When we adjourned last night I was stressing the importance of a positive attitude towards some industries in this country and the danger of allowing xenophobic instincts to prevent us from appreciating the fact that without this inflow of foreign industry any solution of our problems under present conditions, and conditions for many years ahead would be impossible. I think more could be done to get this point across to people. I do not think the Government have done enough to emphasise the contribution made in this way. The statistics published from time to time follow a routine form. "So many industries have been established in this six months period, so many were home industries and so many were foreign industries." I do not think the scale of the contribution involved has been brought home by this kind of approach.
This was brought home to me forcibly when the Second Programme was prepared and when it transpired that something like one-third of the total increase in industrial output in the seven years of the Programme was projected to come from new foreign industries. That dramatises what is involved. Moreover, since then this figure has had to be revised slightly upwards in view of the inflow of new industry. More could be done to get this across to the public and to get rid of this xenophobic attitude.
The Government could do more in two respects to help in this matter. First of all, they could do more to help people get away from their belief that foreigners are favoured in regard to industrial grants. The reasons for this belief are clear enough. Obviously, a foreigner starting in industry here is starting a new industry. Therefore, he is entitled to a grant for a new industry whereas the ordinary Irishman who is engaging in new industrial activity is expanding his existing firm and at the present time does not get the same kind of assistance. He does not get that which the foreigner gets.
I should like to ask the Minister what he is going to do when the adaptation grants come to an end? At least they have bridged the gap between the foreign industrialist and the industrialist at home or the existing industrialist from abroad who is already here. The adaptation grants will be discontinued at the end of next year. The gap here will become once again almost an unbridgeable one with regard to the Irish firm, unless it is associated with a foreign firm already engaged in industry here. Irish industry here will then get no grant whereas the foreigner starting a new industry gets the full grant. The Minister will have to consider replacing the adaptation grant by some type of permanent assistance whether it takes the form of tax relief or grant to domestic or earlier established Irish industries or some other form. This would discourage this xenophobic feeling which is not helping to expand employment here.
There is one administrative change which could help here. For purely historical reasons the anomalous position exists here where a foreigner seeking to start an industry or seeking to expand his existing industry here can approach the Industrial Development Authority who have experts geared to assist industrial development. They have staff who are trained and experienced in this work. Their staff are more or less permanently engaged on this work and they are particularly interested in and concerned with it. That Authority have facilities for foreigners who want to start industries here or who wish to expand industries which they have already established here. They are helped as regards grants and loans which they may obtain. They get every assistance in that way. The foreigner has only got to knock on the door or ring up the Industrial Development Authority and he will get all the assistance he needs with regard to any problems he may have. Unfortunately, the Irish industrialist, who may be starting just as important or as big an industry here, has to go to the Department of Industry and Commerce. He cannot avail of the facilities of the Industrial Development Authority. The Department of Industry and Commerce have retained control over native industrialists who may wish to start or expand industries here. The Industrial Development Authority are geared to help foreigners but cannot offer any facilities to the Irish industrialist. The Irish industrialist feels himself discriminated against because a public agency exists which is available to foreigners only. This is unnecessary and a mistake.
This view is quite widely shared. I am not the only person to feel it. The Minister will find, if he seeks views on it from responsible people concerned with it, that this is a matter of concern and that the arrangements should be changed so that Irish industrialists should have access to facilities as foreign firms have. At the moment it might almost appear desirable for an Irish industrialist to get a foreigner to take some shares in his business in order that he might get IDA assistance. Anything that discourages this feeling of discrimination, this delusion of discrimination—it is a delusion—is good. We hear every day remarks about a foreigner being able to get anything he wants.
The position is that foreigners start new industries here while Irish industrialists expand existing industries. There will always be some element of apparent discrimination but do not let us make it worse than it is. Let us minimise it by getting rid of our more faulty administrative arrangements. I do not want to be unduly critical and I can say that the standard in this country of the failure rate of new industries is not abnormal. I believe that the failure rate in Puerto Rico, for instance, which like ourselves is seeking foreign industrial investment, is much more unfavourable generally than ours. The trouble is that our failures have been spectacular ones. The industries which became unstuck, those which either closed down or which had to be subsidised like Verolme, were big ones. In our proper anxiety to attract large industries, we have generally failed and by comparison with Northern Ireland our record is poor in this respect.
