Finance (Profits of Certain Mines) (Temporary Relief from Taxation) Bill, 1955 (Certified Money Bill) —Second Stage.

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

The principles and details of this Bill, have, as the House knows, been already very widely discussed and, accordingly, it does not seem necessary that I should burden the Seanad by traversing at length the ground covered when I was introducing the Bill in Dáil Eireann. I shall, however, be prepared to enlarge upon any particular aspects of the Bill later in reply to such questions as Senators may see fit to address to me.

The basic principles of the Bill are simple and straightforward, but, as taxation is involved, drafting these principles into legislative form has resulted in some degree of complexity. The basic principles may briefly be stated as follows:—

(1) The Bill applies to profits from mining non-bedded minerals, which operations involve risks and expenditures quite different from those arising in the case of bedded minerals;

(2) As the purpose of the Bill is to act as an incentive, the benefit is given to new mining operations, while, at the same time, existing operators whose present business commenced in the relatively recent past are given the benefit of certain provisions of the Bill from now on but without retrospective effect. To be eligible for relief new mining operations must commence production within the next five years, commencing on 6th April, 1956, thus providing an inducement not to delay development unduly;

(3) The relief is confined to Irish companies. The restriction of the concession to companies, which is administratively necessary, does not create any hardship, for the reason that it can scarcely be expected that persons would work non-bedded deposits of minerals on a scale of any magnitude without the protection of limited liability;

(4) The concession takes the simple form of exemption from tax on profits for the first four years after production has commenced and for the next four years thereafter, a 50 per cent. exemption from tax on profits.

These, then, are the underlying principle of the Bill. In operation, income-tax and corporation profits tax will, subject to certain modifications, be assessed in the ordinary way as if the proposed legislation had not been passed. The income-tax assessed for a year of assessment to which the legislation is to apply will, for the purpose of arriving at the amount which ranks for the total or partial relief, be reduced by income-tax on debenture interest, royalties and similar charges from which income-tax may be deducted and retained by the company in making payment of the interest, royalties, etc., to the persons entitled to receive them. Income-tax on so much of the profits as represents the amount of the interest, etc., is essentially the liability, not of the mining company, but of the persons entitled to the interest. It, therefore, does not properly qualify for the relief.

The income-tax assessed, reduced by income-tax on the charges, is the amount of income-tax which the mining company would effectively bear were it not for the Bill; and such income-tax—called in the Bill "net income-tax"—is the amount which ranks for total or partial relief. The amounts of corporation profits tax assessed for periods to which the legislation is to apply are similar in nature.

The dividends payable out of the profits to which the Bill applies will be taxable to income-tax in the hands of the shareholders only to the extent, if any, to which income-tax has been suffered by the company for the relevant periods.

The Bill contains in Section 1 the main definitions necessary for its interpretation. I do not think that I can, at this stage, usefully expand those definitions. They are as clear as we can make them, but if anyone would wish, as I have already said, any amplification, I shall be happy to endeavour to give it.

So far as the other sections are concerned, the only one I might make any reference to is Section 11. Section 11 is the section which provides that a resident Irish company working an existing mine, as defined, may be given relief, computed on the lines laid down in the case of new mining operations; but the relief in any case will extend only to any balance, as at 6th April, 1956, of a period of eight years reckoned from the date on which the company commenced to work the mine. If there was, in relation to an existing mine, what is termed a "permanent discontinuance" of operations, then the commencement date would be the date on which operations were begun again after such discontinuance. No relief will be given for any year or period prior to 6th April, 1956. This is, of course, because such relief would be retrospective, or, perhaps, retroactive would be a better word. Thus, where a company has begun to work an existing mine on, say, 6th April, 1952, it may be given relief for a total period of four years from 6th April, 1956. For those four years, the company may be granted relief to the extent of one half of the income-tax and corporation profits tax which would otherwise be effectively borne by it.

We had in the other House some discussion in respect of the difference between "temporary cessation" and "permanent discontinuance". I think it would be quite impossible that the present Bill would cover and grant relief in respect of temporary cessation, but the Bill does, in fact, grant relief where there has been permanent discontinuance. I should, perhaps, explain the phrase "permanent discontinuance". It is a phrase that has a well-known connotation in the ordinary income-tax law and it will be that connotation that will govern the interpretation of this Bill.

I believe this Bill will act as an incentive to people who would be interested at all in mining enterprises to move along within the limited territory provided by this Bill to see what minerals there are in our country that can be gainfully obtained. If it is successful—I believe it will have some success in that regard—then, I think, it will have fulfilled a useful purpose as an incentive. I certainly commend it to the Seanad for that reason.

Bille achrannach is ea é seo gan amhras, agus níor mhór do dhuine an-chuid ama bheith aige chun staidéar ceart a dhéanamh ar na forála atá ann. Is é is bun leis an mBille ná daoine do mhealladh chun obair na mianach do chur ar aghaidh agus chun mianraí d'oibriú sa tír seo; ach ní ceart a rá gurb é seo an chéad iarracht atá á dhéanamh sa tslí sin, mar is eol dúinn go bhfuil daoine eile ag gabháil don obair seo cheana. Níl a fhios agam go cruinn conas a déiléalfar leo sin faoin mBille seo.

The Minister stated that the Bill is designed to offer inducements to people to develop the mineral resources of this country. I think we are all in favour of the development of our mineral resources. It has been the policy in this State for a number of years that every effort be made to develop the mineral resources of the State and the principles enshrined in this Bill are those which were enunciated in bygone days by the architects of Sinn Féin.

It was the policy of Sinn Féin that the mineral resources of this country should be developed, but, while we are all agreed that it is very desirable from a national point of view to have the mineral resources of this State exploited and developed, perhaps we are not in agreement as to the best methods to be employed towards that end.

I must say that I have rather mixed feelings about this measure. As I have said, I am wholly in favour of any measures that would be taken by the Government, whatever Government would be in office, to encourage the development of our natural resources, but, at the same time, I am sceptical as to whether the method employed by the Minister and the Government is the best. We are offering inducements to people to come in here, and, while the Minister may say that the measure is of general application, we know, of course, that this Bill had its origin in certain negotiations that took place between the Government and a Canadian firm of mining experts, and certain concessions—very generous concessions, indeed, I would say—are being given to these mining experts to come in and exploit the mineral resources of this country, beginning with, I take it, the Avoca mines.

They are to get a complete remission of taxation, so far as I can gather, for a period of four years and a 50 per cent. remission for a further four years. I would say that these are generous concessions. It would be relevant to inquire what financial benefit will accrue to the State as a result of the operations of this Canadian mining company. It was mentioned in the other House that a sum of £2,250,000 is to be put into this work. That is a large sum and the money has, I take it, been got through public subscriptions from Canada. But, as I said, it would be well if we were in a position to know what financial benefits will accrue to the State as a result of this policy.

I know also there is the question of labour, the provision of work in connection with these mining undertakings. If there is to be a sum of £2,250,000 as I think it is, sunk into these operations, it would be expected that the labour content of the undertaking would be very great indeed. I do not know if the Minister is in a position to give us any figure, or any approximate figure, for the amount of labour it is expected will be employed in these mining operations. I understand that in other countries this policy of giving a remission of taxation in connection with mining undertakings has been practised, and, I suppose, with a certain amount of success, but of course it can be said that what would be a satisfactory method of approach in one country might not be suitable for another country.

