Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries: Motion.

I move:

(1) That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas (which shall be called the Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries) be established consisting of 11 members of Dáil Éireann and 7 members of Seanad Éireann (none of whom shall be a member of the Government or a Minister of State) to examine:

such aspects of

(a) Ireland's relations with developing countries in the field of development co-operation, and

(b) the Government's Official Development Assistance Programme.

as the Committee may select and to report thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas.

(2) That provision be made for the appointment of substitutes to act for members of the Joint Committee who are unable to attend particular meetings.

(3) That the Joint Committee, previous to the commencement of business, shall elect one of its members to be Chairman, who shall have only one vote.

(4) That all questions in the Joint Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting and in the event of there being an equality of votes the question shall be decided in the negative.

(5) That every report which the Joint Committee proposes to make shall on adoption by the Joint Committee be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas forthwith whereupon the Joint Committee shall be empowered to print and publish such report together with such related documents as it thinks fit.

(6) That 5 members of the Joint Committee shall form a quorum of whom at least 1 shall be a member of Dáil Éireann and at least 1 shall be a member of Seanad Éireann.

The motion before the House is the first step in the procedure for establishing this committee. This is also the first occasion on which a Joint Committee of the Oireachtas has been established to consider Ireland's co-operation with developing countries and I take the opportunity to outline the background to this initiative.

Since 1973, Ireland's assistance to developing countries, known as Official Development Assistance (ODA), has risen substantially as a result of two events. The first was our entry to the European Community which involved us for the first time in the Community's programme of assistance to developing countries which was itself undergoing rapid expansion at the time. The First and Second Lomé Conventions with what are now 60 African, Caribbean and Pacific States, both of which were signed during Irish Presidencies of the Council of Ministers, are the central elements of the Community's extensive and, indeed, progressive programme of aid to developing countries. In 1980, the Community's total aid to developing countries will amount to more than £1 billion of which Ireland's contribution will be approximately £6.7 million. This makes our involvement in the Community's aid programme the single largest element of our Official Development Assistance Programme.

The other event that occurred was the establishment by the Government in 1974 of a bilateral aid programme. The Government recognised that, despite the economic and social problems that existed here, Ireland was still one of the wealthiest nations in the world in terms of income per head and this imposed on us an obligation to make some contribution to those countries which were immeasurably poorer and less developed than ourselves. A bilateral aid programme, it was felt, offered us an opportunity to make a direct and distinctively Irish contribution to development. In this way, the special skills that we in Ireland possess could be used to help other countries and peoples in a way that would complement and reinforce the tremendous and unstinting work done by Irish missionaries in developing countries over the years.

At the same time as the bilateral aid programme was introduced, the Agency for Personal Service Overseas was established to promote and sponsor personal service by Irish people in developing countries. As I have said, the traditional contribution to development by Ireland was her people, in the form of missionaries and lay volunteers, sponsored by the churches and the voluntary organisations engaged in development. It was felt that through APSO, official recognition and support could be given to this work. Since its inception, APSO has been funded entirely by my Department by way of a grant-in-aid under the Vote for International Co-operation. This year, APSO'S grant-in-aid will amount to £1 million. I am glad to acknowledge the work of Senator Whitaker, a member of this House, who was the first chairman of APSO and guided the organisation successfully through its formative years.

From the beginning, it was decided to concentrate the bilateral aid programme on a small number of target or priority countries. Given that Ireland could never hope to provide very large sums of money in absolute terms, it was felt that this method offered the best prospect of maximising the effectiveness of our aid. It would enable us to build up a coherent programme in full co-operation with the host countries. It would also enable the public here to see more easily the results of our efforts which would help to secure the necessary public support and encouragement for the programme.

The bilateral aid programme is now concentrated in four ‘priority countries' in Africa — Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia and Sudan — which between them receive more than 60 per cent of annual expenditure. The other major elements of the programme are the co-financing of development projects with Irish voluntary organisations, assistance for the education and training of students from developing countries and development education, of which I will say more later on.

From modest beginnings in 1974, the bilateral aid programme has expanded rapidly. Expenditure in the first year was £275,000 and this will rise to £5.15 million in 1981. Ireland also gives aid bilaterally in other ways besides the bilateral aid programme. I have already mentioned the Agency for Personal Service Overseas, which is funded entirely by the Government. In addition a provision is made for disaster relief, by which bilateral assistance is given in the immediate aftermath of a disaster such as famine, earthquake or war. A small grant is also given to Gorta towards its administrative expenses and the costs of the advisory council on development co-operation are met from development aid funds.

Taking all these areas together, total expenditure on bilateral aid this year will amount to over £6.5 million which makes this the second largest element of our ODA programme after the EEC contribution.

One of the features of the bilateral aid programme is the extent to which many State, semi-State and private bodies spanning all sections of the community are involved in its implementation. This has been deliberately encouraged in order to make the development effort as truly national as possible and to foster greater interest in and awareness of developing countries in the country as a whole. Many of the development projects financed under the bilateral aid programme are implemented by Irish State, semi-State and private bodies. Most of these projects are technical assistance projects since they involve mainly the provision of specialist skills accompanied in some cases by small amounts of capital aid. The choice of this type of project is both logical and sensible for a small country like Ireland which, as I have said, can never hope to be a major donor of capital aid. What we can offer are the skills and experience that we have gained in the course of our own development which, we should all remember, did not pre-date that of developing countries by very long.

From my own experience of developing countries, I am quite satisfied that this sort of assistance is in great demand and highly effective and this may go some way towards explaining the enthusiasm with which certain sectors in Ireland that are not directly concerned with developing countries — for example the higher education sector and the semi-State bodies — have become involved in our bilateral aid programme. Clearly, these bodies regard their co-operation with developing countries as both productive and rewarding. People who serve in developing countries come back to Ireland enriched by their experiences abroad and better able to serve the community to which they return.