In our anxiety to attract these large industries we should not take chances on dubious ones. I can understand the Government's desire to have some plums but unfortunately in picking our plums we picked shipbuilding and aircraft, two of the most dubious candidates that could have been picked. The Government, in their anxiety to attract large industries here, picked the two of the world's industries which were the least likely to be successful. More discrimination should have been shown. The enormous State investment in Potez and the very large grants and loans and continuing subsidy to Verolme are things which serve to discredit foreign industrial activity in Ireland.
Though in general the record in this respect is not as poor as people believe it to be, it is again made to appear poor by the failure of the larger ventures. It has been said that for some of these larger ventures, which are very important, the Government themselves have been responsible and the decisions have not been made by advisers down the line. I do not know whether this is true or not, but if, in fact, the Government are responsible, rather than their agents, for these major industries, they should be more careful in future to ensure that they make sound choices, now that our industrialisation has got off the ground. It is understandable that in the early stages one will take anything that is going. The whole Shannon venture started by taking dubious ventures which were most unlikely to survive. Two of these ventures quietly disappeared when they had served their purpose.
When we have reached the stage we have got to, we do not need to do that, and we can take a more responsible attitude particularly in regard to major ventures. I think we need to adopt better methods. We need more expertise because the whole problem of industrial development has become extremely competitive. The Government have sometimes quoted what was said by the United Nations about our grants and incentives, that they were the best in Europe, or words to that effect. But, quite a number of years have passed since the Economic Commission for Europe of the U.N. made that comment. It was probably in 1959 or in 1960.
Since then, other people have improved their incentives and facilities. We have fallen behind, not only in the amount of aid given but in our approach to the problem of industrial development. We started on the basis of advertising and sending people out looking for any industry we could get. That is the only way you can start. In view of technological developments, we now need to prepare ourselves with the best advice and assistance we can get at home and abroad, for major industrial developments. That can be the centre and the heart of new industrial complexes. This is a highly expert business and it is doubtful whether the expertise necessary would be available in this country. If we are to compete with other countries which are making this kind of positive constructive approach to industrial development we shall have to employ such expertise.
I am glad the Government have decided that consultants should be brought in to advise on changes in industrial promotion and I am sure these industrial consultants will advise that we should adopt a more sophisticated approach, making use of the necessary expertise which is not available at home and which is understandably not to be found within the administrative ranks of our Civil Service.
We need also in the bodies concerned with industrial promotion not only this highly technical expertise in feasibility studies and modern industrial promotion techniques but we need people with special skills of a less abstruse character to help to organise efficiently the methods we adopt at present in industrial promotion.
I am not convinced that the various bodies here, including An Foras Tionscal, have got within their ranks the kind of expertise in the form of economists, accountants, lawyers and statisticians that is now needed for this job. We have made a mistake in confining ourselves to the extent that we have done to the administrative ranks in the Civil Service in this country. I can say that in An Foras Tionscal the main job hitherto has been to issue State money and to ensure that it is properly spent and is not abused. It is understandable that the emphasis should have been initially at any rate, on administrative staff to carry out this task. It was understandable that the staff should be administrative civil servants and that the board should consist also of administrative civil servants or former civil servants.
But I think that as time goes on, we need more expertise and that An Foras Tionscal and other agencies should try to draw from outside the Civil Service, as the IDA does, to get the kind of expert knowledge that is needed by way of accountants, lawyers, and so on. It is worthy of comment that experience has shown that Americans, and in many cases Europeans, are much happier in dealing not with civil servants but with other business people. Where this is not possible, and it has not been possible here hitherto, they are happy to deal with experts like lawyers in regard to problems of industrial development. Other countries know this and have practised it.
