Air Navigation and Transport (No. 2) Bill, 1959—Second Stage (Resumed) and Subsequent Stages.

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

I do not propose to add very much to the few remarks I made last week on this Bill except perhaps to point out at the outset the rather difficult position in which we Independents find ourselves. If we join the band wagon and chorus everything the Government do we are great fellows and are classed as Independents. On the other hand, if we make constructive criticism or query some of the money-spending, we are met with personal abuse. I should like Senators to realise our position in this matter, to realise it would be far easier for us to chorus everything rather than show the moral courage I hope we are showing in speaking our minds when the occasion arises.

I note from the Minister's statement in regard to the finances supposed to come from the jet aircraft that there is to be a loss of £800,000 in the first year of service and £200,000 in the second. The Government are relieved that the loss is not greater. I do not grumble at those figures but I want at all times to keep on setting them opposite the approach we have both to education and agriculture. In either of those spheres a matter of £800,000 is considered a big amount, but when we come to jet aircraft we take off in our sputniks and the sky is the limit.

Even taking those figures, I should like to ask the Minister to state whether the estimates upon which they were based assume that the present rate of air fares across the Atlantic will continue. Obviously, that will not be the case. You cannot have the situation where it costs twice as much per mile to fly the Atlantic as it costs to fly the continent of the United States. If that is the situation, then I think the major air companies must have a gold mine in the Atlantic route if they can keep flying their internal routes in the United States at half the cost. With a drop to almost half the present fares, what will be the effect on the returns from our jet venture? How much more than the estimated losses will arise due to that?

I find it very hard to see from the number of passengers given why we need three planes. Presumably, at most one service a day, both ways, is sufficient. I understand jet aircraft can travel in six hours from New York to Shannon. Therefore there should be no difficulty whatever in the same plane doing a round trip each day. In fact, I understand from those intimately connected with the aircraft industry that the real objection to jets is that the depreciation is so heavy that they have to be kept flying. Every minute they are on the ground they are, as it were, losing money. Consequently, I feel that one service a day would be more than ample to show the flag.

One plane as a stand-by is reasonable, but where does the third come in? Shall we have two standing-by? In the Dáil the Taoiseach estimated that by 1965 Aerlínte would carry some 53,000 passengers across the Atlantic. When you consider that a jet is capable of taking 140 passengers, that means that one jet will take 200 passengers a week and that we shall be operating our jet fleet at one-sixth of its capacity. I cannot see for a moment how we can hope to make a financial success if we are operating at one-sixth of the capacity. I know we have to lay up aircraft over long periods, but the point I am making is if we have to keep one as a stand-by or, as it appears to me, two, that is a crippling burden from the beginning.

Take a big airline like Pan-American or T.W.A. With those, I take it, one spare to every seven or eight operating aircraft would be the order of the service. The only hope I can see of making a success of our airline—and as we are in it we all certainly hope to make a success of it—is, first of all, to use our position here and our negotiating power to get into some air pool as quickly as possible. With our three jets, we may be able to get into some air pool. I think an air link with our friends across the channel would be the most profitable we could have, if that could be arranged or, alternatively, one with an American company.

The organisation of cargo space in those aircraft should be developed considerably, especially for our freight trade. A step in the right direction would be to extend the special privileges given to Shannon—25 years remission from duties and so on—to at least a 60 or 80 mile radius of Shannon to take in the cities of Galway, Ennis, Limerick and Tralee at least. Our problem is to put people into employment in those regions and there is no reason or necessity why we should face the task of erecting a city at Shannon. At present we have the workers going to and fro in buses. It would be much more suitable for our airline to locate industry in the centres of population. You would be doing the same job by keeping people working in Limerick, Ennis and so on.

A very good suggestion was made in the Dáil that the large airlines cannot afford to dispense with Shannon. Even in the jet air age it would be an important alternative port on the Atlantic. I wonder would it be possible that the landing fees could take into account the frequency of use? If an airline only uses Shannon as an emergency centre the fee should be far higher than for airlines with scheduled stops at Shannon.

We are not being pessimistic or defeatist about this airline, but we have to go into it with our eyes wide open and to realise we have about as much possibility of making money out of it as we have out of C.I.E. Yet both are necessary—at least C.I.E. is necessary, and perhaps the modern air age may call for the other. As far as I know neither Denmark nor Norway has transatlantic air services or contemplates a transatlantic jet service.

I think we should link all this up intimately with the tourist trade. Any empty space on a plane of ours crossing the Atlantic will be so much waste. It seems to me that, even if that space were to be filled by tourists thumbing lifts across the Atlantic, our economy would be all the better for it from the point of view of the dollars they would spend here. We should not let the intricacies of international air agreements stand in our way when it comes to utilising this jet service to its fullest extent. From that point of view subventions given to the tourist trade, or any of the other out-of-season enticements, are really a type of subsidy to our jet services. The money will pass from one State pocket into another and, therefore, the aim should be to keep the planes as full as possible.

I believe it is a mistake not to keep tourism and air travel under the one control. They are complementary and I should feel much better about this whole project had the two been put under the aegis of the one Department. The time has passed for that now but there may be a possibility of the Government reviewing the position sometime in the future and, when that time comes, I trust that tourism will be transferred to the care of this new Department. If that is done, we shall be able to develop the two together and possibly make a success of both.

I have the utmost confidence in the staffs of Aer Lingus and the subsidiary companies. They are manned by young men, enthusiastic young men, eager and anxious to do a good job for this country. They would be the first to agree with the criticisms that have been voiced here. The fact that we voice these criticisms does not mean that we are against the service. It simply means that we are worried because the pool of capital available to us for development is extremely limited. Many sources are pulling out of it. We have not had an opportunity of viewing the whole programme and seeing whither we are going and whether or not we may run short of capital for other services.

As I have said, time and time again, we are desperately short of capital for agriculture. I am in favour of expansion of and investment in air lines, and so forth, if that expansion and investment are not at the expense of agriculture. That is my worry. However, I have faith in the men who man Aer Lingus. If any group are capable of making a success of this new jet air line in face of all the obstacles in its way, then they are the people who man Aer Lingus at present. When this Bill passes into law I hope we shall all join in doing what little we can to make this service a success.

I am very glad the present Minister has taken over the office armchair in this new Department, now that this development is taking place. I wish to pay tribute to the Minister. He has left his mark on every Department with which he has been associated. It is a happy augury that he should be put in charge of this considerable development and investment which the Irish people are now being asked to make. The investment is a big one. From that point of view it calls for most critical examination and consideration by Parliament. It is the kind of project that should not be launched by the type of speech made by the Leader of the House here last week. That type of "cheer leading" is unnecessary.

The Leader of the House devoted most of his speech to attacking the Party to which I have the honour to belong. I do not think he yet understands—this is something that members of the Government Party as a whole do not yet understand— that the Party to which I belong is by nature critical. The members of my Party are critical people. They are not "Yes-men". Senator Mullins described us last week as "Yes, but" men. I think that is an excellent title. It is one I am glad to own. I am a "Yes, but" man. Most people when they come to maturity are, by nature, because of the wisdom they have acquired through the years, inclined to add "but" after the "Yes". It is the function of this House to apply that kind of "Yes, but" reaction to every proposal brought before it. I believe that, in time, the Government will come to understand that when they move from the adolescent state which they have recently displayed here. The sooner they do that the sooner will good work in this House be done.

This is a major investment by a very small people. At first sight, it appears to be a necessary investment because of our large airport investment generally. I am in favour of this. The Taoiseach said in the Dáil that he thought it would benefit Shannon. I hope that view will be borne out by time. There is another point of view, too. The Taoiseach claims that Aerlinte competition will bring the other lines in here. If we do not provide this service there is a danger other lines might pick up our passengers, overfly Shannon and drop them in London or elsewhere. I am not too sure about that. If the figures are broken down it may be found that the success of Aerlinte will be at the expense of other lines. Every passenger we carry will be a passenger lost to them. If, out of ten passengers, Aerlinte carry eight, will TWA be content to touch down at Shannon with two passengers? I trust these matters will be examined most critically. If we take too big a percentage, shall we leave too little for the others? Shall we lose their touching down altogether? Even if Aerlinte profits in the long run, is there a danger that Shannon may lose ultimately? I hope these matters have been examined home relentlessly. Has the risk been fully calculated? If our airport investment is to prosper we must get every possible touch down.

Doing our very best, we can have only a small fleet. That is obvious. Perhaps Senator Quinlan went a bit too far when he said we could do the whole job in a day, there and back. Three planes are the very minimum. It must be remembered, however, that from the middle of the last century small sea-going fleets failed to survive. They were taken over by the big men.

Freight wars were fought. Is there a danger that we may, first of all, discourage the larger fleets if we take too many passengers from them? If the price ring breaks down, as I think it will inevitably, we may find ourselves driven out by the fierceness of the competition that will result. We may have to face that. Are we prepared to pay the price of that kind of war?

I want this project to be a success, because of pride and prestige as well as profit. I also want to make certain that our terminals, particularly Shannon, remain solvent. I have no doubt whatever about our ability to acquire the technical knowledge necessary for this work. I believe our young men are quite capable in that regard, but I should like to ask the Minister one question. Is there substantial agreement between four or five men whom I regard as being preeminent in their own field, men like Dempsey, O'Regan, Lynch and O'Driscoll? Do they think that this development is the proper one, is a good development, and a development likely to ensure the success of this line itself, and the continuing success of our airports?