I have already said that we are all in favour of developing the mineral resources in this country. However, I should like to inquire what exactly the Minister and the Government have in mind in connection with Section 11 of this Bill, which deals with existing mining companies. Am I to understand from the Minister that there is to be no relief, no connections, to existing mining companies, unless they embark on new undertakings? Perhaps I misunderstood the Minister. As the Minister stated, this matter has been fully discussed in the other House and I do not want to go into the subject in any detail here this evening. At the same time, I should like to find out from the Minister exactly what concessions are to be given under this Bill to existing mining companies that have been struggling here for a number of years on their own initiative.

There is also the question of the length of time, the period, over which these tax remissions will be given to a company engaging in mineral exploitation in this country. It is quite possible, of course, that a big firm like this Canadian firm—to which reference has been made in the other House—would bring in powerful machinery for a period of four years, enjoy the tax remissions that are to be given under this Bill and, if it suited them after this period, go away and leave the mine or mines in a derelict condition. I rather think it may be a better policy not to give a full remission, even for the first four years, but to extend whatever remissions are given over a longer period so as to make sure that the mining operations of this company, or whatever company or companies engage in the work, would be carried on over a longer period, from the point of view of the continuity of the work and also the preservation of whatever level of employment would be reached in connection with the undertaking.

I welcome any and every attempt that is being made here to encourage the exploitation of our mineral resources. They are great national assets. It is a pity that, for lack of capital or lack of enterprise, their development has not achieved the success that we should all like; but I want to emphasise that a good deal has been done already. This is a highly technical Bill and requires very careful study which I hope we shall have an opportunity of giving to it between this and Committee Stage.

Everyone will agree that the best possible thing for this country is the development of our mineral resources. However, the question has got to be considered now of whether the means provided in this Bill are the best means to achieve that development. In this Bill, we are giving a complete remission of taxation for four years and a 50 per cent. remission for a further four years to any new company developing our mineral resources.

The first question that might arise in the mind of any Senator is this: Should that concession not be spread over a longer period of time? By giving a concession for a short period, we might possibly encourage the worst form of mineral development, that is, a rapid exploitation of the resources of a particular mine and the complete closing down of the works after four years or, at the outside, after eight years. What we should like to see happen in this country with regard to our limited supply of ores is that they be developed to the fullest extent, that is, that the ores not only be raised, but, as far as possible, be processed within the country also. There is, however, no incentive in this Bill as far as I know for that continued processing.

In addition, this Bill provides exactly the same concession to a completely foreign company as to an Irish-owned company. One would imagine that, if the taxpayer is to be called upon to make concessions—as is undoubtedly implied in this measure, because, when we are relieving a company from taxation, we therefore impose possibly a heavier burden on the taxpayer—our first consideration should be to give an added incentive to an Irish-owned company. Whatever general concessions might be given, they should be increased if the company is Irish-owned. If I were asked to suggest what would be the best type of development of our mining resources, I would say, first, that it should be developed by Irish private enterprise. If that is not possible, the second course would be by Irish public enterprise, that is, by a State or semi-State company. If, again, that were not considered possible, then the third would be a foreign company in which there is a considerable amount of Irish capital invested, so that Irish interests would partly, own that company. I would say that the last alternative would be a completely foreign company.

It would be unrealistic to consider this Bill without having reference to the development of the Avoca mine, because it is generally understood that this Bill has its origin in the agreement entered into with the Canadian company for the development of that industry. As far as Irish people generally are concerned, and particularly people living in County Wicklow, it is a matter of pleasure to find that this mineral area is now about to be developed on commercial lines. I remember distinctly that, when the proposals were first introduced in 1947 for the provision of a very substantial amount of public money, £85,000 per year, mainly for the exploration of this area, there was a good deal of scepticism in regard to the wisdom of that expenditure, and many people thought at the time the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, was throwing the Irish taxpayers' money down into a mine shaft from which it would never be recovered.

In the following year, the Minister for Finance announced his intention to withdraw the grant for that particular purpose, and I was one of those who attended a protest meeting in Avoca to appeal to the then Government to allow this work to continue. I am glad to say that the representations made by the people of that area and by the representatives of Wicklow constituency, and by other people who had the general interests of the country at heart, induced the Government at that time to reverse their decision and to make the money available. There was undoubtedly a delay of nearly 12 months, during which very little exploration work was done, but the work went on after that, and it has now been completely justified. The wisdom, foresight and courage of Deputy Lemass in this respect have been completely vindicated, and I think it is satisfactory that we find that the entire sum of £500,000 which was spent by the State in the exploration and development of those particular mines will now be recouped in full to the State. That is something which must cause pleasure.

But the concessions that are being made in this Bill are undoubtedly generous. As I say, I would have no objection whatever to them on that ground, but there is a possibility that, in shortening the duration of the period in which those concessions are available, we may encourage the kind of development which is not desirable, that is, the complete clearing out of the mineral resources in the shortest possible time and their export abroad. It is estimated that it will cost the Canadian company £2,500,000 to develop this mine on a commercial basis. At least, I understand that they are committed to that expenditure and to the employment of 500 workers. In exchange for that, they may possibly secure a gross income of up to £13,000,000.

13,000,000 tons, I understand, are the total quantity of undeveloped ores available, and the value has been estimated at from £10,000,000 to £13,000,000. However, these are all matters of speculation. They have got to be proved——

Hear, hear!

——by experience. The main point I want to emphasise is that this type of development is, as I say, the least desirable method in which to achieve a very desirable objective, the development of these resources. The objective is the most desirable, but the method, viewed from every angle, is probably the least. I do not think that the Government have been wise in their failure to ensure that this new company being established does not include a certain percentage of Irish capital. It is true that the foreign company would naturally, in entering on an enterprise of this kind in a country such as ours, be inclined to control the industry from the outset. No one could blame them for that, but at least strong representations should have been made to them to permit of the investment of at least one-third Irish capital. That would give Irish interests a substantial measure of control in this industry.

Such a measure would be extremely valuable, because as I have pointed out, it is desirable not only that the ores should be harvested from the mines, but that they should be processed as far as possible in this country. The Irish interests in the company would press very strongly for that processing of the ores, and for any measures that might make for the continuity of the industry. Local interests involved, capitalists, industrialists or business people interested in the company, would be extremely anxious to ensure that the entire work of this company would not cease at the end of four or eight years, but that it would go on and, if possible, go on indefinitely with fresh development and with the establishment of subsidiary industries, based on the raw material secured from the mine.

It is a pity that the Government did not consider, in the first place, the offering of inducements, and strong inducements, to Irish private enterprise to undertake this work, and, if they were not entirely successful in that, did not consider the establishment of an Irish company, partly State-owned and partly owned by private capital. In the last resort, it is a pity that they did not secure an undertaking from the Canadian company that they would permit Irish shareholders to own at least one-third of the capital of the company.

I am not mentioning these things with any view to destructive criticism, but rather in a constructive spirit, because it may be still possible to rectify this mistake—if a mistake has been made—by ensuring that, if there is a further expansion of capital in the development of this industry, it will be provided by Irish capital, thus giving over some time in the immediate future a share of this industry to Irish enterprise. That may be a feasible proposition still and I think that, if it is, it should be considered.

I remember when this project of exploration and development was mooted in the Dáil in 1947, when the Minerals Act of that year was being enacted, the late Deputy Davin made a very strong appeal for the development in the future of our mineral resources by public enterprise. I believe that private enterprise would be better, provided it was Irish, but in the event of Irish capital not being forthcoming from private sources, then I think it should come from the public purse, because I think nothing would be more important than to retain as far as possible control of this industry in our own hands. I think it is satisfactory to know, at any rate, that experiments and the expenditure of public money have proved that our country is not completely derelict as far as mineral resources are concerned and it may be possible that, if someone with the courage of Deputy Lemass will undertake in the future further exploration work, even at the expense of the national exchequer, then we may reap equally satisfactory results.

