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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 10 Jun 1970

Vol. 68 No. 7

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited (Amendment) Bill, 1970: Second Stage.

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

The main objectives of the Bill are: (a) the periodic updating of the statutory limits on expenditure in relation to the company; (b) the provision of finance for the extension of the company's operations to the industrial development of the Limerick-Clare-North Tipperary region; (c) the clarification of certain incidental and ancillary matters.

As the House may know, it has been the intention to use the unique expertise of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company for the purpose of regional industrial development in the area in which it is situated. The promotional work of the company at Shannon Airport has already produced a fall-out of industrial development in some adjacent districts. This region is, therefore, placed in a favourable position in having a team experienced in industrial matters and one which has shown worthwhile achievement over the years. The company have already commenced their work in the region and have published a five-year programme in which they outline the possibilities for industrial expansion. This programme is, of course, being revised in the light of changing factors and of the budgetary position of the company.

SFADCO has already engaged in factory construction in Newcastlewest and in the provision of factory buildings or sites and services at Limerick and elsewhere. These activities have been undertaken in advance of the provisions of this Bill so as to lose no time in realising the potential of the region.

The mid-west region has been an important place in the western area and it already has an industrial base upon which further developments may take place. The work being done by SFADCO in the stimulation of local enterprise and initiative will have an important significance for such work in other similar regions.

Outside the mid-west region the job of industrial development will be carried out by regional offices of the Industrial Development Authority. The company will, in effect, be the regional industrial office in the mid-west and it will operate in the context of the overall national responsibilities of the authority in conjunction where necessary with the many other local bodies and organisations represented in the regional development organisation.

In general, regional industrial development offices will meet needs which now exist for services to assist manufacturing firms, in particular in connection with re-development and expansion, the encouragement of initiatives and linkage between existing and new firms and the better use of the facilities and inducements provided for small industries.

This Bill also relates to the provision of funds for the work of the company at the airport. I should explain that while the present division of Ministerial functions is that the Minister for Transport and Power is responsible for the tourism and aviation functions of the company, I am responsible as Minister for Industry and Commerce, for their industrial functions, their housing activities at the airport and any other activity in which they may engage. The achievements of the company at the airport are well known and at a recent date more than 4,500 workers were employed on the Shannon industrial estate. In addition, persons employed at the airport proper, in community services, construction and other activities numbered about 2,360. The company have pursued a policy of creating employment for men and almost two-thirds of the industrial jobs at the airport are so filled.

Of about 47 firms at the airport, 30 are engaged in manufacturing and 17 in servicing or warehousing. These industrial activities have resulted in a net balance of trade at the airport estate—exports less imports—of more than £13 million in 1969 which is more than four times that of 1964. The firms at the airport are largely export oriented and generate about 20 per cent of national industrial exports. The general trend at the airport estate has been expansionary in terms of volume of trade and of employment which has increased at a rate of about 450 jobs a year on average since the inception of the company's work. This achievement is proof of the company's success in attracting a number of diverse projects from six different countries which makes it a suitable instrument for the additional burdens imposed upon it by regional activities.

This Bill provides for both capital and current expenditures. Under previous legislation, from 1959 onwards, a total of about £6½ million has been spent by the company on the capital side in respect of industry and tourism. Of this some nine tenths relates to the industrial estate at the airport and about 1 per cent to tourist amenities. The balance has been spent on regional industrial development. A further capital item arises from the need to create a community at Shannon where there are almost 900 completed company houses and flats and 167 under construction. There are now 72 houses completed there by private enterprise with a further 28 in course of building. The State capital spent on housing at the Shannon community is more than £5 million. The town population is at present more than 3,000 persons and it will probably reach the target level of 6,000 by 1974.

I should explain that capital provision for SFADCO is met out of share capital subscribed by the Minister for Finance, and—in so far as it relates to housing—out of repayable advances made by that Minister and from housing grants made by me. The company's running expenses and industrial grants for firms at the airport come from grants-in-aid of which about £4½ million has already been issued to the company. Of this £4½ million about £2 million has been used for grants to industries and the remainder for the running expenses of the company.

The principal change with which this Bill deals is that envisaged in section 2 which empowers the Minister for Industry and Commerce to issue a grant-in-aid to the company for industrial development work, mainly promotional, in the mid-west region. The House will see that a general co-ordination between the company and the Industrial Development Authority is involved. This provison does not affect the company's existing powers at the airport, which remain untouched.

The Industrial Development Authority are the body charged with providing financial incentives for industry in the State generally, but sections 3 and 4 of this Bill provide that specific functions may be delegated by the authority to the company in respect of financial incentives for industry in the region.

Some anxiety has apparently been caused by the wording of previous legislation which provided for State assistance for dwellings in connection with the industrial estate at the airport. Sections 5, 6 and 7, in the first place, remove any doubts of this kind in relation to tenants who may be the widows and dependants of workers on the industrial estate or persons who have lost their jobs on the estate. The company have not, of course, taken such a strict view of the matter in the past. I need hardly say that in all new lettings of houses provided by the company, the principal factor will be the needs of the industrial estate and the Shannon town community.

Sections 6 and 7 also provide technical amendments, the effect of which is to continue the entitlement of the company to housing grants and repayable advances in the same manner as heretofore.

Section 8 provides for an increase of £9 million in the amount of share capital in the company which the Minister for Finance may take up. This additional money will be used mainly for industrial development—including the erection of factories for sale or rent —at Shannon and in the region outside the airport up to 1973.

The maximum amount of grants to be provided to meet the running expenses of the company and to enable it to give assistance to manufacturing at the airport is increased by section 9 by an amount of £4 million. This amount also includes the grants-in-aid to be issued by the Minister for Transport and Power towards the substantial part of the company's running expenses which is devoted to tourism.

Housing and community services at the airport are financed from advances repayable to the Minister for Finance. Section 10 increases the permissible aggregate of these advances by £3 million.

Section 11 has been drafted, on technical legal grounds, to clarify the manner in which reports and the accounts of the company shall be prepared and presented and pension schemes approved following the division of Ministerial functions by Order under the Ministers and Secretaries Act.

The other sections of this Bill are in customary form and are self-explanatory and ancillary.

I will bring the provisions set out in this Bill into operation by Order shortly after its enactment.

The mid-west region is benefiting from the existing activities of the company and will continue to have the use of the expertise and enterprise which made the company an appropriate and unique instrument for regional development. I expect that the experience of the company in the region will provide useful lessons as well as an example for regional development throughout the rest of the country. I am confident that the House will agree with me that every encouragement should be given to such enterprise at the present time. I recommend the Bill to the Seanad.