I certainly want this scheme to be successful but I do not fully accept the Taoiseach's thesis, or claim, that this development will ensure that the other major lines, T.W.A., P.A.A., B.O.A.C. and K.L.M. will continue to land there. I think the Irish line will tend to take enough business from them to stop them landing there unless there is an enormous expansion in the air-mindedness of tourists. I have no doubt that it is possible to make this line pay. I believe that, but I hold that the launching of the service should be extremely skilfully publicised in America. Some of us are aware of the intelligent and long term advertising publicity now being carried out for Irish whiskey in the United States, a campaign which I believe will bring real results over a long time—not immediate results, but results that will be lasting. That is a good job of work and I think it is most important that we do something like that in regard to this air service. Let it be handled by the highly-skilled professionals in America and let it be an appeal to the American market.

It is my belief that we should play up the reliability of the Irish. I have always thought that other reputation we have, of not being reliable, is a bit ridiculous and fantastic. We have demonstrated our reliability and, on the whole, the character of our people is excellent. When we have a good job to do we do it well, and I believe we could demonstrate our reliability, as we have done in Aer Lingus. When I come to that, why do we not call this line Aer Lingus? What is the point in calling it Aerlinte? There are not many Fáinní in the Bronx or in Philadelphia, but Aer Lingus has now become accepted as an emblem of reliability and has a good record. I think we should scrap the name Aerlinte and should use the one name for all our services as the Dutch use K.L.M. for internal flights, Continental flights, and trans-world flights. We have a good name so why not use it? What is the point in using Aerlinte? I do not know and I hope the Minister will reply to that query.

There are a number of minor things connected with the service that I hope will be extremely well done. For instance, the hostesses should be the best available. I should like to make a point about the new Aer Lingus uniform cap. It is a sloppy, horrible thing, as those who have seen it know. I think it should be discarded and the old one returned to favour. I do not know if many Senators have seen the new cap, but it is something like a boy scout's cap, after it has been exposed to rain. We also ought to get away from the cheeseparing idea that those who seek bargain tourist flights can be served with anything. We should do what the French do and make sure that the table put before passengers is a full and proper one. I also believe that we should get Irish artists to execute the interior decoration of our planes.

All these little things could have a most remarkable effect on a small organisation just being established. If they are a success, and we can substantiate our claim to provide a different kind of holiday in this country, we shall get passengers for this line and our other line. Such things would be a help to development but, on the whole, I think there must be a considerable risk. It is a big bet but I hope it comes off and I certainly wish the enterprise well.

I have listened attentively to the speeches made from the other side and anything more doleful I have never heard. They remind me very much of an old story I once heard about two old bachelors who were arguing between themselves as to who should take the plunge first. Eventually the weight of argument was against the younger man, that he should take the necessary plunge, and his only objection was that he was afraid the cross wall in the kitchen would fall and kill the child. We have a similar attitude from the doleful prophets who have spoken from the other side of the House about this new Aerlinte service.

Every argument they have put forward could well have been used when Irish Shipping, Limited was being established. Irish Shipping had to meet international competition. All the same objections being raised now, were raised at that time, and yet that shipping company has been a tremendous success and has saved us from starvation in one very critical period.

It is argued, of course, that these jet planes will have to be replaced. The same argument could have been used then against the ships which had to be purchased at that time. No word of praise has been given to Irish airmen who have won international fame, a fact of which every Irish man and woman should feel proud. Safety of travel by Irish planes is in itself our biggest drawing card and is one reason I am confident that this new venture will be a success.

We have seen in recent reports by Aer Lingus that they have shown a remarkable profit this year. They did not show a profit for the first few years. No business of the kind could be expected to show a profit in the early stages of its development. It is a sad day when Irishmen do all in their power to throw cold water on a project of this kind. Some of the speakers have showered faint praise on the personnel and those in charge of this enterprise. It is well that they have that confidence in them because our air personnel deserve the gratitude of the Irish people. What struck me most is that there seems to be a concentrated attack upon Shannon. Whatever Shannon has done to the Opposition, it is clear that they seem to be particularly anxious—at least some of them—that these super-jets should over-fly Shannon, and that they should transfer their attentions to Dublin.

Other speakers have said that the industries about to be established at Shannon should be transferred 50, 60 or 80 miles away from there, forgetful of the fact that their products would have to be transported by road and thus add to the cost. Whatever hope of success there would be in establishing them at Shannon, if they are overburdened by heavy transport charges, such charges would militate against their success.

I should like to point out that at the present time there are 1,800 people employed at Shannon. It is strange to see some of their spokesmen there, some of the friends of the Opposition, using the very same argument, even against their own welfare. That is what makes me suspicious that there is a kind of concerted action on the part of the Opposition to try to destroy Shannon for some reason I cannot fathom. As well as giving employment to 1,800—possibly that figure will increase as the years go by—I should like to point out that, unlike the works at Ardnacrusha which were established in the 20's and which are not making one-halfpenny contribution to the Clare rates—Clare is subsidising that huge industry— Shannon Airport contributes £2,000 or possibly £3,000 to the rates. I have never understood the differential as between the two. If it is right for one to pay rates, surely it is right that the other should do so also.

I cannot understand the mentality of those who wish to see Shannon Airport abolished. Incidentally, the first act of the Coalition Government was to sell the Constellations. If that had not been done then we would now, after 10 years, be in a strong position to fight the competition with which we are threatened. We are told that no single airline can face the tremendous competition of the larger companies. It should be pointed out that the oil companies have to face similar competition and it cannot be argued that they are working for nothing. I have the utmost confidence that this new enterprise will be as successful as Aer Lingus has been and that, for reasons of safety, it will commend itself not merely to the Irish people, in America and at home, but to all travellers who have regard to safety in travel and who wish, all other things being equal, to travel by the safest route.

I do not think there is anything further I wish to say on this Bill but I could not allow all the arguments put forward in favour of what seems to me to be the closing down of Shannon to go unanswered. What harm is it doing? The fact is that it is giving employment in a district which was once a marsh and which is now probably one of the foremost air centres in the world. The mere fact of having an Irish service there will tend to compel the other companies to use Shannon rather than by-pass it. Recently, as many as 90 lives would probably have been lost but for the fact that Shannon was there to receive a plane which was in trouble. If for no other reason, even if we failed, I believe that the international companies would have to step in and keep Shannon going

I do not propose to detain the House very long because, quite frankly, I doubt my competence to assess the potentialities of this venture. The ordinary man in the street and we in this House, are entitled at least to query the wisdom or otherwise of the Government putting so much money into such a venture in present circumstances. I do not think that in expressing a view of that kind, or in putting such a question to the House, it is right, fair or proper that our motives should be questioned, as they have been, by the opposite side of the House. We should be credited with having as much interest in the country as Senators on the opposite benches.

I personally have had the experience of being flown across the Atlantic recently by Aerlinte. The point I want to make is that I would welcome any venture which would be an improvement of some kind on the present arrangement that Aerlinte apparently has with one of the big American companies. I honestly believe that the sooner we get out of any commitments we have, or out of our present arrangements, the better it will be for the country as a whole. I say that, because of the experience I have had of flying the Atlantic on what is called an economy ticket issued by Aerlinte.

I was in New York last December and as I was anxious to get home for Christmas I booked with Aerlinte on an economy flight to Shannon. I arrived at New York Airport in good time and I found myself sitting in the plane for an hour and a half without any attempt being made on the part of anybody concerned to tell us why we were being delayed. I asked one of the officials for an explanation and the explanation I got was that they were expecting some passengers from one of the lines further afield and, on that account, could not leave. I asked would it not have been possible for the Company to have informed the waiting passengers. I pointed out that I, personally, had had no meal since breakfast that morning and that I would have had the time and the opportunity to have had a substantial meal in comfort before the plane left if I had been informed of the delay. That was at approximately 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

At 2.30 p.m. roughly we left New York, and at 3.30 p.m. or 4 p.m. we got to Boston. We were told in Boston that there would be a delay of 20 minutes, that we were not to leave the precincts of the airport, and that we were just permitted to step out of the plane. We hung around waiting for another hour and a half. I was humiliated to hear my fellow passengers criticising our airline. I looked around in an endeavour to find someone wearing the familiar green uniform but could find no one. When I inquired where the Aerlinte information desk or reception desk was located, I was informed that they shared a desk with another airline. After a delay of an hour and a half the plane left for Europe and we landed at Shannon three and a half hours late. The point is that on our way across we must have been sitting in that plane from approximately 1.30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon until we landed on Sunday morning at approximately 10.30 a.m. and in that time nobody that I could see got anything like a substantial meal. The best we could get was a cup of coffee and a very forlorn-looking sandwich. I think that is the best way to describe the sandwich.

I do not think that sort of service will be of any benefit to Aerlinte and for that reason I welcome this Bill. In fact I would welcome any attempt to get our native airline out of its present position. As I said, I had the experience of hearing the remarks of the people around me, some of them Irish Americans, not returning to this country for the last time as I was, but probably coming on a visit. I had the humiliation of hearing criticism of our service which was quite unjustified, but nevertheless it was hard to blame them. That is something which Aerlinte should try to avoid in future and the company would be well advised to rid itself completely of any commitment of that type with the international body. I urge them to look at that aspect of the matter before the Bill goes through.

