Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 28 Apr 1937

Vol. 66 No. 13

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 57—Industry and Commerce.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £334,756 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála, maraon le Coiste Comhairlitheach na Rátaí, agus Ildeontaisí-i-gCabhair.

That a sum not exceeding £334,756 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1938, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including the Rates Advisory Committee, and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

I presume it is not necessary at this stage to explain the details of the Estimate. Deputies have these details before them in the Book of Estimates, together with footnotes relating to each sub-head, which give them the usual information in relation to them. It is not practicable to give more than a very brief review of the work done by the various sections of the Department of Industry and Commerce during the past year, or of the progress made in industrial development and in other matters which have engaged attention during that period. Many of the matters of more outstanding importance in connection with the protection of industries, by customs duty or otherwise, and the development of civil air transport facilities, came before the Dáil in one way or another during the course of the year and were fully discussed here. Statements were made as to the policy that was being adopted and the arrangements that were being made, of which Deputies are aware.

In the trade and industries section of the Department the main concern continues to be the establishment of new industries and the expansion of the industries already established. It can be said with accuracy that the progress recorded during previous years continued at an accelerated pace, and that the results in increased production and employment were generally satisfactory. On the 1st September, 1936, there were approximately 78,000 persons employed in protected industries in the Saorstát. During the course of the year, a number of new factories were opened, the more important of which numbered about 50, and included factories for the following purposes:— for the manufacture of boots and shoes, 6; of flour, 1; of leather, 2; of mattresses, 1; of waxed containers and other cardboard containers 2; of bricks, 1; of motor springs, axles and windscreens, 1; of paint, enamel and varnish, 1; of apparel, 6; of hosiery, 3; of furniture, 2; and one each for the following purposes: the dyeing and preparation of furs; the manufacture of certain chemicals; iron-founding; the manufacture of buttons; the manufacture of radio sets and gramophone records; of cutlery and engineering tools; of wallpapers; of art silk knitted fabric.

Since 1932, according to the factories and workshops register, approximately 800 additional factories and workshops have been established in the Saorstát. Roughly half of that number would come within the category described as factories, and the other half within the category described as workshops. During the past year arrangements were also made for the establishment of new factories which have not yet come into production, but are in course of construction or equipment, for the manufacture of asbestos cement, carpets, clothing machinery of certain classes; of cotton cloth; of nails and screws; of fancy leather goods; of wrapping paper; and a number of other articles not previously made in the Saorstát. While the progress made in the promotion of industry must, I think, be regarded as satisfactory and as indicative of the success of the Government's programme to that end, there is still very considerable room for further expansion. A number of large-scale industrial propositions, some of which are of a very interesting nature, are at present under consideration, and it is probable that the majority of them will be initiated during the course of this or the coming year.

In connection with the figure I gave of the number of persons engaged in protected industries, Deputies will recollect that it has been frequently stated here that these protected industries in the Saorstát are run largely on child or female labour. These statements, made here and repeated outside, have sometimes done very definite damage to the national reputation. It is very easy to demonstrate that they are without foundation in fact. Of the total number of persons employed in protected industries, 81.3 per cent. are adults: that is to say, more than four out of every five persons so employed. During the 12 months which ended in September, 1936, that proportion increased; that is, the proportion of adults increased and the proportion of juveniles decreased. Of the adults employed, approximately 60 per cent. were men and 40 per cent. were women. In this respect also it can be said that during the past 12 months the proportion of males to the total increased.

Conditions of employment in Saorstát industries are now regulated under the Conditions of Employment Act, and it can be said generally that they conform to, and in some cases are better than, the provisions of the various conventions for the improvement of industrial conditions adopted from time to time by the International Labour Conference at Geneva.

So far as the Conditions of Employment Act is concerned, the efforts of my Department have, up to the present, been directed mainly towards making the necessary adjustments and temporary arrangements to meet the wide variety of conditions in industry, but only a tentative beginning has been made as yet in the preparation of the comprehensive codes for different occupations which the Act was designed to facilitate. In regard to rates of wages in industry, they are in the main higher than those prevailing in Great Britain or those prevailing in other countries with standards of living similar to our own. In 15 the rates of wages are regulated under the Trades Boards Acts, and minimum rates fixed by various boards are enforced by my Department. During the year 1936, the rates of wages paid 6,400 workers were examined by industrial inspectors, which examination entailed the inspection of 1,194 firms, representing, approximately, 58 per cent. of the firms on the register. I do not suggest, of course, that there is no room for improvement in some trades in relation to wages, and conditions of employment, but the facts to which I have referred demonstrate that the general standards prevailing in Saorstát industries, as a whole, do not justify or support the kind of attack to which we have become accustomed in recent years.

Frequent reference has been also made both in this House and in a section of the Press to the prices charged for Saorstát products. While I agree that in circumstances it is necessary to keep under constant review the prices charged for protected commodities, recent references in a particular newspaper, and by certain Deputies, are most unfair in their implication in respect to Saorstát industries. For example, a mere statement of the prices at which certain articles could have been purchased in 1931, as compared with the present time, is most misleading unless reference is also made to the substantial increases in the price of many raw materials which have occurred in the meantime, due to the inflationary effect of expenditure on armaments and artificial scarcity of these materials arising from the same cause. Furthermore, a comparison of present prices with those of 1931, when our markets were open to receive the surplus products of every country in the world is meaningless, unless an attempt is made to ascertain whether the prices at which we could have purchased specified goods imported from abroad in 1931 could be regarded as economic by any standards. Presumably, in those days when this country was the happy hunting ground for the dumpers from every land, the goods purchased by our importers came in at the lowest prices at which sweated labour could be got, or when subsidised, or what forced selling of surplus stock on a falling market made possible. Are we to take it that those who judge the efficiency of Saorstát industries by comparing present prices with those of 1931 will condemn as inefficient any industry which cannot get down to that level? If so, I wonder how many British industries will pass that test.

Surely the main question in relation to our prices is whether they are reasonable under present conditions and in comparison with present prices prevailing in neighbouring countries, having due regard to the relevant factors, the cost of labour, the cost of materials, overhead charges and profits. On the whole, the prevailing prices of Saorstát industrial products are reasonable, although during the past year we were constrained to require the Prices Commission to investigate the prices charged for furniture, for mattresses, for batch bread and for all materials and appliances used in the building of houses. The best regulator of prices in any protected market is internal competition, and, although this was absent in a number of industries in earlier years, it has now become operative. It has become operative in all but a few industries, and, in relation to these few, special arrangements for controlling prices have been made. I know that many Deputies regard the present Control of Prices Act as ineffective, and with that view I find it hard to disagree. The Act, however, was introduced in 1932, and, at that time, many of the Opposition members in the Dáil and Seanad did not appreciate the necessity for wide powers for the investigation and control of prices, and the Bill suffered considerable amendment during its passage through the Oireachtas.

Many of those responsible for the amendments which reduced the effectiveness of the measure are now the loudest critics of the Government on that account. However, I have prepared new proposals for legislation for the control of prices. These are now ready and will be submitted to the Dáil in the course of a few days. I trust on this occasion the Opposition will direct their energies to improvement of the Bill rather than to destroying its effect. I think most people with any real knowledge of the subject and who are not warped in their judgment by prejudice, will agree that the new industries in the Saorstát are as reasonably efficient as they could be expected to be in all the circumstances.

The absence of industrial tradition amongst workers in many areas, our deficiency in industrial experience, and the special difficulties created by the limited size of our home market and other causes, were an obstacle to progress which was not easily overcome, but, as time passes, the efficiency of our industries will continue to increase. They are now producing a wide variety of articles which, in quality, design and price are as good as any which could be imported, and, although some industries have made greater progress than others, the general standard is good.

There is an aspect of our industrial programme to which I might make some special reference, and that is the exploration and development of our mineral and other natural resources. As Deputies are aware, the annual imports of fuel into the Saorstát are very considerable, and any action which might result in the substitution of imported fuel by our own fuels would have very beneficial results on national economy and unemployment. Apart from electrical development, there are two very obvious kinds of approach to that task, first, the examination, and, if practicable, the development, of our own coal measures, and, secondly, the increased utilisation of peat. During the year which has passed, we received the experts' report on the exploration work carried out at Arigna upon which a fairly substantial sum of money had been expended. On the information supplied in that report I was forced to conclude that, with the technical processes now available, the development of the minerals in that area on a scale more extensive than has been at present undertaken should not be initiated by the State. The report of the exploration of the coal measures at Slieve Ardagh, County Tipperary, has not yet been received, although I expect it in the very near future. I think I can say that there is good reason for hoping that the report will not be unfavourable, and it may justify a fairly substantial coal mining project in that locality.

Can the Minister say when he expects to get the report?

Any day now.

Can the Minister say when?

I cannot say at present. I was hoping to get it for this Estimate. Proposals with a view to increasing the output of coal from the Leinster coal area are at present under examination. The Turf Development Board continued and extended its activities during the year, while development of hand-won peat in suitable areas is being continued. The main work of the board during the year was the commencement of large-scale development at Clonsast Bog, near Portarlington, for the machine production of turf. A sum of £53,800 is required for that purpose during the present year. As drainage and preparatory operations on that bog will extend over a period of three years, it is not anticipated that the actual production of turf will begin for some time. As soon as the Dáil has approved of this Estimate, similar work will begin at Lyacrompane Bog in County Kerry. It has been selected by the board as a mountain bog suitable for machine production. In the case of Lyacrompane Bog, by reason of the situation and the general characteristics of the bog, drainage operations will not be so prolonged as in the case of Clonsast Bog, and it is expected that the production of turf will begin there in 1938.

As regards other minerals known to exist in the Saorstát, the possibility of development is greatly improved, due to the rise in the price of all minerals in recent months. The exceptionally low prices that prevailed in recent years stopped the working, or prevented the development of many of these mineral deposits, the successful exploitation of which requires an export market, but the improved market prospects might now enable us to interest various parties in them again.

I should like to make a special reference to slate. During the year, considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining an adequate supply of roofing slates from Saorstát quarries and there was, as Deputies will have noted, some increase in our slate imports. The encouragement given by the Government since 1932 to slate production comprises ten leases at low royalties, over £11,000 in free grants out of relief funds and a sum of £26,500 in trade loan guarantees. Though the commercial prospects of the industry, in the way of demand and otherwise, are good, the producers seem reluctant to incur capital expenditure on their own account in increasing production. I have that position under examination at present, and it is possible that some action may be taken during the year which will relieve the present shortage.

Could the Minister explain why the producers are so reluctant to incur capital expenditure?