In the Netherlands, the whole process of industrial development is organised by the Federation of Industries of that country. It has not taken a narrow view but has taken on itself to bring in foreign industrialists and Americans are much happier in dealing with industrialists than with civil servants of whom they have certain suspicions. I think that because of the calibre of many of our people working in this field that difficulty has been to a remarkable measure overcome. Many Americans have expressed themselves very happy with the treatment they have received in dealing with our agencies here but they are happier in dealing with lawyers or professional people than with civil servants. Another reason, therefore, for bringing in more non-Civil Service expertise on the board or staff of these bodies and in An Foras Tionscal is that, apart from drawing on a wider range of expertise, this would help to facilitate our dealings with certain Americans and possibly more Europeans.
I also wonder in the light of things we hear from time to time whether the control exercised by An Foras Tionscal, despite the obvious efforts of the staff to ensure that money is properly accounted for, is quite adequate. As I understand it, if a foreign industrialist comes here to build a factory he can employ his own architects and his own engineers. I do not intend any reflection on foreigners; that would be the last thing I would do. But, we cannot know whether these people are entirely reliable. There are other countries where professional standards are not as rigid as in this country and there have been rumours of connivance between these foreign professional people andentrepreneurs in order to make the cost of a project seem slightly more than it should be. These rumours may be unfounded but the Minister should consider whether it might be desirable, and I do not say this out of any nationalist feeling or wanting to “give jobs to the natives”, to require the employment in an advisory capacity of Irish professional people. There may be nothing in these rumours about connivance but I think it is something the Minister should consider. He could consider whether the existing methods of control are at any rate sufficient.
I should like to move on to the question of information. Very large sums of money are being spent in this way and I think on the whole they are well spent with some notable exceptions. But, we are not being given all the information and the kind of information we need about this. The information given is ineffective, obscure, inaccurate and unreliable. First of all, An Foras Tionscal, which is the crucial agency for this purpose, publishes its report around this time of the year, and it gives details of the grants paid in the 12 months ended March previously. Where it gives details of grants paid it says how much was approved for the firm in question but we are never told how much was approved for a firm unless something is paid within the previous 15 months. There are reasons given for this, that the approval given may not have been fulfilled and the money provided for this purpose may never be applied. But this means that the information we get is limited. We only hear of an approval if money is actually paid and only after it is paid. The time-lag can be great if the grant is paid early in April of one year and 15 months will then pass before the Irish public know to whom it has been allotted and how much has been paid by way of grant.
Successive Ministers for Industry and Commerce have resisted on highly dubious grounds pressure to give more information. An Foras Tionscal are bound by statute to give no information except to the Minister. They are possibly the most secretive body in the country, outside the Revenue Commissioners, in this respect. The Minister in turn repeatedly has said in the Dáil, as other Ministers have said before him, that it is not the practice to disclose anything except when it is published in the Foras Tionscal report. I would ask the Minister to reconsider that. Too much money is at stake for it to be dealt with in this cavalier fashion. We are entitled to know within a reasonable time whether grants have been paid or that they have actually been paid. It is not reasonable that Parliament and the public should have to wait 15 months before knowing what amount has been paid and when it was paid. In some instances, because of this delay in giving information, firms have gone out of business before we have even heard they have been given money.
I suggest that the Minister should very quickly change this practice. Another point is that the figures as presented by An Foras Tionscal are obscure and confusing and are recognised as such by everybody inside and outside the public service. There has been no uniformity of practice in stating the amounts of grants approved or in giving information about when they were approved or when the money was paid. The information given generally states the total amount this firm has had approved throughout its history of grants, but in some cases the figures given are of the latest approval though there may have been an earlier approval of which nothing is said. It is an enormous job to find out just what grants have been paid and when they were paid or approved. It has taken me many hours of work to get a dossier together about how much has been paid to each firm, when it was paid and how much is outstanding. It is improper that the Oireachtas and the interested public should be forced to do research of this kind to get information which could be simply presented. The Minister should require more stringent standards in this respect.
Again, in progress reports on industrial development we find inconsistencies of a kind which are quite indefensible. I challenge the Minister to explain some of the figures his Department have produced and which he and his predecessors have stood over in the Dáil. I shall give two examples. In June, 1961, it was stated in the September Progress Report on the Second Programme that there were 28 projects under construction involving £11 million and which, when completed, would give employment to between 3,500 and 6,000 people. Six months later, we were told that in the previous six months, nine such projects had been completed costing £1½ million giving potential employment to between 1,400 and 1,500. A simple arithmetical calculation suggests that that would leave 19 industries uncompleted, involving £9½ million which would give employment to between 3,100 and 5,400; but in September, 1961, while we find more industries than this under construction, with a higher amount of capital investment, the employment potential of these industries under construction now is between 2,000 and 4,300! Simple substraction thus suggests that a number of new industries have been initiated involving a certain capital sum but also involving the employment of minus 1,100 people! This type of expansion was repeated a year later.