On any other score, like every other thinking member of this House, I welcome the Bill. I have great confidence that the venture itself will not only pay financially, but that it will lay the foundation of a permanent service across the Atlantic from this country which will operate competitively, as do our services to centres in Europe. I want to add my word of confidence in the line. I hope to see it make the grade. I do not want to make the point that I think Aerlinte must improve the present services if they are to make that grade. From inquiries I made last year I am satisfied that the blame cannot squarely be laid at the door of Aerlinte. Because the line is bound to international commitments, these things can happen. Perhaps they are happening on other lines too but, whereas the other lines can perhaps afford to offer services of that kind, obviously we cannot. I urge the Minister to have that aspect of the matter attended to before this question is finally concluded.

Many speakers have welcomed the Minister to this House in his present capacity. They then continued on a rather forlorn and doubtful tone about the measure and did not display much enthusiasm. That being so, while I had intended to welcome the Minister and wish him success, I wonder if I should associate myself with that welcome because, being human, he cannot but have noticed the way it was expressed. However, if he is inclined to accept it, I welcome him in his present capacity.

The last speaker stated that Senators opposite were quite entitled to express doubts in regard to this measure. Nobody on this side of the House suggested they are not so entitled.

What about Senator O'Grady?

What about Senator Ó Maoláin and Senator O'Grady?

Surely we are entitled to criticise people's, statements? I know that the views expressed by Senator Crowley were expressed in good faith. I do not want to be interpreted as criticising Senator Crowley because other speakers have evinced less enthusiasm for this measure than he. Members opposite are entitled to express doubts about a measure but surely we are entitled to criticise those expressions of opinion if we feel that such opinions will do damage and are not constructive?

We feel that doubt, fear, lack of enthusiasm and lack of initiative forced a Government into a position in which they could not make up their minds about this very question. As a result, planes were sold because no organisation was set up to deal with the situation. That mentality was responsible for the fact that the most modern planes of their type at that time were sold about 11 years ago when we could have established a very important connection in transatlantic air services. I am not saying that these doubts and fears were the result of malice because I do not believe that such was the case. The fact is that certain people were afraid of failure. Apparently they had not sufficient moral courage to face the risk. No business yet was successful without experiencing at first some element of failure; any businessman will tell you that that is true. Everything will not be immediately successful in running a competitive business. Surely that must be realised? Nothing tends to make failure more certain than the expression of doubts and fears when there is no reasonable ground for them.

I do not think the people who were forced to take the decision in regard to the sale of certain of our planes 11 years ago were actuated by malice. I am quite convinced it was because of lack of courage and the continuous expression of doubts and fears for the future. Surely we must all realise that if we had entered the field of transatlantic air travel at that time we would have been able to build up a very valuable connection? We were starting off with planes of the most modern type and design. They would have been commercially successful over a period. In time they would have paid back the capital invested in them with interest, and they would have made enough money to make the service a financial success.

We are starting this service again. I have strong faith in the venture and hope for the success which experts in this matter predict. Because of the favourable opinions of experts, the Government have now taken this decision. Again, we are starting with the most modern type of aircraft at present available. That is a great advantage at a time when the growth of air travel is so abnormal that even companies operating jet aircraft have still to maintain the piston type of aircraft. I strongly object to half-hearted support and talk about a shortage of capital because it is very dangerous. Senator Quinlan referred to a shortage of capital. He is worried, moryah——

——that the agricultural industry will suffer from a shortage of capital. The Taoiseach has said that no worthwhile enterprise will be put in abeyance for want of capital. Surely it was a bold step forward to subsidise artificial fertilisers?

Section B of the Land Rehabilitation Scheme.

Section B of the Land Rehabilitation Scheme does not arise on this Bill.

When I want help in making my speech I shall ask my colleagues on the opposite side of the House to help me. At times, they can be very helpful especially when one pauses to find the right word. When Senator L'Estrange interrupts me, he gives me time to find the very word I am seeking. The Taoiseach said that no worthwhile enterprise would be held up for want of capital. Speaking obviously for the Labour Party, Deputy Corish in the Dáil expressed "buts" and doubts. Again, some people here say that the risk is too great and that the money should be devoted to some worthwhile capital undertaking. Nobody arguing that point of view has indicated to what other capital undertaking this money should be devoted, assuming there is a lack of capital for any worthwhile undertaking which there is not.

I was rather amused at the point made by Senator Barry. Apparently he is afraid that the undertaking will not be so successful, that Aerlinte will have so many passengers to Shannon Airport, that no other company will be able to get traffic and therefore will not use Shannon Airport. I gather from that that Senator Barry was more interested in the successful operation of Shannon Airport than in the possible success of this undertaking. If Aerlinte are so successful in their undertaking and the traffic grows to such proportions that no other company will be able to get the traffic, that would be a very satisfactory situation. However, air travel is growing at such a rate that most companies are not short of traffic and I think that tendency will continue.

If we are to accept the argument of Senator Barry, the landing fees of Aerlínte alone could be sufficient and more than sufficient to maintain the operation of Shannon Airport. But human nature being what it is I am quite sure that other companies will use Shannon Airport, because not all the people wanting to come to Ireland will use the Aerlínte service. Some people will prefer to come by other lines and hence other airlines will use Shannon Airport. Competition in the flying of aircraft into Shannon Airport is the best way to ensure the continued operation of the airport because if Aerlínte is operating through Shannon Airport other companies will be compelled because of competition to use the airport. Nevertheless I do hope Senator Barry's dream will be realised, that Aerlínte will be so successful that other companies will not get sufficient traffic to make it worth their while to come in. Aerlínte would then have sufficient traffic to keep the airport busy.

It can be argued and has been argued by Senator Barry that the successful operation of this line will militate against, rather than help Aer Lingus. Like Senator Barry, I am not an expert on these matters but if the Board of Aer Lingus recommend to the Government, as I understand they did, the establishment of this line I am prepared to believe that it a worthwhile undertaking. One of the strongest arguments used was that Aer Lingus could not continue without the operation of this line, that ultimately they would be hamstrung if we had not a transatlantic line. I am prepared to accept their opinion rather than the opinion of Senator Barry, because I regard them as experts in this matter.

It would be a good thing if a little more enthusiasm had been extended to this measure. The Leader of this House has been criticised because he criticised the people who welcomed the Bill with the "ifs" and the "buts" and the expressions of doubt. Unless some people have faith and hope——

And charity.

And good works.

Without the good works——

The whole thing folds up if you have not the good works.

We shall get nowhere unless some people take the view that the undertaking is worthwhile. Because the Government have decided on this undertaking on the advice of Aer Lingus it should be given every possible support and encouragement so that the evil spirit of doubt and fear will not creep from other people into the management of Aerlinte.

While I wish the Minister well in his new office I have doubts about this Ministry, which I expressed on the other Bill. However, I do welcome the Minister and hope his period in office as Minister for Transport and Power will be successful.

The last speaker, if he did not show much air sense, showed a good deal of horse sense. His speech struck me as being very suitable from a certain point of view. It is not a matter of life and death to this country whether we spend £6 million on jet aircraft but it might be a very important matter if capital is not as plentiful as we are now led to believe it is. I know a great deal about this question of the scarcity of capital because I was burdened with the problem for a long period at one time. I do not believe capital is any more plentiful today than it was three years ago.

In view of the Minister's great interest in our external assets in the past, he is a very suitable person to have here to-day. He is now about to spend £6 million of our external assets, the expenditure of £250,000,000 of which he was always bemoaning with such great enterprise and effort over a period of years. So far as last year is concerned a very substantial amount of these external assets was used up and the accounts were balanced by an investment of £17.7 million, according to the Central Statistics Office. We are using more of those external assets this year. If the figures of the Minister and those of the Central Statistics Office are correct, he is going to use up 2 per cent. of our gross external assets on a single transaction. That is not a bad effort for a man who not so long ago was so concerned about our external assets.

We have heard a great many appeals to sentiment this evening. This matter is primarily one where considerable regard should be had to the figures. By coincidence the accounts came into the House the day after the Bill would normally have been passed here. However, through an accident it was not passed and I got the stencilled accounts of the three companies to have a look at them. The only one of these companies that shows anything like a genuine surplus on working is Aer Rianta which runs Dublin Airport. The accounts dealing with Dublin Airport show a surplus of £87,000 for last year. That, of course, does not provide any interest on the capital invested in the airport and therefore it is really only a surplus on current expenditure. Senator O'Grady is always very polite to everybody. Therefore, I have to be careful not to say anything too strong about him. I just want to keep my words in check.

He referred to the remarkable profit of Aer Lingus in the past year. What was that remarkable profit? It was a surplus on operation account of £204,000. In order to find out what the genuine position was in relation to Aer Lingus, you have to deduct from that £84,760, the company's contribution to the superannuation fund of its employees. I take it we all agree that is a proper deduction. If the company has contracts with its employees, they should pay that money. That reduces the surplus to £120,000. Then, you have to take off loan interest, interest on the loan it has from its bankers of £84,000, so that the actual working surplus, as I regard it, is only £35,000.

