The Bill itself is clearly unobjectionable, but an objection does arise because of the circumstances in which the Bill is brought in. The Minister has been frank enough about the circumstances, and though he has told us plainly what the problem is he has not justified it. The fact is that many months have elapsed since the relevant recommendations were made to the Minister by the Gilmore Report and subsequently by the NIEC, whose amendments to the Gilmore Report were broadly accepted by the Government. My recollection is—and the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—that he announced at the time of the publication of the Gilmore Report acceptance in principle of the Report and its recommendations or at least that is my recollection of it. My complaint is that that took place a very long time ago. I am becoming increasingly concerned by the way in which the tempo of the government machine is slowing down, and by that I mean the whole machine of government, not the Government in the political sense, but government in the public administration sense.
I know life is becoming more complex, that legislation is becoming more complex and there is much more to legislate about. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for public administration and the Government not to keep up with the needs of the time. In every area of public policy we are meeting with constant frustrations because of this slowness. Anybody reading the Third Programme will see that this is illustrated very effectively throughout. Indeed the comment made by somebody, even before I commented on it, was that when you read through it and see the number of things which are not finished, the number of things in process, the number of decisions pending, the number of decisions which have yet to be taken on matters which should have come up for consideration, one is faced with the extraordinary position of a Government so slow as to fail completely to match the needs of the time. The contrast between the way in which events are speeding up in the world generally and the way in which things took generations now take decades; the things which took decades now take years and the things which took years now take months.
Everything in life is speeding up and the machinery of government is going down. This is extremely disturbing and we have here an illustration of this. The Minister has explained there are a number of Acts of the Oireachtas to be considered, 12 Acts, and a proposal to amalgamate two bodies, but this does not explain why it should take so many months to do this. I am afraid a Government in office for such a long time may become complacent in those matters. They may be used to this slow tempo of work in the public service. I can quite visualise if I were in Government for ten years I would become so used to the speed at which the Government service works as to forget the speed at which the rest of the world has to work.
I feel there has been a growing acceptance by the Government of the slow tempo of work and a failure to realise that the tempo is in fact slowing down all the time. The members of the Government have forgotten their own experience, before they were in Government, in their own walks of life, in the speed in which they are now working. Perhaps those comments are ill-directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce who before he was Minister was a solicitor, a profession which is not known perhaps for the speed in which it completes some of its work. Nevertheless I think there is a point there of very general application and I think this is a clear illustration of it.
Certainly I have found within the past two years in my contact with public affairs outside politics in this House and Party politics generally, a growing frustration with this problem among people who are concerned with public affairs and involved in public affairs, a growing frustration which is translating itself increasingly into protests by people, whether they be management, unions or farmers, with the process of government and the slow tempo of government. I think this is a case in which we should make this protest. The Minister should not have to come here with this Bill. He should have come earlier than this, indeed, with the full legislation required in the matter.
I should like the Minister to be a little more explicit as to the exact reasons for the delay. He really gave two sets of reasons. One of these is that there are 12 Acts to be brought together but this is something which a competent draftsman should be able to do in a matter of days rather than months and the other that the Department are amalgamating two bodies. There may be some problem in this latter one. Certainly in Irish life to create any kind of corporate body, to merge it maybe or modify it or modify it relating to another body, seems to be extremely difficult. Is it in this area the delay has occurred? I feel there is a little more to this.
In the other House mention was made, and I think properly, of another document relative to this Bill in its broad context, which is also held up —the Buchanan Report. The Third Programme records that the Buchanan Report was presented to the Government last September. We are now near the end of April, seven months later, and the Government have not yet published the Report other than some comments on it. I suspect the reason for this is that the Report was made to the Minister for Local Government and that the Minister has been concerning himself over a period of almost a year with two measures of particular interest to the Fianna Fáil Party but not of great advantage in fact to the country, and that Minister has not got the reputation of handling matters very quickly in his Department but rather of putting them into a bottleneck and that in fact he has been sitting on this Report.
I may be wrong. It may be that the Government are simply afraid to publish the Report and to give their decision on it before the election. There may be political reasons. Certainly there can be no excuse for this and I wonder whether the delay in publishing the full industrial development legislation is connected with this. Is it perhaps the case that the whole question of industrial grants for different parts of the country involves the question of regionalisation of the country and the development of growth centres recommended in the Buchanan Report? Is there any connection betwen those two things? Certainly the idea of regional growth centres in the Buchanan Report, and the Government sitting on them, will have very great implications on the whole development of industrial grants, and I cannot feel the delay in dealing with that and in even bringing it before the Oireachtas is anything but harmful in relation to the whole industrial grants policy.
The Minister in the Dáil dealt with this matter in a rather odd way, if I may say so, with respect to him, because he made the point, perfectly validly, that people should not simply say: "Oh, you have got a recommendation, why don't you implement it?" He also made the point: "It is for the Government to decide whether a particular recommendation should be implemented." I think that was a right assertion of the political role of a Government. It is the Government's job to do that and the Government are rightly inclined at times to reject recommendations made to them and at other times to accept them, but I do not think his assertion that the Government are right justifies the Government not simply taking a decision. It justifies them taking a decision perhaps contrary to the recommendation but it does not justify them postponing the decision indefinitely.
Indeed, I notice he used the words: "Such reports which go to the Government are considered by them but the ultimate decisions on them are Government decisions". I do not know quite what emphasis he placed on the word "ultimate" in the Dáil but in the light of what has been happening in this particular sphere he would be justified in putting pretty heavy emphasis on it because "ultimate" is the appropriate word for decisions which are so long in coming about. He said in the Dáil: "Indeed there was no certainty the Buchanan Report would be accepted by the Government". I suggest that the Government should make up their minds on it. I wonder if the Government have even received the Buchanan Report yet, as distinct from the Minister for Local Government. I know the Report may have been seen by the Government in general terms but has it even come up for decision by the Government yet or have the Government been too preoccupied with other matters.
Remember the background to this. Our whole industrial programme has been running along lines which have been condemned as long ago as 1964 by the Committee on Industrial Organisation. After prolonged discussion at the Committee on Industrial Organisation, in which the Government took part and expressed certain views, they eventually joined in the report and it was recommended our existing policies were unsuited to the needs of this country, that the policy of industrialisation everywhere, on industry in every village, was one which could not but slow down the growth of industrialisation and the growth of employment. If we are to succeed both in attracting large industries and large quantities of industries and developing industrialisation on a large scale in this country and in decentralising industry from Dublin to other parts of the country, the only possible policy to pursue is one involving concentration on growth centres. The Government reaction on this was to kick for touch by referring the matter to another committee which reported 18 months later.