As I understand it, the Canadian company proposes to hand back to the State the entire sum that has been expended on mineral development in the Avoca area. That means that the Minister will have at his disposal a sum of £500,000 for further mineral development and I hope that that money will be used for that purpose. I think it was earmarked originally for the purpose of mineral development and, now that it has been recouped to the State, it should be used again in further exploration and investigation. The scepticism that was displayed in regard to Avoca has been proved to be without justification or foundation, and there is no doubt whatever that there may be other areas in which there may be similar resources available, if we only have the courage necessary to exploit them.

I think that what has been done is done and it may not be possible to revise it at the moment. I should like to stress again the point that I have made that, if further capital is needed to expand this work in Avoca, that capital will be forthcoming from Irish sources rather than from foreign sources, so that at least we will be able to gain some measure of control in this important industry—even though it may not be absolute control, at least there will be a substantial interest in it —because I think it would be a pity to hand over and to continue to hand over control of such a vital industry as this to a completely outside interest.

As I say, this Bill makes no additional concessions to Irish interests. It gives the same relief to foreign capitalists as it does to Irish capitalists. That is a criticism of the measure, but, as I say, the measure was probably dictated by an agreement which has already been entered into and, therefore, it would be extremely difficult to alter it. I think, however, if that were not so, this House should consider an entirely different type of measure in which the concessions made to mining companies would be not limited to a period of four years or eight years, but would be available as long as the company remains in production. As a matter of fact, they should be encouraged rather than discouraged to go in for long-term production.

Sometimes we hear it said that foreign companies are better for the development of industries here than our own native enterprises; and in this connection the development of the sugar industry in Carlow was cited. I think anybody who knows anything about that industry knows that the foreign company that came to develop it was entirely unsatisfactory and had to be cleared out at the earliest possible date, and that they trampled on the interests not only of the producers —the farmers and beet growers—but of the workers. I hope that that example which was cited will not be followed by another foreign company.

I must say I welcome this Bill and the principles enshrined in it. I think the principles enshrined in it have been put there for the purpose of attracting capital development to our country. I welcome it for another reason, too, because I hope that the concessions made in this Bill are indicative of a new outlook and a new approach generally to industrial development. If we are to develop further industries I think we have reached a stage where financial inducement has become necessary, whether the capital be coming from outside or from within the shores of this country; and that is one of the reasons why I also welcome what is in this Bill. I trust that perhaps it will be an indication of what may happen in other fields of industrial development in the future.

I confess myself flabbergasted by the attitude taken by Senator Cogan towards this Bill. From what I remember, Senator Cogan comes from Wicklow, or from the borders of it. If he does not come from that county, he at least always claims to take an interest in the constituency of Wicklow, and this is not the first time that I have heard him here and elsewhere speak on behalf of Wicklow. I understand that not only will there be a very heavy labour content in this enterprise, but that, in addition, it is very likely it will result in the improvement and development of at least one or two of the Wicklow harbours. Both of these harbours, though good, suffer sadly from a lack of modern development and, above all, they are in sore need of dredging. Senator Cogan really put his finger on the matter when he used the term "speculation". It is well known that mining enterprises of all kinds are highly speculative, because, notwithstanding all the modern ingenuity and skill, the persons undertaking these operations can never be 100 per cent. certain of what they are going to find when they get to work underground.

I should also like to point out to Senator Cogan that we must remember that any wealth this country possesses lies in what we can get from the top six inches of soil, or what may lie underneath the soil, and I think we should all welcome this Bill as being the first serious effort at developing our mineral resources. Should these mineral resources prove to be rich, it will benefit us, but should they prove not to be as rich as we all hope, we have lost nothing in finding that out.

One other point, in conclusion, which I wish to make is that it is quite ridiculous to state that any such enterprises are likely to clear out after a very short time. As regards the question of processing the minerals that may be mined in County Wicklow, or elsewhere, surely, if any company were getting such generous tax concessions, they would find it paid them to process the minerals here and to take their profit here rather than export the raw material and do their processing, taking their profits elsewhere, subject to the taxation of the countries in which the processing is done.

I find myself in the position, perhaps alone, of not being in favour of the Bill. It seems to me that we are making very big concessions, purely on the basis of an agreement, the terms of which apparently, have not yet fully been placed before the House. Tax concessions, I know, are common enough in this type of enterprise and those which we are giving here are similar to the concessions to Canadian law. I am also aware of the fact that, in defending the making of such concessions, the Minister is entitled to say that any other company could have come in and taken up the work. Nevertheless, I feel that the resources of our country might be more courageously developed by ourselves, under a system of Government enterprise, rather than under this system which will syphon off, in all probability, a quite considerable profit from this country—although, as Senator Crosbie has said, we will be "safe".

I was surprised by the two contradictory attitudes taken up by Senator Crosbie, because, on the one hand, he spoke boldly in favour of speculation, and, on the other hand, he said we were not risking anything because, if the company made a lot of money, we would have the benefit, and, if they did not make as much as we hope they will, we still do not lose anything. I suggest that that is not the spirit of the pioneer speculator at all, and I am afraid Senator Crosbie was in disguise when he spoke of being in favour of speculation. I suggest that if this is a worthwhile piece of speculation, and in so far as it is speculation—I think that the element of speculation involved is limited by the work of the prospecting company—in so far as there is speculation, I feel that the people who ought to do the speculation are ourselves as a community.

I do not want to go into detail in these matters. I cannot pretend to know a lot about the detail, but I read with interest the debate in the other House in which Deputy Lemass produced a number of figures, none of which were denied, so far as I could see. He mentioned in Volume 154, No.2, column 94 that the target of the company appeared to be the production of something like 1,000,000 tons of rock per year with a copper percentage of 1.12 per cent. He estimated that while the company could not count on getting 100 per cent. extraction, it would get something like 9,000 tons of copper per year from that. With copper at £240 a ton, on the basis of those figures the company would break even with that amount of copper production. But he went on to say that the price of copper now was not £240 per ton, but nearer to the £400 per ton mark. Consequently, he estimated, and he was not contradicted, that the company would be getting something in the nature of £1,300,000 profit per year tax free. It would get that tax free for the period provided in the Bill, the first four years, plus the additional supplementary profits from lead, zinc and other products which might also be available—I will not mention gold, because that is being kept a secret.

Deputy Lemass suggested that the Canadian company was going to invest initially something like £2,000,000 and he pointed out that on the basis of his figures, the company investing £2,000,000 would hope to get in the first four years, working tax free, a profit of £5,000,000.

I have no competence at all to judge those figures, but I note that they were not controverted in any major way in the Dáil, and the position as I see it is this: the preliminary work of prospecting, what I would call the dangerous, risk-bearing work, was carried out in this country at the taxpayer's expense, and now that it has been discovered, at the cost of, I think, nearly £500,000 to the taxpayer, that there is a possibility of extracting valuable one from these mines, at that very moment, we say: "Right; since the element of major risk has been removed, we now pass it over to private enterprise."

