Industrial Grants (Amendment) Bill, 1969 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Final Stages.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill".

I should just like to make a comment on what the Minister said. He told us in some detail about how amused he was on the one hand and how puzzled on the other, without actually answering my queries as to why private enterprise is not self-lubricating and why private enterprise was incapable of finding anything for itself. Surely the perfect system is a system whereby, if a thing is worthwhile from the profit point of view, it will make a profit and can be launched? Why does the welfare state have to help private industrialists? The Minister said he was puzzled and amused but he did not tell us why the merchant banks, the private enterprise financiers, cannot find money. He did not tell us why it is necessary to charge farmers a fairly sharp rate of interest and why they cannot avail of the free unredeemable interest-free grants given to industrialists.

The Minister felt he was answering my point on that by simply saying that a loan is a different thing from a grant. I would ask him why there are two different things applied here, one to farmers and one to industrialists. Why is it the farmer has to struggle along, as a small industry if you like on his farm and, not alone has to pay back anything he gets by way of loan but has to pay a fairly sharp rate of interest, while the industrialist, and some of those come in from outside, gets an interest-free unredeemable grant? Why is there the different basis and why is private enterprise not self-lubricating and self-propelling? Why is it so crippled and why does it require those crutches? Why does it have to get hand-outs from the welfare state?

If I may reply on behalf of the Minister to some of the points made by Senator Sheehy Skeffington.

He does not really mean that.

Is this section 1?

Acting Chairman


First of all, I wanted to make one point on my own behalf. I must not have made myself sufficiently clear when I was speaking, unless of course the Minister misunderstood me. I was not of course suggesting the momentum of the industrialisation programme was slowing down. On the contrary, it has been increasing and is still doing so. I made that point, but the Minister may not have caught it. What I am concerned about is that, when we come to areas where it is necessary to devise new policies, to change our policies, because they are inadequate or the circumstances require them to be changed, the process is slowing down. The Minister admitted this because he said the Bill was held up and the Department concerned was not able to produce it quickly enough.

They are too busy.

This argues incompetence in failing to provide sufficient staff. There are many Departments in which either more staff are needed or present staff could be deployed more usefully. Though I do not advocate increasing the bureaucracy unnecessarily, there are areas where false economy is holding us up because sufficient staff are not being provided. There are, accordingly, delays in economic growth. In many cases the staff could be found within the public service. The actual balancing and use of staff is ineffective. Staffs seem to be composed of generals and the generals are occupied mainly in being generals and no work is being done. I came across recently a case where principal officers who were engaged on important policy matters had not time to get on with other work. At the same time, there are other Departments which seem to have more junior staff than is necessary. There is therefore a need for revamping the public service. I am aware that the process of industrialisation is going on rapidly but it is not progressing sufficiently rapidly to solve our problems on the employment front.

The devil would not please the Senator. If we were to place a bomb to quicken it up, it would not please him.

More than a quarter or one-third of our young people are emigrating and I shall not be pleased until that has been improved. Senator Sheehy Skeffington was a bit unfair. He took two Bills which have not come before us, one providing a tiny segment of the aid given to agriculture and the other providing aid for industry. There is the Industrial Credit Company about which we are not legislating today, though we are legislating about an inordinate amount, which gives loans to industry. The Senator could find an entry "State aid to agriculture", in the current Budget figures. There he will see sums amounting to £70 million in aid to agriculture.

In reply to Senator Sheehy Skeffington I should like to point out that the private benefit and the social benefit do not coincide. If you leave private enterprise to work for itself it does not do so adequately and it is necessary for the Government to intervene from time to time. We can take tourism as an example. At certain times of the year in certain parts of the country there have been shortages of hotel capacity. Because tourists spend only one-fifth of their money on hotel accommodation, any bottle-neck in hotels not only loses X amount to the hotels but loses 4X amount to other spheres. There is the point also that it is uneconomic to invest in a hotel in a tourist area where the business is seasonal, lasting for only three months of the year, because, though you may make a profit in the running of the hotel during that period, it could not be sufficient to cover the whole capital sum.

It is because of the need to consider social benefit as well as private benefit that we have to supplement private enterprise. Senator Sheehy Skeffington may say that all these various businesses should be in public ownership. But, given the situation that we have a system of private enterprise, we cannot agree with the Senator's suggestion that it should be left to run itself and that the Government should not intervene. I am afraid this is a misapplication of the Senator's socialist principles.

I welcome the endorsement by Senator FitzGerald of the statement I made that the momentum of our industrial developments is increasing. On the point made by Senator Sheehy Skeffington, I confess I was sorely tempted, when he spoke again, to take back what I had said earlier that he is a very intelligent man.

That is not an answer to my question.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington complained that the Minister did not give him an answer. I should like to say that I intended on behalf of the next Government to give him an answer.

Hope springs eternal.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and passed.