The same type of calculation carried out over a similar period, the latter half of 1962, yields even more remarkable figures, that a number of new projects were started involving a total investment or £11 million and producing a negative employment of from minus 1,100 to minus 3,000! The Minister should investigate how these statistics are produced. He should not get up and produce figures which can be shown to be absolute nonsense. If the employment content in the firms under consideration suddely disappears or is cut by half or two-thirds the Minister should say so. He should not try to cover this up with these figures. I do not know any explanation of these arithmetical errors or whether there has been a change in the character of the industries concerned leading to employment falling through. Certainly for any Minister to produce figures of that kind to the Dáil is an insult to the intelligence of the House. That matter should be looked into.
Moreover, we get a similar picture regarding the total amount of the grants paid according to An Foras Tionscal, for example, though this is more easily explained although it is certainly unsatisfactory. In the financial year 1961-62, in March, at the end of the financial year, the accumulated amount of grant approvals was given as £6,130,000. In the next year grant approvals were £1,280,000 but at the end of the year the accumulated approvals were £6,585,000. We had lost £824,000 of grant approvals in the meantime. I have similar figures for other years. In 1958-59 there was a loss of £580,000 grant approvals. There you had the situation where the accummulated figure at the end of the previous year was £2,086,000, grants approved were £734,000 and at the end of the financial year the total was £2,233,000. We had lost £580,000. One might think that discrepancies of this kind would require some explanation from somebody, from An Foras Tionscal or from the Minister, but none was given. Neither the Minister in the Dáil nor An Foras Tionscal—and I followed this very closely—have given any explanation or done anything except pass quietly over the figures and hope that Deputies and Senators will not notice. This is completely unsatisfactory.
I would like in regard to An Foras Tionscal reports to ask the Minister to answer a question which has been puzzling me for a good while. An Foras Tionscal reports give in respect of each of the three types of adaptation grants tables of grants received, approved, rejected and under examination at the end of the year. They do this in great detail by county and by industry. Each year you start with the figure received. I would like to ask the Minister does the figure of applications received at the beginning of the year include those under consideration at the end of the previous year or not? If they are not included, what happens the ones under examination? Why are we never told what happens to them? If they are included how does it happen that in a number of instances the total number received is less than the number carried over? I can give a number of examples of this. In March, 1964 three applications for grants in the canning industry were carried over into the next year, but in the next report two were received. Either three disappeared into Limbo, and we are never told what happened to them, which is an extraordinary way to account for these activities, or they are included in the ones received in the next year, but then what happened to the other one? These are figures for the undeveloped areas grants.
Similarly in the same year in March, 1964 two approvals in the undeveloped areas for the leather industry were carried over, but only one was received next year. Again, in regard to the adaptation grants, four applications for County Limerick were carried over, and next year only three received. In Mayo, three carried over and one received. In Offaly, two carried over, none received. The Minister must tell us whether, in fact, the ones under examination disappeared from our ken, or what happened to them. The form of the report should be changed. Why do not the figures add up?
I have shown that the standard of statistical accuracy and information that we get from An Foras Tionscal and the Minister is completely unsatisfactory. None of these figures add up or make sense. There are constant discrepancies in the way we are handling public moneys, and this type of misinformation is a disgrace. I should be fair to the Minister. I am certain that he is unaware of this. I am not suggesting that he has any direct personal responsibility or that anything is being covered up. I attribute it not to any Machiavellian policy of covering up mistakes but to simple stupidity and inefficiency. If the Minister were to study these reports he would find very easily these types of discrepancies. Now that I have drawn attention to them he ought to have them reviewed and try to ensure that something better is done.