I should like to give a very warm welcome to the Bill and to assure the Minister of the co-operation of my party in getting it through with all possible expedition.

This Bill marks a further milestone in the remarkable success of the industrial development at Shannon Airport over the past decade. The figures which the Minister has given in his introductory speech are an indication of the importance of the industrial estate at Shannon Airport to the contiguous areas of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. Of the 4,500 workers at present employed in the Shannon industrial estate some two thirds, or almost 3,000, are domiciled in the city of Limerick. As a representative of that city I should like to emphasise how important to the economy of Limerick city and the contiguous area the Shannon industrial estate has been. In fact, the same statement could be made in respect of County Clare and other areas. I am sure other Senators who speak after me will wish to emphasis that fact.

A very important aspect from the point of view of our current balance of payments difficulties is the fact that Shannon Airport is a net exporter of some £30 million. This is a very important factor in redressing a large proportion of the present adverse trade balance. The increase in employment over recent years at an average rate of 450 must be without parallel in any other section of the country.

I should like to deal with the details of the Bill at a later stage and to confine myself at this juncture to some general remarks in regard to the current and future developments at Shannon Airport and in the mid-western region.

The objectives of SFADCO have altered dramatically since it was established as a limited company under the 1959 Act. The Minister may not recall it but at that time the principal aim was to develop alternative employment for what was feared would be substantial redundancy arising from a decrease in air passenger traffic consequent on the introduction of the jet planes. The company's objectives could be summarised as the development of an estate for industries oriented towards air freight, ware-housing facilities and the promotion of tourism and commercial air services through the airport.

I took the view at that time, as a Member of the other House, that rather than concentrating industrial development at the airport an industrial complex comprising Limerick, Shannon, Ennis and the contiguous area should be developed with industrial estates in the principal centres such as Limerick, Ennis and elsewhere in the region where established communities existed and where there was the necessary infrastructure, including schools, churches, shops, hotels and entertainment facilities. I believed then, I still believe and I think the House would agree with me that workers should obtain employment as near as possible to their place of residence and that finished goods intended for air freight could and still can be easily and quickly despatched to the airport by road from Limerick, Ennis and other centres.

The then Minister, Mr. Seán Lemass, did not accept those arguments at the time and Shannon was developed on its own as an industrial centre. For some years after it was first established in 1959 Shannon drew substantially on the surplus labour available in Limerick, Clare and elsewhere. The need for housing ultimately arose when it was found that labour had to be recruited from a wider area. Other social amenities had to be established and in fact out of the very nature of the development of the industrial estate a new town has arisen. Incidentally, I might say that at that time also I took the view that despite a temporary falling off in air passenger traffic the need for Shannon as an international passenger centre would continue notwithstanding any further technical developments in the field of aviation. Now that we are on the verge of the jumbo jet age I should like to express my personal conviction that Shannon will continue in the years ahead as an essential transatlantic international centre for all types of air traffic. Indeed, I visualise its importance as an air centre will continue to grow rather than diminish.

Shannon now finds itself as the hub centre of industrial development in the mid-west. In fact, the Bill which we are now discussing here today is very much in line with thinking on regional development over the past six or eight years. As the Minister will be aware, we have had several reports recommending the establishment of growth centres and industrial estates. The mid-western area is an obvious centre for such a development. The advantages of an industrial complex have been outlined in those various reports, the advantages of having groups of industries, rather than isolated industries, in a single centre where common technical requirements can be shared and which provide a viable base for technological training and advanced skills.

The formation of the Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary Regional Development Organisation—incidentally the only such organisation in the country—has given a further impetus to the development of industry on a regional basis. I am sure this has encouraged the Minister and his predecessor to proceed on the lines outlined in the Bill.

The mid-western development organisation carries very wide representation from all the local authorities and statutory bodies in the area. In addition, it has representatives from various Government Departments, SFADCO, harbour authorities, chambers of commerce, and others. These are all working and thinking together how best to promote the region in the best interests of all its citizens. As a member of that development organisation since its inception, I should like to pay a special tribute to the co-operative spirit which has been evident in that body since the first days of its establishment. It has been a very pleasing experience to work with the representatives of other counties, bodies and authorities in the advancement of the region as a whole.

We have been accused from time to time in this country of being too parochial in our attitudes. There has been ground for such criticism in the past. Any Member of this House who is conversant with the operations of the Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary Regional Development Organisation will support me when I say that this is regional development working at its very best. I should like to express the hope that other regions will follow the example of the mid-western organisation and by mutual agreement come together in the establishment of a body to look after their regional interests.

It may be of interest that the proposal to utilise the experience and expertise of the personnel of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company was first mooted by the Limerick Chamber of Commerce about six or eight years ago. At that time the proposal fell on somewhat deaf ears. It is now clear that the wisdom of the directors of the Chamber of Commerce, who were all businessmen in different spheres, was right and that the promotion of industrial development in the difficult current world conditions is a matter for professionals and not for amateurs however enthusiastic they might be. I do not wish to decry the efforts of voluntary bodies or of people who are prepared to give some of their time and experience and a little of their expertise, to developing their own and contiguous regions in co-operation with representatives of other areas. Anybody who gives time and effort to help his own and contiguous communities cannot receive too much praise. In this day and age of international competition the securing and the establishment of industry and the appraisal of the potentialities of industry are not matters for the layman but for the professionals.

Shannon Airport has built up a team which is without equal anywhere in the world today. We are fortunate that the mid-western development organisation has this team available to extend their promotional activities over the area as a whole. Representatives from SFADCO have sat on the board of the Limerick-Clare-North Tipperary organisation and have been guiding and dynamic factors in promotion development of that body and its work. They brought forward a five-year development plan for the establishment of factories throughout the area. That plan was received and endorsed unanimously by the members of the mid-western board. As a further indication of co-operation in the Limerick area, I might mention that sites for two advance factories have been provided by the Limerick Corporation and sites for an initial two factories have been provided by the Limerick Harbour Commissioners and more will be provided when necessary.

One aspect of the Bill which causes me some little concern, and was adverted to in the Dáil debate and replied to by the Minister, is the possible overlapping of the functions of the various organisations in the mid-western region now concerned with industrial development. I refer specifically to the IDA, SFADCO, the county development teams and the regional development organisation. I appreciate that the IDA must retain its functions in regard to the payment of grants to industrialists, but I wonder if it would simplify matters if the Shannon Free Airport Development Company could be charged with this task as an agent, if necessary, of the IDA? It seems to me that such a move is possibly visualised by the intention to regionalise the activities of the IDA.