If I have concentrated on bilateral aid so far, it is only because of our extensive involvement in this area at governmental and non-governmental level. But the field of development co-operation is a much broader one involving many complex and interrelated issues in the areas of food production, energy, commodities, trade, industrialisation, and finance. The European Community has repeatedly emphasised that co-operation between developed and developing countries and the intensification of international economic relations serve the interests of all countries. In an interdependent world, it is not simply a matter of increasing the flow of aid funds to developing countries, it is much more a question of integrating them as rapidly and as fully as possible into the global economic structure. Many of these issues have far reaching implications for our own domestic economic and social policies that must be faced up to. There are no easy solutions and, indeed, in some cases it is not entirely clear what the real problems are. But we must begin to look at the full range of development problems in a coherent and integrated manner. If we have learned anything from the Brandt Report it is that, in the long term, the problems of developing countries are also our problems and if we are to look forward to a world of peace and prosperity for all countries and peoples, we must start now to search for solutions to these problems.

The importance and the complexity of these issues make it both necessary and desirable that Members of the Oireachtas should consider them in greater detail than has been possible hitherto in debate in the Dáil and Seanad. For this reason the Government have decided to establish a Joint Committee of the Oireachtas to provide a forum for the comprehensive analysis and discussion of these matters.

The proposed terms of reference of the joint committee are set out in the motion before the House. The joint committee will cover all aspects of Ireland's relations with developing countries in the field of development co-operation including the Government's Official Development Assistance Programme. I would like to assure the House that both I and my Department will be anxious to give the joint committee every possible assistance in its work. I would propose to brief the joint committee personally from time to time and supplementary briefing material will be supplied by my Department as required.

I believe that this joint committee will make a very positive contribution to the formulation of Government policy in this field. There already exists the Advisory Council on Development Co-operation whose function is to advise the Government on all aspects of development co-operation. I would see the joint committee as complementing and reinforcing the work of the council by involving in this process the Members of the Oireachtas who are, after all, most directly concerned with the economic and social issues which are at stake here.

There is, however, another way in which I believe this joint committee can be of benefit and that is in the area of development education. I have already said that there is very extensive involvement in our bilateral aid programme on the part of many organisations and individuals in Ireland. There is also a great deal of public support for developing countries as evidenced by the very large and sustained financial support given to the voluntary organisations in this field. Despite this, however, a recent survey conducted by the Advisory Council on Development Co-operation revealed a widespread lack of awareness among Irish people both of the problems of developing countries and of the Government's response to these problems.

Clearly, therefore, there is an urgent need in Ireland for development education, the objectives of which are to increase public awareness of and interest in developing problems and to disseminate information on the Government's Official Development Assistance Programme. It is, I believe, of vital importance that public consciousness of development problems should be increased. As I have said already, many of these problems will have very direct repercussions here in Ireland in the future and we need to begin the process of educating people on the nature and extent of the problems involved and the ways in which we can help to solve them. We also need to inform the public of what is already being done by the Government on their behalf through the official development assistance programme. In this way, the necessary support and encouragement for its expansion will be generated.

The involvement of Members of the Oireachtas in the development education process is of fundamental importance since their attitudes and opinions have considerable influence on public opinion. If Members of the Oireachtas take a sepcial interest in the problems of developing countries, their lead will be followed by others, which will result in a greater level of awareness of these issues among the public.

I believe that the joint committee, by focusing attention on this area, will have a very considerable impact on the formation of public opinion and, in this way, will greatly increase Ireland's contribution to development co-operation.

In establishing this joint committee, the Government are seeking to build on the foundation of Ireland's co-operation with developing countries which has been laid by generations of missionaries and lay workers and by successive governments, particularly since 1973. Ireland's reputation as a friend of developing countries is very high. Our history has much in common with many of them and the development problems which we ourselves encountered not so long ago are similar to the ones which they are facing at present. The goodwill that these countries have for us imposes an even greater responsibility on us to contribute to their development from our own resources and to use our good offices and influence to encourage the adoption of global policies that will lead to a more equitable sharing of resources. I believe that the joint committee will have a vital and integral role to play in this process so that Ireland's contribution to development will fully live up to the expectations that exist both at home and abroad.

The attitude of all parties in relation to co-operation with developing countries is a positive one and I welcome this proposal. Our record in regard to developing countries has been somewhat erratic. We have, in some cases, given a good deal of help in one way or another but, on the other hand, any time when we sit down to consider what we have contributed we must feel that we have fallen far short of what we should be doing. That is party due to our limited finances and resources but we should be able to do something better than we have being doing in the past. We have the advantage, as the Minister said, of being not far removed from the category of a developing country. We appreciate many of their problems and for that reason we are in a position perhaps to do something more than wealthier countries to help them by knowing what their problems are. The idea of setting up a joint committee is a good one. It is important that the Members of both Houses should have a part to play in such a joint committee. It will perform a very useful function. It is an area in which a joint committee can be very useful. We have on many occasions in the past discussed the desirability of setting up more committees, more joint committees, of involving both Houses more closely in the administration of the affairs of the country and the administration of this kind of procedure. This is an area in which a joint committee can play a very useful part. I welcome the setting up of this joint committee.

It is with pleasure that I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Keeffe, to this House. The setting up and establishment of a Joint Committee of the Oireachtas on Development Co-operation is an enlightened step and one I wholeheartedly welcome. In recent years it has become clear that many Members of the Oireachtas are especially interested in matters relating to the Third World and they would be glad of an opportunity to extend their involvement in this area. Their ability to do so, however, is somewhat hampered by the complexity and diversity of the issues involved and by the pressure of business with which they are involved in their separate Houses. This does not permit a comprehensive analysis or discussion of these issues. The joint committee would respond to this need by providing a forum in which Members of the Oireachtas could increase their knowledge of development co-operation and critically examine Ireland's role in relation to the Third World. By the end of 1981 the Government will have contributed £18 million to the Third World and the intention is progressively to increase the amount each years so that the UN target of .7 per cent of gross national product can be reached by 1990. It is important, therefore, that the joint committee examine all aspects of the Government's relations with developing countries, including the development co-operation programme and the policies pursued by the Government in international forums. It would be useful too if the joint committee might be empowered to receive oral or written submissions from the public and from the various individual and non-Governmental organisations which engage in development co-operation.

The presentation of reports to both Houses of the Oireachtas would stimulate further thought and, hopefully, action and would increase interest in and awareness of development programmes among elected representatives and, through them, enlighten the public generally. Prior to 1973 almost all of Ireland's official development assistance was directed to the multilateral agencies of the United Nations such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Bank. In 1974 the bilateral aid programme was set up with the primary objective of channelling official Irish aid in the most effective way possible to the poorer countries of the developing world and to the populations of those poor countries. Since 1974 the bilateral element has been built up as a proportion of overall overseas development aid in order to make a direct, distinctive and identifiably Irish contribution to development. Within the bilateral aid programme assistance is concentrated on four priority countries, Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania and Sudan, which between them receive over 60 per cent of the total expenditure.