There is, however, a more fundamental defect apart from the fact that the figures do not add up, and that is that over the entire period of operation of this grant there has been no review of progress achieved. We are told in every report and in every speech of the Minister what the employment potential of the new industries is, but what the employment actually is, is something which they are unable to answer as the Minister does not know, and this is quite unsatisfactory. We spend a lot of money on these grants and I believe that it is well spent, and on the whole the return we get is high. I suspect, indeed, that we get an excellent return from them, and that much of the public scepticism about them is unwarranted. But we are spending millions, now running into tens of millions, and the fact that the Government apparently never inquire as to whether the stated aims of theentrepreneurs are ever realised is quite unacceptable.
The present system of grants is a good system though it may or may not be the best possible system. There may be deficiencies in it. But if nobody ever inquires what happens to an industry after a grant has been given there is no hope of improving the system. I have been pressing this for a long time. I raised it first in February, 1959. The replies I received initially were that this could not be done for lack of staff. Subsequently I was told that it was undesirable to make direct inquiries from firms that had got grants, that they had got them without strings and they might be offended and might even pull out if asked how many they were employing. This, of course, was just nonsense, and there is no need to ask them. We have the census of industrial production, and the Central Statistics Office could inform the relevant authorities of the amount of employment in each of those firms in each year and by that means a check could be made on how performance compares with expectations. One such study was, indeed, carried out by Miss Fennell of the Agricultural Institute. That we should be reduced to depending on the Agricultural Institute as a source of information on the success of our industrial policy is a measure of the inadequacy of the attitude of the Government to this problem. Her study suggested that in the Undeveloped Areas 87 per cent of the employment target was realised at the time it was carried out three years ago. Her methods were not acceptable to the relevant authorities, though I do not know whether their objections were correct, but in any event this study is some years old. It covered only the Undeveloped Areas, and it was a voluntary survey by somebody who could put no pressure on anybody, who did not have access to figures and had no access to the census of industrial production. It is quite extraordinary that seven years since this matter was first raised by me, and presumably it was raised by other people before that, nothing has been done to assess the success of this policy. It is not a complicated job. It is a matter of some tens of hours of work in the Central Statistics Office to extract the information and compare it with the statements in the IDA files. That this should not have been done for seven years because there are not enough people to do it is absurd. As a result we simply do not know how successful our policy has been. We know—and Ministers will state again and again—that this year so many factories started, with an employment potential of 2,000 to 5,000, but how many are employed, in fact, subsequently we do not know. I am not at all clear as to what "employment potential" means. I should like to be clear on it and the Minister might perhaps answer this—when we speak of an employment potential of 2,000 to 5,000 whether that employment potential relates to investment within the company started with the aid of that grant or whether a lot of this employment potential is dependent upon getting a further grant subsequently. I suspect that whether or not the firm states it, that is what, in fact, happens in many cases.
Not only have we no information as to the actual employment of these firms but we know nothing about the volume of output or exports for which they are responsible. Again, this information could be very readily obtained. It is sitting there in the files in the Central Statisics Office. We do not know how much these firms are producing. I suspect it is a very large figure, that as has been suggested in the Second Programme one-third of our additional output would come from those sources but I may be just as wrong as the Minister in thinking that. It is up to the Minister to find out and, having found out, to publish the information.
Recently some suggestion was made of a study of this kind. I know it had not been made up to a year ago but it may be that some such study is under way. I would ask the Minister to publish it. I think the Minister ought now to consider the publication of a White Paper on our promotional policy, including the result of any review he has had carried out as a result of what has been said here today. That White Paper should assess the achievements and results frankly. I do not think the Minister would lose by this. It would give an impressive picture of what has been achieved. The Minister would not lose in any way by publishing it and the country would benefit by opening up the whole question of discussion on promotional policy, which is often carried on at a very low level.