I am not in a position to explain that. During the year which has passed a large part of the time and attention of officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce was occupied with the prevention and the settlement of industrial disputes. During the course of the year my Department was called upon to intervene in no less than 70 trade disputes of some magnitude, which involved numerous and prolonged conferences before settlements were arrived at. The prevalence of industrial unrest has turned the minds of many people to the question of devising machinery for preventing stoppages of work, and a number of proposals to that end have been formulated in different quarters. It is, undoubtedly, true that any machinery which would enable industrial disputes to be resolved without strikes or locks-out, and without impairing the bargaining powers of the parties or depriving them of reasonable freedom of action would be welcomed by both employers and workers, as well as by the general public. It is necessary, however, to point out that no democratic country has yet devised any infallible method of preventing disputes leading to stoppages. In that connection, our experience of industrial unrest during the past 12 months has been considerably better than that of Great Britain, France or the United States of America, so far as one can judge from reports appearing in the newspapers. I have given very considerable attention to the question of effecting satisfactory arrangements for the settlement of disputes without stoppages of work and may have some proposals to make later. For the present, however, my Department is concentrating, where-ever practicable, on the establishment for particular industries and occupations of permanent conciliation machinery, in each case set up by agreement between the parties. Twelve of these conciliation boards are now functioning. Meetings of the majority of these boards are held at regular intervals and, through the machinery devised, many differences which might have led to stoppages have been composed.

In the Transport and Marine branch of my Department, the outstanding activity during the year was in connection with the development of air services. As Deputies are aware, the year 1936 saw the establishment of the first regular air services from the Saorstát to another country. I refer to the services from Dublin to different centres in Great Britain which were inaugurated last year and which are being extended during the present year. The State has undertaken the construction of a modern civil airport at Dublin and is also engaged on the construction of a large airport on the Shannon in connection with the prospective inauguration of a regular transatlantic air service, in the ownership and in the control of which the Saorstát will participate. Furthermore, we were responsible for the establishment of two air transport companies, the second of which Aer Rianta, Teoranta, will control, directly or through subsidiaries, all air services in and from the Saorstát, and will be one of the companies participating in the transatlantic scheme. As, however, these matters have already been discussed here, I presume it is not necessary to refer to them now, other than to ask Deputies to note the information given in connection with the various subheads in the Estimate as to the expenditure which will be undertaken during the course of the present year.

That branch of the Department has also been engaged in implementing the transport policy which was enshrined in the legislation enacted in 1933. The various steps necessary to give effect to that policy have now been largely completed, and, although progress is still being made, no substantial change in the position is to be anticipated for some time to come. I think the public appreciate the advantages of that policy, although complaints are still occasionally received when some individual, desiring to engage in the transport of merchandise for hire on the roads, is refused a licence, or some railway company decides to exercise its rights under the legislation to acquire the services of an existing licensee. We still get occasional complaints concerning the increased cost of transport, an increased cost which was due to the restoration of transport charges to an economic level, when the main transport operators were placed in a position to do that. As Deputies will remember, road transport in this country had been reduced to very chaotic conditions, due to the operation of a large number of small firms, many of which could carry on only upon the basis of very low wages and very unsatisfactory services. When these operators were eliminated from the transport field, it became possible to restore the cost of transport to an economic level, and, although that may have caused difficulty in some districts, it nevertheless permitted the creation of a widespread and efficient transport service all over the country, which, I think, is as satisfactory as that existing in any other country.

The main volume of complaint at the present time comes from Dublin, and is due not so much to the operation of the transport policy enshrined in the Acts of 1933 as to grievances in the matter of the system of traffic control now operating. Most of these complaints find their way to my Department, although, as Deputies are aware, it is in fact not responsible for matters relating to traffic control. In so far as this House is concerned, the Minister for Local Government deals with such matters, but, in practice, they are dealt with by the local authority, in conjunction with the Gárda authorities. I know that the Gárda authorities have been giving considerable attention to the matter, and have been carrying out certain studies as to the practices adopted elsewhere, and will possibly be taking some action in the course of the near future. My Department is, of course, responsible for ensuring that the firm which is licensed to carry on this service does, in fact, provide adequate facilities and maintains an efficient service, and I have kept in constant touch with the directors of the company for the purpose of ensuring that I would be fully informed as to the steps it was taking to improve these public passenger transport facilities in the city.

These steps must be viewed in relation to two important factors. The first of these is the number of very unsatisfactory vehicles which were acquired by the Dublin Tramways Company on compulsory transfer to them, under the provisions of the 1933 Act, of the licences of the independent operators, and, secondly, the necessity, in the national interest, of ensuring the employment of the highest possible percentage of Saorstát labour in the production of the replacement vehicles. As regards the old acquired vehicles, I am informed that a process of elimination has been in operation during the past two years, which has resulted in a continuous reduction of the number of such vehicles included in the company's fleet. The company state that out of 277 originally acquired, only 42 remain in service, and these will be replaced as quickly as new buses can be turned out. During the years 1932 to 1936, 123 new buses were produced by the company, and an additional 30 were added since the beginning of this year. In last year, the company informed me, they decided in the interests of safety to substitute steel framing for the wooden frame hitherto employed in bus bodies. Some slight delay was occasioned in the installing of the machinery necessary to effect the changeover, but since mid-December last, 38 36-seater buses of the new pattern have been produced, and production is proceeding at present at the rate of three new buses per week, and will continue at that rate until a total of 56 vehicles of the new type for which chassis are available are in service, which will be about the end of next month.

Arrangements have been made also to commence at that stage with production of at least 50 double-deck buses. It is anticipated that the first of these will be available by September or October, and that the output of double-deck buses will be at the rate of three per fortnight. The company's present programme, according to the information supplied to me, provides for the production of a further 50 double-deck buses when the first fifty shall have been completed. In addition to the provision of new vehicles, the company has undertaken the revision of the time tables on all routes, and have instituted a system of inspection which, it is anticipated, will ensure stricter adherence to published running times.

There are, as Deputies know, a very large number of services and activities for which I, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, am responsible to the Dáil, and for which provision is made in the Estimates now under discussion. If I do not refer to them in any detail, it is not because they are of less importance than the others, but because I did not wish to make my introductory statement unduly long in the first instance, or to occupy the time of the Dáil repeating information which is available to Deputies in the footnotes to the Estimates. I did not receive any request from any Deputy in the House to deal with any particular aspect of the Department's work, and, consequently, I have no information as to what matters are to be discussed here this afternoon. If, however, any Deputy has any points to make in relation to any sub-head of the Estimate or desires any information respecting them, I shall endeavour to meet him when replying.

On a point of order, may I ask is it the intention to discuss all these Estimates for which the Minister is responsible on this Vote for Industry and Commerce?

Not necessarily.

Well, I just want to have that point clarified. The Minister himself is responsible for a great number of services, and I think it would be impossible to have any useful discussion if on Vote 57 we have a discussion ranging over all the Minister's activities.

If I may intervene, I think each Estimate must be taken separately. The practice is to deal with matters of policy on the main Estimate, and with questions of administration on the subsidiary Estimates.

If the Minister is able to get that practice established, he will be very fortunate. I think we will have to have an introductory statement from the Minister on Vote No. 61—Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance.

I intend to make such an introductory statement.

Well, then we have brought the Minister to some realisation of his responsibilities.

Do I understand that the Minister is finished?

I move that the Estimate be referred back for consideration. To my mind, the letter I have here, written last Wednesday, is the kind of thing that indicates the kind of problem which should dominate our minds. Here, when we are considering the Estimate of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and when we are discussing his general policy, this letter directs our attention to a very acute problem. The letter reads:—

"I write in desperation, as I have three boys and their father idle. Their father has a good national record. He was in the movement from 1914 to 1923. He was imprisoned in Stafford and Frongoch prisons. They have their boots worn off their feet looking for work, and cannot get it. I ask you to do something for Micheál, who has a good knowledge of the Irish language and is 17 years of age. There are nine of us in the family, all depending on two girls..."

That letter was written a week ago. Now, a week after that, we have a statement from the Dublin Juvenile Employment Committee indicating the difficulties they have in placing even juveniles in employment. Anybody who has been connected with the position in the City of Dublin with regard to that committee or board realises the difficulty which that board has in connection with this problem.

On the other hand, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the other day gave, in reply to Deputy Everett, statistics which indicated the position from the point of view of security of men, women, boys and girls, as indicated by the amount of insurance payments made. I think that reply was given on the 12th March. It is clear from that, and from the added employment in industrial concerns that has been given under intensive protection and the quota policy, that the increased security for women is 50 per cent. more than for men; and that the increased security for boys is 100 per cent. more than for men, and that the increased security for girls is 200 per cent. more than for men. Nevertheless, in spite of the indication we have there, and in face of the figures I have read, we have over against it the picture that this letter gives. We have here a family of nine depending on two girls. The Juvenile Employment Committee in the City of Dublin indicated what their position is, and that is a long-drawn-out position. One of the distractions and anxieties that face the members of that committee is that, after the boys and girls leave school, they have to face a period of absolute unemployment for I do not know how long, with very bad results to their character and very bad results to their efficiency in industrial employment afterwards.

It is in the light of these things, and in the light of what we know the position in the country to be, that we would like to have the Minister for Industry and Commerce tell us what his broad policy is. It has been difficult to get much information from the Minister for Industry and Commerce in his time, and much of the information he gives from time to time is misleading. Much of it that comes from him personally is not true. One of the main things that we found it impossible to get from him is a statement of the true position of our trade balance. There was a time when we were able to get information with regard to that. For the last couple of years the Minister has simply informed the House that he has not been able to get any information that would indicate what is the true position as to our trade balance. From the point of view of invisible exports, he has set himself in an elaborate way to give to the country statistics in the Trade Journal showing the economic trend. The picture that is intended to be painted by Ministerial speeches and the Ministerial Press, and by all these figures, is that everything is quite rosy. With reference to these figures, the Minister starts his comparison of our present-day prospects and our hopes for to-morrow by reference to the 1934 and 1933 conditions. The Minister might very well expect a certain amount of improvement from those conditions.

What the country is entitled to is a setting out of the position and the method of comparison with previous years, a method of comparison with the conditions that obtained in the past generally; a comparison with our expectations from the point of view of employment, from the development of our people here, and what they might be expected to move towards in the light of what they have been able to achieve in the past. Now the fact is that our exports in 1931-1932 were £34,000,000; in 1936-1937 these exports were reduced to £22,000,000. The adverse trade balance in 1931-1932 was £15,395,000, and in 1936-37 that figure went up to £17,700,000, so that on the balance of trade in the year 1931-32 the adverse balance represented 45 per cent. of our exports. That is, for every £100 of exports there was an adverse balance of trade of £45. What was the position in 1936-37? For every £100 of exports there was an adverse balance of trade of £80. I think that alone is an indication of the general financial condition of the country in which we are endeavouring to build up industries.