The Minister might take cognisance of the different types of incentives available in the mid-western region. There is Shannon Free Airport where the major incentive is that 20-year tax free concession on profits emanating from the airport. There is the grant incentive available in that portion of the region which comes under the underdeveloped areas. Finally, there are grants and other incentives available in the rest of the region. It might lead to better organisation, more efficient administration and greater success generally in the establishment of industries throughout the area as a whole if these various incentives could be brought up to a common level.

All these plans for industrialisation in the mid-western area make it more than ever urgent that in Limerick, Ennis and other centres in the area the necessary technical and technologcal facilities should be available. I see a danger at the present time in that the new Institute for Higher Education in Limerick has not yet got off the ground notwithstanding the very energetic efforts of the new director, Dr. Walsh. Unless there is tremendous impetus to establish this Institute of Higher Education where full technological training will be available and unless these developments are pushed ahead almost of the projected industrial development, I can see that this region will run out of skilled operatives from the highest technical level down to the level of skilled workers.

That is a point the Minister might take up with his colleague in the Department of Education. The plans are there. As far as I know there is no provision in this year's Estimates to put them into effect. Everybody will agree that the establishment of an industry nowadays is dependent on an adequate complement of fully trained operatives, from the highest level downwards. A scarcity of skilled operatives could affect the projected industrial development. As the Minister is aware, it is proposed during the next five years to establish industrial projects throughout the area. I cannot see those going ahead effectively unless we have the personnel to work in them. Therefore, I hope the Ministers for Industry and Commerce and Education will get together on this important problem.

It would be impossible to discuss the development of the mid-western region without making some reference to the development in the Shannon estuary. In this regard the Minister is aware that after four or five years of negotiation the stage has been reached where the establishment of a single estuarial authority for the entire estuary is almost certain. However, it is very disconcerting that there has been a considerable lack of co-operation and encouragement, not from the Minister's Department because he is not concerned in this, but from the Minister for Finance. It is rather sad to think no grant or no assistance towards expenditure by the Limerick Harbour Commissioners of £17,000 to investigate the bar at the mouth of the Shannon has been forthcoming in spite of the fact that both the harbour commissioners and the regional development organisation have made several applications for assistance towards this very small sum. In fact, the replies from the Department concerned have rather taken the line that the harbour commissioners should not have proceeded to the extent of exploring the nature of this bar across the mouth of the Shannon. The value of this expenditure will be understood when I say that the removal of this bar would permit ships in excess of 500,000 tons, to come into the Shannon estuary with safety.

I am sure other Members of the Seanad have read, as I have in the last few days, that one of the Japanese shipyards will shortly be laying the keel of a vessel of 477,000 tons, so that we are in a very real sense in the era of the gigantic ship. The Shannon estuary is one of the very few waterways in Europe than can take ships of that size. It is, therefore, vitally important that simultaneously with the industrial development of the mid-westtern region the development of the Shannon estuary is proceeded with and that it does in fact become the centre of a major industrial complex. It is the ideal site for the establishment of heavy industries. Oil, smelting, chemicals—all these are industries for which Shannon is ideally suited. In any question of regional development this should be kept in the forefront. I hope the Minister will induce his colleagues in the Cabinet to take active and early steps for the promotion of the Shannon estuary as a site for major industrial development.

We read recently that further developments are mooted for Cork. While I have the greatest respect for the Cork people and wish them every succes with their industrial development I suggest that there is a very serious gap in the west and mid-west where industrial development up to now has fallen far behind development in Dublin and Cork.

The Minister mentioned the function of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company in relation to tourism. Here again I should like to pay them a very sincere tribute for their successful promotional activities in this field. I would suggest to the Minister that their work in this regard would be greatly assisted by better and more frequent air services between the Continent and Shannon Airport. Indeed there is room for vast improvement in the service between Shannon and London.

I noticed from the Dáil Debates that some of my colleagues from Limerick city referred to the development of King John's Castle. I should like to add my voice to support this project which has now been outstanding for the past five or six years and for which funds have been earmarked by the Departments concerned and also by the Shannon Free Airport Development Company.

King John's Castle is one of the finest landmarks in the country, and the necessary capital, not from the Minister's Department but from one of his colleagues' Department, to rehouse some eight families contiguous to the castle should be forthcoming without further delay. The projected expenditure there is in the nature of £200,000 and it is estimated that something like £1 million a year would be spent in Limerick city area. Surely the Department of Local Government could find in its coffers the sum of £25,000 or £30,000 to rehouse the eight families who would be disturbed by this development?

Within recent months in Limerick we had the serious experience of the sole shipping service between Limerick and the United Kingdom being withdrawn. I would like to suggest to the Minister that here again the development of the mid-western area cannot go ahead without cognisance being taken of the requirements of shipping services between the area and the United Kingdom and the Continent, and the continuation of a shipping service between Limerick and the Continent or between Limerick and the United Kingdom should not be left to the vicissitudes of private enterprise. If the Minister makes the necessary inquiries from industrialists in the Shannon Free Airport Estate he will find that there is very considerable disappointment because the sole shipping link between the area and the United Kingdom was withdrawn a few months ago. I would ask the Minister to take up with his colleague, the Minister for Transport and Power, the question of restoring that link, because I am satisfied, and indeed results of a market survey in the area have confirmed that such a shipping service, provided that it is pushed energetically by the people concerned, could be a viable enterprise.

There are many other provisions in the Bill that I do not need to go into in detail. They mainly concern the provision of additional capital for the services that the Minister has outlined in his report, but I would like to ask, is the Minister satisfied that the financial provisions in this Bill are adequate to deal with the very substantial industrial promotion programme visualised over the next five or ten years? On the face of it, they would appear to be adequate, but in these days of rapidly increasing costs of every kind under every head I would question whether the additional capital which now, indeed, looks adequate is, in fact, adequate.

This region is too important, and means too much to the people living in the area, for there to be any cavilling at the expenditure of a few more million pounds, and I am quite certain that this House and the Dáil would co-operate in giving the Minister every facility if further funds are required. There have been, and I presume some of us have participated in them, public meetings and debates about the urgent necessity of saving the west. A lot of crocodile tears have been shed down the years about this very real human problem. One way of ensuring not only the saving of the west in human terms but also the development of the west is to provide with all possible speed for the development of the mid-western region as a centre from which other developments would naturally follow in the years ahead.