I look back to the early days of this State when the Government closely allied to the Party represented by the present Minister had the imagination to establish the Shannon scheme for the development of our electrical resources. It was open to them to give the scheme out on tender to some foreign country and ask them to make what profit they could out of it. They preferred the alternative method, the method of a State corporation employing a foreign company—the Siemens-Schukert Company—to come over to place their expert skill at the disposal of the State and to develop our electrical resources in that way. I also remember that the Government was quite hotly attacked and that they withstood the attack. They were undaunted by the suggestion that the scheme was a white elephant or a green elephant, and I think we can all recognise that, in the event, they were justified in the confidence they showed in the capacity of a State organisation to develop our own resources.

Consequently, I regret that the present generation of the same Party seem to be lacking in the pioneer courage which was theirs in those early days, and which, I suggest, has been fully justified.

I should like to ask the Minister if he would offer some explanation, perhaps, as to why there is this apparently new fear of State development. After all, it was not only electricity, but turf and forestry—forestry in which, I understand, the Canadians are also pretty big experts. In these fields, we are still content to have development by companies entirely under our control, non-profit making companies, organisations or departments— for the benefit of our own people.

I am aware, of course, that, in relation to mining, there might be certain disadvantages in the running of such an enterprise by a State company. It would have the disadvantage of what might be called the Civil Service attitude of caution, of "playing safe", the kind of attitude that lies behind this Bill—in fact, the fear of taking any major risk—and I would suggest that if a State company were to be developed along those lines of fear and caution, then it would not be as well run as if you had people coming in with a sharper incentive, but I see no reason why, as in the Turf Development Board, there might not be a series of organised incentives, not merely at the lower level, but throughout the level of the company, which, if it was well run with imagination and drive, could develop our mines, using foreign technical aid, but employed by us, and not merely requested by us to come in to remove a profit. I believe that that would be of more benefit to the country as a whole.

Senator Crosbie has told us that he welcomes this idea of attracting foreign capital investment.

Capital investment— I did not use the word "foreign".

Investment —I accept the Senator's amendment.

Not an amendment.

I accept the Senator's correction of my grave misunderstanding of his words. He said that he welcomed this method of attracting capital investment, and he was of the opinion that this type of speculation—and he praised Senator Cogan for using the word—was a good thing, and, although he did not use the word "foreign", he did not say that he wanted the capital to be exclusively Irish, unless I misunderstood him. I understood him to welcome the investment of—I am afraid to say "international capital"—but, at any rate, capital, be it Irish or not.

I remember Senator Cogan making what seemed to me to be a very apt point in relation to that. He pointed out to the Minister for Agriculture, who when talking about wheat prices, had said that one of the dangers of having the price too high was that it attracted foreign speculators, that it appeared to be a very bad thing, according to the Government, to attract foreign investment into farming, but that in industry it seemed to be a thing to be welcomed. The Minister for Agriculture did not reply to that. In fact, he left the House. He was called elsewhere. My hope is that perhaps the Minister for Finance might venture to give us some kind of explanation of the Government's philosophy in that regard, why they should cry out when somebody comes in to invest money in land, and why they should feel it is a very good thing, on the other hand, when somebody comes in to invest money in what is under the land.

I should like him also, if he would deign to do so, to explain to us why it is that he and his Government are afraid of national enterprise in this regard. He himself put a query to Deputy Lemass in the Dáil, as recorded in Vol. 154, No. 1, Col. 102: did Deputy Lemass want State enterprise in this case? Mr. Lemass's reply was: "No", that he himself had no confidence in State enterprise. That leaves me wondering, on the one hand, just what is the basis of the Opposition's criticism of the Bill, since they do not accept the obvious alternative, and it leaves me further wondering why it is that all our Parties, apparently even including the Labour Party, have now suddenly become afraid of State enterprise — Irish national companies and corporations— to develop these resources as our other resources, such as electricity, turf, and forestry are being developed.

I should like to offer, tentatively, one possible explanation and that is the consideration of what the effect would be upon the country, supposing the project went wrong; supposing the Government were to set up a State company and supposing it was to turn out in fact to be a white elephant. That would be a loss for the country, but I have a feeling that some of our leaders in the world of politics would be prepared to suffer that loss for the country. More serious in their eyes would be the fact that it would mean a loss of votes for the Party or Parties that engaged upon such an enterprise, and I have a feeling that it is Party considerations that make us now so very much afraid to develop this on a national scale in the national interest. I would suggest that that is one point upon which Party interest is placed before national interest.

The position, then, as I see it, is that the taxpayers of the country have taken the major risks of prospecting, and the mining company is now going to take the minor risk of exploiting, secure in the belief, on the basis of the preliminary work carried out by the prospectors, that there is a not inconsiderable profit to be made. I, personally, would prefer to see a State company develop the community resources for the benefit of the community, employing necessarily all the foreign technical aid required, but maintaining the ownership and the control of the profits, if any, of this mining company here in this country.

For that reason, I am opposed to this Bill. I am aware, of course, that, by all appearances, it will go through, because the Government, in a sense, is tied to it by an agreement which, I think, one may recognise they necessarily had to negotiate more or less in private. But I would like to ask the Minister one final question and I should like to direct his attention to this point. I understand that this Canadian company intends exporting the copper concentrates to Canada and having them smelted down in Canada. It is quite obvious that this operation, from the point of view of transport, is a considerable one and that the actual costs of transporting this copper concentrate will be considerable to the company.

I should like to ask the Minister whether in his agreement it has been foreseen or, if not, whether it is now not yet too late to foresee, an arrangement with the company, whereby an Irish company, a State company preferably, would be allowed to buy as much of this concentrate as would represent their normal use of copper in this country on favourable terms at the pithead?

It would seem illogical from any world point of view to export this concentrate to Canada and buy back in the world market refined-copper, some of which, perhaps, has been considered; Canada. So, I would ask the Minister whether this has been considered; whether the agreement covers it, and, if it does not cover it, whether he will give very serious consideration to the proposition of allowing an Irish company to buy at favourable pithead terms whatever copper concentrate it might require, and which it could have smelted down, possibly in Britain, with considerably less transport charges, if necessary, on a sort of drawback system.

I would direct his attention, in this connection, to the figures given by our trade returns. For instance, in 1953, we imported copper to the value of £768,000; in 1954, we imported copper and copper alloys, wrought and unwrought, to the value of £923,000. You will notice it went up from £768,000 to £923,000. In 1955, according to the latest figures, we imported not £923,000 but £1,232,000 worth of this copper, alloys, wrought and unwrought copper, copper wire and so on. I am aware that not all of this could be represented by the copper concentrate that we might get on favourable terms from this new company. But I feel it ought to appeal not only to the Minister for Finance but to the Government and the country as a whole as a possibility, particularly at a time when we hear so much talk about the unfavourable balance of trade and the regrettable fact that we import so much, it might be worth directing the attention of the Government to the possibility of deriving this extra benefit, if you like, from the agreement with the new mining company, and, in relation at least to the import of copper, cutting down our foreign expenditure on this material which is almost certainly in the next 20 years or so going to be increasingly expensive.

My intention was originally only to ask the Minister one small question in connection with this Bill. In Section 1, sub-section (4), I note that the section prescribes that certain matters shall be laid before Dáil Éireann. For information, I should like to know if that is the usual procedure and that it is usual for the Seanad not to have information.

That is so in the case of a Money Bill.

There is one other point I should like to touch upon. Senator Sheehy Skeffington is my friend and colleague, but I think he has been unfair to the promoters and supporters of this Bill. I think that, in being strictly logical, he has been illogical. I will very briefly give my own opinions on that.

