale involved, and in order to give people more confidence in the whole business, to tell us considerably more about it, and I suggest he should do so.

Before this Bill goes through——

On Section 2, Senator?

I thought we were on the Final Stage.

May I say that, if Senator Commons has anything to say, if he lets Section 2 go, he will not be able to say anything? Section 2 deals with the money.

I will wait.

With regard to the points raised by Senator Hayes, I should spend a long time if I tried to deal with all the misrepresenations in his quite short speech. May I say that I do not regard my attitude to the Electricity Supply Board as being in any way peculiar? An organisation of that kind, or any organisation, is not helped towards efficiency by being exempt from criticism. The circumstances which gave the Electricity Supply Board that exemption arose from the political conditions prevailing here. I resent the suggestion that there was any conspiracy about it.

There was no conspiracy and there was no silence.

The Senator alleged that there was a conspiracy of silence.

That was the Minister's allegation, I think.

I commented on the fact that, during the 16 years I was Minister and answerable to the Oireachtas for the performance of the Electricity Supply Board, the principal Opposition considered themselves, because of past circumstances, debarred from expressing criticism of the Electricity Supply Board. The fact is that they did not. It is not true, either, that I said that all future development is going to be based on turf only. On the contrary, I stated that the present programme of the Electricity Supply Board contemplates the utilisation in the next ten years of all the available water power, and, in fact, a great part of the additional capacity to be created during that period will involve the utilisation of water power.

With regard to the changes in the board's programme made during the past three years—and the only additions to the board's programme made during the past three years were the new stations in Dublin and Cork designed to burn coal—my argument was that proper consideration of the country's economic development and of the security of electricity supply should have urged the Electricity Supply Board to have turned their attention from pressing my predecessor to assent to the erection of these stations to planning generating capacity based upon native resources. I know that my predecessor resented the pressure he was getting from the Electricity Supply Board to approve of new generating capacity based entirely on imported fuel, but, nevertheless, they got their way.

In the programme for the next ten years, apart from these three additional coal-burning stations approved of some time ago, there is no other station designed to use imported fuel. Senator Hayes attempted to suggest that that will leave us, at the end of that period, with a deficiency in capacity. That is not correct. I informed the Seanad, when speaking on the Second Reading, that, on the assumption that the demand for current in 1961 will be around 3,000,000,000 units, the stations erected in the meantime will be able to meet that demand, on the expectation that among these stations will be a number of smaller water power stations producing between them approximately 200,000,000 units per year. If we have to recognise now that the present plans do not provide for increasing capacity after 1961, it is because we think it is unwise to plan now for a period so far ahead, when we know that there is a possibility of technical developments during that period making such plans obsolete before they can be put into effect.

Long before 1961, within the next five years, the board, in consultation with whoever is then Minister for Industry and Commerce, will have to prepare its programme for that period. I do not know why an attempt is being made to create doubts and to arouse prejudices about milled peat. As far as I am aware, there are no engineers who are not in favour of it. It is true that the Electricity Supply Board originally approached the suggestion of utilising milled peat with the same outlook as that displayed by Senator Hayes: "Has somebody else done it?" That was the question asked by them, and it was reasonable for their engineers to approach the consideration of the utilisation of milled peat with more caution than they might other non-experimental proposals. It has been asked has milled peat been utilised in other countries. I do not think that we in this country should confine ourselves to imitating others. In relation to natural resources such as peat, we can do a bit of pioneering ourselves, and I feel we may succeed in teaching others about its potentialities. So far as milled peat is concerned, both the Electricity Supply Board and Bord na Móna engineers and the foreign consultants whom they have brought in to advise them on the subject, are satisfied that this is a practical proposition, and one which presents no technical difficulties they cannot solve. I do not know what the cost will be, but one thing appears quite clear at the moment; it is going to be cheaper than sod peat.

Senator Hayes referred on this and on other occasions to a report which was presented to the Oireachtas prior to the inauguration of the Shannon scheme, which was the basis of the debates in the Oireachtas relating to that scheme, and has asked that a similar report should be presented now. I wish that Senator Hayes would go now and get that report and read it. I believe it will give him a great deal of amusement because, in fact, the Shannon scheme did not develop in accordance with that report.