The Minister is aware that there is an Imperial Conference taking place in London during the next month which is going to deal with very important matters affecting our trade—I submit that is so—and, therefore, affecting our industrial foundations here. He knows that there is also a movement between some of the principal countries in the world that he has quoted here, to change the present world economic policy and to get forward with the ideals that have been discussed and that have been widely approved from 1927 onwards, since the World Economic Conference of 1927 met. That conference decided that it was necessary for the economic rehabilitation of the world, and for the political easing of possible war situations in the world, that a policy of freer international trade should be set on foot.

We took part in these discussions; we subscribed generally to the principles expounded there; we showed that we in this country were operating along the lines of these principles, and we made a stipulation that neither we nor our successors—we were not satisfied to bind any successive Government here—were prepared to shut our eyes to any discrimination in that policy that might be made in respect of young countries whose industrial development had not been properly begun or definitely established. We stood as other countries stood then, for a qualification on the general policy of freer world trade in respect of our own country because of its particular conditions and its past and, generally, on behalf of the other countries who were in like condition. We had much strong support from other countries in that matter.

The bigger countries, or the countries more tied down by political considerations, have prevented for quite a number of years the better development of that particular policy. For the last couple of years there has been a very strong movement towards giving practical effect to it. The Minister knows two things. He knows, in the first place, that we must depend upon better international trade if we are going to build up this country and, in the second place, he knows there are very large and very influential countries in the world opposed to the type of policy that is enshrined in the Ottawa agreements made by countries who went to Ottawa and by people capable of making agreements. He knows that at the present time there are a number of countries meeting for a conference supposed to be directly concerned with sugar, but that has wider implications. He knows that they are attacking the spirit of the Ottawa agreements and he knows that in Great Britain there are very strong forces that would attack the spirit of the Ottawa agreements in order to get wider trade with these other countries. Although he must be fully aware of the importance of that situation to this country, he deals, in his Estimate here, with some comparatively minor matters, and he leaves the whole question of our industrial policy untouched.

We are to have a development of the air. The policy of the Minister and his colleagues would indicate that God made the land, but the devil made the sea, because he wants, as far as possible, to cut himself off from other countries. The policy, in so far as it is preached here, of self-sufficiency, is a policy that is preached in terms as if it was the devil made the sea. Now, there is a different policy with regard to the air. The Minister knows that as long as our internal trade in those products that we are best capable of producing is cut off, as long as our income from our exports is reduced from £34,000,000 in 1931-32 to £22,000,000 last year, there can be no satisfactory development of general industry here. The Minister's general line and the general line of his Party are in that matter an attack on the possible development of industry here and in so far as the statement of Government policy with regard to trading with Great Britain is concerned, it is an absolute surrender of our industrial position.

Deputy Dillon, speaking in Sligo on the 10th or 11th April, drew attention to the fact that this country was struggling under a burden of depression, that we were growing poorer while the world was getting richer, and incomes were growing smaller here as our costs grew greater. The Government comment on that is that that is a rash, reckless and unfounded assertion, that it is sabotage and that in any other country moral and material sabotage of this description would not merely receive the severest public condemnation, but would be regarded as a serious penal offence and as a blow struck at the public weal. If the Minister never had members of this House, representing constituencies closely in touch with the people, reiterating year in year out for the last couple of years that people here were getting poorer and that costs were rising, he should know it himself. He should know what the reason for it is also. But the Government criticism, which makes it sabotage and almost a penal offence to give expression to these statements, says this:

"For free entry of Irish produce to England there must be given in return free entry of English manufactures to the Free State."

There never was in the history of this country a bigger surrender than the surrender contained in that statement.

By the kind of policy that the Minister has pursued here he has driven this country into the position that other countries have driven themselves into, and that is that the only way of conducting their trade is to make bilateral agreements with individual countries. In spite of the attempt that the Minister has made to find alternative markets for our produce, he never has been able to find a market other than the British market, in which the agreements were made on a 50-50 basis. So anxious has he been to get an international trade agreement on a 50-50 basis, that he has surrendered completely to the British Government our birthright of economic freedom, which was won by the Party who preceded him in office, and now we have the Department of Industry and Commerce presided over by a Minister whose policy is to make bilateral agreements and, in the conduct of these agreements, to sell completely our industrial freedom in this particular way to Great Britain.

In what particular way?

Our particular right to develop our industries here without any bowing, in that matter of development, to accepting the principle of a 50-50 trade agreement with Great Britain. The idea of a 50-50 trade agreement between us and Great Britain is a blow at the policy we have been endeavouring to pursue, at any rate in our time, through the League of Nations—the policy of free international trade and of the making of agreements most suitable for the various countries concerned, and not the linking up, by bilateral agreements, of one country with another, thus shutting out and stopping the freer and safer development of international trade. Nothing that we are doing here in a strong way to build up our own industries is going to be successful unless we can get rid of our agricultural produce. All the discussions on economic matters that have taken place, in connection with world economics, at the League of Nations, have paid special attention to the position of agriculture. The fundamental depression that hit the world was the agricultural depression, and the continuance of the depression in the world was due to the discrepancy between agricultural prices and industrial prices. Industrial prices were brought down because agricultural production was stifled. Here in this country we have created, practically all by ourselves, the very conditions that have stifled economic development in the world after the War. We have reduced our agricultural productivity, and until we restore our agricultural productivity we cannot have any decent industrial development here.

The Minister has referred to the number of people who have been put into industry here. It would be a very extraordinary thing if, with all the amount of protection and all the amount of State and other guaranteeing of capital in industry that has taken place here, a very considerable amount of industrial development had not taken place also. The Minister, however, while glossing over the question of costs by saying that these costs are reasonable in our present circumstances, has not turned his mind, or turned the minds of the Dáil, to any other aspect of the industrial development that has taken place here or the circumstances surrounding it. Costs have gone up. The Minister has not dealt with the matter that was brought before his notice in debate here, and that is the small fraction from these new industries that goes to wages as compared with what has to be paid for the products of this new industrialisation over the counter. The Minister has issued, in the Irish Trade Journal, a summary of the Census of Production figures for the years from 1932 up to date. He has rather obscured the total of these results by introducing the sugar manufacturing industry into these general results in a way in which it was not done before. In dealing with the Census of Production in such a way as I intend to do, I am leaving the sugar factory figures out, and I shall just give the Minister a reason or two as to why I am leaving them out. In summarising his results, the Minister adds, to sugar manufacturing, the sugar confectionery and jam-making industry, and when we take the sugar confectionery and the jam-making industry from these figures for the years in question—that is, from 1932 to 1935—we come across some very extraordinary things. Assuming that what has been added to the sugar confectionery and the jam-making industry is the sugar production in Carlow, we find that the net output that has been added in this way for 1934 is £747,417; that the net increase in wages for which credit is taken is £207,211; and that the net increase in the persons engaged is 378 persons; whereas, for 1935, the net output increase is, £375,913, or substantially less than the previous year; that the additional amount of wages paid is £180,506—rather a small amount less— but that the number of persons engaged is 1,120, compared with 378 in the previous year. These have been added, for some extraordinary reason that has not been explained to us, to the figures that have been issued in the preliminary report, and therefore, as far as the totals go, there is no use in making any comparisons from them.

Again, however, I want to point out to the Minister that, on his new figures, if we remove the sugar and some of the excise duties that have been referred to, the increase in the gross production is £11,422,000, and that the increase in wages is £1,404,000. Now, I say that, over the counter, the money that will have to be paid is £16,420,000, and the amount of wages that has come from the increased wages in these industries is only £1,404,000, or 1/8½ for every pound that has to go across the counter.

What does that prove?

It proves that there is no production here in industry alone from which is to come the purchasing power of what is being produced in industry here, and that you are driven back, for your real purchasing power here, either to agriculture or to the money you can get from your investments abroad.

Where did the balance of these go?

I am not saying where they went.

They went through the purchase of agricultural products.

If the people of this country have to pay £16,000,000 odd across the counter for industrially produced goods, I say that the amount of wages that is coming from that increase of industrial production, adding to the wages pool that is coming from industry, is only 1/8½ for every £1 that goes across the counter——


——and that for the support of that increased industrial production, you are looking to your agricultural production here or to your earnings from investments abroad. The Minister said that that is nonsense. He had his attention drawn to it before. The reply of the Ministerial organ to the statements that were made here was that this was a gross charge of profiteering against industrialists.

I spent half an hour here trying to explain it.

The Minister gave no word of explanation, good, bad or indifferent.

The balance of the sum goes in payments for wheat and beet and all the other raw materials which our industries use.

The balance may go for the payment of these things, but where does the balance come from? It has to come from something before it goes to the payment of anything. The Minister is simply telling us that, if our people here are capable of paying for these things, in the end the money goes back for the payment of raw materials of one kind or another, or for the employment of other people.

The Deputy's point is that they did pay them.

I am pointing out that, having paid for them, they paid for them with money of which only 1/8½ in the £1 came from increased wages in the industrial concerns that have been set up here. I draw attention to the fact for the purpose of pointing out to him that that industrial development cannot continue, and that industrial production cannot continue unless there is production in one way or another—the production of capital from investments abroad or production from our agricultural industry here— that will pay the remaining 18/3½ for the purchase of these things. Increasing industrial production on these particular lines cannot go on here unless either we get an increased income from our investments abroad or from our agricultural development here.

Is the Deputy's point that people are buying more goods now than ever they bought before?

My point is that the people are buying less. Of the stuff they are buying, in particular lines there has been increased production here of £11,000,000, but as far as paying for that is concerned, there has been increased spending here on home production of £16,000,000. The Minister, I hope, is clear about that. I am saying that so far as wages in the new added industries are concerned, in providing some of the purchasing power to pay for that additional £16,000,000, the new industries have only provided 1/8½ of each £1 spent.

It was paid out in 1931 just the same as in 1935. The people in 1931 paid out the same amount.

They had more money then, as a result of their agricultural production and possibly, although the Minister is incapable of giving us the information, more money out of investments abroad to pay for these goods. I am warning the Minister now that, after the income from agriculture has been substantially reduced, as it has been and is going to continue to be, as a result of the Minister's policy, that production cannot continue or that development of it cannot go on, because while there was a substantial pool hitherto coming from agricultural production to pay for industrial products here—whether they were industrial products made in this country or imported from abroad—that pool is being substantially diminished by the Minister's policy.

It is being increased by my policy. It is being increased by the amount of wages which the Deputy has referred to.

The Minister is, I cannot say in a Coué kind of way, hoping for the best, but he is in a hobo kind of way——

Every penny spent here in wages increases the pool.