I do not think it will get anyone any further in this House to suggest that the motive behind the Bill is simply that of Party politics. I think the only way we can progress here is to assume that we are all working for the good of the nation, until, and if, it is plainly proved that we are not. I think it is rather a pity that such an accusation should be made on a Bill of this kind. Secondly, I think it is foolish to be over-logical in matters of this kind. It is quite true, as Senator Skeffington pointed out, that we object to foreign enterprise in developing the surface of the land, while in this Bill we are encouraging foreign enterprise in developing what lies beneath the land. I suggest that is what any of us would do in our own personal lives. In some cases, we take a certain principle and act upon it, and, in other cases, we act on a different principle.

I think this stigmatising of the Oireachtas, or the nation as a whole, for being apparently inconsistent in a matter of that kind is pressing logic too far. The situation seems to be that we believe we can develop the surface of our land fully and well by our own personal resources: we also believe that in delving beneath the surface we need help from outside. Surely it is reasonable and sensible that we should—even with the appearance of inconsistency—adopt different principles in that way. If I may say so, I think that some of us who have been at Strasburg at the Council of Europe have run into something of that kind in the debates there. We noticed that many of the continental politicians think in terms of a logical principle, a grand design, and everything must follow by strict logic from it, while, on the other side, are the statesmen and politicians who prefer to be empiricists, that is, to take each matter on its merits without being bound by any general, grand design and act upon different matters and different conditions in each case.

I think that this empirical attitude, which our Irish representatives generally adopt, is the sensible one. I think that strict logic and strict consistency in matters of this kind do more harm than good. I should like to say that I personally think the Minister is doing the best in the circumstances in this Bill. I think it will enrich the country, and I congratulate the Government on the courage they have shown in putting through a project of this kind.

I do not want to say very much on this measure. I want to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this Bill. I think it is very gratifying to find, at a time when everybody is talking about the desirability of foreign capital being brought into the country for the development of Irish industry, that one particular concrete example of it has actually come to fruit. This Bill is doing what everybody is looking for to-day. It is attracting foreign capital into the country, foreign technique and foreign "know-how" in order to develop our natural resources. The philosophy behind the Control of Manufactures Act, 1932, has been, for all practical purposes, dropped to-day. From the time it was passed in that year, it has been subjected to criticism and it has been regarded as being unduly restrictive in the development of Irish enterprise. It put up, in some people's opinion, the price of capital. I do not wish to go over the whole of that controversy now. The Act did more harm than good. That was the considered opinion of the Banking Commission Report and, on separate occasions since, the Control of Manufactures Act has been regarded as an impediment to the development of Irish industry. The whole tone nowadays has completely changed and, instead of foreign capital being regarded as something to be despised and rejected, it is now regarded by all Parties, as far as I can make out, as something to be attracted and something to be favoured.

This Bill does actually attract in foreign capital and, for that reason, I think it deserves the welcome of this House. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been touring the U.S.A. trying to attract other industrialists to invest in this country. Important delegations of Irish businessmen have been abroad trying to interest foreign investors in possibilities of investment here.

Here is one concrete proposition put before this House where foreign capital has been attracted. A very large enterprise is about to be launched to develop our natural resources—an enterprise of a kind that requires not only a large amount of capital, but also a large amount of technical knowledge and technical ability, which is not at the moment available in Ireland. Therefore, I think that to oppose this measure or criticise it on any ideological ground shows a certain lack of realisation of the state of affairs in the country.

Everybody agrees that the country is under-capitalised and that there is not enough saving or investment. To criticise a Bill of this kind which attracts in foreign capital at a time when most people are agreed that sufficient native capital is not being invested in Ireland is, I think, unrealistic, dangerous and harmful. Therefore, I think the Bill should be welcomed and should be given a Second Reading by the Seanad tonight.

I should like to give the point of view of an old Sinn Féiner about this measure. It has been opposed on two grounds. In the first place, it has been suggested that this is the wrong type of measure. The official Opposition in the other House, and here, have taken the view that, while they are in favour of this particular idea, it is not being done in the right way. The answer is simple. They had 20 years to think of a better way and they did not. They did not even think of this particular way. They did not do anything about it at all. This measure has been adopted now and they are flapping about in an endeavour to find something to say against it—and not very effectively.

The other objection comes from Senator Sheehy Skeffington. He says we should do this ourselves; in other words, that we should adopt State socialism. There is a fundamental difference between the Shannon scheme and speculative mining. The Shannon scheme was there—visible and measureable. We got it measured by foreign experts and, having got the measurements tested by other experts, we got a State scheme which is different from a State scheme for speculative mining.

Was that State socialism?

That was not. The Shannon scheme and the Avoca mines are different. That is the point. I left school about 50 years ago. Before I left school, I heard a great deal about our mineral resources from my father, who had read Sir Robert Keane's book and was very enthusiastic about Irish resources and what was generally called the Sinn Féin policy. In the past 50 years, very little has been done about that—and that period includes 34 years of native government. Nothing was done like this. It has been contended that this measure is not genuine progress; this is just in the realms of speculation, of course. The State has already paid a certain amount of money for prospecting and there have not been satisfactory results.

That is not true. There has been a satisfactory result.

There has been nothing at all in the way of a result which could give us any indication of the extent of our mineral resources. There have been no starting results. There have been no results comparable with those which we hoped for and talked about long ago in the Sinn Féin clubs when we spoke of our natural resources and of what would be done when we got native government.

Here is a completely new idea; here is an endeavour and a plan and a concrete scheme for bringing in a commercial mining company who have experience and machinery and, as Senator O'Brien said, the "knowhow" and skill. They are a hard-headed people, unlike the Sinn Féiners, who are not inspired by nationalistic ideas and who are not working on any theory. They have skill and equipment.

It is well to have ideals, all the same.

I have them still and I put them into practice, which some people did not do. These people are hard-headed. They have skill, experience and money. They will spend their own money in developing these mines. If they succeed, they will give a great deal of employment and, after a period of eight years, they will pay taxes. Therefore, not only will they benefit employment, but they will create wealth and help the State and pay taxes. If they make a profit, they will have deserved it, and they will have given us once and for all a genuine mining industry, with all the ancillary employment and manufactures which go with successful mining of that character. If they fail, they will have lost their own money, not ours, and they will, once and for all, presumably dispose of the idea that we have really exploitable resources in that place. That is a most excellent scheme. Nobody else has suggested any other.

With regard to the commercial exploitation of mines, it is obvious to anyone who has any experience of scientists that when they have something that is feasible, it is one thing— but it is quite different to bring business people on the spot and ask them if it is commercially exploitable. A scientific investigation for minerals is not the same thing as the exploitation this firm will undertake. As Senator O'Brien says, we should be very glad indeed that this dream of successive generations of Irishmen is being realised. We will certainly either have success, or we will know precisely where we stand. Therefore, I am delighted with this Bill and welcome it. I think it should be approved by the House.

It seems to me that, to some extent, Senators have been talking to-night about two very important things—State control and the extent to which foreign enterprise should be encouraged here. I feel that the actual Bill we are discussing does not directly bear on either of these two things. The Bill we are discussing is, I take it, a general Bill which would apply to all mining industry. It is an endeavour to encourage mining industry by certain tax allowances which would apply equally to a State industry or to a private enterprise. After all, even if we were dealing with a State venture, it might be well to make a provision that, in the first years of its existence, it would be relieved of part of that burden. In my view, the main subject that should be discussed to-night is whether or not it is a good thing to give encouragement to new enterprises by a relaxation of taxation in the early years. I certainly think it would be a very good thing, and I would congratulate the Minister and the Minister for Industry and Commerce for bringing forward this proposition.