I again would like to congratulate the Minister on introducing this Bill. I assure him of the full support of the Fine Gael Party and urge on him the necessity of having the provisions of the Bill put into effect without any avoidable delay.

I, too, welcome this Bill in so far as it will help the northern portion of the County Tipperary, namely Tipperary North Riding, but naturally, coming from the south of the county, I am disappointed that the portion of South Tipperary very near Limerick is not included in this region. While North Tipperary is included in the Limerick and Shannon region, South Tipperary is included in the Waterford region. While this would suit towns like Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel, it certainly does not suit Tipperary town, which is at least 50 miles from Waterford city whereas it is only 24 miles from Limerick City.

If Senators study the map of the area they will see the position of Tipperary town and the surrounding parishes. They are completely encircled by County Limerick. In fact, to travel to certain parts of County Limerick from Limerick City one must go through Tipperary town. That town is on a main arterial route, and we feel that inclusion in the Limerick region is our only hope of securing industries. If we are allowed to remain in the Waterford area it will mean that Tipperary town will be the last town that will benefit from industries extending from that area, whereas Tipperary is the nearest large town to Limerick City. The county of Limerick itself comes within three or four miles of Tipperary town. Parts of Tipperary, South Riding, are within 15 miles of Limerick City. To develop the region properly you must take a radius from the city, and that radius should take in Tipperary town. Again, it is a market town for a good deal of the county of Limerick. Indeed there are a number of parishes on the border, where half the parish is in county Tipperary and the other half in County Limerick.

Down through the years Tipperary has had very close associations with Limerick. A large number of workers, both male and female, travel every day from Tipperary to Limerick and to Shannon. Eventually those people settle down in either Shannon or Limerick, which means that the population of the Tipperary area is declining. At the moment, I understand, there is a population of about 13,000 in this area. The population was much greater about ten years ago. There are a large number of villages there, and in those villages there are only two industries, one in Dundrum and another in Cullen. While there are some industries in Tipperary town we badly need others because it is a town where there is unemployment. We are lucky enough at the moment to have the mines in Gurtdrum quite close to the town, which use Limerick port for the export of all their raw materials to the Continent but, like all mines, Gurtdrum will not last forever, and when Gurtdrum has run out of raw materials the unemployment problem will increase.

As Senators know, there is in the area the greatest junction in Ireland, Limerick Junction, which is not far from Tipperary. This is another reason why Tipperary should be placed in the Limerick mid-western region.

The industries that would suit Tipperary best are industries of the dairying type, because there are a large number of creameries in the area, and the rationalisation of creameries in the next five years will mean that a large number of creameries will close. That will mean further unemployment. Therefore we must try to secure some alternative industry.

There is a milk powder plant in Tipperary town which comes under the Dairy Disposals Board and which takes a large quantity of milk from the creameries. The plant is rather obsolete having been installed 20 years ago.

In conclusion, I would appeal to the Minister seriously to consider including the Tipperary area in the Limerick industrial area. According to the Buchanan Report it should be in Waterford on the basis that boundaries should not be infringed but boundaries have been infringed before and in any case we are one county. We may have two county councils but for all other purposes we are one, and therefore I would make an earnest appeal to the Minister seriously to consider allowing West Tipperary into the Limerick industrial area.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

I listened with great attention to the speech made by Senator Russell but I do not know whether I would be allowed to take the same liberties as he took because he discussed matters that were far outside the range of the Bill before us.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator should not implicitly criticise the Chair in referring to the remarks of another Senator.

I only wished to explain that I did not intend following the Senator's example. Nevertheless, since I come from the constituency in which is situated Shannon Airport, I consider that there is an obligation on me to say a few words on this Bill.

I remember Shannon Airport in the beginning when it had nothing but grass runways, and I have watched its progress through the many years since then. I have seen the inauguration of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company and, in association with everybody in Clare, I recognise the exceedingly good work that has been done by the company. As Senator Russell has said, they have acquired an expertise that distinguishes them in many respects from many of the other State bodies in that they started off from ground level. They founded an industrial complex that has been of considerable benefit to the area. They have given a new dimension to the viability of a western area as against the situation as it was before their establishment.

As an organisation such as SFADCO grows bigger, very often their expertise is recruited into other fields and they are now the industrial development company for the regional area. Within that area there are a number of other complexes. There are the county councils, county development teams, chambers of commerce, the regional development association and there is the Mid-West Tourist Organisation so that there are now so many complexes that it has become difficult to know who is in charge of what. However, in saying that I am not detracting in any way from their efforts or the success that SFADCO have achieved in their own right but at some time or other these various complexes will require further co-ordination. A considerable amount of public money will have to be spent on these bodies and, after the experts have had another look at the situation, it is possible they will be seen to be in competition with one another.

The company were faced with a sizable problem on the question of whether there would be enough workers because of the speed at which they developed factory operations. They realised that houses would have to be built in proximity to the airport area so that workers could be housed near the factories. As Senator Russell has pointed out, also, there was a divergence of opinion as to whether the areas which already had the infrastructure required for the building of suitable houses should not be used to create a domiciliary area around the airport where there were established communities so that it would be easy to fit the new workers who were to arrive at Shannon into already established communities. However, the opinions of other people were listened to and we now have a situation at Shannon where a new town is in the process of growing up. I am sure Senator Russell is also aware of this but many of the people who live there are not alone from Clare or Limerick but from Donegal, Roscommon, Wexford, Waterford and many other places throughout the country. The question will arise with regard to the integration of those people in the community in their own right but because Shannon Development Company are the owners of the houses those people have not any way to express opinions with regard to how they would like the community to be developed. We hear complaints that those people must eventually gain some status in their own right whether by way of town commissioners or urban councillors, so that they can meet and deliberate their own problems. My advice to those people would be to stay the way they are. Nevertheless, they feel they are inhibited from creating the kind of community they would like to have, in which they would be masters of their own decisions.

The question arises about how big this town should grow. We have the domiciliary areas around Shannon with the infrastructure. Should Shannon grow so big that instead of solving problems in relation to employment it will in the long run create more difficulties than it is likely to solve? Many of the people employed in Shannon would prefer to live in the settled communities which already exist around the area. My opinion is that there is some justification for that preference because if a town grows to a large extent and a huge number of homogeneous people from various places and having no common bond, are set side by side it will take two generations before they are integrated into the kind of community most people like to live in.