Another matter which is the cause of confusion and about which the Minister should also do something is the fact that he himself, his Department and the IDA publish quite different sets of figures of new industries starting. The IDA publish a list of new firms starting with foreign participation which, I think, is confined to firms of some substance. There have been one or two minor errors, of things put in twice but, by and large, it is a reliable list and a very useful one. But the Minister also publishes figures of the new industries setting up here and how many of them have foreign participation. The two figures never correspond because the Minister's definition of a new industry is one that is so generous —and I must say this is openly said in his statement—it includes any activity where the investment is £10,000 or more. In modern conditions you are lucky if £10,000 buys you three jobs; it is more likely to be 1½ jobs but yet that criterion determines what is a new industry or its equivalent in expansion. This is a bit ingenuous or, perhaps, disingenuous. I think there is something to be said for the Minister bringing his system of classification into line with that of the IDA. To publish two different sets of figures only causes confusion, discord and lack of uniformity in the whole information published. I think the IDA system is a much more rational one. They do not go round dredging the place to pick up every little project.
Again, there is no correlation between the IDA statistics and those published by An Foras Tionscal. An Foras Tionscal publish how many grants are given to firms but not how many have foreign participation. It should not be beyond the wit of man for two bodies with common board representation to get together and publish a joint set of figures or to include them in the figures available from the IDA. Once again, we have confusion because of a lack of any regard for giving accurate detailed information on this subject of major concern in this country, in view of the amount of money being spent on it.
I should like the Minister to comment on the progress made in recent years, or lack of it, in this particular field. I have been disturbed by some of the figures he has published recently. Maybe I am not interpreting him properly. We are told in the recent Progress Report on the Second Programme — and the Minister in fact repeated this, I think, in his speech on the Industry and Commerce Estimate in the Dáil—that at the end of the year 1965 49 new projects were under construction—this would be projects with investment of £10,000 upwards— involving £29 million investment and providing between 2,500 and 4,500 new jobs. In the 12 months ended June, 1963, the Minister stated proudly in the Progress Report on the First Programme that there were 47 projects then under construction, costing £26 million and giving, when completed, 4,500 to 10,000 new jobs. This does not seem to be good progress. In 18 months the number of projects is hardly up, the money has gone up a bit and the job potential has been halved. It may be that we are moving into a period of much greater capital intensity in industry. It may be that there will be a growing problem here but I would have thought that if that is the case, the Minister would have made some reference to it. Over an 18 month period the capital cost of these more technological projects has doubled and when the cost of providing employment has doubled in that period, surely this is something about which the Minister should have said something. It is a matter of very great public interest if we are going to have to put twice as much capital into providing employment as we did in the past.
In 1965 he told us that 47 projects started costing £18,500,000 to provide 1,400 to 5,350 new jobs. Three years previously 44 projects started in the year 1962, which cost only £7,250,000, only 40 per cent of what had to be spent in 1965, but they provided 2,700 to 5,450 jobs. This is more jobs for 40 per cent of the capital and the same number of projects. I do not consider that is progress. It seems to me that two things are happening here. The flow of industrial projects has levelled off; it grew rapidly in the period 1958 to 1962, but the figures suggest that it has levelled off since. If that is the case, it is a matter for serious concern because with all that has been done in this field, we are providing jobs for only a small fraction of people who are looking for work in this country. We need something like 17,000 to 20,000 new jobs per year in industry. The figures here suggest that if all those plans are realised we might get something between 2,000 and 4,000 jobs a year out of these projects, providing a fraction only of the 17,000 jobs we need. Of course, it takes time to build up and if the previous increasing trend had been maintained I would not be too critical of the fact that we had not yet got near the ultimate target but it is disturbing that the number of new projects has levelled off, that the cost is still rising, that the employment content is falling so sharply, apparently, and that the same amount of capital buys many fewer jobs. That is a disturbing trend and the Minister should tell us what the position is. Is it due to temporary fluctuations? There was talk at the time when our application for EEC membership fell through that there was a diminution of interest in investing here. Perhaps this has since recovered. Or, is there some permanent cause? Is it that the attractiveness of Northern Ireland and other development areas abroad is becoming so great? Is it because the cost of industrialisation per job is rising as rapidly as these figures would appear to show?
It is a matter of regret that in his speeches in the Dáil and Seanad on this subject the Minister speaks from such a routine brief. We get the same speeches every time, the same words with never a change. We hear that so many new industries have started, involving so much investment, the employment potential is so much and so on. It is like saying prayers and just changing the person you are saying them for. At no stage has the Minister, to my recollection, ever said anything about the basic problems or whether we are losing ground or making ground. The level of debate in this and the other House may not at times be as high as the Minister would like it to be but it is his lead which tends to determine this. If he led the debate on a proper level he would get the kind of debate this subject warrants.