When entering upon any programme of development aid it is vital that there should be a cohesive, on-going and united approach. In the past there has been a tendency for a lack of continuity from successive Governments here. This stop-go approach has been bad enough when witnessed here in Ireland but its effects on development work overseas has been demoralising for the very many enthusiastic and dedicated field workers and has left in its trail uncompleted projects and disillusion. The establishment of this joint committee of the Oireachtas would help to even out the bumps and hollows which are an inevitable part of political change at this end and ensure continuity of input. We must guard against building up expectations in Third World countries which cannot be realised. It is well high impossible to reconstitute a collapsed project especially in a co-funded situation. We must never lose sight of the fact that at the bottom line is the child in an impoverished rural area who must eat clay when rice and beans run out, or the man or woman roaming the slums of a crowded city street searching garbage for something to eat.

We must be totally honest in facing up to our motives for involving ourselves in development co-operation which has become big business. Contracts have been won from the World Bank and UN agencies as well as from Governments of developing countries. DEVCO, the State agency set up to help the various State and semi-State bodies to bring in revenue from development projects have been very successful with an annual gross turnover of IR£22.7 million. There is nothing wrong with Ireland benefiting commercially from such projects so long as the developing countries also benefit. However, if programmes become confused with commercial considerations they are no longer part of a legitimate development co-operation programme.

In recent years the havoc created in developing countries by multinationals destined to seek markets and outlets for powdered milk products has been highlighted. In countries with poor educational structures, poor sanitation and lack of controls, bottle feeding with powdered milk products has become the cause of epidemics of malnutrition and infant mortality. This kind of commercial activity is criminal and we in Ireland must ensure that we are not a party to it and we must face up to the economic and political consequences of, perhaps, scaling down our milk production and at least ensuring that every tin of babyfood leaving this country proclaims the use of powdered milk as only second best after breastfeeding and that every tin carries a clear picture of a breastfeeding mother. I put these forward as suggestions. It might also be a very good idea if instructions on such tins were printed in the language of the country in which they are to be sold, printed in large, clear type and not as a small footnote in indecipherable print.

We may be faced with painful choices as a result of our involvement with the Third World, and in the euphoria surrounding aid programmes it is time that a cautionary note was sounded. It may be that the time has come when we in Ireland could be faced with job losses in order to provide a job in the Third World.

In the area of sugar production, which has been topical of late, we must recognise that here we have an antiquated high-cost production system while in the Third World sugar can be produced relatively cheaply and is an export cash crop providing much needed foreign exchange. We must be big enough to take the long-term view and not be limited by purely narrow and selfish considerations. If this means changing and diversifying our own system, so be it if our commitment is real and if our motive is true. All aid must have a built-in redundancy factor as we ought to be involved in encouraging self-development and self-reliance. Aid must be related to the needs of those whom we intend to help and should not be influenced by ego considerations and the desire for self-perpetuation. We must always examine the quality of the aid and be quick to recognise the type of aid which is a mere dumping of a surplus of production on an unsuspecting populace.

In the past, and indeed it still happens. Third World countries have been flooded with toothpaste and toothbrushes all of which are worse than useless in this context and lead to black marketeering and a resultant disenchantment with the entire process of aid. We must guard against making the same mistakes made by the United States Government some 13 to 15 years ago. Because of the economic recession, the cold breath of which we all feel whistling around us, there is a danger that we in the developed world might be tempted to get out of our difficulties at the expense of the Third World.

Many developing countries are even now feeling the pinch as the commodity market shrinks. This temporary expedient is in the long run counterproductive and would result in widening the gap which is ever increasing between the rich countries and the poor. We must maintain our awareness that our future depends in part on our relations with the Third World. It would be hyprocisy or blindness on our part if we claimed to foster industrial and agricultural development without making room for Third World exports on our market.

In the long run we are talking about changing the world order and seeking for a new and fairer system. The first step should be made through greater public awareness of the problem of development. This would range from a very detailed understanding of the complex issues required by the policy makers to the general awareness that the man or woman in the street would need if he or she is to give general support to the policies. In a democratic society this general awareness is critical. Awareness should be followed by sufficient concern for the problems to cause leaders to do something about them and the people then should support what their leaders have decided to do. The concern could be based on the feeling that it is right to give, from a sense of duty to others or, as is probably more common, a recognition that it would be to everyone's benefit to solve the problem. The setting up of the joint committee is one further step along the road and if it works well — and I am convinced that the goodwill and the enthusiasm is abundant — it can only contribute gainfully to our objective.

We must never forget that the number one problem of the 20th century is the fact that two-thirds of the human race languishes in hunger and misery and elicited this anguished cry from Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife in Brazil, and I quote:

It is a pity that as we begin to reach out towards the stars we leave behind us on earth an absurdity, a folly; more than two-thirds of humanity living in sub-human conditions and suffering from poverty and starvation.

I welcome the establishment of this joint committee.

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I welcome his appointment as the first Minister with specific responsibility for development co-operation. It was part of the policy of the Labour Party that such appointment be made and that goes also for Fine Gael. A common programme was reached amicably on this issue and the continued co-operation and common position of mind on this issue augur well for the future. I welcome, consequently, the statement by the Leader of the Opposition which would seem to indicate that the committee when fully established and operational will have the potential of performing a positive role.

What is that role? It is not about arbitration as to how much aid we will give each year to different countries and it is not about arguing over which country is most in need of aid or which projects are most beneficial and most productive in terms of the best way in which that aid can be made. On the countrary, the concept of aid in the post-second oil crisis of this decade is totally outmoded. We are, in short, on a much more heroic and a much more necessary course and that is to attempt to change, in co-operation with others, the present world economic order which is the real legacy of the imperialist world of pre-World War II Europe and the globe. This is expressed in detail in the document on development co-operation published by us. It is not enough for the western world to give people political freedom to form economies and to presume at the same time that the imperialist economic structure which propped up the relationship of colonies through the metropolitan countries can be maintained in its original form.