I do not want to say anything that would give the appearance that SFADCO have not done a wonderful job there, even in housing. The question arises, which will have to be answered by somebody, whether it be the Department of Local Government, the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Department of Transport and Power, as to the limitations that should be placed on this kind of development. As a member of the county council I know that in areas contiguous to Shannon having the requisite infrastructure there are many people who are asking what can be done with regard to building houses in their areas so that they can live in the areas where they were brought up and where they may be able to give a certain amount of help where there are small farms. A considerable amount of money is being provided for housing at Shannon and this prevents people in those outlying areas from obtaining housing. This matter should be considered at some higher level. The concensus of opinion in our area is that the interests of the people who are going to work there would be better served by giving them the option of living where they want to live rather than telling them that if they want a job at Shannon they must come and live at Shannon.

These are matters of considerable import but nobody in the area has any voice in deciding them because, with the exception of the Chairman, Mr. Brendan O'Regan, there is not anybody from the region on the board of Shannon Development Company. This development started within the area of Shannon Airport, within the customs closed area. If the company are to be the chief arbiters of the type of development we are to have in the region it is only fair and equitable that the people in the region should have one, two or three representatives on the board. They, in a general way, will decide the future of the area. The company have statutory authority and if they use it in the way they are entitled to use it county councils, urban councils and all the other various bodies will be standing by watching developments without having any voice in the final decision. I would recommend to the Minister that this matter should be looked at. The regional development association or the county development teams are under the umbrella of SFADCO. Nobody from the area has any voice in decisions.

Senator Russell raised the important question today of skilled workers. He advocated the case for the technological school in Limerick. I am a member of the Clare Vocational Education Committee. We have considerable success in training people for skilled purposes. There should be some liaison established, not with the Clare Vocational Education Committee, but between the Vocational Education Committees of Limerick and North Tipperary and SFADCO so that training schemes could be initiated in the schools which would be orientated towards the preparation of young people to fill the jobs being created at Shannon. Some of the factory people at Shannon have complained to me that they cannot get people to work for them. We have the schools and we have the capacity but we do not know the requirements. The Minister should mention to SFADCO the necessity for this kind of co-operation because if we are to work within a region you cannot exclude any part of the region or any of the activities in the region from the general scheme. If we are to have regional work then we must have it in the fullest sense so that all those living within the region can feel they are participating in the work of the region. This is very important.

Senator Russell made a lengthy discourse on the region as a whole. I do not wish to discuss the points he made. If regionalisation is to be accepted, every organisation in the region must have the right of participation. Conditions that are laid down must apply throughout the region.

Senator William Ryan made a point about Tipperary town which he said is close to the county boundary line. It is also true that parts of County Clare are 60 miles from Shannon. Children from west Clare are continually leaving the county while there are jobs to be filled at Shannon. They cannot get to Shannon because there is no transport to take them there. This poses a problem as to whether the activities of SFADCO should be spread into areas which are not immediately accessible. I do not know the optimum distance a person should commute to work. There are various opinions on this point. It is ridiculous to bring people 25 miles to work and to expect them to travel back 25 miles in the evening after their day's work. Clare County Council have provided a number of industrial sites in the county. They have provided one at Ennis, and one at Miltown Malbay, and are in the process of providing one at Kilrush because it was not possible for people to commute 25 miles every day, leaving home at 5 a.m. and returning at 10 p.m.

The Shannon Development Company should provide areas with the types of employment suitable to them, provided the infrastructure is correct. This is not impossible. It must be seen as part of regional development. Regional development must not be seen as the creation of a big complex at Shannon while the remainder of the county is left without industry.

I wish to endorse and underline practically everything Senator Honan has said. The Senator is speaking from his experience in Clare and has dealt very realistically with the Shannon Free Airport Development Company. On many occasions in the past we have discussed this point. I have held that it was crazy to try to build a new town at the end of a runway and that the logical development should have been to build up the neighbouring areas and the transportation involved. I do not think that a distance of 15 or 20 miles' travel by modern standards imposes any great barrier. Be that as it may, we have the situation as it is now where, at considerable expense, the nucleus of a town has been built at Shannon. We should study very carefully what has been done and what has been achieved there. Foremost among what has been achieved, we can see a very successful financial picture and the creation of an industrial complex involving 4,500 workers. This cost a good deal of money. I believe that the State's direct contribution to this has been £10 million. There are many hidden contributions to other facets of community development. These came out of other funds. If we are prepared to put money into any region it can be developed. The other necessary counterpart is technical skill and know-how. We are pleased to see that our own men, many of them graduates of our universities and vocational schools, when given the opportunities have shown themselves second to none in imagination and enterprise. We have those two ingredients and we should use them in many other areas.

I would be very slow to see any of our funds committed to building more new towns. We have more than enough towns at present which are crying out for development and for an industrial complex. When we come to considering the Buchanan Report the picture will become clearer as to what is to happen to these smaller towns. I hope they will not be decimated as seemed to be foreshadowed in the Buchanan Report which suggested that the country should be split into a small number of large industrial complexes. The intervening position would be difficult to imagine. We have something here which must be studied.

I would like to see a cost/benefit analysis done of the whole Shannon project. What does it really cost the taxpayer to provide 4,500 jobs? How much of that money went towards town development? What would it have cost to have spread that town development over four or five neighbouring centres while still maintaining the complex at Shannon? It would seem probable at some stage that a more central location could have been chosen. The figures are quite impressive, as they stand. There has been an output of £13 million per annum which is 20 per cent of the total of our industrial exports. That is almost £3,000 per worker. In the complex almost two-thirds of the workers are males. It is a very wellbalanced type of complex. The distances some workers have to travel by bus impose great hardships especially for female workers. Some workers travel as much as 40 miles or more to Shannon and home again each day. A concept of regional development would obviate that. It would ensure that the transport costs were directed towards developing industries in a co-ordinated way. A reduction of travelling time would leave people with more time to spare to become part of their local communities.

The idea of committing the pilot region of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary to the Shannon Airport Development Company is a helpful experiment because they have at Shannon quite a pool of expertise, though I feel that their experience is rather one-sided. In other words, their experience is in the development of Shannon which, as I see it, is largely a development based on outside capital companies and there is little or no local capital in it, as far as I know. I should like to ask if there is much local capital in it. Certainly there is not any capital of a co-operative nature in it.

That is what you expect in an industrial estate that is largely dependent on the outside. The type of regional development we want to see is very different from that; it would be of a more co-operative nature and would entail much greater involvement of local communities. If I interpret Senator Honan rightly, he was calling for that.