Now that this beginning has been made, the same idea should be explored in other industries also. To start a new industry is a very heavy task, and, particularly in the first years, it is necessary for the industry to be able to feed itself by putting on a little fat. The Minister's idea in bringing forward this Bill is to introduce that conception into our industrial efforts, that is to say, that there is a possibility that new industries will be helped by reliefs from taxation. It seems to me to be quite confusing the issue to go off into a discussion about State enterprise, on the one hand, and bringing foreign enterprise here, on the other. As regards State enterprise, it does seem to me that, on the whole, whether by good planning or by chance, this country has been rather wise. A certain number of big projects have been adopted as State projects, and apart from that, the effort has been to encourage private enterprise. It does seem to me that that sort of mixed economy is probably a very much wiser one than to go out completely, either entirely for private enterprise or entirely for State control.

As regards allowing foreign enterprise to come here, or attracting foreign enterprise here, I certainly think it is the path of wisdom for any Irish Government to endeavour to interest in this country people abroad who have capital and knowledge. I have seen a good deal of the working of the Control of Manufactures Acts, and as far as my experience enables me to judge, the only real effect they had is to keep out of this country some people and some quite substantial industries that might have been willing to come here. We were unwise in the beginning. As I have said on a previous occasion, they were quite easy to get around, but the general effect has been considerably to slow up the expansion of this country. As long as we retain by legislation the power of control of taxation, we should be as wise as other countries are, and very glad to see people coming in to help. I should like to congratulate the Minister on this Bill.

I would like very briefly to welcome this measure. I do so because I trust it is an indication of progress to be made by the inter-Party Government in industrial expansion. We all agree on the need to create employment and to stem emigration, and, agreeing as we do on that, it is regrettable that we should be raising a hare about foreign investments. I have read criticisms lately of this Government inducing foreign investments and foreign capital, and a comparison made with the absentee landlords. Where the comparison comes in is quite beyond me. This evening in the Seanad, we have got a further objection to foreign capital being invested in this industry, and it is said that such exploitation and investment should be done by a State undertaking here. My approach to this is rather simple. I would, candidly, prefer to see the exploitation done by Irish capital, either State capital or private investment, but if it can be done or should have been done by these methods, why was it not done all along? I am driven to the conclusion that it was not possible and not practicable, and that it was necessary to exploit and expand the industry and invest in the means decided upon in this agreement and this Bill. Because of the reason that it will give badly needed employment and will create wealth here, I say that the investment is very welcome, whether it comes from Canada or elsewhere.

I have been very interested in the philosophical content of the debate here this evening. I was elected on the Commercial and Industrial Panel in the Seanad, and I do not believe that I am obliged to advocate purely private enterprise. I think the Government is right. It is particularly interesting and fascinating to see that a Labour Minister for Industry and Commerce believes that private enterprise is the best form of enterprise for a venture like mining. He is no doctrinaire. That is why he departs from some of the conceptions that have been advocated here this evening. His approach is quite correct, even if you consider the experience that has taken place in some mining ventures in this country.

In the early 40s, the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, charged with responsibility and the desire to get fuel during the war period, engaged in State enterprise in raising coal in the Slieveardagh area in County Tipperary. Money was poured into that venture, and eventually it was decided to sell out the Slieveardagh mines to a private company. The result is that about twice as much coal is being raised to-day in Slieveardagh as was being raised there before, and very recently the owner of the mine was able to give a very substantial increase in salaries and wages to everybody working there, and in every way to better their positions. It is well to see that a Labour Minister would not be tied by doctrine, that he would say he believes that private enterprise is by far the best way to work a mining venture. He has the experience of the wonderful success in the case of Slieveardagh. I only hope that he will be as successful in Avoca.

It is ridiculous to say that there were any Party considerations in a matter of this nature. The whole idea was, as Senator Hayes said, to give effect to some of the things which Irishmen have been hoping and wishing for, since the beginning of this century. I want to say here that I congratulate the Tánaiste on his foresight and enterprise and energy. It is well that we have a Minister for Industry and Commerce like him and, as a business man, I am delighted to see that he has that enterprise and energy. You want it in business and you want it in government, and you want it in every project that is going to be successful. He has given that type of leadership.

I welcome this Bill also, and I think the explanation for the method of exploiting these mines adopted in this case is that something had to be done in a hurry about our two national problems—the problem of unemployment and the problem of emigration. This area had been examined and it was considered by the experts that there was a considerable amount of copper there—a sufficient deposit to make it profitable to mine the copper and the other minerals. There were two ways open to the Government to go about this job. One was to appeal for Irish people who would invest their money in the venture.

As has been said in this debate, it is a big gamble when you go underground for minerals, and I think it will be agreed that Irish people who have money are notoriously bad gamblers in that sort of venture; and I think it will be agreed also that, from the beginning, it would be impossible to get money from them without a guarantee. Even if the State wanted to borrow money, with a State guarantee for such a venture, it is doubtful if Irish money would have been made available. But, even if it were available, the starting of the enterprise would have been delayed very considerably. It always appears to take a great deal of time before the State can get in, and, in my opinion, the big necessity at the moment is to get started on enterprises that will give a large amount of reasonably well-paid employment. Personally, I must say that I would prefer if this mine were owned by the State, if it were to be developed by the State and if it remained State property. That happens to be my philosophy in this philosophical argument that appears to be developing to-night.

What did your Party do about it?

I think that State enterprise in the country generally has proved that Irish people appear to have a particular bent for that sort of enterprise. As Senator Cogan said, when the sugar industry was started here, we were led to believe that only people from Czechoslovakia and Belgium could run the factories. They did not last very long here. They were found to be inefficient in comparison with Irish technicians, with people who had comparatively little knowledge and training in that industry. In spite of that, the industry became a completely Irish industry, and at the moment is as efficient as any industry run anywhere else, and it is being run completely by Irishmen.

There is one very good thing about this mining development, that is that, up to the present, we have had very little mining tradition. It appears from old records that, not so many years ago, there was an extensive mining tradition in Wicklow, but for some reason or other—the people who knew anything about it having died, or emigrated, or gone away in some other manner—we have very few people here now with any knowledge of it. As Senator Hayes said, if we are to develop any further minerals we have, it is imperative that we train some of our own people, and I think this Avoca mining venture might well be looked upon as a training school for future technicians. Not only that, but it will bring into this country machinery that can be used and knowledge that can be used for the further examination and testing of our deposits in places where we think they exist.

There is only one thing I am worried about. As things stand, the major benefit we will get as a nation from this venture is its employment content; and, if the development turns out to be as big a venture as we are led to believe it will, then we should have a great number of people employed in a variety of jobs. I find that, when the Shannon scheme was started, it was considered that we had to have a very large number of tradesmen coming in from Germany; when the sugar industry was started, we had to have a very considerable number of tradesmen and labourers from Czechoslovakia and Belgium; when the cement factory was started, it was considered we had to have a great number of people coming in from Scandinavia—from which particular country I forget now. If an industry starts here, we seem to have far too high a regard for the skill of the persons who come from outside and we seem to consider that our own technicians and craftsmen are not fit to take up jobs. I would appeal to the Minister to use every power he can—if he has any power—in seeing that such a thing will not happen in this case and that only the minimum of people will be imported for employment, because, if we lose the employment content of industry, or a substantial part of it, then there will be very little indeed in it for us.