Surely the Deputy is entitled to make his speech without these interruptions from the Minister?

Deputy Morrissey is trying to prevent the Deputy from making a fool of himself.

The Minister is taking very good care that he will not make a fool of himself. His attention has already been drawn to the fact that out of every £1 spent on increased production costing £16,000,000, an increased industrial production for which he has been responsible, there is only distributed as wages 1/8½. As I say, the Minister's Press, no doubt deliberately misunderstanding the statement that had been made, says that this is a charge of profiteering against Irish industrialists. Irish industrialists may be profiteering inside that margin. We have had a report from the Prices Commission which indicates that a certain section of them at any rate, a group of millers, are making exorbitant profits to a very substantial amount. We do know that the bacon curers, who are also included here, are making enormous profits to a very substantial amount. If that is the explanation—and I do not accept this as the explanation except in the case of the millers, the bacon curers and perhaps the fertilisers—the fact that stands out is that to which I have drawn attention. It is a fact of which the Minister should take some cognisance because he cannot continue to shut his eyes to it. The longer he shuts his eyes to what is happening here, the longer we shall have homes in which the conditions will be such that the occupants will have to write letters of the kind I mentioned here.

The Minister has had brought to his notice quite a number of matters from time to time in connection with the Census of Production. I should like to draw the notice of the Minister to a list of industries where the wages paid as a percentage of net production have fallen substantially. The Minister may say, in the case of bacon, that part of the difference between the figures indicating the fall, represents money going to farmers in increased prices for pigs, but the number of industries that are affected in this way are worth noticing. In the case of the bacon industry, wages as a percentage of net production in 1931 were 39.2. In the 1935 census of production they were reduced to 33.6. In the case of distilling, the percentage was reduced from 32.5 to 22.7. In the case of linen, wages as a percentage of net production have fallen from 70.1 to 56.7, and in the case of fertilisers from 44.1 to 33.5 between 1931 and 1935. In the case of metals, the percentage has fallen from 63.2 in 1932 to 50.5 in 1935. In the case of paper, the percentage has fallen from 54.2 in 1933 to 49.1 in 1935. In the case of coachbuilding, it has fallen from 63.0 in 1931 to 53.9 in 1935. The tendency shown comparatively recently indicates a fall in the case of bricks from 60.1 in 1931 to 56.7 in 1935; in the case of sugar confectionery from 39.2 in 1933 to 32.0 in 1935, and in grain-milling from 29.2 to 25.7 in the same period. There you have, over a substantial number of very important industries, a definite decline in the amount of wages paid as a percentage of the net production. We have no comment from the Minister as to what is operating here.

Study the British statistics and you will find much more startling results.

Are we to be told now that we have to keep our eyes on Great Britain?

Or on the American statistics.

If we are going to keep our eyes on Great Britain for the purpose of apologising for the statistics which are tossing themselves up to the surface of our national life here, why cannot we keep our eyes on Great Britain for something that will do much more for our industrial life here than any apology for those statistics? The Minister, over a definite number of industries here, has published figures which show substantial decreases in the amount of wages paid when taken as a percentage of the net production, and he says, "Look to Great Britain."

Or Siam, or any country the Deputy likes.

Look to Great Britain or Siam! We would like a more intelligent explanation of those matters than to be told to look to Great Britain or Siam. Again, if we are to look to those countries, do not let us put ourselves in blinkers and just look to them when we want some kind of explanation of something that has obviously gone wrong here.

Increased mechanisation.

There is another thing that shows itself on the surface of our Census of Production here which I should like the Minister to discuss, and that is the high cost of ingredients —they may be imported or they may not—as a percentage of gross production. If we have showing in our industries here, which have since 1931 been given a very substantial protection, a high cost of ingredients as a percentage of the gross production—a figure which, by reason of the tariff policy, must be inflated above normal —that again calls for some examination of the situation here and for some explanation, when we consider the intensive means which are being adopted to develop and extend some of those industries. In the case of metals, in the year 1931 the ingredients as a percentage of gross production amounted to 38.2; in 1935, 46.7. In engineering, in 1931 it was 26.4; in 1935, 40.9. In linen, it was 58.3 in 1931, which increased to 67.5 in 1935. In woollens it was 45.0, which increased to 52.5 in 1935. In coachbuilding it was 30.5, which increased to 67.

The Minister talks of the armaments race in the world being the explanation of some of the increased costs which have been criticised here. How many of those industries are in the position that world conditions, over which we have no control, are going to make them industries that are not worth carrying on here? That does not apply to linen; it does not apply to woollens; it may apply to some aspects of the other industries. But whatever it applies to we would expect, considering the present conditions here—the present conditions here are very serious unemployment, the impossibility of a large number of our young people getting into industry, falling population, and an increase in emigration from this country—that some serious thought would be given to things which stand out very definitely and very clearly on the surface of our industrial policy here, so that we may know what is wrong, and that we may take some steps in time to save our people the losses and to save our people the miseries that are expressed in unemployment, in emigration and in a falling population. The Minister has been emphasising the necessity for not looking at one particular year when considering any matter, but taking a certain number of years together. He has objected in the past to my taking, as a test of the annual average wages paid in any industry, the division of the total annual wages by the number of persons given by him as employed in October. I have stated that it is a test, carried from one year to another, and it is because I consider the fall in the annual average wage indicated in some industries so alarming that I again return to the matter.

Therefore, the greater the increase in employment in any industry the worse the Deputy's result?

Let us take one industry here. Let us take the malting industry. When we take, as a test of the average annual wages paid in the malting industry, the number of persons employed in October divided into the total amount of wages paid, we find the average wage in the malting industry in 1933, compared with 1931, fell by £23 10s. In 1934, again compared with 1931, it was down by £24 8s. In 1935 it was down by £25 18s.

But, in fact, did the wages in the malting industry come down?

The average annual wage, taking that as a test, came down by those substantial amounts in those years.

There are members of the Deputy's own Party who will tell him whether that is true or not. If the Deputy's statistical results do not coincide with the actual facts there must be something wrong.

Does the Minister say there was not a reduction?

There was not a reduction of the kind the Deputy has been talking about.

Was there any reduction?

Not that I know of.

That is the answer I expected to get.

In the tobacco industry the average wage in 1933 as compared with 1931 was down by £6 13s.; in 1934 it was down by £5 16s.; and in 1935 it was down by £5 6s. In the brick industry, in 1933 it was down by £17 13s.; in 1934 it was down by £19 18s.; and in 1935 it was down by £29 12s. In metals, excluding engineering, in 1933 it was down by £10 18s.; in 1934 it was down by £8 8s.; and in 1935 it was down by £4 13s. In engineering, it was down by £18 9s. in 1933; it was down by £27 8s. in 1934; and by £20 6s. in 1935. In boots and shoes, in 1933 it was down by £19 5s.; in 1934 by £20 10s.; and in 1935 by £24 12s. In soap and candles, it was down by £14 16s. in 1935. In fertilisers, it was down by £34 5s. in 1933; in 1934 by £24 5s.; and in 1935 by £14 1s. Generally, if we include coachbuilding, the average wages in 1935 over the whole lot was down by £16, or if we exclude coachbuilding it was down by £10. Again, the Minister shakes his head at that, but it is one of the things sticking out: one that requires some serious consideration, because it does reflect and show some definite characteristic in some of these industries.

The Deputy is all wrong in his calculations.

We were wrong in our calculation as to the number of boots that were consumed in the country, and as to the amount spent on clothing, the latter being indicative of the fall in the purchasing power of our people. But we were wrong in good company. We were wrong before that good company was wrong, because after a year or two we found that we were in the same company as the Department of Industry and Commerce officially. The Minister is now declaring us wrong in this as he declared us wrong in other matters. He is now declaring the figures published officially by his own Department to be wrong. Therefore, he cannot expect us to be too upset by his argument on these matters. He cannot expect that our feelings, with regard to industrial development and the well-being of our people, will be lessened in any way by any contradiction of his.

We had from the Minister for Finance, when making his Budget statement, glowing accounts of the way in which people were using more of this, that and the other, including tobacco, in this country. The outstanding thing about the tobacco industry, as disclosed by the census of production figures, is that there has been a steady fall in the net output. The value of the net output in that industry in 1934 was down to 76.8 per cent. of the 1931 output. The value of the 1935 net output was 80.8 per cent. only of the 1931 figure. The position that we have, therefore, is this: that the Minister for Finance, when putting an astounding burden of taxation on the people, brings forward as evidence that the people are able to bear it this statement, that the amount that the people are paying for the tobacco is going up. What is happening is that people are paying about 10 per cent. in total volume more than they paid in 1931 for their tobacco, but they are only getting 80 per cent. of the amount of the tobacco to smoke. The Minister again shakes his head.

The Deputy can get the official figures of the clearances of tobacco from bond.

I can get the official figures published by the Minister's Department. These figures show that the value of the net output in 1934 was down to 76.8 per cent. of the 1931 output, and that the value of the 1935 net output was 80.8. per cent. only of the 1931 output.

That has got nothing to do with it. What is the gross output?

The gross output contains the figure which includes the 1/4 additional tariff that the Minister put on tobacco in 1932. I do not think that he gave any substantial reduction since. The Minister is laying new foundations and raising new structures of industry here. He is doing it in a country where the source of our capital must be our land, and where a very substantial amount of destruction of that capital is taking place. If all the palliatives that the Minister and his colleagues concocted to help the farmers during the last five years reached the farmers, they, nevertheless, would have lost £35,000,000 or £38,000,000. That is a continuing loss in present circumstances, so that one aspect of the Minister's industrial policy is that he is cutting the capital from under Irish industry. Another aspect of it is that he is planning Irish industry for an increasing population. The Minister and his colleagues propaganded throughout the country a fairly rapidly-increasing population, but he now finds, largely as a result of Government policies that have been pursued here, that he has a falling population, one that has been falling since the end of 1935: a population that, between the actual figures and the figures estimated by the Registrar-General for the middle of 1935, showed a difference of something like 60,000 persons. Those 60,000 persons had to be wiped off the official sheet, as far as the population of this country was concerned, for 1935.

The divergence between the hopes that the Minister had in planning his industrial programme and the actual facts here widens that difference year by year. The Minister has a decreasing population at the present time, and so little is he concerned about it that, as a matter of pure political bluff, he attempts to minimise it. He first denies that there is a fall of population, and he attempts to minimise the effects of emigration. Even in the matter of where persons are applied for from the British labour exchanges for employment in Great Britain, there is no systematic collection of that information at the Minister's headquarters here.

I never said that.

The Minister said that some weeks ago.

With regard to applications made by the British labour exchanges, I was never asked that question.

I asked the Minister for certain information with regard to the application of a number of people sent——

By the British labour exchanges.