I concur with what Senator Ryan said in relation to the kind of history we have had in recent times in our approach to developing countries to the extent that we have been through the process of self-liberation and of developing our own country. That is a unique experience as far as western Europe is concerned and it is one to which the developing countries have referred on many occasions. But the task now, whether it is within the EDF or within the EEC or through the various United Nations agencies and specifically through our own highly effective bilateral programme, is to make a positive contribution in terms of development co-operation which will result in a transformation of the world economic order.

Though I listened with great interest to the very well argued and clearly passionate contribution from Senator Bulbulia, it is as much in the interest of our grandchildren yet to be born as it is in the interest of the unfortunate people to whom she referred, that such a transformation in the world economic order be brought about. I say this because we share this rapidly increasing load together. They will live out their future together in harmony or alternatively they will destroy each other in a globe which is now confronted with a population explosion of unprecedented levels, of food scarcity of disastrous proportions, of rising unemployment, of environmental destruction on a scale that was unforeseen in the Book of Genesis, and of the ever-pressing prospect of nuclear holocaust. It is against that background that this committee is being formed in this House today. This is a small but nevertheless significant step. I should like to congratulate the Minister of State for the way in which he has moved in his Department since his appointment in July.

When the Brandt Report was published more than two years ago, an initiative was taken in this House in conjunction with Members of the Dáil and in consultation with the NGO organisations around the country to try to establish the most effective way in which the provisions and the recommendations of the Brandt Report could be implemented in this country — what kind of contribution Ireland could make. It was agreed that a seminar should be held in the premises of Leinster House to which a very important contributor to the Brandt Commission Report, Mr. Jan Proule, a former Minister for Development Co-operation in the Netherlands, came as the guest speaker. That seminar which was organised by CONGOOD played a significant role in leading to the commitment that is now being shared by all sides of this House towards the establishment of this committee.

I am delighted to be able to speak on this motion on behalf of the Labour Party as it is the result of a long time of trying to get this committee off the ground. I am pleased that the Minister of State has seen fit on every occassion to pursue this matter strenuously.

If I may, without having to open up an entire debate on development co-operation because the purpose of such a joint committee is to transfer such a debate to the committee and not to maintain it on the floor of this House, I should like to remind Senators, particularly new Senators, that the last Seanad, in contrast to the other House, did have a substantial and very good debate on the Brandt Report. The report of that debate makes extremely constructive and positive reading for the kind of work that the new committee should concentrate on.

In my experience the question of development co-operation in this country either between the political parties represented in the Oireachtas or alternatively between the politicians, the Government of the day and the NGOs, has tended exclusively to concentrate on the scale of money being made available for the ODA programme. The argument has invariably resolved itself down as to whether we are on target to meet the UN projection of 0.7 GNP by 1990, or whether we have slipped behind in our commitments in gross money terms. It has become, regrettably, a political football which is of no benefit to the process of establishing a commitment towards the transformation of the world economic border and it has far from contributed to the need for a positive debate on development education.

I should like therefore to suggest to members of the incoming committee as well as to both sides of the House as I have suggested before in Estimate speeches on Foreign Affairs in the other House, that we should once and for all, on an all-party basis, clearly agree a timetable within which the commitment to meet the UN target of 0.7 per cent would be agreed by all parties. I suggested this to the previous Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Lenihan, as much for his protection from the ravages of the Department of Finance as for the ideals embodied in the suggestion. It is to ensure that all Ministers for Foreign Affairs and now Ministers of State having responsibility for development co-opertion, will be able to present to those people in the Department of Finance who seek to cut back expenditure from time to time that in this context this item of expenditure is not up for negotiation, that it is a fixed cost, a fixed item.

There are two benefits to such a proposal if it is accepted by, in effect, the Fianna Fáil side of this House because both Labour and Fine Gael have in their common programme committed themselves very clearly and explicity to such a timetable. First, it will remove the sterile argument about amounts of money. Secondly, it will enable the Minister to concentrate more energy on what is increasingly the core of the matter in our multilateral and bilateral programmes, that it is not, in effect, the quantity of development co-operation available, but its quality and concentration.

We have now got, as the Minister so rightly pointed out in his very accurate and succinct summary of our participation both in multilateral and bi-lateral terms, enough experience on the ground both in the host countries, the four priority countries that he mentioned, and also in the large number of countries in which NGO agencies are involved, to be able to evaluate from direct experience how effective certain kinds of programmes are, how wasteful some others are and where we can learn from mistakes and how we can reallocate resources.

In that context the decision of APSO to facilitate Comhlamh, the association of returned voluntary workers from overseas, is an extremely good one as they, from their unique field experience, can make a positive contribution to the cyclical process of experience in development education. Therefore, I would like to envisage a situation where this committee will open their doors very quickly to those organisations who have specific experience on the ground and who have dealt with the kind of problems that Senator Bulbulia talked about. It is not sufficient for an Irish Government with the best intentions to despatch to a disaster area tins of powdered milk or whatever if it has the negative effect to which the Senator correctly and accurately referred. We will not know this kind of thing until such time as we hear it directly ourselves from those people who have worked with Concern or with APSO and who have tried to make something positive out of the contradictions with which they were confronted.

I hope that the committee will respond very quickly to the wealth of experience that exists in this country now from the missionary orders, who were the first in the field and who by and large transformed themselves from purely theological organisations to largely development co-operation organisations, and that they will respond also to the many lay people who have been motivated by humanistic compassion and concern for their fellow global citizens. We can learn from them and put their knowledge to more effective use on the ground with our development co-operation programme. It is only right and proper to recognise that the NGOs themselves have attempted to make our jobs easier in forming CONGOOD, which is their federation of such organisations, so that they can present to those people who wish to listen a clear coherent voice that brings together in a co-ordinated way their collective experiences and focus this on the ears of those who wish to listen and who have some active power and some possibility of influencing the quality, nature and shape of our multilateral and bilateral aid programmes.

For that reason, I wish to repeat my personal thanks to the Minister of State for his dedication in this field. It augurs well for the future. I wish to re-emphasise for the record of this House that it is as much in the interest of Ireland today and of Ireland's children tomorrow that a programme of development co-operation should be consolidated and expanded between us and those portions of the globe which at present are impoverished. There is a very positive commercial self-interest in this and we should recognise it and indeed celebrate it because the developing countries throughout have approached us openly and honestly on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual interdependence. We should respond in like manner and like kind. We are in the business of dismantling not the trappings of an imperialist order but the actual structure and its framework which locked the vast majority of the world's population into a position of subjection and exploitation to a minority of the globe's population.