I could present an estimated cost of generating electricity by utilising milled peat in 1956 when the station is built, but what would that estimate be worth? There is no point in quoting from the Electricity Supply Board's report estimates of costs at the Portarlington station. The Portarlington station has been working for three years. When the Bangor Erris station has been working for two or three years the same information will be available about it. Apart from capital costs, the cost of producing milled peat will depend largely on labour cost, and nobody knows what wage rates are likely to be in the year 1956. However, it appears certain that the cost of producing milled peat will be cheaper than sod peat. Milled peat is being produced at present on the Lullymore bog and for a number of years past it has been used as the raw material of the briquette factory. The bog operations there are costed to the last penny and, while it is possible that the operating costs may vary from one bog to another, nevertheless the board is able to come to the very firm conclusion that milled peat is a more economical method of producing fuel for power stations than the sod process on which they were previously concentrating. It has the further very substantial advantage that it is capable of operation with a small labour force. One of the main difficulties anticipated by Bord na Móna in the production of sufficient fuel for electricity generating was the likelihood of a deficiency in the labour supply. By this milled peat process the total labour force is reduced and as the process is entirely mechanised it is likely to prove an attraction to the available labour because the rates of remuneration will be higher.

The New York firm which was engaged for consultation in connection with milled peat is not a scientific institute but a firm of consulting engineers, of very high repute whose activities are entirely in a practical field.

I dislike the Minister's method of approaching this problem. I used the word "turf" when I should have used the words "native resources." I agree entirely with the development of all the minor rivers. When all the rivers capable of development have been developed it is clear that there will be a necessity for oil and coal stations in order to produce all the electricity calculated to be needed by 1961. However, the particular attitude of the Minister is that if one does not agree with his ideas one is not national. The fact that one would like to get facts and look before one leaps is surely no proof that one is not in favour of using Irish fuel. I would like to say to the Minister that Bord na Móna has not produced enough turf to meet the increased consumption of electricity at any time——

That is not what the Senator said.

—— nor has it produced the amount of turf needed by the Electricity Supply Board. There have been reasons given for this—a strike in one particular instance. I do not wish to make doubts or arouse prejudices about milled peat. The Minister is already prejudiced and he has prejudged the issue. He tells us that Bord na Móna engineers are perfectly satisfied that the process will be successful. We do not know under what pressure or by what methods they accepted the idea of using milled peat. He can give us no information about the cost of the project. I quite realise that the wage rates for 1956 are not ascertainable now, but could we not be told what it is going to cost on the basis of present wage rates?

We should, of course, do some pioneering. The people whom I represent have done a great deal of pioneering in this country, sometimes without the support of the Minister and sometimes in face of his active opposition, shown by various methods. What I do object to is making a leap in the dark, and I feel that it would be possible for the Minister to tell us something more about this project than he has, in fact, told us. We do not know what will happen in three, four, five or six years' time, but he could certainly tell us a great deal more than he has told us now.

It would be better for everybody concerned if we all agreed that we are all interested in the development of this country, interested in the development of our native resources and that it is possible to look on these things without having a purely political issue thrown in. We are allocating a large sum of money, but the Minister is acting on a bias of his own. I am quoting now from Volume 40, column 856, of the Seanad Debates of last Wednesday, in which the Minister said that he reconstituted the Electricity Supply Board, that because it was his responsibility he felt bound, as a member of the Government, to defend it; that the main Opposition felt debarred from attacking it because of their association with the Shannon scheme. The fact is that the Minister did not reconstitute the board at all. As far as I remember, he made a few small changes. No matter how willing we are to develop native fuel, we are in the dark. We have to adopt the attitude of shutting our eyes and opening our mouths and seeing what the Minister will send us. I, for one, am not satisfied with that.

As a Senator coming from the area that is very much interested in this project and anxious for its success, I would like to support the plea that Senator Hayes has made for more statistics in this matter. The people of Mayo, and especially North Mayo, are naturally very anxious about its success, but they know very little about it. From time to time they ask us what are its possibilities, what it will cost, the amount of current generated. Then there is another question asked: is there any provision for the utilisation of the power that can be developed from the Moy in order to secure extra current? The questions asked by Senator Hayes are of interest, not alone to every person in the Seanad but of particular interest to the people of Mayo who are anxious for the success of this Bill, especially in so far as it applies to their own county.

I am a little bit reluctant to enter into this debate at all because I was told by Senator Baxter at the last Seanad meeting that I did not know what I was talking about. I do not want to do any blowing about it, but I did serve on the Turf Development Board, the predecessor of Bord na Móna, I think, for a period of about eight years, and unless I was born an imbecile I could not avoid learning something about it. Everybody in the Seanad whom I led around the various bogs by the hand—and that is no exaggeration because I helped them to jump across trenches and so on—if they do not know anything about it they ought to have sense enough not to be talking nonsense. It is not so long ago and they should remember what they saw at that particular time.