——from exchanges here in response to official applications from Great Britain, the only ones that the Minister said that he would recognise. The reply given in the House indicated that the Minister knew nothing about them, and that the Department was not able to give the information.

I suggest to the Deputy that he is forgetting, and that he had better look up his question again.

I am forgetting very little. Briefly, what the Minister has stated here dealt with trivialities. The Minister should address himself to broad aspects of his policy, and tell us what he is going to do to put our farmers in such a position that they can support industry. If the Minister thinks that industry can be supported without the growth of capital from Irish agriculture, then we are entitled to get from him a statement as to how he thinks that capital is going to grow here. The Minister has endeavoured to brush aside any points that are made here. He is treating the House in the same inconsequential way that he has apparently treated the responsibilities of his Department. The Minister must know, and I think the Labour Party have wakened up to realise it, that tariffs and quotas are not going to develop industry here. They must realise that you can only develop industry here out of the capital accumulations of the people and that the only place we have to get an accumulation of capital from, either to support our present industries or to build up others, is from agriculture.

I take it that in view of what was stated at the beginning, we will not deal with any question affecting unemployment insurance or unemployment benefit. The Minister has kindly promised to give us a statement dealing with that position. I can only hope that the statement on Vote 61 will be a little more helpful than the one we had on this particular Vote. On another occasion, I said in this House that the Minister is trying to carry too great a burden. The Minister is nominally in charge of a large number of departments and attempts to answer in the House for the working and administration of departments that he could not possibly keep in touch with and have that close personal knowledge of the working of these various departments that it would be necessary for him to have. In my opinion, it is humanly impossible for any one man to take charge of six Votes here and to keep himself in such intimate touch with the working of all these departments that he would be able to answer to the House, accurately and fully, for the working of them. But the Minister, apparently, does not agree with that view. The Minister is quite satisfied that he is fully competent to supervise the working and administration of these various departments and of the different sub-departments and all the varied activities covering so many matters. That is the Minister's opinion. But, when the Minister comes to the House, of course it is at once apparent that the Minister is quite wrong in believing he is quite competent to do that.

The Minister made a very bald sort of statement and then he got on to Irish industries, and we were back in the old position—if anybody dares to say one word, whether justified or not, about any aspect of what he calls new industries, he is immediately laying himself open to the charge of sabotaging. If anybody dares to suggest that the consumer is entitled to some consideration, or if any Deputy attempts to put the consumer's point of view before the House, the charge immediately is made of sabotaging Irish industry. The Minister dismisses every such statement made in this House or outside as being untrue, unfounded and unjustified, and refers to the persons making those statements, or those who may write articles on aspects of Irish industry, as being imbued with one feeling and one thought only—to do as much damage as possible to Irish industry. Let me suggest to the Minister that perhaps he himself, in refusing to take whatever steps are necessary to see if there are abuses—and I say there are such abuses and I do not think anybody will deny it; in the circumstances abuses are inevitable and the Minister knows that; but the Minister's idea is that everything is right and there is nothing at all wrong—he is more likely to do damage, and very definite and permanent damage, to Irish industry than those who suggest that, whilst giving all reasonable help and protection to industry, at the same time there is an obligation upon the Minister and upon this House to see that the consumers are not fleeced. I think that that particular type of argument by the Minister and by the Irish Press might be dropped. It is not sufficient merely to say, if a person asks a question or makes a statement founded upon information given to him about a particular aspect of Irish industry, that he is out to sabotage it and has no interest except to do definite damage to it.

The Minister has denied that there is such a thing as child labour in some of the industries in this country—denied it most emphatically. Deputies, who have personal knowledge of it, have made that allegation here, and made it from their knowledge. I have said over and over again for a number of years that I am not at all surprised at any denial the Minister makes, because the Minister's technique is to bluff, bluff, bluff, all the time. The Minister's line in this House is to say, "that is not true,""that is not true,""that is not true," whether it is true or not. That has been his line since the beginning. The Minister told us that there were 800 factories started since 1932. Then, by way of explanation, he said that about 400 of these would be classified as workshops. Will the Minister tell the House what constitutes a workshop, and what is the distinction between a workshop and a factory?

For the purpose of that statement the Deputy can take it as being any place that employs less than 20.

Any place that employs less than 20 is a workshop?

Roughly speaking.

If the number of employees goes over 20 it becomes a factory. Will the Minister say, if somebody starts something that gives employment to one person, if that is a workshop?

It might be, if it conformed to the statutory definition in the Act.

What is the statutory definition?

The Deputy can look up the Act for himself.

The Minister comes here to answer for the administration of his Department, and he makes a statement to the House——

The Deputy expects me to remember every section of a 50-years old Act.

I do not expect the Minister to do any such thing. He has been talking about factories and workshops for the last five years and of the hundreds established, and apparently he has gone to the trouble of segregating the factories from the workshops according to his own statement. I assume that he has done that in a very careful way—that he did not simply take the 800 and divide it, say, half and half. The Minister gave another figure which is rather interesting to me, and I should like to ask the Minister to set me right on it. I understood the Minister to say that on September 1st, 1936, there were 78,000 people employed in protected industries. Am I to take it that that is the total number of persons employed in all protected industries in the Free State? The Minister told us within the last fortnight in this House that he had put an additional 75,000 persons into industrial employment.

I said nothing of the kind.

Does the Minister deny that he stated within the last fortnight in this House that he had put an additional 75,000 people into employment?

I said the number of persons in employment had increased by 75,000.

The Minister said that the additional number put into industrial employment was 75,000. Does he deny that?

I do not know what the Deputy is talking about. Is he talking about employment in industries or employment under the Industrial Insurance Acts? Does the Deputy include house-building?

I am putting the statement as the Minister made it.

The number of persons in employment has increased by 75,000.

The Minister, when he made the statement, was not thinking of this Estimate but of the Budget.

I was not thinking of the Budget.

The Minister stated that an additional 75,000 people were put into employment by him or under his administration. He tells us to-day that the total number employed in all protected industries is 78,000. I will leave it at that.

The Deputy had better do so.

Can the Minister deny that he made that statement? Let him be careful. He went too far, perhaps.

If the Deputy includes house-building and transport, 75,000 is the figure.

So the Minister wants to make the most of it. Will he say how many of the 75,000 are employed in house-building?

Not at the moment.

Of course not. The Minister might be caught out again. On every occasion he has tried to minimise the number. He did so when Deputy McGilligan was quoting figures. The Minister cannot have it both ways. We have it when it suits, and when he wants to boost his industrial policy by telling us of the additional thousands that have been absorbed. But to-day, when we want the total number, he does not think the figure of 75,000 looks so well. He wants to get away from that and to mend his hand. The Minister will have to realise that the mere fact of coming here and making a statement is not going to alter the actual position. There is no use in Ministers trying to convince the people that there is more employment, that there are less unemployed, or that there is more prosperity now than five years ago. Unfortunately for themselves, the people know only too well that that is not so. I do not want to go any further into the question now, because we will, probably, have an opportunity of dealing with the unemployment side when we come to deal with unemployment assistance. So far as employment is concerned, we are told by the Minister that he has put 75,000 additional people into employment. On top of that, he also told us that there are thousands more employed on the land than five years ago, and, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, 45,000 are employed on rotation work. According to the official organ of the Labour Party, men and women are clearing out of the country during the last 12 months at the rate of 1,000 a week.

The Deputy could get a more reliable source of information.

I could not get a more unreliable source than the Minister, according to his own statistics. The Minister may want to disown his friends now on the eve of an election. Apparently they want to disown him and the Government and all its works and pomps, according to the leader of the Party, because the Minister was told that there was nothing sane or sound in the policy of clapping on tariffs and waiting to see what happened. It took them five years to discover that the Minister's policy was not as sane or as sound as they thought. Apparently the Minister does not think that the official organ of the Labour Party is to be relied upon. Let me say this, that from my knowledge of the Minister in this House, I am certainly more inclined to believe what I read in the "Labour News" than what I hear from the Minister.

That is just prejudice.

Let me assure the Minister that I have no prejudice whatever against him. I have to confess that sometimes I can enjoy the Minister, and that at other times I find great difficulty in following him. The Minister painted a rosy picture of the future with regard to our fuel resources, that we could look forward to the time when we will be practically independent of outside supplies. He skipped rather quickly over the operations of the Turf Development Board and made reference only to two schemes, one in Leix-Offaly and the other in Kerry. The Minister did not tell us what results were got in the way of turf from the moneys spent by the Turf Development Board during the last 12 months; what was the output of turf last year as compared with the year before; how did the quantities available this season compare with the quantities available last season; and whether he found there was any necessity to put his Turf Act into force to compel people to purchase and burn turf. He did not tell us those things, of course, because he knows quite well that the facts are that, last year, those who were always burning turf, those who want to burn turf, those for whom turf is the usual fuel and who do not, as a rule, burn coal, found it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get adequate supplies of turf. The Minister did not tell the House that, and I think he should have.

Let me say, because I know what the Minister will say later, that I am one of those who is in favour of encouraging the people to burn turf, as far as it can be burned. I notice Deputy Corry smiling and taking a note of that. Let me tell the Deputy, if he does not believe me and in any case he might put his foot in it, that I myself am encouraging in a very practicable way the sale of turf to the people and I am bringing turf within the reach of people who could not get it before and who were not burning it. I was doing that long before the Minister's Act was ever brought in. I do say, and Deputies who live in rural areas and particularly in areas in which there are bogs, know that there are in certain parts of the country what might be described as unlimited supplies of turf and it will be a fatal mistake to cut away within the next five, ten or 15 years the supplies which should be there for future generations, because you might not find it so easy to provide such a suitable and so cheap a substitute. There is a great deal of turf in this country, of course, but Deputies who are in the country know quite well that a great deal of it is almost inaccessible and ungetatable except by spending enormous sums of money. It is a question of whether it is at all economical so far as even some of the very big bogs are concerned. The Minister will find, as he probably has already found, that this question of turf development is not merely one of passing an Act to compel people to burn turf, whether they want to or not, whether it is suitable or not, or whether their chimneys, grates, and so on, are of a type which could burn turf at all, except without a great deal of wastage and, perhaps, trouble.

The Minister talked about slates and he told us that the Department was going to do something about the matter. He was not very clear as to what the Department had in mind and I should like the Minister to give us, if he can, some indication of what the Department propose to do. Let me say again that I consider that the Minister is four or five years late in doing something. Anybody with foresight at all should have realised, and certainly the members of the present Government in view of their housing policy should have foreseen, that there would be an unprecedented demand for slates in this country. We have unquestionably unlimited supplies of slates here and, in my own county, not to talk of the slates in Cork and other places, there is sufficient slate not only to roof every house that will be built by the present Government, but by any Government that will come after it for the next 100 years, and, in my opinion, better slate than any that can be imported. Notwithstanding that, the Minister tells us that we had to import slates from outside.