We in this country, more than most, know what the physical struggle for political liberation has been about in this century. In fact history will show that we were the first colony to gain independence in this century. The struggle to get political independence was comparatively easy in contrast to our continuing struggle to achieve economic independence and economic prosperity. For that reason, we have a very common interest with former colonies who now wish to provide a level of development and prosperity for their own people.

It is extremely important that politicians on all sides of the House, both at Oireachtas level and around the country, become instruments in the process of development education itself. Until such time as we educate ourselves and our constituents in regard to the interdependence between the economy of this country and the economies of the rest of the globe, we will put perpetually at risk the prospects for a real transformation of the world economic border. Until such time as everybody, every school child in the country and every politician at local and national level, is made abundantly clear of that crucial relationship and crucial interdependence then, regretfully, I suspect that development co-operation will always be seen as marginal extra which can be cut back in times of difficulty, as something which is an extension to the main task facing this country. It is my sincere belief that increasingly as international capitalism stumbles now through its third crisis in ten years and shows every prospect of hitting two or three more before the end of this century, the task of constructing a new international economic border becomes absolutely critical.

We have a very simple and stark choice on this global aspect. Those who have some ability to change the world economic system must move fast now through the halls of the EEC, through the halls of the United Nations and attempt to do it in such a way that when the change comes about some degree of order, of justice and of compassion are applied to that transformation. If we fail to do that, then the people to whom Senator Bulbulia referred will do it for us and I fear that it will be done with less of the compassion and less of the concern which we would like to see exercised. We ignore this issue at our own peril and it is for that reason that I say that the concept of aid is totally defunct. This is a committee which is about the salvation of our children and our children's children. It is no longer about giving aid and assistance to black babies. I warmly welcome its establishment.

I welcome the introduction of this motion by the Minister of State with responsibility for development co-operation, Deputy O'Keeffe. With the other Members I should like to congratulate him on his appointment. It is the first time we have had him here in the Seanad and I should like to congratulate him, too, on his activities since taking up his appointment.

With regard to the motion, Senators Bulbulia and Quinn have said much that I would have liked to say, so I will not repeat their remarks. However, I would like to refer briefly to a few points.

It is appropriate that this motion is being introduced in the Seanad because certain initiatives have been taken here in particular during the tenure of the last Seanad. The debate took place here on the Brandt Report and the Members of the Seanad were very active in the other committee meetings which took place within this building at that time on issues relating to the Third World and to the Fourth World.

I support completely Senator Quinn in his point about the level of support which we, as a country, should give to the developing countries. I support him in his view that this question of the level of aid from this country is a case apart from all budgetary issues. The relative problems which the country has in a year such as this are irrelevancies when we compare our wealth in the broadest terms with the poverty and misery in the Third and Fourth Worlds. Regardless of whatever arguments there may be within Government Departments about the level of support for various projects from various semi-State bodies, this is an area apart where we should seek to increase the level of support from this country each year to the recommendations of the United Nations by 1990. This is in line with our commitments prior to the election.

The support is already significant and I am glad to see the institutionalising of support for the Third World through the setting up of this committee. It is really the institutionalising of a great deal of voluntary work which has been done historically by people from this country for centuries. I should like to pay a compliment to the work which has been done by missionaries and by lay volunteers over the years and more recently by the lay volunteers who are members of the various organisations concerned with this issue and who have been in the forefront of this particular aid.

In so far as the mechanics of the committee are concerned, I should like to express one reservation I have regarding the format which is suggested. It is in contrast to the format, for example, of the joint committee which is proposed for the secondary legislation of the European Communities and which is also on the Order Paper today. I would like to suggest an amendment that might be made. I am not certain what the mechanics of it are at this late stage since it is on the Order Paper, but in the European Communities committee there is provision whereby Members of either House not being members of the joint committee, be allowed to attend meetings and to take part in the proceedings without having a right to vote. There is no such proposal in the motion before the House. I should like to see an amendment in that area. Perhaps that could take the form of a separate motion later on.

In part 3 of the motion for the proposed Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities, it is stated that representatives of the Assembly of the European Communities who are also Members of either House, be notified of meetings and be allowed to attend and to take part in the proceedings without having the right to vote. That section would also be desirable in this motion especially since there is a link-up in this area of development aid between this country and the European Economic Community, through the support which is going formally through the Community to the developing world and of which Ireland pays its due share. Those are two points I would like to put to the Minister. It would be a better format if these two sections were added.

I am completely in favour of the establishment of the committee. It is appropriate that it should be introduced in the Seanad because of the debate that took place previously on the Brandt Report. Indeed, the Brandt Report points out, as Senator Quinn said, that this is not an entirely altruistic activity of which we are speaking. We are talking about the immense problems which the world and the established order will face in the future unless we have the wit, not to mind the altruistic and the moral sense, to help these poverty-stricken countries.

From this side of the House I would like to support Senator Ryan in welcoming this motion. Indeed, I would like to welcome my fellow countyman from west Cork, the Minister of State, on this occasion. The motion is an excellent idea. It deserves support and goodwill from all sides of the House and from the entire nation. This brings us as a comparatively wealthy nation into this sphere, to help those less off people in other parts of the world. We, as an independent nation, have a proud history in what we have done, maybe not with money, but we have certainly done it with missionaries over centuries and, of late, with lay volunteers. That is something that should be encouraged because we have coming from our schools and universities better, more highly educated young people who are eager to do something for the less well-off in the world.

We could show also with our independence what inter-dependence is necessary between nations of the world. Senator Quinn put it quite clearly that every nation is depending on another nation. I would not like to get hooked up on the idea — I am not one who advocates the capitalist system — that only the people in the capitalist systems suffer from jolts, revolt or anything else. This is a worldwide phenomenon and it affects every nation in progressive times. That could be broadened without using any ideology or with any special tag on it. I would be a bit worried about what Senator Bulbulia said regarding the sugar beet industry. It is very laudable to promote industries abroad but I suppose charity begins at home.

It does not end there.