In such a situation it would seem that the thinking of the Shannon group may not be along the proper lines. Certainly the IDA would want to see that development is balanced and that particular stress is placed on co-operative enterprise in those areas. We cannot simply regard development as an effort to procure an industrialist from Japan or from Mars who would put his capital like manna from Heaven into a local community. I should much prefer to see the local groups coming together, putting up their portion, and the State helping by way of grants and loans that would later be taken up by the workers becoming part shareholders.

In such a small community there is not room for two classes in the operation of factories. The workers must feel it is their factory, operated from their savings and in the form of the overtime work they put into it. Therefore, when the going gets difficult, they know that the answer is long hours of hard work to keep the factory going. It is some kind of co-operative development along those lines I should like to see fostered in the pilot area of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary.

The State has invested about £1,500 per worker directly in Shannon, whatever the indirect investment is. We have built up there to 6,000 and before we move further I should like to see an assessment of what planners regard as a viable community. When they get to 6,000 the next viable community is 10,000 and once 10,000 is reached it goes up to 20,000. We want a settled policy on this.

The factories at Shannon have created a demand for a number of skills that call for a high level of training of the personnel involved. Training can be supplied by the vocational schools and through the proposed new institute of technology in Limerick. As a Limerickman who is concerned with the development of the region, I am anxious and eager to see the institute progress and play a useful part in our development. I advise those involved that they will make far better progress if they begin by not thinking that all innovation in Ireland begins with this new institute. Those who for long have carried the burden in our universities have made their contributions and they think along the most modern lines. They know the deficiencies of our system—they know the lack of capital and of other resources we are constantly up against.

It ill becomes Limerick to try to build its new institute by denigrating the established universities of the country. I hope we shall have less of that and that that, in turn, will pave the way for much more genuine co-operation between the new institute and the existing universities. The type of courses suggested for the institute in Limerick are sandwich courses, part-time study courses and so on. They are all useful, but they supplement or are companions of the normal degree courses and both have their function. The main part of a degree course is to train a man to think.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I hesitate to intervene but I am afraid the Senator has moved step by step and has finally reached a point which is some distance from the Bill before the House.

Yes, but the success and the development of the region is tied in a great deal with the success of the new institute and I wanted to give those concerned a few words of friendly advice on how to do it on a proper co-operative basis. I will pass on from there. I would hope that the planners will seek to make the fullest use of agricultural produce in the area and not to follow the dichotomy of regarding agriculture as being on one side and industry on the other. The one thing in this region we must think about is the processing of agricultural produce.

There is near Limerick the Golden Vale Group and if the new development can link in and achieve friendly co-operation with the Golden Vale people it will be on the right track. If we look at Limerick itself, it has almost one million acres of first-class arable land. In that way we get an idea of the significance of what is done at Shannon. In other words, the net output there is £13 million at the moment. That is quite good but what is it but £13 per acre on the million acres in Limerick, and any industrialist looking at the Limerick scene and its potential will see the scope there not for a £13 million increase but for twice or three times that.

Again, I appeal for the proper place of agriculture in our development and I do not think there is any agricultural side to the Shannon development. The Company must appreciate that agriculture is a fact of life and therefore must see that that fact is constantly kept in mind in promoting the areas entrusted to them.

As for planning as a whole, we must see that it is interwoven into a proper scheme and with proper regard for the amenities of the area and above all the amenities of Limerick city. A city can deteriorate very quickly and get into the unfortunate situation in which many of the fine resorts in Cork are at the moment with oil spillages. All these things must be guarded against and severely dealt with and Limerick might be forewarned by what has happened elsewhere. We must see that standards are maintained and that Limerick remains, as it has been, a very fine environmental area.

I should like to ask the Minister whether anything has happened in this area in regard to the development of the Europort which made such headlines six to eight years ago. I presume this would be too big an undertaking for the development company as it is but it is something that we hope has not been lost sight of. Certainly, the need for larger ships is growing and becoming more evident every day and consequently the claims of Limerick to a major port are obvious.

There is little else to say except to ask why this grotesque name— SFADCO, or whatever one calls it? Why should that not at least be abbreviated to something that can be used readily? Why not cut it down to at least SDC—Shannon Development Company? It is the most grotesque contraction I have seen in a long time.

I should like to congratulate the company and those associated with it for the great work they have done. Anything I have said or indeed that Senator Honan or other Senators have said does not detract from their great work but we must be prudent and learn from it. We are in the happy position that our need is not for new cities or new towns but simply to strengthen and invigorate those we have got.

I have very little to say because I have no great interest in Limerick or Shannon Airport. I am interested in the west of Ireland. However, we have the greatest admiration for the Shannon Free Airport Development Company. It has done a magnificent job of work. Those of us who are outside the area certainly are envious of it.

We are a little bit concerned about this development and the amount of money that has been expended on it. One wonders how long the millions of pounds that are being poured into this area will continue to be poured into it. To develop it to what size? Senators here have expressed the opinion that towns around the area should be developed. I would join with them in expressing the view that this should be done and that somewhere and soon a halt should be drawn to the growth of the development there.

It may be argued that it is an economic necessity to make the big places bigger. I fail to see this because I feel that in order to keep our country viable we must keep our people, to a large extent, in the areas and in the communities in which they now are. I would say that if a certain number of the millions of pounds that are being now spent on Shannon were to be diverted into any other area that area would be bound to grow also. I am not in any way denigrating the job that has been done in Shannon. It is wonderful. However, whatever Buchanan says about natural growth areas, I feel that we can do with a certain amount of growth in other areas. If, for instance, the port of Galway had the amount of money spent on it that Shannon Airport has had spent on it I have no doubt that it would develop into a very fine port indeed.

In his speech today the Minister said that the mid-west region has an important place in the western area. I have a different idea of geography from the Minister's. Anyone living in the midlands and anyone over in the west of Ireland would certainly consider south Clare or Limerick very much the south of the country which would not affect to a large extent what we would call the west of Ireland. This is a thing we are concerned with. I suppose it could be a matter of whose geography is at fault. I know where I think the west of Ireland it. I know that north Clare may be regarded as part of the west of Ireland but to a Mayo man, for instance, Clare is not the west of Ireland, Clare is the south of Ireland. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to think and to tell us how much more money will be poured into Shannon and whether, by pouring in this money, we will be depriving other areas of a certain amount of development with which they could do because populations are leaving many areas very fast and once they leave it is very hard to get people to come back.

The only other thing that would exercise my mind is the part of the county development teams in the Shannon Free Airport Development Company. My impression was that, under the new regionalisation plan— and I may be wrong in this—the county development teams would still be responsible directly to the small industries division in Dublin and would deal with them directly where small industries were concerned. I may be interpreting what the Minister said in the Dáil incorrectly. He said at column 2104 of Volume 246:

I cannot spell out what the county development team is doing.... There is no doubt but that it is on SFADCO's competent shoulders that the industrial development of the mid-west region will lie.