I would like to add my voice to the welcome that has been accorded to this Bill and to congratulate the Ministers responsible for bringing it before the House. I cannot agree with the objection that has been taken to the introduction of foreign capital to develop our resources. I am quite satisfied, if any body of Irishmen or Irishwomen got together and raised the capital necessary to carry out the exploration of our mineral resources, they would get equal, if not more, encouragement than that which the Minister is giving to foreigners. I also welcome this Bill because it will keep a large number of people in employment and will make its contribution towards stemming the tide of emigration that is draining many parts of this country of the best of its manhood.

Mining, as we know and as has been pointed out, is a very risky proposition. It is a bit of a gamble, and when we find that there are foreigners—I do not care who they are—who are prepared to gamble £2,000,000 on the exploration of this mine in Avoca, I do not see why we should not give them every encouragement. In encouraging them to carry on exploration there, we are helping to get some value for Irish money that has already been put into such development. State grants were made available at other times for the same purpose, but the State could not afford to carry on that way. Now that we have foreigners prepared to come into this country and to explore our mineral resources, I do not see why we should not give them every encouragement.

As Senator Hayes has pointed out, it will satisfy some of us of the old Sinn Féin school as to whether there was anything in the theory we were led to believe in, that this country was very rich in minerals, but, because of our nearness and subjection to a country rich in coal and iron, we were kept under the heel. This will be an experiment at least to satisfy us as to whether any useful purpose can be served by looking under the ground for wealth—wealth of a kind of which we have not found much so far.

I am grateful, indeed, to those Senators who indicated their appreciation of the principles enshrined in this Bill and of its general provisions. We had a discussion for the last couple of hours or so that roamed over some aspects that were not included in this Bill, and some that were. There was, if you like, to some extent, a philosophical argument, or partly so as to whether it was more desirable to have this type of activity carried out by private enterprise or by the State. I think one of the last speakers who spoke, Senator Bergin, gave the answer to that himself, although he went on to say that he did not altogether agree. The mining of non-bedded minerals is a very big gamble. The gamble may come off; it may not. But the mining of non-bedded minerals, in any event, means that a great deal of money has to be laid out on the chance and on the speculation that the enterprise may be a success. I do not think that gambling and speculation of that sort is a proper job for State enterprise, and I think that was not merely the reason why we in this Government did not wish this enterprise carried out by the State. I think it was also the reason why the former Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, took the same view. It is inevitable in dealing with State money through a State board or company that there must be a more conservative and cautious approach to the expenditure of that money than there would be in the case of people dealing with their own funds, or the funds of their own company. That, I think, is the prime reason which, in my view, would render this a completely undesirable thing for operation by a State company.

Some of the Senators who have spoken have dealt at length with Avoca and to some extent discussed in this House, as was done in the other House, the position at Avoca rather than the Bill. Noticeable amongst those were Senator Cogan and Senator Sheehy Skeffington who spoke on the Wicklow project in a manner which I could only describe as "counting the chickens before they were hatched".

Let us be clear about this and about what has happened so far. Mianraí Teoranta in their work found that there was a certain amount—12,000,000 tons—of copper ore there of very low grade compared with many of the copper mines throughout the world, but Mianraí did not complete the exploration work necessary for anyone to be able to come in there and find a commercial proposition. The proof of that is that one of the fundamental terms of the agreement is that the Canadian company are bound first, to expend a further 500,000 dollars, roughly about £180,000, on further exploration work and if that does not have results, they will have to spend beyond that up to £450,000 on still further exploration work. That means, in fact, that we still have a long way to go in exploration work before it is proved that the mines are capable of commercial development.

Taken generally, it means that it is necessary for someone to expend money on further exploration work roughly to the equivalent of what has already been expended. That shows that the enterprise is far from being a cast-iron certainty. At the end of that exploration work, it may be found that it is not an economic proposition, or, rather, that it is not possible to proceed, and that, in turn, of course is dependent to a large extent on what will be the world price of copper. On the results of that will depend whether it is possible to bring the Avoca mines into commercial production.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington stated that everybody knew that copper is going to be increasingly expensive in the next 20 years. If he is right, he could make himself at least two fortunes at the present time and those interested in copper could make many fortunes at present, but the metal market is not as certain as Senator Sheehy Skeffington believes. There are without question two views on what the price of copper is likely to be 12 months from now. Expert opinion is divided on that. It is not for me to come down on one side or the other as to what the prospects of the market are, nor do I think it proper for me to make any comments in respect of the possible profits that were enumerated by Senator Sheehy Skeffington. I must be quite fair to Deputy Lemass. Senator Skeffington was mistaken when he said that Deputy Lemass gave certain figures as his estimates of the profits. He said nothing of the sort in the other House, but he was merely quoting some sales promotion made by other people, and the Deputy made it quite clear that, in expressing those views, he was giving them not as his own opinion but as from another source.

The figures were not controverted.

I have no intention of making any statement one way or another on these profits, but the shares of this particular company are quoted on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and if I were to make any suggestion that the possible profits that the vendors of these shares had suggested were correct, on the one hand, or incorrect, on the other, I would be giving a personal opinion, but a personal opinion which would have a very big bearing perhaps on the operations in these shares on that Stock Exchange. I think it would be entirely improper for me to do so.

What is the value of these shares to-day?

It would be entirely improper for me to do so.

I do not intend to do so for this reason. Amongst others, anyone in this country who wishes to buy shares of that nature is entitled to get capital dollars for the purpose. The term capital dollars is a term used in exchange control. If I were to give any opinion favourable, I might perhaps be inducing our own people to go into an enterprise that must be considered purely speculative. Equally, if I were to offer a non-favourable opinion, I could, with fairness, be accused by the promoters of saying something that was going to prejudice the prospects of the development and the hope which we all have for it.

Senator Cogan started off along a lane and I am rather tempted to follow him down but I will resist the temptation. I will not follow him into the reasons for the 1948 decision by my predecessor, Deputy McGilligan, in relation to the temporary stoppage of work at Avoca. Sufficient to say that if my predecessor, Deputy McGilligan, had not had the foresight to ensure by his decision at that time that the royalties in relation to these minerals would be vested in the State, and not in certain individuals, I doubt if these royalties could have been reserved to the Irish people in this lease. It seems to be extraordinary that there could be any suggestion of expending State money in the exploration of minerals belonging to somebody else. Deputy McGilligan, as Minister for Finance, took steps to ensure that the ownership of the minerals would be vested in the Irish people, and it was because of that step that he, very properly, took at that time that we now have the royalties in this lease being paid to the State, if the operation is the success that I know that everybody on both sides of the House would wish.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington has asked whether we have made any arrangement in respect of smelting the concentrates here. You cannot operate smelting economically, except on a large-scale basis.

My question was not that we should smelt, but that we should buy on favourable terms the concentrate and have it smelted, perhaps in Britain, on a drawback basis.

If the Senator had not been quite so touchy, he would have heard what I was going to say in a minute. It would be utterly impossible to produce any type of smelting that would be economic in Ireland for the concentrates produced in Avoca.

We have made in this agreement, as I outlined in the other House, an arrangement by which we can get back 50 per cent. of the refined copper from Canada, and I have no doubt whatsoever that that would, and will be, a better proposition—getting it back in that way—than that we would have any right, as the Senator suggests, to take the concentrate and use a different method of delivery to another smelter somewhere else. Obviously, in smelting, the real advantage is to be able to get economic costs as low as possible by the largest scale production.

Surely the transport both ways to Britain would be cheaper than to Canada.