Quite true. One of the American Presidents said "You do not make one nation richer by making another nation poorer". We have to look after our home store first. Perhaps in years to come those types of changes will take place. It is not an outright criticism. It is a very laudable project.

We have much to offer by way of personnel to help develop the social, economic and educational spheres in these other countries. We have the available talent and, by bringing together the Members of the Oireachtas to monitor and initiate schemes — special priority schemes — in these other developing countries, it brings the nation closer to getting something done. We might be paying lip service but lip service is no good unless we see that the projects are carried out. That is why it is so important that Members of the Oireachtas should be involved. Much could be said about this matter. I wholeheartedly welcome this motion and I assure the House that it will get every co-operation from this side.

I, too, would like to extend a warm welcome to the Minister coming into this House to speak to the motion establishing this joint committee. In view of the very valuable comments and remarks that have been made by a number of Senators, with which I very much agree, I do not intend to speak at any length on the merits of having a Joint Oireachtas Committee to examine the whole area of Ireland's approach to development co-operation, the existing programmes and our commitment there.

I want to confine my remarks to two issues. First of all, I think it is important to reaffirm the need to take the global commitment by Ireland to meet its targets as a member of the United Nations, out of the annual budgetary considerations of any Government. I very strongly support the stand that Senator Quinn has taken previously and that he has reiterated this afternoon on that issue, that this has to be an all-party commitment and that it has to be one that will be firmly adhered to. This is more necessary than ever because over the next decade in this country we will be faced with very critical economic problems. We will be faced with tough decisions, with having to select between services, with having cutbacks, perhaps in our own services and what we would desire to do for our population.

It is important, despite that and because of our broader understanding of the relationship between ourselves and developing countries and because of the far greater needs of developing countries, that we sustain that as a fixed item to which we are committed across the political board and which is not subject to paring or cutting back because of our own internal budgetary problems. I say that because there appears to be some apprehension about a potential cutback in our committed aid to developing countries. I hope that it is not in any way an accurate leak of the present discussions. I hope that that commitment will be very firmly adhered to.

This is, as already has been mentioned, a new parliamentary development. It is a new committee. It sprang, I think it is accurate to say, out of a realisation by some individual Members of the previous Oireachtas, helped and sustained and even prompted by the representations made by individuals working in non-Governmental organisations who are concerned with developing countries under the general umbrella of CONGOOD. It arose, first of all, out of a personal interest and commitment by some Members of the previous Oireachtas. Although there were others involved I would like to take this opportunity to put on the record of the Seanad a tribute to Senator Ruairí Quinn who was the convener of these meetings. It is fair to say that out of those discussions between Members of the Oireachtas and those with active service in developing countries, members of organisations concerned with the problem, the realisation grew that if we were to have a structured knowledge of and response to the critical need for a greater economic and political commitment by developed countries to the developing world, a commitment identified in the Brandt Report, it would not be enough to have these informal discussions and gatherings. There had to be an actual Oireachtas committee. This was part of the political commitment of the parties who are now in Government. We have the terms of reference before us today.

I would like now to turn to those terms of reference and to concentrate on the kinds of problems which may arise and might be helped by having a response from the Minister on them at this stage. First of all, there is the problem of staffing. Any new Oireachtas joint committee being established has teething problems. We only have two other comparable examples. The first is the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities, the second is a Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies.

I would like to know if the Minister has in mind potential staffing for this committee and if that staffing will be available if, for example, the Dáil were to pass its own expendiency motion following this motion and if we were to have the establishing motions next week: would it be possible for the committee to get under way either this side of Christmas or certainly in very early January? Has he thought through what the staffing requirements might be? To some extent, it might be a matter that he might feel might be left to the members of the committee. I do not think so. It is a kind of catch 22 situation. Unless there is staffing and back-up there at a very early stage then the committee can be much slower to address themselves to the important terms of reference which they have been given and be able to operate properly. There has to be at least a core staff there from the very beginning with a possibility of further staff if that is required.

Secondly, it seems to me that the terms of reference of this committee, although they are very broad and the Minister has made it clear in his speech, which I welcome, that they are and that they concern every aspect of Ireland's relations with developing countries in the field of development co-operation, are also quite unspecific. If you look, in comparison, at the terms of reference of the EEC committee, that committee has a statutory function under the European Communities (Amendment) Act of examining the statutory instruments implementing European Community legislation. Then, the committee have rather specific terms of reference to look at the draft regulations and directives, to look at the regulations or directives when passed if they wish and to look at the statutory instruments and report thereon. That is just because of the nature of the work of the committee but it is specific. The committee divide into sub-committees related to the subject matter and apply themselves to that task. If you look at the Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies that committee examine a number of State-sponsored bodies out of the potential pool that is within their terms of reference. Again the committee have the specific job of looking at different State-sponsored bodies.

I do not think it is possible, because of the nature of this committee, to give them that kind of specific terms of reference. For that reason, it is all the more important that the committee have a fairly clear perception of what they will do so that they do not spend too long pondering on what they might do. The allocation of experienced full-time staff at an early stage is extremely important.

Another important issue is the precise relationship between this committee and other bodies. The Minister mentioned the advisory council on development co-operation. How does he see the advisory council and this committee working together? Is it envisaged that there would be any structured relationship between them or would it be a question of members of the advisory council attending from time to time or making written submissions to the committee? It would be useful to have some idea of what is intended there. Clearly, the joint committee would have the power to look for assistance from the Minister's Department and from the Minister, who indicated in his speech that he would come along to meetings of the committee.

The committee also could invite written and oral submissions from the various non-Governmental organisations involved on the ground in development co-operation or like Comhlamh, returned workers from developing countries. It would be helpful if we had some idea of the kind of structure which might be placed on this. Perhaps it is up to the joint committee when constituted to select their own order of priorities, but we have not selected them in any structured way. We have not spelled out in these terms of reference what the areas might be.

One area that the Minister refers to in his speech, which is a very important area which would warrant particular discussion, is the whole question of education, not only of ourselves, by participating in a committee and having that committee report to the Houses of the Oireachtas, but also development education as a matter to penetrate into the curriculum of schools, to become something which is very much part of adult education and the perception of our society for the reasons already eloquently argued by other Senators. This in itself is an important area which the joint committee will no doubt consider.