What is the balance sheet total? The balance sheet total is £6 million so that in regard to a company with an investment of £6 million the working surplus is £35,000. Of course, it is infinitesimal. If you take the accumulated surplus down the years on Profit and Loss Account, there is now a balance to credit of £49,000. I hope the company will not go to town on the strength of this surplus as it did on a former occasion many years ago when it indulged in some extremely extravagant expenditure not in relation to its primary purpose of running aircraft but in relation to its offices and staffing in Dublin. I hope it will not be tempted to do the same this year.

With regard to this remarkable profit of £35,000 on a £6 million company, there is no provision in that for taxation. There is no provision for the interest on capital payable, the interest on the capital from the bank which it has met. There is no provision for the interest on the State investment in the company amounting to, roughly speaking, £2½ million.

As I say, when one uses words they ought to have some meaning in a matter of this sort. The third company, the transatlantic company, properly Aerlinte Éireann, showed an operating loss for the year of £800,000. We were told both by the Minister and the Taoiseach that this is in accordance with the estimates—£800,000 in the first year; £200,000 in the second year, and that in the third year they would break even. The trouble I find about these large State companies is this. They are always going to break even but they do it by enormous additional capital expenditure. C.I.E. was to fix up its working account by putting in diesels but, of course, at a cost of £6 million, £8 million or £10 million on new capital expenditure. It was a similar story with Irish Shipping. New ships are more economical to run than post-war ships which are even only 15 years old. What about the enormous investment of capital, £1 million per ship?

Similarly, we are to buy these jet aircraft providing employment in California. They will cost about £2 million each. Again, Aerlinte will be able to pay its way but you see that, so far as the existing planes and existing contracts are concerned, there is a loss of £800,000. That is a specific loss on ordinary operation. I should like to refer to the statement published in theIrish Press when this proposal was made by the chairman of Aerlinte that these planes would pay for themselves when purchased. Of course, the expression that something will pay for itself is capable of many meanings. In ordinary parlance if a man who is chairman of a company says that some part of the operations will pay for itself, he means that part of the operations will pay the outgoings plus depreciation and interest on capital. I want to be frank about it. Just for the purpose of the record, I do not believe that these planes will pay for themselves in that sense.

The chairman of one of the other air companies suggested that State enterprise should never have to pay interest on their capital. If you take that out, you have a different story. You have some kind of social outlook on them. That was partly what Senator O'Grady spoke about. I shall come back to it in a moment. There is no doubt that it is a little more complicated than the accounts say. I thought it right to start with the accounts. I do not think that the results over last year, except in relation to Aerlínte, that is, the transatlantic air service, are very different from any other year. The truth of the matter is that Aer Lingus had a better year last year than it had for some time. When we come up against this question of the social value of something, it is a matter that can be estimated, admittedly by hard work. I think that an estimate could be made as to what its value is.

Senator O'Grady spoke about the concentrated attack on Shannon from this side of the House. He rather thought, owing to the fact that doubts were being expressed locally by some of the people employed at Shannon about the future of the airport, that that was in some way concerted action. That was the phrase he used.

That reminds me of an occasion many years ago. I think it was the only occasion in my life that I was in Europe at the League of Nations in 1935 or 1934. The League of Nations was folding up rapidly at the time and the only subject discussed among the staff of the League of Nations was where they were all going. It is natural enough that men who have to live are concerned if they see something in danger. I do not think it is correct that Senator O'Grady has made a correct deduction. Are these facts being expressed at Shannon? I do not know whether they are or not. I do not know anything about the problem at Shannon in that sense.

Let us examine the problem from this point of view. Suppose we could keep 1,800 employed at Shannon by the expenditure of £9 million on the transatlantic air service and suppose that otherwise they would all go. Suppose that by an expenditure of £9 million you can keep 1,800 people. That means £50,000 per person in employment. A capital investment of £50,000 per man in employment compares badly even with the Irish Shipping figures I gave of £24,000 per man for the new ships. It compares very badly, indeed, with the figure given here in connection with the Industrial Grants Act and similiarly the work done in the Six Counties. I think there was a figure of £1,800 per man put into employment.

When you are dealing with financial matters—this is essentially a finance Bill—you must have some touchstone. You must at some stage get yourself down to the problem of asking is this the best we could do with the money. That is what Senator Quinlan said about it. You end up with that

Many suggestions were also made that these State companies have been enormously successful. From the point of view of finance two of them have been extremely successful, the E.S.B. and the Irish Sugar Company. In each case, however, they have an absolute monopoly with no external competition allowed. Lest there be any doubt with regard to my attitude, I have never, in the financial examination I have made, reflected on the technological competence of the people concerned in these companies. Quite frankly sometimes I am in no position to judge it. On other occasions all the external evidence is that they are as well run as other companies from the technological point of view, not alone companies under private enterprise but also companies under either State or private enterprise in other countries.

Therefore I am not to be taken as criticising in any way the management of these companies but I do think that they are very often given to forgetting about the financial problem. I am very much afraid that there has been a loosening of the financial control essential in these matters. It has come about by this great division of responsibility. Let us take the new dispensation. I take it that applications for capital will come through the Minister for Transport and Power to the Department of Finance and if there is any disagreement they will go to the Government to be decided at the Government table.

That is very remote from the scene of action. I have given a few examples on previous occasions of the kind of thing that will happen under such dispensations where the ultimate control is too remote from the scene of action. Senator O'Reilly said that at times even expressions of doubt may do damage. I noticed here the other day that the word "sabotage" was used. The Fianna Fáil Party are very fond of using these words. I think they could have been used in 1956 with much more justification than they could have been at any time, because of the nature of the campaign operating at that time.

Senator O'Reilly on a previous occasion said in regard to the transatlantic air service that the Government of the day were unable to make up their minds and the planes were sold. As an ordinary taxpayer I must say that I had the strongest objection to that transatlantic air service at that time. In relation to my payment of income tax, I went to the trouble of finding out what it was going to cost me per annum and I found that it would cost me £5 a year. Because I was a person who could not afford to take a plane anywhere, I thought it a bit severe that I should be penalised to the extent of providing a capital sum of £5, or whatever it was, on working or losses. I was glad when the planes were sold. They were sold at a profit. I am not concerned with that at the moment; I am concerned with Senator O'Reilly's suggestion— made in all good faith, I am sure— that the Government could not make up their minds.

The Government had newly assumed office at the time. They were the first inter-Party Government, and they were coming into office after 16 years of a single Party Government. They examined the position and they made up their minds about it within a reasonable period, three or four months certainly. There was no question of their not being able to make up their minds. They must have been well aware of public opinion towards the matter at the time and that was probably the deciding factor. They were really putting into operation the views of the people who put them into office and they were right to do that.

Senator O'Reilly made a great play on the fact that the board of Aer Lingus had recommended this to the Government. I do not particularly mind which of the companies recommended it, because in relation to this matter I always hark back to the White Paper on Electrification issued in 1953 when the E.S.B. were supposed to recommend certain things to the Government. I know how the Taoiseach got that recommendation from the E.S.B. He hauled them over to his office and wielded the big stick over them. There is no question about that. I wonder if the recommendation of Aer Lingus was got in the same way. As it happened once, one wonders if it could not have happened twice. In relation to the third shipping programme of Irish Shipping Ltd., the company in its annual report said that they had been so instructed by the Government. They said that specifically.

A serious point arises out of the quotation from the Taoiseach that no worthwhile enterprise would be held up for want of capital. The question of a worthwhile enterprise is a matter of definition and a matter about which people could dispute for a considerable time. But I believe with Senator Quinlan that there is a serious shortage of capital in a large part of the agricultural industry. I have accepted the statement made by the Minister for Finance in this House that on the whole the 100 acre farmer was fairly well off; he might have a bad season such as that which we had last year, but on the whole he was reasonably well off.

What I ask myself at present is where can farmers, say of 20 to 50 acres—who comprise more than half of the total of farmers in our community —who want capital get it?

If this debate is to continue on these lines, I shall have to ask leave to get details from the Department of Agriculture.

The Senator must pass away from that matter.

I was just going to depart from it. The Minister need not be so offensive in his remarks.

I am not being offensive. I am merely saying that I would require time to get details from the Department of Agriculture. I am not being offensive.

I think the Minister spoke in a most offensive way. I shall depart from that matter now. I have made the point that some further amounts of our external assets have been used in the last 18 months and when you take the whole picture it is not getting better. The total amount involved in the proposals we have discussed here recently is about £40 million or £50 million. That would be over a number of years, of course. It will not all be spent tomorrow, but having regard to the very great sacrifice made—particularly by those who lost their work and were unemployed for a period, and many of whom had to emigrate—I am not so sure that proper consideration has been given to a great deal of the expenditure now being put before this House and which we are expected to pass without amendment.

Certainly, from the ordinary financial point of view—that is to say, proper provision for depreciation and proper provision to build up moneys to enable still more high-powered aircraft to be bought, if they should be invented—I do not think this proposition is a good one. Speaking just for myself, I think it is right I should say that there is no question of anyone making a concentrated attack on Shannon or anything of that sort. I think Shannon Airport has been of considerable service to this country. Also, I do not think there is any question of its folding up. I want to express a personal opinion. If these aircraft were never bought, it might be that there would not be 1,800 to 2,000 people employed there—I do not just know whether that is the case or not—but it might equally happen that transatlantic air traffic would develop on an enormous scale, by some means or other, and there might be still more people employed in Shannon, in a few years' time.