What is worse, the Minister has allowed to grow up in this country vested interests. What I mean by that is that people were encouraged to start the manufacture here of substitute roofing materials. Many people invested their money in it and men are employed in it. Are we to take it that the action contemplated by the Government, or by the Minister himself, with regard to the development of the slate quarries is going to mean the end of those tile factories and other factories that are producing substitutes for slates for roofing? Does it mean that they will lose their employment and that they will have to be compensated? To what extent, if any, is the Government going to intervene to speed up the production of slates in this country? These are matters which I think the Minister should have dealt with in his opening statement. There is no doubt whatever that if the slate industry in this country were properly developed—the slate is there and requires development by modern machinery—a good deal of very useful employment could be given, and, in my opinion, slate produced at a price that would not call for any additional contribution from the people. I do not think that anybody would contest for a moment the statement that a slate roof is infinitely superior to the best substitute you can get.

The Minister also referred to the question of the Slieve Ardagh collieries, and he said he expects to have the report on them in a very short time. He intimated, so far as I could follow his point, that he was satisfied that that report would be favourable to the development of the Slieve Ardagh collieries. Did I understand the Minister rightly in that? I do not want to go any further into it if I am wrong in that.

I prefer not to have cross-examination on the subject.

I was not putting the question for the purpose of tripping the Minister, but simply to find out whether I understood what he said. However, the Minister expects to have the report in a comparatively short time, and all I will ask the Minister is: Can we take it that when the Minister gets the report into his own hands there will be no undue delay in having it presented to the House?

I am not undertaking to publish it. I shall have to wait till I see the report.

I understand. I take it that, in any case, it will be intimated to the House and the country——

What we propose to do?

In the same way as Arigna?

There are just one or two points I should like to put to the Minister in connection with the administration of the Conditions of Employment Act. What machinery, if any, has the Minister set up to secure compliance with that Act? So far as I know, there is no machinery whatever. The Minister brought the Bill before the House; the House passed it and it was put on the Statute Book. It is, perhaps, only fair to say that the vast majority of employers immediately complied with the conditions set out in it, but there is fairly general evasion of many of what might seem to be the minor conditions laid down, and, so far as I know, there is no machinery whatever set up by the Department to see that the Act is enforced. I, in common with most other Deputies, have had a great many complaints from working men that they have been denied the benefits of the Act and told by their employers that they do not come under the different sections, that the Act does not apply to them and that they have no remedy. I should like the Minister to tell us, when he is concluding, whether he has set up any machinery to secure compliance and enforce the law in that respect, and whether, if he has not been able to do that, he can tell the House when he hopes to be in a position to do so, because when men are legally entitled to certain benefits, it is very unfair if, through any laxity on the part of the Department of Industry and Commerce, their claims cannot be enforced.

There is another aspect of the working of this Act which, instead of proving beneficial, has actually proved injurious to certain sections of workers.

I have in mind at the moment piece workers such as quarrymen, stone-breakers and those engaged in road work. The wages of these workers are nearly always determined by the weather. The men employed on piecework and paid by task, so to speak, are compelled to work the same hours as the men who are in permanent employment—the men drawing a regular weekly wage. I do not know whether or not this matter has been brought to the Minister's notice. It has been brought to my notice in connection with workers under North Tipperary and South Tipperary County Councils.

After a bad week, owing to the weather, these men want to continue on Saturday breaking stones in order to earn something. Because the other workers cease work under the Conditions of Employment Act at a certain time, these men must cease work at the same time, although they are denied in other ways the benefit of the Act. In that way, hardship is imposed on these men and their earnings are substantially reduced. I should like the Minister to give a little thought to that matter. It is a matter of detail but it is, I think, a matter properly arising on this Estimate. I trust that in the very near future the Minister will attempt to reconcile the two figures he gave within the last fortnight—the figure of 75,000 and the figure of 78,000, which we could not agree upon at the beginning of my speech.

I should like to deal with the point raised by Deputy Morrissey regarding the enforcement of the Conditions of Employment Act. I suggest to the Minister that some machinery should be set up to ensure that the Act is applied properly. I should like to know what action, if any, he has taken to secure, as the Act lays down, that there is not an undue proportion of juveniles in any industry. That was the part of the Act I liked best. So far as I can find out, the Minister has not taken any action in that connection. A great many employers are completely evading the Act and nobody knows to whom to apply for redress. Where men are members of a trade union, the matter can be raised through the medium of the trade union, but in places where there is no trade union organisation the Act is being evaded and the men have no redress.

From time to time questions are raised as to the working of the Act and local authorities sometimes apply to the Minister's Department for the interpretation of certain provisions of the Act. Local authorities which do this are always met with the answer: "Consult your legal adviser." A local authority cannot be always paying fees to its legal adviser for supplying interpretations of the Act. One would think that the legal adviser of the Department of Industry and Commerce would be in a position to interpret the Act and to give the necessary explanations. The Act is very complicated and it would not be too much to expect that the Minister's Department would give information of that kind, especially when asked for by local authorities. I ask the Minister to set up adequate machinery to deal with the application of the Act. I ask him, especially, to say what he has done to ensure that an undue proportion of boy labour is not being employed in industry. I cannot see any evidence that that portion of the Act has been brought into operation yet.

I should also like to refer to the question of coal supplies. The price of coal has increased rapidly in recent months. I do not suppose the Minister can do much in that connection, because the price has been raised on the other side; but I should like to draw his attention to the bad quality of coal which is being imported. I am not blaming the merchants for that because some of them tell me that it is almost impossible to get coal of good quality on the other side. In view of the fact that certain agreements have been arrived at between our Government and the British Government whereby a certain quantity of coal is to be taken by us each year, the Minister should see that coal of decent quality is supplied to merchants.

Another matter to which I wish to refer is that of cement. Deputy Mulcahy had a question down in connection with the tariff on cement when the Minister refused to consider its removal. The Minister is aware that the cost of building is increasing rapidly and that it is having a very serious effect on house-building and other matters. I suggest that the time has arrived when at least the 5/- should be taken off cement.

During the debate on the Estimate for the Board of Works, I referred to the question of Wexford harbour and was told that this scheme had been examined by the Board of Works and sent to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I want to say to the Minister what I said to the Parliamentary Secretary—that the time has arrived when Wexford Harbour Commissioners should be told definitely what the Government proposed to do in connection with this scheme, which has been before them for two years. About four years ago a deputation of the Wexford Harbour Board put before the Minister for Industry and Commerce the facts concerning the state of the harbour and showed the detrimental effect it was having on shipping. The Minister suggested to the deputation that a survey should be made of the harbour and he went so far as to mention the name of the engineering firm which should make that survey. The survey was duly made and submitted to the Department. Since then, a more detailed survey has been made by another firm of engineers and a scheme involving a certain amount of money, for which the county council, the harbour commissioners and the corporation made themselves responsible to a great extent, has been before the Minister for two years. In view of the fact that Wexford harbour is becoming shoaled up and that £2,000 or £3,000 has been spent by the harbour board on the preparation of a scheme, I suggest that they should be told whether or not the scheme is acceptable and, if it is not acceptable, in what respect it is unacceptable. It should be the interest of the Minister's Department to see that an old harbour like Wexford is not allowed to close up. I ask the Minister to let us know what has become of the scheme and what his Department propose to do in connection with it.

Like Deputy Morrissey, I definitely heard the Minister say in the Budget debate that 75,000 people had been put into employment during the last couple of years. I should like the Minister to tell us where these 75,000 people have been put into employment, whether they include the 45,000 on relief work or whether he is basing the figures on the amount of money in the unemployment insurance fund. The latter would be no criterion of the number of people employed in industry because people who would work for only two or three days would be taken into consideration. For information's sake, I should like to know into what industries these 75,000 people have been put.

As this Estimate deals with the industries of the country, it is a very important one. At the outset, I should like to say that people of all shades of opinion co-operate, to a very large extent, with the Minister in his efforts to set up industries here. The Minister himself has, I think, paid tribute to the co-operation which he has received from all classes in regard to the setting up of these industries. Irrespective of whatever little criticism may be offered from time to time, I think we are all in agreement with the general policy in that regard. While that is so, I am of opinion that the Minister should rather welcome than otherwise the criticisms offered from time to time in regard to matters which relate to our industries. I refer to the question of profiteering. On the published balance sheets of certain companies, one is forced to the conclusion that there has been a little profiteering. When one sees companies paying dividends at the rate of 20 per cent. or 25 per cent., one is inclined to open one's eyes and to examine how these profits have been brought about. I think the Minister should keep a very close watch on the profits made by these companies and see if it would be possible to have their products sold at lower prices than those at which they are being sold at the moment. Everybody knows that the people of this country are not millionaires. There are very large numbers of people, especially in the rural parts of this country, with a very low weekly wage. There are very large numbers of agricultural labourers whose wages are small and whose families are big. To them every penny saved means something. It would be a very wise thing if the Minister would see that the profits made by some of these companies were somewhat reduced so that their products would be sold to the people at a lower figure.

I quite agree with the Minister that in the starting of industries in this country there are difficulties besetting industrial pioneers that possibly do not beset industrial pioneers in other countries. The Minister himself very properly stated that the workers in this country are not accustomed to the various ways and means of producing the articles that are being produced at the moment. Our workers have to be trained, and that takes time. Undoubtedly under the circumstances it would not be right to expect that things should be manufactured here and sold at competitive prices comparable with the prices at which similar articles are manufactured and sold in other countries whose industries have been established a very long time.

The Minister set up a Prices Commission. I quite agree with the Minister that the best way in which to keep down prices is to have internal competition. But it strikes me that factories are being built in this country by people who think these factories are entirely for their own benefit. They seem to think that they have no duties or responsibilities to the general public. It might be as well that such people would speedily recognise the fact that that is a state of affairs that cannot be allowed to continue, and that no Government with a sense of responsibility to the people would allow it to continue. It might be as well to let these people know that the time is arriving or has arrived when these new industries will be expected to compete with the products of other countries in the things they are manufacturing at the present time.

The Minister referred to a few other matters relating to our industries. One of these was in connection with strikes. Of course, I am whole-heartedly with the Minister in what he said on that point. I believe it would be a good thing for employers and employees in this country if some measure could be devised whereby the strike weapon would be avoided; a little common sense on both sides may be the means of avoiding some of these strikes that entail so much hardship and misery not alone on the employees and employers but on large bodies of the citizens as well. The Minister will, in any measure he may adopt to prevent strikes, be assured of the co-operation of all people of good-will. All people of good-will want to prevent a recurrence of strikes. Undoubtedly the Minister spoke the truth when he said that in comparison with other countries we have not suffered much in that respect in recent years. I am very glad to say, so far as my constituency is concerned, that for the past few years there has been very little trouble between employers and employees. In the majority of cases the people have been able to settle their differences by round-table conferences. I hope the Minister will succeed in his efforts towards bringing about that happy state of affairs everywhere in this country.