There is one small difference that I have — it may only be an unintended difference — from the comment made by Senator Ruairí Quinn when he said, in response to the contribution by Senator Bulbulia that this was not the time to have a full scale debate on development co-operation, that we were setting up a committee in order to remove the debate from the floor of the House to the committee. I think I know what he meant, but I am not prepared to see the debate removed from the floor of the House. I want to see more debate on the floor of the House, but more structured and focussed debate.

I would hope that this joint committee, as they are empowered in their terms of reference, will rather quickly identify priority areas, examine them, look to the public service side, the Minister and also non-Govermental organisations, individuals, any expertise which is in our community and then report to both Houses. I hope we may have a series of debates during 1982 on different reports of the joint committee. In that regard, it would be necessary to have a procedural mechanism in order to trigger off a debate. We have done this before with the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities and a motion has been tabled in this House providing that if the report contains a recommendation within itself that it is important that the attention of both Houses be drawn to the report, that this would trigger off a debate on the next sitting day during the Government time in the sense of business ordered by the Leader of the House for that day.

It is very important that when the joint committee are established and identify their own order of priorities, their own areas for discussion, report on them and submit the report as they are entitled to do, we should also debate those reports. That is very much part of the whole idea of the background to the establishment of this committee. One of their primary functions is that in the process of educating ourselves we create a greater awareness and a greater sensitivity to the immense challenge. I agree very much with the sense of both the immensity and the urgency of the challenge which is posed by the present economic order and by the needs and legitimate aspirations of developing countries. It will be in the context of the very tough decisions which we will have to take ourselves over the next few years and of the need for ourselves to have a greater sense of social justice, a greater redistribution of income, a greater fairness in our society, that will be a part of the measure of the nature of our response to the needs and aspirations of developing countries. The two are very much linked. If we fail in one I would not have great hopes of how we might do in another. There is a learning process in relation to both.

I think I have covered most of the areas I wanted to cover. The relationship of the Minister with the committee was something which I very much welcomed in his introductory speech because, again, the experience of the other two committees, the EEC committee and the State-sponsored bodies committee, has been that there has not been an active participation by the Minister in the particular ministerial seat at the time. Possibly we had two members who had meetings with Ministers for Foreign Affairs during the existence of the previous joint committees on EEC legislation. That is a great pity. It causes a certain loss of political impact and the committee tends to become too technical, a committee for the technical details of particular measures. I feel that it will be important to hold the Minister to the commitment that he has made today on record, that he as well as his officials, will pay fairly frequent visits to the joint committee when it is in operation and that there be the kind of discussions which will inform at a political level as well as a technical and factual level the members of that committee so that they in turn through their reports may inform the House and the public generally.

I would like to welcome the Minister and the Committee. The Minister will take away with him some measure of the interest in this House and from the anxiety of Members to speak and the very high level of contributions which have been made. Given that high level I do not intend to speak long. Most of the points I might have made have already been made much more eloquently.

The significant passage in the Minister's speech and the one which has been the theme of many of the contributions is when he says:

If we have learned anything from the Brandt Report it is that in the long term, the problems of developing countries are also our problems and if we are to look forward to a world of peace and prosperity for all countries and peoples, we must start now to search for solutions to these problems.

It is, of course, one thing to theories about world aid, the Third World and the fourth and fifth worlds ad infinitim and to have very vague feelings and vague expressions of solidarity with the suffering peoples of those areas. What this committee do and what they reflect in the attitude of the Government and the Minister is a practical approach and one in which we get down to the actual nitty gritty of doing something of a concrete nature to change the situation as it exists.

The passage which I quoted from the Minister's speech emphasises the fact that we must approach these problems from a global point of view in the sense that these problems will not in the long run be solved or approach a solution until such time as we begin to see the world as one unit, as a system which is out of control and over which we, as the human race, must eventually exercise some control. We must eventually exercise this control at some stage if it is not to take us all to disaster.

Some Members may have seen in the magazine section of one of our Sunday papers very recently a dramatic picture. It was in connection with a collection of photographs of various kinds. This was printed on the front page of the magazine section. I am not incidentally referring to another picture which was printed on the front page of another part of the same newspaper and was, possibly, equally horrifying in a different way. The picture to which I am referring was that of an extremely well-fed northern hemisphere hand holding in its palm what one did not realise for a few seconds was another human hand, which looked like something which was not human. Just in passing, I might suggest to the Minister that if it is feasible to do so he might consider taking a copy of that photograph and using it for publicity, because few things in recent months have emphasised to me at any rate so much the disparity. I said a dramatic picture in the beginning but it was not a spectacular or sensational picture. It gave its message in no mean terms.

I would like to welcome this committee because, though we have the commitment in personnel through the missions, through overseas aid to countries other than our own, it is very easy for us as an island to subside into parochialism. We must realise that these problems are, as the Minister said, our problems. If we do not move towards a solution or towards something more than a gesture to the solution of these problems they will rise up and confront us closer than they have ever been before, and the methods which will be used to bring about a resolution of these problems may not be methods that will conform with our aspirations. I welcome the Minister very much again. I welcome this move and I look forward to the reports which this committee will produce.

As a Member of the House and a former chairman of the Agency for Personal Service Overseas, I welcome very much the initiative to set up a Joint Committee on Development Co-operation. It is right that both Houses of the Oireachtas should monitor closely and with understanding and sympathy, conditions in the Third World about which, with others, I have spoken several times in this House, and the manner in which we in Ireland, one of the 26 richest countries in the world, can help towards the fundamental and permanent alleviation of the poverty, ill-health and deprivation that afflicts such a high proportion of mankind.

I like the description "development co-operation" which is to be preferred to "aid" or "assistance." There is no room for paternalism or superiority in this matter. We are all engaged in what has rightly been described as reciprocal human development. We have as much to gain from this as we have to give.

I want to thank sincerely the Senators for the very warm and unequivocal welcome they have given to this proposal. It is clear from the number of contributions and indeed the quality of the contributions that the response from this House to this proposal will ensure that the work of this committee, as far as the Members of this House are concerned, will be a very useful one. I should mention that, in fact, in the proposal itself we hope to have 11 Members of the Dáil and seven Members of Seanad Éireann. In fact, this provides a proportional weighting in favour of the Seanad, which is one that is fully justified in the context of the response which I have had to the introduction of this motion here. I should also say that I was very glad, from the initial response of Senator Ryan on behalf of the Opposition, to note that this particular proposal has all-party support. He felt that this was a committee which could have a lot to contribute.