I felt it strange, when both the Minister and the Taoiseach remarked how accurate the forecast of the technological people had been, financially, about the results of running this air service across the Atlantic. Indeed, they must be very remarkable men. Of course, there is only one year and a bit over yet. However, they must be very remarkable men, indeed, if they can be so accurate that they can forecast in advance a loss of £800,000 and that it could work out at £804,000. That degree of accuracy only comes in the case of prescience and ability to read the future. It does not come in economic matters. That was the item in this proposal which caused me to wonder why other and lesser men worried so seriously about matters they were not able to forecast so accurately at all and about which they had a great deal more knowledge than the people who were making forecasts about this service.

I must say it is very hard to discover from the speeches of the Opposition Senators whether they are for or against this measure. They profess to accept it up to a point and then they proceed to point out imaginary difficulties. If people were to take notice of what they have to say, those in charge of the air services of this country would be very hesitant in taking any measure to make any progress whatsoever. The question we have to consider here is that we have reached the age of jet propulsion in the world of to-day. Situated as we are between America and Europe, we must take cognisance of that fact. Senator O'Donovan here to-day followed much the same lines as Senator Quinlan, when he harped upon the question of expense. Does everyone not know that, if we are to develop any worthwhile national project of this sort, it is bound to cost something? We cannot do anything without expense. We must face up to that fact.

If we propose to take our place in this transatlantic service, we must be prepared to put up the necessary capital so as to ensure the efficiency of that service. In so far as I can see it, the outlay envisaged is not very great, having regard to the importance of the transatlantic air service. All we are doing here in this Bill is asking the Seanad to give the necessary authority to Aer Rianta to raise the necessary share capital for the purpose of developing transatlantic air services. From the speeches we have heard, especially from Senator Quinlan, one would imagine that the Irish people are being called upon to make a free grant to this company. They are being asked to do nothing of the sort. All that we are doing here is giving authority to Aer Rianta to increase the share capital, so as to meet the requirements of the future in connection with the development of the transatlantic air services. I think it is worth while.

Senator Quinlan and some other speakers—Senator O'Donovan, too— pointed out that there is a certain risk involved in this. Of course, there is always a risk involved in these worthwhile enterprises. Nothing can be got in the world of today, or at any time, without incurring a certain amount of risk. At the same time, as against that risk, we are being told by men of experience, those who run these air services, that there is a very great chance of success. These are people—the general manager of Aer Lingus and the manager of Aer Rianta—who are giving serious thought to this whole problem and they are in a better position than we are to express an opinion on it. They have advised that this is a worthwhile proposition—and that is good enough for me.

This idea of telling us that the expenditure envisaged here should be devoted to agriculture and to other national development is, in my opinion, a very unrealistic and a very irrational approach to the problem. After all, we are making large sums available for other national purposes, including agriculture. We are spending no less than £20,000,000 on agriculture. I would point out that when we have a problem of this sort to examine, it is always better to examine it on its own merits, without bringing in red herrings or extraneous matters. It is better to debate it on its own merits. I believe that the enterprise of entering upon this transatlantic air service is a worthwhile enterprise. As I have said, because of our position here in the Atlantic between Europe and America, we are in a very advantageous position in this respect.

There is such a thing as independence. We have independence here. We have won independence for this country but independence carries with it responsibilities. Independence cover, a very wide field and if we want to have our independence as regards providing a transatlantic air service for our own people, our own kith and kin beyond the seas, we must measure up to our responsibilities and be prepared to pay for it. Otherwise, of course, we shall have to depend on outside companies for the provision of these services.

There have been many complaints about the cross-Channel sea services between this country and Britain and people have told us that we should do something about improving them. These cross-Channel services are not under our control because the outside authority can impose whatever conditions they like upon us and it appears we cannot do anything about it. The same thing would apply to the transatlantic air service if we do not get a place in the sun ourselves. If we do not make sure to have control of the transatlantic air service ourselves, the time will come when conditions will be imposed upon us that we shall not like and we can do nothing at all about it. If we want to have independence in all these matters, we must be prepared to pay for it.

We are not asking the Irish people to give a grant to Aer Rianta towards the development of this service as some speakers opposite would try to convey. All we are asked to do is to give authority to increase the Company's share capital. I think we would be very well advised to await results. Senator Quinlan referred to the fact that there was a loss of £800,000 on the running of this service in the past 12 months. That is not a very large sum at the commencement of operations. It is better to await developments and see what the position will be in, say, five years' time. I hope we shall all be here and have an opportunity of discussing this in three or five years and then we shall be able to assess the merits or demerits of the whole proposition.

Is it not the Minister for Finance who, with the taxpayers' money, is going to take up the £10,000,000 worth of shares?

I am making the point that this Bill merely gives authority to Aer Rianta to raise their share capital from £2,000,000 to—I think—£10,000,000. The immediate need of the Company is an increase to £5,800,000, so far as I can remember the figures.

Is it not guaranteed loan capital?

Yes, but it is not a grant as Senator Quinlan tried to convey to us today and on the last occasion on which he spoke. The question is: if we want this transatlantic service to operate are we prepared to give the necessary financial backing? If we are not let us abandon it. It is either one thing or the other. We must be either in it or out of it; we cannot have it both ways. I am prepared to subscribe to the policy that has been explained by the Minister in his opening statement that we should take part in the transatlantic air service as an independent nation. Why should we put ourselves in the position of depending on other nations to provide this transatlantic service for us? I do not think we should. It is a question of independence. We cannot do it without procuring the necessary capital and in procuring that capital it does not follow that any other national service here will suffer as a result. All other national services can be carried out side by side with this. We occupy a very advantageous position here in the Atlantic between east and west, between Europe and America, and I think it is worth our while to embark on this service.

I have no technical knowledge of this problem and very few people have. It requires very careful study—this whole problem of air navigation—but there are people here to whom that task has been assigned and they have given it any amount of consideration and they have had the experience of making a success of Aer Lingus. I am prepared to accept that as a criterion for the future and I have no hesitation in supporting this Bill and I commend it to the House. It is a step in the right direction. Our air services up to now have been the admiration of the people of other countries when they come here. Our airports are well known; they give employment and provide all amenities for modern air travel. I think we should carry on in that tradition. It is a good tradition and one we can stand behind.

I did not intend to speak at all until I heard some of the speakers opposite. They would give one the idea that they were very sceptical about this enterprise.

So is the Taoiseach.

I have not seen that. I could not gather any scepticism from anything the Taoiseach said. We should be prepared to face up to the realities of the situation and if we are prepared to take our place in the march of aerial development we must put up the necessary capital. That is my final word.

First of all I wish to welcome the Minister to this House. In doing so, I want to say that he has a great deal of my sympathy because transport, be it air or land or sea, is a very difficult problem. Very often the Minister charged with that responsibility, through being engaged in politics, has to consider so many social problems apart from economic problems that perhaps for political reasons he is not allowed to produce the solutions that are necessary to make a success of his Ministry. I think it is as well that we should appreciate the difficulty of a man taking on this type of Ministry.

Before I say anything about the Bill, I think I should praise Irish Air Lines as the operating company. I have flown over much of Europe in Aer Lingus planes and I think they give an excellent service in every respect. Like Caesar's wife they are above reproach. There is nothing more we need say but as a preamble it is well to say that; otherwise somebody may say that I am against Irish Aer Lines. I think they are a credit to the country. They increase our prestige and I am glad to see that while they may not be making a profit based on commercial assessment of what profit is, during the present year at any rate they have not lost any money as an operating company. When a Minister asks the House to agree to a Bill which proposes to increase the capital of an air company by almost £10,000,000 it is right and fitting that the House should ask the Minister to demonstrate to them, by giving the facts, that that is the best way in which that capital can be employed.

Senator O'Donovan dealt with the Bill, as an economist, in a much more technical way than is possible for me but I hope to approach the problem as a businessman. I must disagree with the statements that have been made, even in high places, that we have unlimited capital. Such statements may tend to engender irresponsibility in many people who may get the idea that there will always be capital available. It is necessary to inject new capital into the economy. That is described as priming the pump but when it comes to the point that the water is going into the well rather than priming the pump, another question arises. We must try to ensure that we get the best possible return for the investment.

In the private sector one man is employed for an investment of about £500. I should like to know from the Minister what employment will be given for the £10,000,000 that will be spent in connection with this airline. There may be employment given in America in the manufacture of jet planes but what employment will be given in Ireland, which is the important thing from our point of view?

Senators have criticised us on this side of the House for asking questions and suggesting that the matter should be explained fully. In a Parliamentary democracy the Government should justify in the eyes of the public a proposition which they put before the public and demonstrate, after searching questions by the Opposition, that the proposition will be successful and that the measure which they introduce is in the public interest and the public good.

We are being accused of being unpatriotic because we criticise. Some of our friends opposite fail to appreciate the functions of a deliberative assembly, as they are understood in democracies.