Senator Hayes, in my opinion, was quite unreasonable when he suggested that politics are being drawn into this. If anyone is attempting to bring in politics it is Senator Hayes when he says the attitude of the Minister is that we should close our eyes and open our mouths. What I suggest is that people should close their mouths and open their eyes and, having opened their eyes and seen exactly what is going on, it is only then time for them to open their mouths and talk about it.

One would think this question of milled peat was some sort of a mystery or secret formed in the mind of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce. Anyone who has gone over the bogs—as several of the Senators here have done over the past number of years—must have realised when they went to Lullymore that milled peat was being used for the production of briquettes and they must know that briquettes manufactured from milled peat have been able to hold their own with any other fuel available in this country over a long number of years. Not alone were they able to hold their own, but there was a time when briquettes were not made available for sale at all to the general public. Briquettes are at present very hard to get for the reason that they are becoming so popular, particularly in the cities and towns, that the people are endeavouring to obtain them in preference to any other type of fuel, native or imported.

In regard to the statement made by Senator Ruane that the people in the West of Ireland do not know anything about milled peat, all I can say is that if they do not it is the fault of the local representative.

On a point of order, I would like to know how many Senators here know what milled peat is?

If there is a Senator here who does not know what milled peat is, it is his own fault. Numerous invitations were issued to members of both Houses by the Turf Development Board, as it was originally, and Bord na Móna later, to take them free, gratis and for nothing and guide them over the turf bogs here, there and everywhere, including Lullymore, where milled peat was being produced. There is no mystery about it. Briquettes are produced from the milled peat at Lullymore, and surely people ought to take the word of those who have been responsible for the manufacture of briquettes and the word of the Minister, who has all that information at his disposal, that milled peat can be produced, that it is an economic proposition, and that even if it is possible to manufacture a certain tonnage of peat by other methods, that it is not possible or practicable if you like, to depend on the various other methods to produce all that may be required in future.

In this intensive campaign which we have to produce electricity, if there is another method by which some extra peat can be produced, and if under that system peat can be produced—for instance, during certain types of weather—then it is a good idea to produce peat by the other method, even though it may be slightly more expensive than the ordinary method of producing turf.

If we were to remain static and to be sufficiently suspicious about the development of peat, both under the Turf Development Board and under Bord na Móna, we would still be producing sods of turf by the hand-won method. We all know what the result of that would be. The fact is that we must be prepared to move along with the times and to accept new methods of production as they are introduced, if they prove practicable. Here we have a method of production introduced and sponsored by the Minister. It is there for everybody to see, not for a year or two, but for the past 15 years. People seem amazed to hear about it, and yet it has been available for their information for that length of time.

Surely people ought to be reasonable and when they knew the question was coming up for discussion they should have gone down—it is a very simple matter for any public representative and I do not think he would be exceeding his duties in the least or overtaxing himself as far as his responsibility goes—to see what is happening the milled peat that has been produced. I believe it will be a success and I see no reason whatever to criticise the section as far as milled peat is concerned.

There is one point arising out of the remarks of Senator Hayes. He suggested that the concurrence of the Electricity Supply Board engineers in the use of milled peat had been secured under pressure. I mentioned in the Dáil during the Second Reading of the Bill that I had informed the Electricity Supply Board that if they wished to establish at the new station in Portarlington a pilot plant for the utilisation of milled peat in advance of the construction of a power station at Bangor Erris I was agreeable to their undertaking the expenditure. I mentioned here when the Bill was getting its Second Reading that the Electricity Supply Board had notified me that they did not consider that the construction of a pilot plant at Portarlington was necessary. I think that disposes of the suggestion that their concurrence has been secured under pressure.

It is true that I have a bias in favour of the utilisation of native resources. I do not deny that but I do not think I would pursue a project of this kind to the extent of involving the community in a very heavy capital expenditure if I was not reasonably satisfied in my mind that there was no avoidable risk in connection with it.

Senator Ruane asked for certain statistics about the Bangor Erris station. I can give him some information which I think will help remove whatever anxiety he has found existing in County Mayo about it—I was surprised to learn that it was anxiety. The power station contemplated there is a large station. The first unit will be in production, we hope, by 1956. Its capacity will be doubled in the following year, 1957, and doubled again in the following year, 1958. When completed with the four units for which the whole project is being planned, it will be one of the largest stations in the board's system. If the Senator wants to have a picture of what its capacity will be I can best give him that by saying that when it is in full production it will produce more electricity than the Shannon scheme or the Pigeon House will produce this year.

