That Dáil Eireann approves of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation, 1933, a copy of which was laid on the Table of the Dáil on the 22nd November, 1933, and recommends the Executive Council to take such steps as they think fit to give effect thereto.
The Committee, as will be seen from paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Report, owes its origin to a resolution of the Imperial Economic Conference, held at Ottawa in July and August of last year. The Committee was directed by the Conference to examine the functions, organisation and financial bases of the existing agencies within the Commonwealth for economic consultation and co-operation, and to consider what alterations or modifications were desirable. Those who have read the Report of the Ottawa Conference will remember that during the discussions which led to the appointment of this Committee, the representatives of South Africa and the Saorstát made it clear that their Governments would not accept the principle of the establishment of an Imperial Economic Secretariat or of any similar organ of centralisation. The statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce will be found in paragraph 4 of the Report under consideration. If Deputies will read the section of the Report entitled "Principles Underlying Co-operation," beginning on page 73, they will see that the co-operation contemplated brings it into harmony with the principles on which international bodies are organised, for example: "The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea,""International Office of Public Health,""The International Veterinary Bureau."
The task of the committee was broadly the following:
(1) a readjustment of the functions of the existing agencies for economic consultation so as to provide for that portion of the work of the Empire Marketing Board which it is decided to continue on a co-operative basis (The Empire Marketing Board was disestablished at the end of September).
(2) a weeding-out of those agencies which have proved to be of no practical benefit to the Commonwealth as a whole:
(3) the reorganisation of the remaining agencies so as to ensure the complete constitutional equality —in both administrative and financial control—of the participating Governments.
Prior to the 1st October, 1933, the Saorstát participated in the activities of the following bodies: (1) The Imperial Agricultural Bureau; (2) The Imperial Institute of Entomology; (3) The Imperial Mycological Institute; (4) The Empire Marketing Board; (5) The Imperial Economic Committee; (6) The Imperial Shipping Committee; (7) The Imperial Communications Advisory Committee.
The Saorstát Government paid annual contributions amounting to a total of £825 to the scientific information bureaux—that is, the Imperial Agricultural Bureau, the Imperial Institute of Entomology and the Imperial Mycological Institute. The services and publications of these bodies have been of great benefit to the Department of Agriculture and to research workers generally in the Saorstát, and it is proposed to continue these subscriptions.
Under the new scheme proposed by the Committee, certain economic services hitherto performed by the Empire Marketing Board, are to be undertaken by the Imperial Economic Committee. This Committee, which investigates and reports on the marketing of Commonwealth commodities, was financed up to the end of September by the Empire Marketing Board. The Board had been financed by the British Government, the sum placed at its disposal being intended to represent the money equivalent of the advantages which would have been conferred on the other States of the Commonwealth by the preferential duties on certain articles of food agreed upon at the Imperial Conference of 1923 and which, owing to a change of Government in Great Britain, were not subsequently granted. In view of recent changes in their fiscal policy, the British Government felt themselves released from the obligation to continue the financing of the Board. The Imperial Economic Committee will now have to rely upon direct contributions from the States of the Commonwealth. Our contribution will be £808 per annum.
The Imperial Shipping Committee was also financed by the British Government. Under the new system it will be financed by all the Governments of the Commonwealth. The Saorstát's share is £80 per annum. The expenses of the Imperial Communications Advisory Committee are defrayed by a grant from Imperial and International Communications, Ltd. The Saorstát representative receives for his services an annual fee of £500 which is credited to the Irish Exchequer.
There remained the question of scientific investigation. A certain portion of the Empire Marketing Board Fund was devoted to the promotion of agricultural reseach by means of grants to research organisations in the various States of the Commonwealth. In view of the disbandment of the Board the Committee has to consider the method by which research projects of general interest to the Commonwealth should, in future, be conducted. They recommend the holding of periodical conferences of research specialists throughout the Commonwealth for the purpose of framing, for submission to their respective Governments, programmes of research schemes considered suitable for co-operative financing. The cost of these schemes is to be met by subscriptions from such Governments as may decide to participate. As some time will probably elapse before the first conference is summoned, it is recommended that the Executive Council of the Imperial Agricultural Bureau should be invited to consider immediately and submit a report on the question of what research activities should, in future, be conducted on a co-operative basis. The Executive Council of the Imperial Agricultural Bureau will be entrusted with the supervision of any research activities which, by agreement, will take place in the United Kingdom. These additional activities on the part of the Executive Council of the Agricultural Bureau call for an increased contribution—so far as the Saorstát is concerned—of £72 per annum.
The total additional contribution required from the Saorstát Government is £960 per annum. The Governments of the Commonwealth are asked to provide the contributions on the new basis for a period of three years as from the 1st October, 1933.
The Report lays down the following principles in regard to the organisation of agencies for inter-commonwealth economic consultation and co-operation:
(a) The complete constitutional equality of the participating governments should be recognised in the method of appointment to, and composition and organisation of, each agency.
(b) The managing bodies should in no way be subject to financial control by the Finance Department of any one Government of the Commonwealth.
It will be seen that the Committee has not confined itself to laying down these general principles. It has pointed out the defects in the organisation of each particular agency and the modifications necessary in each case.