There are cases where that does not operate, Senator, and, even apart from that, I do not know, and I do not know whether Senator Skeffington knows, what smelting excess capacity there is in Britain waiting for the pleasure of receiving concentrates from here. There is, I know, a smelter in Sweden that might, perhaps, be available. I use the word "perhaps" quite deliberately, because anybody who is operating the enormously expensive plant that smelting entails must, if he is to get back his money on that plant, keep it going to maximum production. It stands to reason, therefore, that the person who has sunk so much money in a smelter will have, in making his arrangements for raw materials for that smelter, so made them that he will have no spare vacancy to take in other concentrates. If his smelter is not running full time, it is not going to be an economic proposition for him. If his smelter is running full time then it is going to be a more economic proposition for him and the purchaser is going to get the benefit of the economic factors that are inevitable and desirable and realistic in large-scale working.

Surely that possibility should be examined?

We cannot have a debate by cross-examination.

The Senator rather accepts that nobody else on any subject has ever thought of anything except himself.

The Minister has just said he did not know.

The Senator has had an opportunity of making his statement and must permit the Minister for Finance to finish his speech.

I know quite clearly this, that there is only one way of running smelting economically and that is to ensure that the capacity of the smelter is used to the maximum; that only in that way can one get the metal produced at an economic cost. I know that any smelting concern which knows its business must operate on the basis of being able to ensure that it will be kept working at full capacity.

The arrangements in this case are that we can get on terms that I believe are realistic up to 50 per cent., if we want it. We are not bound to take it —we have the option to decide whether we want to take it or not—but if we want to take it, we can take up to 50 per cent. of the refined copper that comes out of the rock in Avoca. I believe that is a far better proposition inevitably because it means certainty of supply.

Before I leave Senator Sheehy Skeffington, he suggested that the Minister for Agriculture objects to foreigners in agriculture and that we welcomed them in relation to this. The difference between Senator Sheehy Skeffington, on the one hand, and the Minister for Agriculture and myself, on the other hand, is that we like foreigners mining minerals, but we do not like them mining our agricultural land. That is the simple difference.

Senator Cogan suggested that there was a danger under the provisions in this Bill—and I think Senator Kissane touched on it briefly—that the people concerned in any non-bedded mining enterprise—I do not think he was referring to Avoca alone—would, by reason of the tax concessions, come in, do the job quickly, and skip away again. The whole reason for non-bedded minerals being treated in a different way from bedded minerals and other industrial concerns is that they need the establishment of machinery and plant fixtures of such a nature as entail very heavy capital expenditure in the beginning.

The big expense in this case is, of course, the building of the concentrator, which will cost £1,000,000, and possibly somewhat more. Obviously, once that has been built there at the pit-head, it is going to be in the interests of anyone owning that concern to ensure that the concentrator in which his money has been sunk will be utilised to the fullest possible degree, because if it is not utilised to the fullest possible degree he will not get back his money. That would also be the position in respect of non-bedded minerals in places other than Avoca and I suggest that anybody who reflects on that will agree that the real essential, if we are to get these minerals extracted, is to entice the capital to set up the heavy costly plant and machinery of the size necessary to do the job. Once that is there, the inducement to go ahead is there and will flow from that.

So far as the Bill itself is concerned, Senator Cox by his statement tried, I think, to lead me in a direction which I am most certainly not going to travel. The Senator suggested that this was a good idea and that I should consider it in relation to other industries. Let me be quite clear in regard to this Bill. I have introduced it in relation to the mining of non-bedded minerals, because I believed that, in relation to those minerals, special taxation provisions were justified. I quoted in the other House the various countries throughout the world where that view was also prevalent. I think it is a good view and one on which I propose to stand. In regard to the other industries we must remember that there is the possibility of ordinary industry being given protective tariffs to nurse it over its teething troubles. There is no such possibility in a mining industry such as is covered by this Bill.

Senator Kissane asked me to explain in slightly more detail the meaning of Section 11 and the manner in which it will apply to existing enterprises. In respect of any existing enterprise, the Bill has no effect before the 5th April next. In respect of any such enterprise it starts its currency as from the 6th April next, which is the first day of the next income-tax year. I am not for the moment speaking of new mining operations, but where we are dealing with existing mining operations, Section 11 provides that we can go back to the day upon which they last permanently commenced mining. Any part of the period of eight years that still has to run as from the 6th April next will be available for those existing enterprises to obtain relief under this Bill.

The enterprises themselves, when they saw me, agreed with my view that it would be unrealistic that they should ask me for any retrospective effect to this legislation. What I have done in the Bill is to provide that in so far as these future years are concerned they would get any benefit still to come just the same as if the concession had been operating at the time they commenced permanent business.

In relation to a stoppage, the essential thing to consider is whether any stoppage was a mere temporary cessation or a permanent discontinuance. If A company started permanently in 1942 and stopped temporarily—I am purposely naming years that have no reference to any particular company—for a year from 1950 to 1951 and resumed after that, then that company's period for consideration under this legislation starts in 1942. The period has expired, and accordingly, there is no relief.

If company B started in 1942 and permanently discontinued its business in 1950, then having permanently discontinued in 1950, restarted in 1952, in that case 1952 will be the operative date which is considered for the purposes of computing the eight year period under this Bill. In fact, I have provided in the Bill that the fact as to whether it is temporary cessation or permanent discontinuance is governed by the ordinary income-tax code. That means that it would be determined, first of all, between the taxpayer and the Revenue Commissioners. If they cannot agree, it will go to the Special Commissioners of income-tax and if they cannot agree whether it is temporary cessation or permanent discontinuance, it will go on to the courts. I did not think it was a proper thing that I should take on myself or leave to Revenue the determination of whether a stoppage was temporary cessation or permanent discontinuance.

Would there be no concession in the case where the eight year period of operation expired?

If the company had permanently commenced in or prior to the 6th April, 1948, then it does not come in under Section 11. Indeed, I think that none of the existing companies felt I should go back on that. They accepted the point of view that what had happened in earlier years was not my fault and that it would be utterly impossible, as a principle in tax legislation, to go back over the tax position as it was in previous years. Whether it is temporary cessation or permanent discontinuance must always be a matter of fact for determination in the courts, in the last analysis.

We had also some discussion about foreign capital. I do not propose on this Bill to enter into that discussion in a very full way, except to say that all of us, no matter on what side of the House we are, would prefer, when something was to be developed and was to be developed as a success, that it would be developed by Irish capital, if Irish capital were available. There is, unfortunately, not very much tradition in relation to mining enterprises undertaken by Irish capital. One of the good things that I think may transpire as a result of this Bill and of the Avoca lease is that our people may become more mining conscious and that we may see more interest in mining operations than there has been for many a year.

Both sides of the House will agree that there has been much more mention of Irish minerals, such as they may be, in the past six months than there was for many a year before. If, on the other hand, we cannot get Irish capital to go into any industry, be it mining or anything else, then the Tánaiste, the Government and I take the view that it is infinitely better that we should get foreign capital, if it is available, and willing to do the job, rather than that we should leave the job undone or the copper still in the ground in County Wicklow. It is much better to get the work done. If our own people have not got the technical "know-how" and have not got the facilities, have not even got the capital or the desire to expend the capital on that type of work, then I think on all sides of the House we would prefer that foreign capital should do the job rather than that it should not be done at all. On that basis—even though there are other reasons—I think we must all welcome the efforts the Tánaiste has been making to get people interested in exploiting and in developing our mineral possibilities here in Ireland.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 14th March, 1956.