Senator Barry was criticised for what he said. I listened to every word that Senator Barry said. It was a most constructive and helpful speech. He suggested ways in which the prestige of Irish airlines could be raised. He even suggested that world famous Irish artists might be engaged to carry out the décor of the planes. He made many other suggestions that a wise Minister might consider. It was unfair to criticise Senator Barry.

Aer Lingus have engaged successfully in operating a small type of plane that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. Now, Aer Rianta are to operate planes that will cost ten times as much. During the last couple of days I was speaking to a rather influential visitor from Britain who said that there may have to be some pooling arrangement, that this business is becoming so big that it may be beyond the financial resources even of the operating companies in Britain or America.

Who knows that the Boeing Jets which we are committed to purchase will not be superseded by the French Caravelle or the new Comet? The American aircraft companies may produce planes which are far superior to those now available. I often play a small game of poker but I should hate to play a small game of poker with millionaires. While we can play a small game, and have done so very successfully in the operation of Aer Lingus, we may not be successful in the high stake race for the North Atlantic traffic.

The North Atlantic traffic, whether by sea or air, has always been considered the cream, the prestige traffic. Every country has coveted the blue riband of the Atlantic. We are entering into competition for that traffic. Is it expected, from the point of view of the national prestige, that a small country like ours should enter into that competition?

It has been mentioned here that Irish Shipping has been a great success and some of us have been taken to task for criticising that company. I have criticised Irish Shipping. As the Minister is here, I should like to make one suggestion. Money should be devoted to the provision of small ships, such as the Dutch provide, which could go up our rivers and which could be chartered by Irish companies for competition with cross-channel companies. Several people I know in this country are chartering Dutch ships and competing for freight with the British-owned cross-channel companies. I regret that these small ships are not the property of Irish Shipping or the property of Irish nationals. The Minister of Transport should encourage ownership of these family-type ships rather than enter into the highly competitive cross-channel shipping. The Minister might consider that matter at some stage. I shall have an opportunity of developing the suggestion on another occasion.

We wish to debate this Bill on the merits. In my view we have not an unlimited amount of capital and if we do invest capital on jet planes and find that that is not the best way to invest it, it means that that amount of capital will not be available for some other sector of the economy. I have made a small calculation. In a properly run private enterprise £10 million should employ permanently about 20,000 people per year. The establishment of such an enterprise would mean that the capital goods would be produced in this country, the buildings would be provided here. It would have a multiple effect. It would create a demand for other services which would employ additional people. I believe I am not overestimating when I say that at least 20,000 people a year would be employed by the investment of that amount in properly run private enterprise companies in Ireland. If this measure will not provide that type of employment, it is not as valuable to the economy as the type of investment which I advocate would be. That is the only way in which I feel I ought to criticise this measure and I feel justified in asking that the Minister will demonstrate to me that this Bill will give that type of employment and that type of benefit to the economy.

It is not very often that I intervene in debates in the House but I rise to support the project. I do so without any reserve. I wish to support some of the views expressed by Senator O'Grady. Recently when the Taoiseach was present in the House as Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator McGuire suggested to him the advisability of allowing more international air traffic through Dublin Airport. Senators will remember the Taoiseach's answer on that occasion—that Shannon Airport was established as an international airport and that anything that threatened its future would not be entertained by him or the Government. Yet, this week, Senator O'Quigley raised the very same question, though he must have been present when Senator McGuire made the same plea and the Taoiseach replied to him.

As a Clareman, I have tried to cooperate in every way towards the development of Shannon Airport. This airport gives employment to 1,800 people. That requires co-operation from Clare County Council. Those people had to be provided with houses and we had to sponsor water and sewerage schemes for such places as Newmarket-on-Fergus and Clarecastle. Many of those workers live in Ennis. Many of them live in Limerick too and we do not object to that. Cork is looking for an airport and we have no objection to it. Personally, I should like to see Cork getting its airport.

I have been closely associated with the public life of County Clare for the last 34 years and I have seen many changes. Senator O'Grady has also been a member of Clare County Council for a considerable number of years. When the Shannon Scheme came into existence, a Bill was brought in derating all the undertakings of the Shannon Scheme. The full significance of that was not shown until recently. When the extra turbines were put in to make what was called the greater Shannon Scheme, they were entitled to acquire land right up beyond Killaloe into Scarriff and Whitegate and the Galway border. They are now a dead loss to us. When your gross poor law valuation is reduced it has the effect of increasing your rate. That is logical. There might have been some justification when the Shannon Scheme was in its infancy for derating it for five years until it was firmly established. But I believe the Shannon Scheme, with all its fisheries, all the land, houses and so on is now derated for all time.

Shannon Airport means a lot to us. When you hear this question being constantly harped upon, it is time to take notice. There must be something in the air. We take great pride in Shannon Airport. I went down to see the site when the project was first mooted. There were rushes there, much taller than I am. One would never imagine it could be brought to its present condition. There are miles upon miles of drainage pipes there and it is a wonderful achievement. Far from allowing anything to threaten Shannon, we are most anxious that it will expand by leaps and bounds, and its prosperity will be reflected in County Clare, County Limerick and adjoining counties.

Various interests are affected by the prosperity of the airport. A large number of farmers are supplying Grade A milk and first-class vegetables to it and are earning fine money. I wish to repeat a statement deliberately made in Clare County Council that there were 1,800 people in Shannon and they did not know when their jobs would be gone. But the Taoiseach in reply reiterated what he said in the Seanad—that anything considered a threat to Shannon or likely to impair its position as an international airport would not receive any support from the present Government. We all remember the sale of the Constellations. I was glad to hear Senator O'Donovan state they were sold at a profit. We also remember that the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation were to set up workshops where several Irishmen would be trained as skilled mechanics. When the Constellations were sold these workshops were closed down. Now, 11 years later, we hear the same thing again.

I prefer to make my remarks as brief as possible but I felt I had to refer to the statements of Senator McGuire and Senator O'Quigley. They caused me some annoyance. I do not suggest that these Senators had any ulterior motive in making those statements. I am sure they had not. In Senator McGuire's case I am sure it was his great zeal to have people land at Collinstown so they would be nearer to the shopping centre in Dublin.

The Senator is thinking of his majority in Clare County Council.

Yes. Quite recently again the Clare people gave us another majority. We are not ashamed of it. They gave us that majority despite all the talk here a week ago that the farmers in Clare had a very low standard of living and that there were only four eligible girls in one huge area. A certain Senator over there on the front bench said that. Such childish remarks! That sort of thing reminds one of the Infants Primer. I did not hear the Senator, but I read his speech subsequently. The verdict of the Clare people nailed that lie and showed clearly what the people thought of those who were going around soliciting votes for the Party they represented. Senator L'Estrange does not seem to like my remarks. They are getting under his skin.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think the Senator should come back to the Bill now.

As I say, a certain Senator talked about the standard of living of the farmers down in Feakle. He may have been thinking of Biddy Early, a very celebrated person who lived down there. In her time, the people were living on stirabout, potatoes and salt. But the farmers of Clare, and the farmers in Feakle today, enjoy as high a standard of living as the people of Clonmel or any other part of South Tipperary. They are good, hardworking, industrious people who can stand up to anything. Most of the farms there average from 25 to 50 acres of land. If one attends Mass in Feakle on Sunday, or goes to a hurling match there, one is forced to the conclusion that the standard of living of the people is not what it was represented to be in this Chamber last week. However, I shall not be drawn further on that line of argument.

We condemned the sale of the Constellations. We condemned the closing down of the Lockheed workshops. Those workshops would have given men a high degree of technical skill which would have enabled them to earn good money. I have pleasure in supporting this Bill to the full.

I am in favour of spending the taxpayers' money on worthwhile schemes which will give employment and help to increase production. I am not in favour of spending the taxpayers' money at the present time on this scheme. Senator Kissane said we had reached the age of jet propulsion. We certainly have as far as the spending of money is concerned. Taking last Wednesday and Thursday with what is before us this evening, we shall have voted well over £35,000,000 for various schemes by the time we finish. I hold this is not a proper scheme for the expenditure of money in these proportions at this moment.

Agriculture is starved of capital at a time when money is being thrown down the drain on projects which do not, or will not, give a proper return. We are entitled to criticise this Bill. We are entitled to criticise the spending of £10,000,000 of the taxpayers' money. Since 1932 we have heard about plans of all kinds and descriptions, plans to do this, that and the other. Where have those plans brought us at the moment? This £10,000,000 could be much better spent in other directions. It is proposed to spend £6,000,000 on three jet aircraft. There are many pressing problems which call for all the enthusiasm, all the ability and all the initiative the present Government can command if they are to be solved.

Some of them need to be solved immediately. Yet, here we are, spending money on wild-cat schemes. We are altogether too complacent about the things that really matter. The Secretary General of OEEC told us last week that we seemed to be getting a bit too complacent despite the fact that we were going to lose, probably for ever, our privileged position in the United Kingdom in their agricultural market.

Let us face facts. Let us look at things as they are. To-day we are faced with a Common Market and a Free Trade Area, in neither of which have we any place. Our adverse trade balance is £12,000,000 worse this year than it was last year. Less wheat has been grown than at any time since the war. Our bacon trade advantage with Britain is gone. We are told no worthwhile scheme is being starved for want of capital. We find, however, that there is less capital being devoted to the lime scheme and to the Local Authorities (Works) Act. The purpose of that Act was to give employment and help to increase production. Our bovine T.B. scheme is not being tackled as it should be tackled.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid the Senator is getting away from the Bill.