This seems to me to be slightly different from the impression we got about the role of the county development teams in the regional plan for the future. Perhaps when the Minister is replying he will clarify the situation for us because the county development teams have done very great work in their counties and it would be a pity now if responsibility for developing the small industries in these areas were to be taken away from them. We know that under the new regional offices the regional officer will be responsible for the overall development in the area but I understand that county development teams were still to be concerned with small industries.

Once more I should like to say that I admire greatly the work that has been done in Shannon. They have even written it up in the Reader's Digest as the Airport that refused to die. The men down there who have set the headlines for regional development as a whole are to be congratulated. I hope their work will continue to prosper but that it will not prosper at the expense of the rest of the country.

I, like other Senators, should like to welcome the Bill. I welcome the extension of authority into the region including Clare, Limerick city and county and Tipperary.

We in Limerick are rather dissatisfied with the portion of the industrial cake that we have received both in the county and in the city. It may be argued that Limerick city is fortunate by virtue of the fact that it is only 16 miles from Shannon and as a result a very high percentage of our working population are employed in Shannon. Nevertheless we feel that over the past ten years we have been forgotten in the industrial field. We feel particularly concerned about west Limerick. While Shannon Development has helped west Limerick to some extent by bringing industry to Newcastlewest we feel that it is not sufficient.

Several Senators have mentioned the long distance that workers have to go to work. That was a point on which I wanted to speak in particular. Some girls travel 50 miles each way by bus and prior to joining the bus at Newcastlewest some of them cycle five or six miles. These young girls return at 9 o'clock at night and sometimes have to cycle along dark lonesome roads. It must be a health hazard that they should be asked to work and to travel these long distances. I believe that Shannon Airport, in spite of the great service it has rendered to the workers of the area, is a bit top heavy, and that we should concentrate more on rural Ireland.

I should like to pay tribute to the Shannon Free Airport Development Company for the interest they have shown, outside the industrial field, in tourism. They have taken part in the introduction of the scheme known as "rent an Irish cottage" in the region, which has in its own small way become very beneficial to the small villages. Some of these villages, while they particularly badly need an industry, will never be fortunate enough to get one. For that reason this scheme will be a big advantage to the community in small villages. People who come here from England, America and even farther away are very happy when they return to say that they lived in and enjoyed a holiday in a traditional Irish home. This scheme, in my opinion, should be encouraged.

I will conclude by asking the Minister to do all in his power for the people in rural Ireland and to bring more industries into places like west Limerick.

It can be truthfully said that this Bill has met with an overall degree of welcome in the Seanad, and I would like to take the opportunity of thanking the Members for the constructive manner in which they have dealt with this subject. There is no doubt that overall this measure is welcomed. Senator Russell in his opening remarks spoke on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, welcomed this measure and hoped that it would be enacted and that the consequential Orders would be made as soon as possible. I welcome this approach, and I should like in reply to endeavour to cover a number of the matters that were raised during the course of the debate.

I should like to select, if I may, a number of the subjects that were referred to on both sides of the House in relation to the effect of this piece of legislation. I find that there was reference to the further expansion of the Shannon area industrial estate and the housing complex, and there were questions asked as to whether it was a good thing to be pouring more money into industrial development in this area, and into further housing there. At that stage a number of Senators lost sight of the actual purpose of the Bill, in that this piece of legislation is in its own way an expression of confidence in the ability of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company to extend its area of supervision into the much wider areas which embrace counties Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary. The additional money being provided under this enabling legislation is not specifically for the further development of an estate which is flourishing and has flourished over a period. It is money being provided for the further development of the two and a half counties covered in this new legislation.

The last speaker, Senator O'Brien, did call for a greater spreading of the benefits of SFADCO, and in fact this is embraced in this legislation.

Senator Russell, who spoke earlier, wondered if I was satisfied that the financial provisions in the Bill were adequate. Let me say that the intention in this regard, and it is spelt out, is to provide for a reasonable period of three years ahead and then to come back to the Oireachtas for more if necessary. This short period, as I see it, is an ideal length of time, because it does enable both Houses of the Oireachtas to express themselves again on the progress or otherwise made by SFADCO in the intervening three-year period. If, in fact, the amounts that are being provided prove inadequate it will mean coming back sooner than at present expected, and this presents no real problem.

Under the Bill the Minister for Industry and Commerce will provide an increased share capital from £8 million to £17 million as well as an increased provision for grant-in-aid from £6 million to £10 million. In addition, the Bill provides for an increased amount of repayable advances from £7 million to £10 million. This is the ideal way to superintend the operations of SFADCO, in that both Houses will therefore have the opportunity of reviewing the progress made by the company in conjunction with the IDA over the three-year period.

This would to a great extent cover the points made by Senator Quinlan, who was rather worried about the overall continual expansion of the development in the industrial estate area. I was rather intrigued by Senator Quinlan's approach to this subject, because though he did find reason to criticise in the early stages from the point of view that it did not seem sensible to him to create an industrial estate and a town at the end of a runway, at the same time the general overall tone of the debate here and in the Dáil in relation to this has been one of congratulation on the success of the operation of this Shannon development company since its establishment. Many tributes were paid to the inception of the idea.

Listening to Senator Quinlan developing the idea of providing the industrial estate at Shannon and developing housing in the surrounding towns for the people who would be working there it seemed contradictory that he should, at the same time, find occasion to criticise the necessity for workers to travel 30 or 40 miles to the industrial estate area. Senator O'Brien also referred to this question of travel. SFADCO have taken the right attitude in endeavouring to create a town at Shannon in order to cultivate a local community and in order to meet the housing requirements in the immediate vicinity that would tie in in a most comprehensive way with the further development requirements of the Shannon industrial estate area.

A point raised by Senator Honan and one which was also raised in the Dáil was the question of the need for someone from the community area to be represented on SFADCO. This brings us back to the idea that SFADCO are only catering for the industrial development and the housing development in the airport area but in actual fact under this Bill their domain of responsibility is becoming so extended that it would be improper at this stage to give serious consideration to the appointment of someone from the local community to the board of SFADCO from the point of view of solving local community problems or expressing local community views, because of the wide spectrum of responsibility now being given to SFADCO.