In connection with Irish industrial affairs generally I would like to direct the Minister's attention to the position of the boot trade in this country. We are naturally proud of the fact that there have been established here boot manufacturers who are second to none, firms who have produced a good article at fairly competitive prices. But at the moment there is just a danger that there may be allowed to be erected in this country too many boot factories, with the result that many of those who, previous to the advent of the new factories, had been able to give all the year round employment now find that they have to curtail their output. Many boot factory workers are now on short time.

I know of one factory that lately had to dispense with the services of a very large number of those who hitherto found constant employment there. I do not know what truth there is in the allegation that there are now too many boot factories in the country. The Minister, with the statistics at his disposal, will probably be in a better position to determine the truth or otherwise of that point, but I think he would do well to examine the whole situation. I do not know how many pairs of boots and shoes are at present allowed to be imported under the operation of the quotas which the Minister fixes from time to time. I do not know what effect those imports have on employment in the boot factories at present operating. Personally I think the time has arrived when the Minister should be in a position to suspend altogether his issue of quotas for the import of foreign boots and shoes.

I am one of those who believe that when we are able to manufacture an article for our own people, and able to turn out as good an article as the imported one, the people as a whole, if not willing to do so from the patriotic point of view, should be compelled to buy the home-manufactured article. The best way, perhaps, in which that could be done would be to prevent those people from buying the imported article. It is an extraordinary fact that there are many people in this country who, while shouting "Up the Republic," waving the tricolour and professing to be prepared to die for their country, yet, if they could get an imported article at the smallest fraction less than the home-produced article, are prepared to support the imported article. I have heard Ministers complaining of that fact. When we have legislation compelling people to buy Irish goods, then we should make them buy Irish goods, the products of our own factories. That is a matter to which the Minister should give serious attention. I believe the attention of the Minister has been already called to it.

There is just one other matter that has been already referred to. That is the question of slates. I was bold enough to interrupt the Minister in his opening statement and to ask him what he meant by "the reluctance on the part of quarry proprietors to invest more capital in their quarries." He told me that just then he was not prepared to give me information on the matter. There again one finds amongst certain employers in this country a reluctance to put their money in an Irish industry and thus help more fully to develop it. The same remarks that I have already applied to people about their unwillingness to purchase Irish-manufactured goods are applicable here. Certain of these people with money are engaged in Irish industries. They are at the moment making plenty of money and are assured of making good profits. But if these people see that there is any danger at all anywhere in the immediate future that these profits will not be as great as they have been, or that their industry may suffer, then, of course, one finds that their patriotism has to take second place with these people. It is then a question of ego. I wonder would that be the case with the proprietors of these slate quarries?

I am very keen on this matter, because I happen to know a little about the building trade, and I know that builders' providers and others have had to wait a considerable time for a supply of Irish slates. I am sure the Minister is aware that there are very large numbers of people in this country who, if they build houses for themselves, are inclined to have slates at whatever cost; it does not matter what the extra cost may be. Of course they are wise men, because no matter what may be said for the alternatives, there can be no two opinions as to what is the best roof for a house, and that is slates. Tiles and artificial alternatives will, in my opinion, be a great source of trouble to the people whose houses are roofed with such materials. Very many complaints have arisen in regard to houses so roofed about leakages following storms or heavy rainfall. Such complaints never arose in cases where the houses were slated.

One cannot understand this reluctance on the part of the quarry owners to extend their activities and make available for builders' providers, who, after all, are the intermediaries between the producers and, so to speak, the consumers, sufficient quantities of slates so that the people who are at present building houses will not have to wait for a period of three to six months. If the quarry owners do not act up to their responsibilities, I would not have the least hesitation in advising the Minister to allow foreign slates in. I would be prepared to do that sooner than that these men should have their own way and that they should simply produce quantities of slates so that the people will be running to get the last slate that is turned out of an Irish quarry. Everyone knows that when the demand is greater than the supply prices are always inclined to ascend.

At the moment building prices, unfortunately, are rising daily. Not a week passes but architects get reminders from builders' providers that on and after such a day the prices for certain articles will be increased by 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. That will have a very serious effect on the whole question of building houses. You cannot have cheap rents if the houses are very dear to build. Every additional £5 or £10 means 1d. or 2d. or 3d. on the rent of the house. Apart altogether from the fact that Irish slates are scarce, more employment could be given if the quarry owners would exert themselves, take a little risk, extend their activities, employ more men and open up the quarries on a much wider scale, and thereby give us an unlimited supply of slates. If they do not do that, then it is the Minister's responsibility to see that the people will be able to have a supply of the roofing material that they consider best for their houses.

Another question with which I should like to deal relates to the production of alcohol. I see in the Estimate that there is a sum of £197,000 allocated for that purpose. There was little over £250,000 voted last year for the erection of five distilleries throughout the country. So far as I know, most, if not all, of those distilleries are finished. I know the one in the Cooley area of County Louth is finished, and I think the one at Carrickmacross is also finished. I do not know much about the others. The position is somewhat uncertain. Many of the potato growers in Cooley expected the factory to function last October or November. They find that even at the present time it is considered doubtful whether that factory will be in a position to start operations for the coming season. The Minister knows as well as I do that the farmers in that area have suffered very considerable losses for the past 10 or 15 years, owing to the fact that the area had to be scheduled as a black scab area. That really meant that they could not sell their potatoes in any market in the Free State; they were forced to export them to the one market available, the British market, and those people had to depend on the ups and downs of that market. There were years when they were forced to sell potatoes at 1/- per cwt. There were certain years when trade was bad on the far side of the Channel and they had to let the potatoes rot in the ditches.

With the object of avoiding a repetition of such a condition of affairs, the Government, very properly in my opinion, erected the factory there. I should like if some intimation were given to those people that the factory would be operating during the coming season. So far as I know, the potato growers are not satisfied with the prices proposed to be given, and that is a matter that should command the attention of the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Agriculture, because I think he is partly responsible for the position in that area. The two Departments should be able to come to some decision about the price to be paid per ton for the potatoes that will be delivered at the factory. The people are not prepared to accept the proposed price in view of the fact that the management of the factory have made it a condition that the alcoholic content of the potatoes must be in the region of 16.9 to command £2 a ton. There will be a deduction if the percentage is under that. If there is any section of Free State farmers who deserve consideration, I think it will be generally admitted that the farmers of Cooley come first to the mind.

I desire to refer to unemployment insurance, unemployment assistance and the Conditions of Employment Act. I might remind the Minister that some time ago, when discussing the Unemployment Assistance Bill, he promised me he would introduce legislation changing certain sections with the object of ensuring that people who were out on strike, but who were not direct participants in the strike, people who lost their employment as a result of the strike, would be regarded as having nothing to do with it, and that they would not lose their unemployment insurance benefit. The Minister promised me at that time that he would see into the matter and that, if necessary, he would introduce an amending Act. I should like to remind him of his promise now, and I should also like to ask him to see that, when introducing that legislation, it should be of a retrospective nature, so as to bring within its provisions the question of compensation for the unemployment benefit that was denied to a few hundred workers on the Great Northern Railway a few years ago. The Minister will remember that, on the occasion when the Unemployment Assistance Act was being debated, I put down an amendment for the purpose of ensuring that workers who were disemployed as a result of a strike for which they were not directly responsible, should be paid benefit. These workers were not paid owing to some technical reason. The umpire decided against them and the Minister stated in so many words—and I agree with him in what he said—that if he were trying that case he would certainly allow the benefit. I think that, in justice to those men, the Minister should implement the promise he made to me on that occasion, and that he should introduce an amending Act and do justice to the men concerned.

I am not asking too much when I ask the Minister to do that, because I could cite dozens of Acts that were made retrospective down to 1918, 1920 and 1921. Numerous Acts were introduced in this House, and provisions were inserted in them with the object of making them retrospective back for a period of from 15 to 20 years and over. I think the Minister should do that in as short a time as possible, in order to do justice to those men who, through no fault of their own, were denied the benefit to which they were justly entitled and who, as a result of not being paid that benefit, got into debt on that occasion and are possibly only getting out of debt at the present time. There are 500 or 600 of these men involved. As a matter of fact, I have here the report of the whole debate that took place on that Bill, but I do not want to weary the Minister by reading out all that I have here. It is sufficient to say that the Minister stated on that occasion that he would certainly consider the matter and would undertake to let me know whether or not he would introduce an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920, and that he would allow me to consider my position then. As I said on that occasion, the Minister is quite aware that no private Deputy can introduce legislation of the nature suggested in my amendment, because it would deal, to a certain extent, with finance and, so far as I know, the rules of the House preclude a private Member from introducing legislation of that nature. Accordingly, the responsibility devolves upon the Minister, and I think he has accepted that responsibility. I think he will also agree that I have not pushed him in the matter, but he must remember that that is two or three years ago. When a promise is made to me, I am in the habit of taking a man's word for it. I do not want to annoy people, or to indulge in pinpricks, and accordingly I have left this matter to the Minister himself. I am simply reminding him now of the promise he made on that occasion in the presence of Deputy Anthony, Deputy Norton and other Deputies, who agreed with me and suggested that my case was such as should command the support of the Minister. Undoubtedly, the Minister himself was sympathetic on that occasion, but I want his sympathy to take practical shape, and I want him, as soon as possible, to introduce that legislation with a view to doing justice to these 500 or 600 decent men working on the Great Northern Railway works, and to restore to them the benefit of the moneys to which they are duly entitled.

Now, I should like to refer to the Conditions of Employment Act. Of course, that is an Act which has caused great anxiety to both employers and employees. However, I should like to be charitable in dealing with that Act because, after all, it is a new Act of its kind, and, in fact, I think it is the first Act of its kind to be introduced in any country. Like all new Acts, it requires a little time to enable people to get the hang of it. Speaking generally, however, I think that employers are falling in line with its provisions, and that they have done all that is humanly possible to meet their responsibilities.