If we have £10,000,000 to spend why not spend it in some other more productive direction? If we lose our place in the British market and if we cannot export our cattle, jet planes will be of very little use to us. The only thing is they may not be fast enough to take our emigrants out of the country. I object to the spending of money on this project at this time, when agriculture is blatantly neglected; and agriculture is the arm upon which everybody leans.

Senator Mullins said that if we were to make any progress in the future we could only do so by projects like transatlantic air services. That is the mentality which has us in the position in which we find ourselves to-day. When the inter-Party Government sold the Constellations eleven years ago they did a very good day's work. They put the money gained as a result of that sale into worthwhile projects, which gave employment and increased production. In 1932 Fianna Fáil had exactly the same plans as they have to-day for the industrialisation of the country. But after 16 years, from 1932 to 1948, they only increased our total exports by three——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator may not develop his argument on that basis.

This is an adjourned debate. No doubt the Chair will give me the same facilities.

This a gambler's throw by a Government that does not mind gambling with the people's money. "Keeping up with the Joneses" has ruined many a family. I sincerely hope that that philosophy in public finance will not ruin the country. The Minister does not appear to have the same faith in the success of this project as some of the Senators who support it. He stated that, notwithstanding the uncertainty, the Government are convinced the potential advantages to the country of the Aerlínte service far outweigh the purely financial considerations of profit or loss. I take it that if the Minister or anybody else is gambling with taxpayers' money he should take into account the purely financial consideration of profit and loss and, for my part, I am not in favour of spending £10,000,000 of the taxpayers' money on this scheme, especially at the present time.

It has been interesting listening to this debate on the Air Navigation Bill because a great many of the observations have gone very wide of the mark. The Fine Gael Senators seem to have varied. There has been no uniformity whatever.

That is something in favour of Fine Gael.

They have varied from the extreme pessimism of Senator O'Quigley who, in Volume 51, column 630 of the Official Report, said:

I do not see what we want with a transatlantic air service, whether it be a commercial success in the sense I have mentioned or not.

It has varied from that gloomy opinion to people, who at the beginning of their speeches, appeared to be condemning it and, in the end, gave fainthearted support to it; and to people who wholeheartedly supported it but who cast doubts upon the success of it. There has been a variation of opinion, from the most pessimistic to the fairly hopeful, showing there is no real solidarity of opinion in the Fine Gael ranks with regard to this matter.

It shows there is freedom of opinion in Fine Gael.

I want to deal, first of all, with some of the general arguments against the terms of the Bill. I think the main criticism has been by Senators who have suggested that the capital could be better spent otherwise. All I can say in regard to that is that we have published ourProgramme for Economic Expansion, covering all activities in the State and, in spite of Senator L'Estrange's remarks about agriculture, in spite of Senator Quinlan's observations about the inadequacies of capital for agriculture, the Opposition in the Dáil—and I have not had the privilege of being in the Seanad for a considerable time until to-day—have not in any major fashion condemned the programme, nor have they said that in general one feature of our economic life was being deprived of capital at the expense of another. We in the Government are still waiting for wholehearted condemnation of the Programme for Economic Expansion that would be implied by some of the speeches made here to-day on the Air Navigation Bill.

There have been criticisms in detail of the project. There have been criticisms in detail of the Government's agricultural policy. In relation to what has been said about the availability of agricultural capital, as far as I know the banks have lent some £9,000,000 more to farmers in the last two or three years. As far as I know there has been no major complaint by the agricultural community that they are unable to find capital from the various sources now available, from the commercial banks, from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and from the Department of Agriculture through the Agricultural Credit Corporation. I do not recall any serious criticism in regard to that but I can say, without any doubt whatever, that the Government do not intend that the capital involved in this project should be at the expense of other projects. No industry is not going to start because of this Bill. No reasonable demand for capital by the farmers will be resisted because of the capital involved in this Bill.

We heard Senator O'Donovan speak about the external assets. To the extent that the capital involved in inaugurating a jet service takes some of our external assets it is for productive purposes, and what we have complained about in the past, in Fianna Fáil, has been the exhaustion of our savings made during the second World War, or the committing ourselves to liabilities, against the assets created, for non-productive projects. To the Senators here to-day who referred to our balance of payments, who said that we must have due regard to our balance of payments position in future, and claimed that there were grounds for disquiet, I can only point back to the years 1955 and 1951 when we lost £100,000,000 of our wartime savings and, if we had those to-day, we would not have to worry about our balance of payments in the immediate future.

In 1947, £91,000,000.

The fact that air companies have not repaid advances made to them by the State applies to many State companies in many countries. We believe that our investments in State companies will bring their reward, and we believe the discharge of the capital payments involved may not necessarily come from dividends secured through profits. If there is a general rise in the production of all sectors of the community the capital liabilities can be discharged without undue sacrifice by the taxpayer. We must take risks. Every country that has advanced in prosperity has taken risks. Private investors and State companies involve themselves in risk, and one of the difficulties we have faced in the last 20 years is the lack of risk capital in this country. The Government have promoted the jet service believing that the risk is worthwhile, believing that all the considered factors which we can envisage in the future, all the pluses and minuses, justify the investment. Nevertheless, there is an element of risk just as Bord na Móna was a risk, just as many other private companies that commence manufacturing production for export take the risk that the element of cost and the element of competition will still be in their favour five years after the inauguration of the factory. These risks have to be taken everywhere.

I should like to thank the Senators for their good wishes to me, and I hope to justify my position in the future, though I can say there will be many difficult problems to face.

I next come to the question of estimates upon which the profitability of the jet service has been based. The estimates relate, of course, to the number of transatlantic passengers, travelling by air, who we believe will land in Ireland, and those in turn are based on the assumption that we will get about 5½ per cent. of the total number crossing the Atlantic.

The estimates made of total transatlantic traffic are various and numerous in character. First of all we have the expressed belief of those associated with Aerlinte, and incidentally, Aer Lingus, with its successful past in exploiting air traffic. We have estimates prepared by the International Air Transport Association, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the Air Transport Association of the United States, and the Port of New York Authority. Those estimates have varied widely.

Many of them have been more optimistic than the figures upon which we base the possibilities of profits accruing to Aerlínte in future. None of the estimates is infallible but, nevertheless, there is a certain measure of consistency with regard to the various calculations, as between all the various organisations, in their predictions for the future. The American population is expanding very rapidly. Long before the end of the century it will reach 200,000,000. The national income of America is rising very rapidly and we naturally take an optimistic view that Americans will want to travel more and more and that it is our duty to generate the maximum amount of air travel to this country, not only with a view to increasing the turnover of traffic for Aerlinte, but for the sake of the tourist industry and our economic life in general. As I say, we believed that it would take about three years for Aerlínte to get out of the red and it is hoped that, if all the conditions remain reasonably favourable, by 1965-66 it should be possible to envisage a profit of some £287,000 a year.

Senator Quinlan referred to the possibility of fares tumbling. I am given to understand that the present transatlantic fares are related to costs. It costs about twice as much to operate a transatlantic service as it does to operate an American internal service owing to the difference in the density of the traffic, the various subsidiary costs and landing costs. We do not envisage that there will be any sudden and violent reductions in fares because, as I have said, the costs are greater and are likely to continue so unless some new factor enters into the situation.

I also understand that three aircraft are essential to the operation and that the purchase of three aircraft, based again on predictions in regard to an increase in traffic, and on the need for overhauls and maintenance, is not excessive to the need. It is possible for Aer Lingus to charter Aerlinte aircraft to come to Dublin to land passengers and I am told it is not unprofitable to do so. Aer Lingus may possibly, at a later date, charter jet planes at certain seasons of the year for European and continental traffic, thus adding to their use.

Senator Crowley referred to some unfortunate experience he had in travelling by the Aerlinte service. I understand that the service has become much more regular and that passengers are looked after properly. The service went through its teething troubles at an early stage and I am told that these are now overcome.

One Senator mentioned the question of the name of the service. He asked why we could not call the transatlantic service, Aer Lingus. The reason is that at the time it was mooted, Aer Lingus had some connection with British European Airways and the permit from the U.S. authorities was granted in the name of Aerlinte. That name has been decided on and it cannot be changed, at least for the present.

I should like to stress also that the profitability of jet planes naturally again must be to some degree speculative, but there have been indications recently that the introduction of jet planes has helped companies that were, for one reason or another, going through lean periods. There is a very interesting article in the July number of the well-known American magazineFortune which refers to the vicis situdes in the financial history of the T.W.A. Company in the United States which had lost about 11 million dollars in the first quarter of 1958. Then these losses had been whittled down in the final months of the year until by the middle of March the losses had been halted. The article goes on to say that it was about this time that T.W.A. received its first two Boeing 707's. The article says that T.W.A. operated these planes with phenomenal success and that they have attracted more passengers to air travel and have proved potentially far more profitable to operate than piston-engine planes.

The article continues:

Although T.W.A. says nothing officially, the industry estimates that the carrier's breakeven point on its jets has been as low as 50 to 52 per cent., compared with 64 per cent. for the latest piston-engine planes.