Fears have been expressed by Senator Farrell and by other Senators about the danger to the small industries development in this area in view of the expression of confidence in the operations of the board of SFADCO and in view of the expression of congratulations to them for the progress they have achieved up to now. It is rather contradictory to compliment them on the one hand on the success of their endeavours so far and, on the other hand, to express doubts or reservations about the possibility of their being able to make a success of development in this wider area which I describe as the mid-west region.

I was questioning the role of the county development teams in areas which would be controlled by SFADCO in view of what is envisaged for the county development teams under regional planning.

I was hoping to reach that point. Senator Farrell stated specifically that her interest was directed to a great extent to the well-being of the west of Ireland. I do not accept that this mid-west area is not in the west but we can agree to differ on this. Let me say, however, that what Senator Farrell possibly forgets in this regard is that not all of the area within this mid-west region is an area to which is attached a county development team. There are development teams in the designated areas of all counties but the East Limerick and North Tipperary regions are not in the designated areas and, consequently, they do not have county development teams. From the point of view of the industrial development that comes within the ambit of the IDA as a whole, there will be regions such as Clare in this case which has a county development team whereas North Tipperary has not, where SFADCO are now being assigned the responsibility for the further industrial development, having already established and proved themselves to be experts in the field of development within the sphere of the industrial estate. As a group, they will be a separate entity from the type of situation that will exist in all other developing regions. I do not think there is any need for Senator Farrell to worry specifically about the possibility of SFADCO being allowed to use up all the available capital resources for industrial development.

This brings me to a point raised by Senator Russell—in respect of which the Senator said I had not given satisfactory replies in the Dáil in answer to questions—namely, the giving to SFADCO of the overall responsibility for being the grant-paying authority. There is adequate justification for maintaining the IDA as the overall grant-paying authority since we must avoid the type of situation where there would be competition, as it were, between a rival responsibility in one developing area as against an interest in the new mid-west region. I may be over-exaggerating in this but I can see every reason for taking precautions to prevent a situation arising where SFADCO on the one hand would be endeavouring to attract an industry to the mid-west region while the IDA would be endeavouring to attract the industry to some other western area.

Being from the midlands, I was surprised to hear Senator Farrell say that Roscommon is more west than Clare. Perhaps we can agree to differ on that. I suppose it depends on one's point of view.

I said it was in the midlands.

I am sorry Senator Quinlan is not here because he said he found it difficult to get around the contraction "SFADCO". I want to say that I found it difficult also but it rolls off the tongue now. It struck me it would be difficult to abbreviate. For instance, if you were to take the "F" out of it to make it easier to pronounce I do not know if "SADCO" would be a good contraction either. It has got itself very well established as "SFADCO". Everybody pays tribute to the successful manner in which SFADCO have performed their responsibilities up to now. I gather from the people representing the areas that they welcome the extension of the responsibilities of SFADCO to all of Clare, all Limerick and the North Tipperary areas and if one were to try to measure the confidence the House has in it one need only refer to the comments by Senator Willie Ryan who was so anxious to get his Tipperary area into the new mid-western region. It is quite natural in that regard that anybody on the fringe areas of the mid-west who can visualise definite advantages accruing therefrom would want to try to get into it. It is natural that a case could be made by the local representatives in this regard but when one tries to extend borders in this way the pressures keep developing. The areas have been assigned at this stage and any interference with the arrangements that have been made and the various boundaries which have been created would not be of advantage at this stage.

My predecessor — I propose to keep following this—arranged with SFADCO and with the IDA that they should consult together in regard to the Tipperary town area in view of its involvement economically in the Limerick area. Senator Russell paid a tribute to SFADCO and as I am in the House I should also pay tribute to them for the work they have done. The efforts of many people to get into the area is adequate proof that the people of that region have every confidence in SFADCO.

Senator Russell drew attention to the three rates of grants available in that region. As I have just said to Senator Farrell this is not peculiar to the mid-west as it will obtain in many regions where you have some counties designated and other counties in the same region not designated. This is where the advantage of being able to review the situation in two or three years time arises because with the energy that SFADCO can be expected to put into the industrial drive it will not be necessary to create further inducements to attract industrialists into the areas of the mid-west which are not now designated. If we were to try to justify that it would take from what is an expression of sincere confidence in SFADCO to get the job done.

I said in my opening remarks, anticipating this, that SFADCO have already moved and I have no reason to think that progress will not be continued. There were other points raised by Senator Russell but I do not think he can expect me to deal specifically with the functions of my colleague, the Minister for Transport and Power, in dealing with King John's Castle or the development of air transport between Shannon and London and between Shannon and the Continent. I am not endeavouring to cast any aspersions on the Chair but those are items which do not come within my ambit as Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Senator Honan naturally spoke with a degree of authority on this subject because of his vast knowledge of it. He drew attention to the need to try to improve relationships. I said in the Dáil that I would be endeavouring to give attention to this matter but I do not think it would be properly resolved by appointing somebody from the airport town area on to a company which has a far broader area to look after. I shall try to see if there are problems of a local nature which need to be properly attended to. I do not think I have much further to say on this which would necessitate my asking the House to excuse me for the vote in the other House. Again, I want to welcome the manner in which the Bill has been received.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Next Stage?

As there seems to be general agreement, could we have the remaining Stages now?

Next week.

If there is no serious intention of moving amendments we might have the remaining Stages now.

I have not any intention of putting down amendments but I understand Senator Alexis FitzGerald wants to consider the matter further.

We will have the Committee Stage next sitting day.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I would point out if we order it for next sitting day we will have to take it tomorrow. We could order it for next Wednesday and if the House does not sit next Wednesday we could take it the next sitting day after that.

Could we take it tomorrow?

There would be no time for amendments.

Is there any urgency from the Minister's point of view?

No, but if there is no serious intention of moving amendments why delay a Bill merely for the sake of delaying it?

Could I say this to the Leader of the House? It will be acknowledged that Senators on this side of the House and indeed Senators sitting behind the Leader of the House are entitled to give adequate consideration to the question of amendments.

I should like to get this off my chest very briefly. I will probably deal with it at some length later. The practice which seems to be the custom here, of asking the Seanad to give all Stages of the Bill together places Senators on this side of the House in a compromising position very frequently. They do not want to be discourteous or unobliging. Very often they are not in a position to give the consideration which they feel they should give to the question of amendments. Even though a Senator may not have formulated a particular amendment I think he is entitled to the opportunity of considering whether he will put down an amendment. He cannot do that if all Stages are demanded to be given together.

I did not demand but only suggested. Since the Senators seemed to be in general agreement I suggested that all Stages be taken. I have no objection to putting the Committee Stage back to next Wednesday.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 17th June, 1970.