In his last few words the Minister has set aside all the fears I had with regard to the station at Bangor Erris. I will say this, that while milled peat may be an experiment, I understood from a few article I read about milled peat that it is system of peat that can be produce where the bogs are shallower than th ordinary type of bog. For many years various representatives have made every possible effort to have industries established in the area, and particularly to have some development of the Bangor Erris bog. Development of the bog was always turned down as being unsuitable, and also because of the poor drying facilities. The fact that we can now get industry going and a station erected in Bangor Erris for the production of milled peat is something which I and other people in the area welcome. It is something which is going to give this large area an industry that will produce something which we can sell, because there is a great demand for electric current. Anyone travelling over that area as far as Ballina will be struck by the lack of life on the land there, and the development of this station will give much-needed employment.

The production of sod turf had not been feasible in this bog for a variety of reasons, and it was not possible to produce machine-won turf there because of the nature of the floor. This development is a pioneering effort so far as the Electricity Supply Board is concerned, but it is an effort that is welcomed by everybody in the district. It might be right to ask for some more information as to the prospects of cost of production, but it seems that the Minister must be fairly sure of his ground as to the cost before he made his statement in the matter.

It is regrettable that a measure of this kind should have so much political bias brought into its discussion. We are now considering Section 11 of the Bill which proposes to provide increased moneys for the Electricity Supply Board. From the speech of Senator Hayes, one could only conclude that he was merely attempting to justify the coercion of the last Minister for Industry and Commerce into approval of the establishment of two or three generating stations, one of which was to use coal or oil. There seemed to be no other reason for the type of speech he has delivered.

Senator Hayes claimed to be as interested in the development of national resources as the Minister or anyone else and I have no doubt that such is the case. His approach, however, to this question of the use of milled peat seems to be the same as it was when the Minister was asking for the passage of a Bill giving sanction to the Electricity Supply Board to set up generating stations for the use of peat of any kind. The question had been asked then whether the staff of the Electricity Supply Board had recommended the use of peat and what were the prospects of the project, and it was even suggested that the Electricity Supply Board staffs were entirely opposed to the development of these stations using peat as a fuel. Senator Hayes then posed the question as to what the cost was going to be and what guarantees there were of supplies of fuel. I do not know whether he or anybody else could tell us now what the cost of coal will be in 1961 or even in 1957, or what guarantees we will have of supplies of coal or oil at these dates.

Apart altogether from the question of costs, we have here, as Senator Commons pointed out, the establishment of an industry where it is very badly needed, one which will serve a useful purpose in using peat which was otherwise unusable and at the same time supplying additional current. The people of the Bangor Erris area will not be looking for information as to costs so much as they are for information as to when the work on the project will be started and how long it will continue. They, like everybody else, will wish it every success. The question of milled peat is not a new project. It has been undertaken for some considerable time and has been used in the production of briquettes. I am sure it would be safe to suggest that its production for the purpose of generating electricity will not be over-expensive and that the costs will actually be reduced by something like from 20 to 30 per cent.

Senator Hayes also mentioned that Bord na Móna did not supply the Electricity Supply Board with the various items that they might need in regard to costing. In the matter of a new form of production, you cannot always be sure, because there is always the danger of strikes and a hold-up of production. These are things which can also affect the price and supply of coal and oil. It has this difference in the case of Bangor Erris, that you are going to utilise in the generating work a native fuel and give employment to the people at home.

What I feel is that a discussion of this kind will, by raising suspicion, encourage such organisations as the Electricity Supply Board and other State-sponsored concerns as well as private concerns to be over-cautious and I hold the view very strongly, no matter what Senator Hayes or others may say, that we have not got from the Electricity Supply Board that foresight and progressiveness which we would have liked them to show in years past.

I would suggest that this political shadow boxing is wasting valuable time. The House has agreed that the Bill is worthy of support; that has been expressed in various terms. We are all talking about milled peat but we do not know enough about it; we have not sufficient technical knowledge to say whether it is good, bad or indifferent. If the Electricity Supply Board think that this is the best way of utilising the bogs, we should just accept that. I do not know in what way any remarks we make upon the matter here will affect the project, but we have agreed that the Bill is worthy of support and that the development of electricity is of great national benefit. I would suggest that we go ahead and pass the Bill and stop this political shadow boxing, which I do not understand.

Senator O'Donnell has just made the case why this matter should be discussed, and discussed in some detail. He has said that neither the Minister nor any Senator knows whether milled peat will be good, bad or indifferent; that is precisely why we want some information about it. We have not got much information; we know that a considerable sum of money will be put up, possibly merely to experiment with milled peat. With great respect to the senior Senator, I would say to Senator O'Donnell that he and all of us would be failing in our duty as Senators if in those circumstances we did not inquire as closely as possible into the matter.