In a very thoughtful speech Senator Bulbulia highlighted many of the problems of developing countries which the joint committee will have to consider. In particular she mentioned the need for development education which would in my view be an important aspect of the committee's work. I do not want it to be thought that development education is a hobby-horse of mine, but I cannot underestimate the importance which I put on the need to bring home to the public in general the extent of the issues involved and the type of response which is required from this country in facing those issues. Senator Bulbulia mentioned the question of oral and written submissions. Of course the committee will have power to receive both oral and written submissions.

Senator Quinn dealt in a very broad way with the whole problem, and this is as I would expect from someone who for many years has had a very deep interest in the area of development co-operation. I agree fully with him that the problems of developing countries are no less our problems and that the ways in which these problems are tackled will have far-reaching implications for us in Ireland. I hope that the joint committee will consider these very complex and wide-ranging problems in detail. I also agree with Senator Quinn that we must give as much attention to the quality of our aid as to the quantity. Since our contribution will never be very great in absolute terms irrespective of how close we are to the UN target, it may be that the quality of our aid merits greater consideration than the amount. The suggestion of an agreed all-party timetable for reaching the UN target is one of the matters to which I hope the joint committee will address themselves and I look forward to receiving their views on this.

Senator Quinn also highlighted the fact that we ourselves in the not too distant past have gone through both the liberation and development process. Many Members may not be aware of how recently we were classified as a developing country. Just before this debate I was reading a new paper by Dr. Helen O'Neill on Irish aid wherein she brings out the fact that as late as 1964 this country received development aid from the United Nations special fund which was used to help the establishment of An Foras Forbartha. This brings it home to us that we have just moved from the developings category. In discussing these problems I always point this out as giving us a closer link with developing countries, countries who understand the fact that we have just emerged from this situation. Accordingly it should give us greater understanding of the problems which now confront them.

Senator Bulbulia also mentioned the question of commodities, and this was taken up by Senator Cogan. There are complex issues here which may result in conflicts within our own society where it is possible that in some way measures which are taken to help the developing world may have repercussions at home. This is one of the most important issues that the committee should consider. We should at as early a stage as possible try to foresee these problems so that the necessary steps can be taken to safeguard the interests of any workers who might be affected by developments in the future so we would be prepared and would not be faced with the grim choice of either helping a struggling industry in the Third World or of putting some of our own workers out of work. This joint committee can help in looking ahead at these problems and advising on the steps necessary to ensure that this will not be the grim choice, that we will be able to help that struggling industry in the Third World having taken the necessary advance measures here to safeguard our own people.

Senators will know that the common fund for commodities is the focal point of the international effort to manage commodity markets in a manner equitable to producers and consumers. I am happy to say that the International Common Fund for Commodities Bill, 1981 was introduced in the other House and circulated last week. Senators will shortly have an opportunity to discuss it also. I am anxious that the Bill should be approved quickly so that Ireland can ratify the common fund agreement by 31 March 1982.

Senator Robinson raised a number of very specific issues which I should deal with in detail. She referred to the background and the prompting, as it were, of the voluntary bodies — CONGOOD in particular — in the past. I am quite happy to acknowledge that there were such promptings which to a large degree stimulated my own interest and decisions in this matter. Prior to the last election we had a number of meetings in the House which were of an informal nature arranged as a result of promptings from CONGOOD with the organisational efforts of Senator Quinn. This is the informal background. I felt that despite the good results that were achieved from such informal meetings, it was necessary to have a structured joint committee so that we could take the matter further from here.

On the question of staffing, I have certainly considered this matter. Basically the secretariat will be provided by the parliamentary staff. I am glad to say that during discussions they agreed to provide the necessary service despite other pressures on them. Briefing material will be supplied by my Department and, as I mentioned in my opening address, from time to time by myself.

On the question of the terms of reference, I deliberately felt in better to have these rather broad and non-specific. The function of the committee will not be to produce a single report on a single aspect of development co-operation. They will look at all aspects of development co-operation and report as often as they wish. They will also, to a large degree, decide their own priorities. I feel it would be wrong to limit the areas which the committee could consider by specifying particular items in the terms of reference and I thought it better to have the terms of reference on a broad basis.

On the question of the relationship between the committee and the advisory council, it will be appreciated that the advisory council have been doing very good work since they were set up. Their main function is to advise the Government on all aspects of development co-operation. I would see the joint committee having a role which would complement and reinforce this work. As to the relationship between the advisory council and the joint committee, this is very much a matter for both bodies to discuss and decide. I do not envisage such a relationship being a formal, structured one. I would expect that the members of the joint committee would arrange some pragmatic, flexible relationship with the advisory council.

I also share Senator Robinson's concern that reports of the joint committee should be fully debated in both Houses. I believe also that adequate time for these debates should be provided and I will be concerned to ensure that this is done as far as possible.

Senator O'Connell put his finger on the central core of the whole question of development co-operation when he highlighted the fact that the problems of the developing countries are our problems. This is a thread which ran through many of the speeches, but it was highlighted in particular by Senator O'Connell. It is an aspect that is not fully realised in this country. One of the jobs of the joint committee through the aspect of development education will be helping to spread this message loudly and clearly throughout the country. Senator O'Connell also mentioned the commitment of missionaries and voluntary bodies and I take the opportunity to agree totally with his sentiments in this regard. The trail has been blazed by the missionaries and voluntary bodies but I have a feeling that perhaps in the past this effort and commitment of the missionaries and the voluntary bodies were to some degree used as a camouflage for official indifference and inactivity. We pay tribute to the work of the missionaries and the voluntary bodies and certainly point out that any official efforts in this area will not be in any way to supplant that work but rather to extend it, reinforce it and supplement it in any way possible.

Senator Whitaker rounded off the debate and in my opening address I paid particular reference to his role as founding chairman of APSO. Senator Whitaker summed up the whole debate in stating the need for greater interest in development co-operation. I have no doubt that the joint committee, when established, will contribute in a major degree in the years ahead to ensure that there will be greater understanding of the need for co-operation with developing countries.

I thank Senators for their contributions and support.

Question put and agreed to.