I have mentioned the fact that we have perhaps been losing ground in recent years in this business of attracting industry. It has been widely stated that one of our problems is that the Northern Ireland system of grants is so much more flexible than ours. Flexibility is a dangerous thing and one of the advantages of our system is—despite the total inability of the Department and Foras Tionscal to make anything add up—that we have some kind of reasonable control over the money spent. Spending is within certain defined limits and cannot go beyond them. It cannot go higher than a proportion of a certain amount without special authority. With such control there can be no abuse, but we may be tying our hands too tightly. I should like to hear from the Minister on this.
There is a strong feeling now that the flexibility in Northern Ireland has played a large part in attracting some of these large plants to Northern Ireland such as the synthetic textile industry and major industries in the chemical and electric field. I wonder whether we are tying our hands too tightly. It is true that in Northern Ireland they have the "old boy" network which we have not got because we are not old boys of the right schools so far as England is concerned, but some of it is also due to the greater flexibility they have in Northern Ireland. This is something the Minister should consider.
I would be reluctant to suggest any relaxation in our present controls but this may be necessary in this competitive world if we are to meet the kind of competition which we do meet from Northern Ireland. It would be much better if we in North and South could do the job together. Although there will always be competition for industry between every town and village in the country I would hope to look forward to the day when in both industrial development and tourist development and perhaps in export development the two parts of the country would work together. We know the competition that exists between every town and village in this country. Indeed, they are anxious to cut each other's throats to get an industry. I suppose it is difficult therefore to hope for close co-operation between North and South but we cannot afford to let Northern Ireland go on attracting the heavy industry while we continue to attract the relatively small and relatively unimportant industries.
Coming back to the part of the Bill dealing with industrial estates I have no hesitation in welcoming this. I regret that the time taken by the Government to reach a favourable position has been so long. This matter came up with the Committee on Industrial Organisation in 1961. The Committee published their report in 1962. The report which came out was unambiguous. It reflected the views of employers, trade unions, the Department of Finance and the Department of Industry and Commerce all of whom were in favour of moving from the scattered spread-out industrialisation which we have had and which was not terribly effective and involved some element of concentration in Dublin and Cork. The report was very clear on this. It did not leave any room for ambiguity.
If industries were not scattered about they can help each other. One of the great features of the Shannon Estate is the kind of co-operation we get between the different firms. One may want to borrow a fork-lift truck from another and someone in another firm may have the expertise to repair a machine for another firm. That is the type of co-operation which is possible when firms are gathered together and impossible when they are scattered around the country. Part of the success at Shannon is due to that fact. There is also the inter-action of managers working together when you have a number of managers working in different firms in the same area as against a man being the only manager in one town which is 20 miles away from another industry. You also get less square pegs in round holes. If someone has a job with one firm that does not suit him he can change to another firm.
There is also the fact that there is the strongest possible evidence that Irish people once they leave the farm require and demand urban life. Irish people have never been rural settlers outside their own country. When they leave the farm they may go to Cork or Dublin but not to another rural centre outside their own region. There is no internal migration of that kind. When they leave they go to Coventry or London or Boston or wherever it is. When Irish people leave their own regions they want all the amenities of urban life. One of the reasons why our towns have not developed is that they do not have these amenities. It is a vicious circle. One of the peculiar features of Ireland is the failure of the provincial towns to develop. There has been a decline in their population rather than the growth we might reasonably have expected.
The fact that this is the kind of environment that people seek and stay in when they go into industrial employment is something which should influence our policy.
There is also in the case of scattered industries the problem of repairs and the lack of spare parts. Lack of educational facilities is another factor, and there are very serious deficiencies in this respect in many parts of the country.