I am glad that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and not Senator Hawkins, is dealing with this Bill, because I think that the Minister is somewhat more realistic in his approach. On the Second Reading, the Minister did indicate that he and the Electricity Supply Board were in possession of apparently rather detailed reports dealing with milled peat and the type of equipment suitable for burning it, but that he felt that there was some difficulty about making those two reports—the original report and the supplementary report—public. In view of the inquiries made by Senator Hayes, I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister. I am taking it that he is perfectly satisfied with regard to the reports and that if he had not got those reports he would not have been satisfied. The position is that the Seanad is not in possession of them.

We must take the Minister's word— and I do so unreservedly—that the contents of the reports are such as to justify optimism in connection with the use of milled peat. I would suggest, however, that he might be able to make available some kind of synopsis or short White Paper which would not necessarily deal with the technical questions of equipment; he should make some synopsis available to the Oireachtas generally which would justify us in adopting Senator O'Donnell's attitude, namely, that not alone do we give our blessing to the Bill but we want to see it put into effect as soon as possible. I am quite prepared to support the Minister and the Bill, but I think that Senator Hayes's perfectly honest queries should be dealt with by the Minister in a manner as open and as frank as possible.

I may have left the Seanad under some misapprehension about these reports. I am forced to that conclusion by Senator O'Higgins's suggestion: that the reports should be published without reference to matters relating to technical equipment dealt with in them. The reports dealt with nothing else. The Batelle Institute report dealt with nothing else but the suitability of various types of equipment for milled peat. The report dealt with the types of boilers available on the market manufactured by certain named firms and discussed the suitability of each type of boiler for this purpose. The only part of the report in which I was interested—and the only part which I fully understood—was the concluding paragraph, which said simply that there is available for purchase by the Electricity Supply Board, manufactured by reputable firms, furnace equipment suitable for burning milled peat efficiently, of which the manufacturers are prepared to guarantee the performance.

It does not necessarily follow that the Electricity Supply Board engineers will adopt some of these technical devices unchanged. Having now satisfied themselves that there are firms capable of manufacturing suitable equipment, firms prepared to guarantee the performance of that equipment, they themselves will have to do as they have done in the case of every power station: experiment with the equipment when it is installed for some time until they are satisfied that they have got it to its highest state of efficiency.

Before the Minister finishes with that point I would like to ask whether it is proposed that the equipment should be manufactured in this country or imported.

It will in the main be imported completely manufactured.

It will not be tested for milled peat until it comes here?

A substantial tonnage of milled peat is being sent, under the auspices of the Batelle Institute, to the United States of America for burning in power stations there and that may give some additional information as to the most suitable types of equipment.

I welcome the Bill. Coming from the West of Ireland, I say that it will change the face of that part of the country. I hope that it will be a success and I think that it will. I do not see why it should not be. We have any amount of bog, the best of virgin bog, and we have any amount of men looking for work. It is long overdue. It is a thing in which I was interested since ever I came into the Oireachtas. I hope that the Bill will now pass through all stages and that we will have no more trouble in my part of the country.

Mr. P. O'Reilly

From the discussion on the Bill and on this section one would think that it dealt specifically with milled peat, but it contains no mention at all of milled peat. Since a discussion on the type of operation has arisen on this section, there is another matter which I think I could properly raise now.

I would ask the Minister to bring to the attention of the board the possibility of having an examination carried out in the Arigna area to see if it would be possible to erect a fuel-burning station there or somewhere in Roscommon, Leitrim or Sligo. It has been felt that a lot of the lower-grade coal in the Arigna area, that might not be suitable for many commercial purposes, would be suitable for transformation into electricity. The coal-mining industry is not giving the proper volume of employment which it could give if the coal were properly harvested and if we could get over certain difficulties. Therefore, the Minister should have a preliminary investigation carried out.

It is possible that, as the demand for electricity grows and the consumption increases, even with the harnessing of the water power of our rivers and the harnessing of the bogs through milled peat or otherwise, the potential demand may be greater than the supply. Arigna coal would be a native fuel and there would be some reasonable hope of continuation in supply, as it would not be subject to the difficulties of external crises or war conditions. It is only reasonable, therefore, that the Minister should ask the board at this stage to make a preliminary survey of the possibility of erecting a generating station in the coal-mining area, to use particularly coal which has a low calorific value and which might be economically transformed into electricity though it might not be suitable for ordinary use or for industrial purposes.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 to 14, inclusive, and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take the remaining stages to-day.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.
Ordered: That the Bill be returned to the Dáil.