Further on the article says:

The turnabout in T.W.A.'s fortunes sharply altered the attitude of investors, insurance companies, and pension-fund administrators toward the financing of jet planes.

I merely mention that to indicate that there are optimistic considerations and that in this periodical, the introduction of jet planes is regarded by the author as a very important feature in the change in the fortunes of T.W.A. which, as I have said, had suffered considerable losses which were then whittled down when the Boeings came into operation, the profitability of this new type of travel being clearly indicated.

In fairness to Aerlínte I should say the company at various times altered its own predictions as to the losses in the first year. The very first estimate made was that in the first year the losses would be £882,000. That was revised at a later date, revised downwards. In fact, the losses have been round about the £800,000 mark and, therefore, can be regarded as satisfactory in relation to the first prediction made by the company in its formative stage. I should say it was not a hit-and-miss system, but I shall not take up the time of the House by reciting the actual levels of traffic predicted for successive months, by Aerlínte. These predictions were the result of some intelligent market research.

The only serious mistake made in prediction was in regard to the amount of freight that would be carried. The amount of freight in the first year of operation was not up to the predictions but, in regard to passengers, the predictions were very successful. We presume that we shall continue to secure at least 5.5 per cent. of the total transatlantic air travel. In 1958, there were 63,300 terminal air passengers at Shannon, and that was 75 per cent. of the total number of Irish transatlantic passengers. On the basis of predictions which were made, by 1965 there will be 132,000 passengers at Shannon, and we hope to secure 40 per cent. of that traffic for Aerlinte. As I have said, we must take risks and if we can have the same success in the risk we are now taking as we had after we took the risk of establishing Aer Lingus we can be well satisfied.

A number of Senators raised the question of the comparison between transatlantic travel in American planes and other planes, and travel in Aerlinte planes. Our estimate again is that we should have about 40 per cent. of the traffic. The Aerlinte operation will encourage other operators to continue using Shannon and it will be a safeguard for the perpetuation of Shannon as an airport for Atlantic traffic. Aerlinte will encourage charter services, will encourage more freight traffic, and we believe there will be a friendly rivalry between Aerlinte and other operators with advantage to the country as a whole. It is not estimated that Aerlinte will gain the whole of the traffic. From that standpoint, it is encouraging to believe that the establishment of the jet air service by Aerlinte should be a stimulant to other operators.

I do not know whether I need say very much about the ultimate importance of transatlantic air service to the economy of the country. In view of some of the gloom spread by certain Senators and the general banshee atmosphere which has been over this country since the 1956 depression, perhaps I should say the Government believe emphatically in the vital importance of the tourist industry. The Government believe most emphatically that the maximum aid must be given to the agricultural industry. However, when that aid is being given and agricultural incomes expand and thus increase employment in our factories, it will not be nearly sufficient, no matter how great the level achieved, to provide employment because employment on the land is diminishing in every country in the civilised world. Therefore, there must be a diversification of our economy. We must have as many enterprises as possible to maintain this country as a modern State. We must take part in every possible modern development.

The effect of the tourist industry on employment should not be scouted or derided as it was quite clearly by Senator O'Quigley who referred to the 80,000 unemployed. Senators have given various estimates of how much capital is required to employ a man. There were recent figures which suggested that it would take £3,500 to employ a man permanently, on the average, these days and that it would take £3,500 worth of exports, invisible or otherwise, to employ an additional person. Some Senators suggested £1,800. Whatever the figure, the indirect effect of the tourist industry is that inevitably greater employment is given. The money left behind finds its way into the pockets of farmers who buy goods from Irish industries. It provides employment in servicing trades. It provides direct employment in hotels and in transport. The Government believe it is our second most important industry and that it must be fostered in every possible way.

We have not begun to exploit the full fishing potential in this country. The number of tourist anglers has grown tremendously in the past two years. We have only begun to exploit the potential of our lakes and rivers. That is only one example of the many types of tourism we can encourage.

I feel very optimistic about the tourist trade. As the world grows more and more populated, and as England becomes more and more overcrowded, no matter what industries we start here, no matter how much our agriculture develops, we still will have a tranquillity and kind of life which will attract people from abroad. The general slogan by Bord Fáilte: Take it easy in Ireland, is excellent. This will continue to draw more and more people to this country, apart from all the other potentialities we have for attracting people here.

When we consider the American travel business we know that in a recent year Americans spent 17,000,000 dollars in this country. That quite certainly provided a very considerable amount of direct and indirect employment. We know that, per head of our population, the Americans, according to a recent estimate, are spending six dollars per head per year compared with two dollars in the leading countries of Europe such as England, Italy and Germany.

If Americans to-day can spend 17,000,000 dollars in this country, that is only the beginning of the potential tourist traffic available to us if we provide a rapid service by jet planes, if we encourage every form of modern transport and at the same time develop all our tourist services. It beats me how people can doubt the wisdom of generating more United States air traffic. I cannot see how we can live in the modern world without doing this. I cannot see how we can afford to take the risk of not providing from £5 million to £7 million more capital for an industry whose gross turnover already is in the neighbourhood of £35 million a year. It is not an excessive amount of risk capital, allowing for the tremendous gross and net value of the tourist industry.

The Government feel compelled to take advantage of this change in the pattern of air traffic for the sake of the tourist industry. There are known factors and factors no more unknown than those that exist in regard to any private industry where people make estimates that are reasonable. The same kinds of optimistic estimates are made by the promoters of a new private industry when looking for capital from private investors. When looking for capital to extend their business and in the hope of creating new exports, profit estimates by private companies are not paraded in gloom before potential shareholders. When the directors are men of the type of the directors of Aerlínte they analyse the future situation as they see it and make reasonable predictions. They do not assume that all the terrible things will happen that may happen in this uncertain world of ours. Therefore, we advocate this new development.

Some Senators have suggested that Shannon Airport may become a white elephant. The Government are doing all they can to preserve, develop and expand activity there through the Shannon Development Company and through the promotion of this Bill. At the moment, Shannon Airport is paying its way. Apart from the return on the capital invested, the profit made in a recent year was £100,000. Promotion of the jet service is designed to ensure its retention as a great European airport.

I want to thank Senator Murphy for his helpful and optimistic contribution to the debate and Senator Barry for some of the constructive suggestions he made in regard to the development of the jet service. I think I have dealt with all the questions that have been asked. I hope the Seanad will agree to the Second Reading of the Bill because we have confidence in the future of jet air travel and we believe that this is a reasonably good proposition for the Irish investor.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages to-day.
Bill considered in Committee.
Section 1 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

I want to make reference to a few of the remarks made by the Minister in reply to the debate on the Second Stage. The Minister very kindly thanked Senator Murphy and Senator Barry at the conclusion of his speech for their constructive suggestions in relation to this measure. He might have extended his thanks to the Senators whom earlier he had so roundly condemned. Apparently we enabled him to make a much better case for the Bill in his reply than he made in his opening speech.

We now find as a fact which loomed in the minds of the Government that this Bill is designed mainly to promote the tourist industry. The Minister told us that the Government regard the tourist industry as our second most important industry and that this Bill is designed to ensure that the Americans who spent 17,000,000 dollars here in one year will come here and have service available to them. It is a pity the Minister did not make that remark to us on the Second Reading and perhaps we might then have been in a position to consider the merits of this Bill in a somewhat clearer light. Nonetheless, I want to say on this section, on which we are voting £10 million, that the views which I have about the outcome of this service were based entirely on the estimates given by the Taoiseach on the Second Reading in the Dáil.

If the Minister will refer back to Columns 1269-1272, Volume 176, of the Dáil Debates, he will see what I am talking about. The Taoiseach found that the Board of Aer Rianta were perturbed by the introduction of jet aircraft flying the Atlantic but that they are now less perturbed than they were originally. At column 1269 he said:

... but I find the Aer Rianta management now much less perturbed about the outcome than at an earlier stage when the full effects of pure jet competition were even more uncertain.

The Taoiseach, having given the estimates for the first three years of operation by Aer Rianta, then goes on to say in the same column:

Although these estimates have been very carefully and, indeed, conservatively compiled I feel I ought to emphasise they are necessarily of a conjectural nature, being based upon what is really an unknown quantity at present, namely, the Aerlinte share of future transatlantic operations.

When we are asked to vote a sum of £10,000,000 on the basis of estimates made on unknown quantities we are perfectly entitled to raise doubts about the wisdom of this measure and to say that the money we are spending through this section could be spent upon much more productive and much more worthwhile projects than this would appear to be.

The Senator is making a Second Reading speech.

Senator Carter is reminding the Chair of its business.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is also of the opinion that this is largely a Second Reading statement by the Senator.

Through this Section we are voting £10,000,000 and we are entitled——

We are not voting £10,000,000.

We are providing the share capital.

If the Chair is against me on this there will be another day. Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.

Under this section there is power to invest £10,000,000 and we may presume it will be the Minister for Finance who will take up the shares. I might refer to some of the doubts we raised and which were politely ridiculed by the Minister. He waved the flag to say that the estimates given by Aer Lingus were correct. There was the estimate in respect of the carriage of freight and in respect of passengers. They scored a victory in relation to passengers but they were very wrong in relation to the carriage of freight. We think they are wonderful estimates.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.