There are, therefore, many reasons why industries thrive in industrial centres. It is not a coincidence that most industries are in large urban centres and in this country we have offered the kind of urban facilities in which industries thrive only in Dublin and Cork so that the rest of the country has been denuded. This problem has been tackled in a half-baked fashion in the past by trying to stop Dublin from growing and spreading. That is going against the tide. We should go with the tide and not against it. This proposal to establish development centres put forward by the CIO is one which I think we should all welcome. It is a pity the Government, when they got this clear cut recommendation, felt it was such a hot potato that they had to refer it to another committee who took a good deal of time to consider it. When this second committee presented its Report there was a further delay before the Government made up their mind.
One can sympathise with the Government's problem. If you are going to select centres for development you will always leave many others out, but at all times the Government have to grasp political nettles. I am glad that they are at last going to do something but I am sorry they were so slow. When they had the CIO Report they had a good excuse for going ahead. It is a pity they took so much time. Some Members of the Government had doubts with regard to this. I can remember Senator Dr. Ryan expressing himself critically after the CIO Report came out. The Taoiseach also made some critical statement in regard to it. Another Minister, however, before the Government decision was known, made an unscripted statement in favour of development centres at a meeting in University College, Dublin.
There were divided, opinions on the part of the Government in this matter. It is a pity this held up the decision. It is now nine months since the decision was announced and where are we today? There is some talk about looking at sites in Waterford and in Galway. No other centres have been chosen.
I should like now to draw the attention of the House to what I mentioned a few minutes ago. We are not concerned only with industrial estates, which this Bill refers to, for this is a part only of the programme for establishing development centres.
It is rather disturbing that the Bill does not seem to make any provision for this. It does not seem to have regard to the broader consideration. I think it is worth quoting what the National Industrial Economic Council had to say on this. This is what they had to say:
We agree with the Committee that the establishment of an industrial estate is an essential part of the process of building-up a development centre. It would be dangerous, however, to over-emphasise the role of industrial development or to treat it in isolation, for industrial expansion depends upon (and is affected by) the quantity and quality of the basic infrastructural services (e.g. water, sewerage, electricity) and of housing, the availability of educational, health, commercial and financial services and general amenities... There should, therefore, be a comprehensive approach to planning the growth of a development centre with due emphasis not only on its role as an industrial centre but also as the commercial, financial, educational, health, social and administrative centre of its region. This means that decisions about the location of important new facilities in any of these fields should be made only when the centres for the different regions have been identified. If such facilities are now located in towns which are not subsequently selected as centres, resources will be wasted, the growth of the centre constrained and its impact on its region limited.
This Bill concentrates entirely on industrial estates. It gives responsibility for starting those estates to An Foras Tionscal. The Minister has said very little about this matter. He has spoken about industrial estates as if they were in some degree in isolation from the background. I would like to hear more about the administrative arrangements in relation to this matter and how the industrial estates are to be with the educational, social, administrative and other measures in regard to development centres. I am also concerned about the selection of the centres. I can appreciate the Government's reluctance to stick their neck out with regard to this but they cannot get out of responsibility in this matter by simply allowing those centres to select themselves in the process of reviewing the physical planned regions. This is really quite unsatisfactory.
The fact is that in most of those areas it is perfectly obvious what the centre will be and what will be the activity in that centre. In one or two other cases there is no other alternative. The Government could say this now and get on with the job of developing the centres. They are evading their responsibility in leaving the selection of the centres to the physical planning arrangements. This process is an evasion of responsibility. It also may be in some instances particularly dangerous because the physical planning regions themselves have been chosen in a completely arbitrary manner. No justification has ever been given for the choice of those regions. The only justification given was that it does not matter what regions are chosen. This is the excuse of the Minister for Local Government with regard to this matter.
But we are then told that this arbitrary division will be the framework within which the development centres will be chosen. This is where there is some confusion of thought. Having arbitrarily chosen the particular region they are going to choose a development centre in each region. That is my impression from what the Government have said on this subject. The existence of these planning regions means that you have arbitrarily decided you will have development centres in these regions.
To illustrate this point one of the regions which has been chosen is the north-west. This comprises the counties of Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. Those counties have less population than any other physical planning region in the country. One of the physical characteristics of those counties is that their population is less than that of any other planning region, yet we find here that this region is divided into two in this arbitrary process, namely Donegal and Sligo-Leitrim. What follows from that? The Minister comes in here and says we are going to allow centres to select themselves in regions.