Undoubtedly, various differences have arisen as to the exact interpretation of a particular clause as it affects a particular employee, but cases like that will always arise and I quite understand the difficulties, even of the Department officials themselves, in interpreting these sections, where sometimes it is a question for the judge on the bench. I am of the opinion, however, that as time goes on most of these difficulties will disappear and that, possibly, in a short time, the Minister may be in a position to amend the Act so as to bring in all employees. My reason for saying that is that I think that one of the great causes of discontent at the moment is that in certain concerns where you have from 100 to 300 or 400 men working, 200 of them may come under the Act and the others may not come under its provisions; or you may have even 299 out of 300 coming under the Act and one employee not coming under it, for whatever reason it might be—whether for transport reasons or not I cannot say. I think that is the real cause of the discontent. When certain employees see their fellow-employees getting holidays, to which they themselves are not entitled, they cannot understand why they are not getting them. On the whole, of course, I think that things will right themselves in time and that, after a while, the Minister will be able to introduce an amending Act that will clarify certain of the provisions of the present Act, in addition to introducing other sections that would extend the Conditions of Employment Act to sections of employees who, at the moment, are in doubt as to whether they are entitled to the various benefits, such as holidays and so on, or not.

Now, I should just like to refer to the question of the marine service. It is one of those things about which, possibly, very few people know much, but still sometimes things happen that bring the matter forcibly to one's mind. I refer particularly to the question of coast line life-saving apparatus. I notice that, recently, there have been reports of shipwrecks along the coast. Notably, there was one in the neighbourhood of Greenore, and it struck me, when reading the account of that unfortunate accident, that if the same condition of affairs existed there now that used to exist in former times, some lives might have been saved. I do not know whether or not there is any coast-line life-saving apparatus there at the present time. I know that they did have these services along parts of the coast in former years but, whether for purposes of economy or not, they were cut down in recent years. Although I do not know much about this matter, it occurred to me, in reading the account of that unfortunate accident, with the subsequent loss of life, that it might have been possible to save the lives of some of these people if the same services were in existence as existed in former years. I would ask the Minister to consider that aspect of the question. Owing to the dangerous position there, and the fact that there are a number of places in close proximity, I think it would be money well spent if the services referred to were restored to their former position. As I say, I am not prepared to go into all the details, but I certainly know that many of those services were very considerably curtailed, if not, indeed, dispensed with altogether, in recent times, and I think it might be well for the Minister to look into the position and see if some of them could not be restored.

That is all I have got to say, Sir, except again to ask the Minister to give very serious consideration to the few points I have raised, especially in connection with the boot trade, and the number of factories at present established in the Free State, and also the question of amending the Unemployment Insurance Act in such a way as would enable the railwaymen to whom I have referred to get back the benefits which were denied to them on that occasion.

I was present when the Minister referred to the Prices Commission, and, needless to say, I was glad to know that the Minister proposes to revise the machinery dealing with the control and regulation of prices throughout the country. This is a matter that affects the people of the constituency I represent. We observed recently that when the Minister for Agriculture was instrumental in having the price of pigs raised by 2/- per cwt., following an increase in the price of bacon, immediately the millers increased the price of feeding stuffs. Consequently the efforts of the Minister for Agriculture were nullified through the action of the millers in our county. I presume the same condition of affairs obtains in other districts. It is about time that some steps should be taken to ensure that the farmers will get the full benefit of the increased prices of their products. I am sure that the announcement of the Minister this afternoon in regard to prices generally will be appreciated throughout the country. Such an announcement had been looked forward to by the people generally.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is the question of unemployment assistance in so far as it affects fishermen along the coast of Kerry. It appears that under the procedure adopted by the investigation officers, amounts realised from the part-time occupation of fishermen on the coast are taken as a fixed income. I would suggest to the Minister that there might be a more liberal interpretation of the regulations in regard to this question of means in so far as these fishermen are concerned. When one considers their precarious livelihood and the conditions under which they have to work, it is quite evident that the amounts accruing to them from their labours would not be very great indeed. In any event, it should not be assumed that they earn a definite weekly or monthly amount. Therefore, I would urge that the regulations in regard to the means of these fishermen would get a little more liberal interpretation than it has received so far. The decisions so far have been pretty drastic and call for attention.

The Minister also dealt with the question of the Peat Development Board and the scheme as it will operate in Kerry in future. We appreciate the great work that has been done, but there is one aspect of the matter that will affect the peat districts in South Kerry and that is the operation of the Lyracrompane scheme. The operation of that scheme may result in areas that were hitherto partially developed being excluded from any further grants or any further assistance from the Board. I would strongly urge that, even if the other scheme contemplated is put into operation for the coming year, the areas to which I have referred should not be deprived of the grants they were given hitherto. Those areas in which other schemes have been in operation and in which good work has been done should not suffer as a result of the major scheme which is now being put into operation in our county. It is a vital matter to these peat producing districts that small grants should be made available to finance schemes for the production of hand-won turf, and in that way provide a livelihood for the people who have been engaged in that work of supplying hand-won turf to other districts.

There is only one other point that I desire to refer to, namely the question of slate quarries. We have experienced some difficulty recently in obtaining a transfer of property from the existing owners to people who contemplate the development of slate quarries. These people were informed that there was some difficulty in regard to the transfer of the lease, and that probably it might require amending legislation to deal with that question. I would urge that, if such legislation is necessary, the matter should be expedited so that these people would not be held up if they cannot proceed in the usual way. I have nothing further to add beyond saying that the scheme as outlined by the Minister this afternoon will meet with approval, I am sure, throughout the country.

Deputy Flynn has evidently his finger on the pulse of the nation. He comes up from the country to tell the Minister for Industry and Commerce of the mess and he is right, perfectly right. Deputy Flynn thinks that the announcement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to-day that the Prices Commission is at last going into action is necessary. Of course Deputy Flynn realises that we would not have that announcement were it not for the general election. That is what the promise is for. We shall possibly see it working well after the general election is over. I, however, sympathise with Deputy Flynn. As a matter of fact I have a fellow-feeling with Deputy Flynn, not alone in regard to that matter, but also in regard to the turf development business. We have here before us on page 265 of the Book of Estimates details in regard to the Prices Commission. The book informs us that we have altogether 14 officials on that body costing this country something over £5,000 per annum, all told, for doing I do not know what. Neither, do I think, does Deputy Flynn know. I wonder if there is any person in this country who knows what they are doing or what they have done? The public is undoubtedly being fleeced, badly fleeced, by the high prices charged for almost every commodity. Although we have a Prices Commission which is supposed to be operating, we do not see any result from it. I am sure Deputy Flynn will agree that unless there is some activity on the part of the Prices Commission we should not be called upon to provide a sum of £5,000 for that commission.

Deputy Flynn also referred to the operations of the Turf Development Board. I am afraid that Deputy Flynn is also going to be disappointed in that respect, because the allocation of the sums provided is not being made in the manner which he thought. We have £23,500 estimated as the cost of administration of the Turf Development Board. For general development, grant-in-aid, there is only £3,000 to be scattered all over the country from Donegal to Cork. Advances for general development amount to £1,500. Then we have two other items: development of Clonsast Bog, £53,000; and development of Lyracrompane Bog, £23,000. Those are for machine turf.

I think that, whatever there is to be said for improving the bogs for the people who have to cut and to win the hand-won turf, there is very little to be said so far for the machine turf. Quite recently we had a grant-in-aid of a peat-fuel company for the sum of £35,000—a company which had not up to that economically produced machine turf, although it had cost close on £100,000 or something like that. They had not yet even made any impression on the machine turf as an economical unit. Notwithstanding that, we are, as Deputy Flynn rightly points out, making a very large contribution here towards the Turf Development Board. It is all in that direction, and very little in the direction of the people who have to wade through the bogs, cut the turf and get it out. Those are the people who, I think, are the only people who matter as far as turf is concerned. Personally, I have very little regard for the development of turf in general as a means of living for the people of this country. I have no use for it. As a means of providing fuel for the farming community and people living in the vicinity of the bog, we certainly had turf cut and saved before it became fashionable for Fianna Fáil or anybody else to advocate it. Those are the people who really ought to have something advanced towards them.

I should like to know from the Minister what are the real prospects with regard to the development of industrial alcohol. I am afraid, from what we read in the papers, that there does not seem to be any kind of general agreement in the districts where those factories are being set up as to the price they are prepared to accept for potatoes for the manufacture of industrial alcohol. I should like to know how this industrial alcohol will compare with petrol and other commodities of that type, and how far it will bring this country on what Fianna Fáil calls the road to self-sufficiency. I am afraid it will not get us very far. After all, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce said in one of his sane moments recently, "As Irishmen we all hope for the prosperity of our own country." We are all in that boat, and it is better for us to realise that. I was glad to read that the Minister for Industry and Commerce said that outside this House, but I was sorry to hear him say in the House that some people here hoped for some catastrophe to happen to the country. That is all silly nonsense. As far as the development of industrial alcohol and such enterprises is concerned, everybody in the country wants to see them a success if they can be made a success. Some of us feel that matters of this kind have been embarked upon without due consideration or without comparing what the results will be, and in that way, of course, we are entitled to have, if you like, a genuine difference of opinion.

I was disappointed in the Minister's speech to-day, because I am afraid that for some reason or another the Minister has lost that feeling of self-assurance which he generally has in this House. That does not speak well for the Minister's Department, I am afraid, because he always came here with a great flourish of trumpets to tell us how well everything was doing. Somehow he did not strike me as having just such self-assurance to-day. I was disappointed, too, that he did not tell us what steps he is going to take to meet the charges about alien penetration which have been made by the people who are in the genuine Irish industries in this country. They have approached the Minister on various occasions. According to themselves, the Minister has on some occasions evaded the issues—evaded them very adroitly, according to the members of the Industrial Development Association—and on other occasions he has been quite sympathetic. The Industrial Development Association maintains that at the present time there are industries in this country—I have no doubt that those are the industries which are fleecing the people of this country, charging exorbitant prices, and putting up the cost of living—which are nothing more or less than dummy companies, offshoots of companies on the other side.

I do not know how much truth is in that, but I remember quite recently in this House when there was a certain Bill before the House with regard to the evasion of stamp duties, I made the statement that it was quite possible that certain industries in this country which were no more than off-shoots of industries in other countries would reap solid advantages from the passing of that Act. I remember that Deputy Moore came in a week afterwards, in, I will say, genuine wrath, to say that I was guilty of slandering and libelling Irish industries, and that there was no such thing in this country as the type of industry to which I had referred. Well, the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association held a meeting quite recently at 3 Stephen's Green, as reported in the Irish Independent of April 2nd, at which the Chairman, Mr. Holloway, said:—

"The Minister has stated that the amount of control of their industry secured by foreign concerns was not of a serious nature, and was on the decline. It was evident that the information at the disposal of the Minister and information at their disposal did not tally.... The type of foreigners they objected to were people who operated from an office or head branch across the water; who, in most cases, had never seen this country, but set up a dummy company sometimes with a capital not sufficient to cover office expenses, in most cases aided by brands of commodities well known and receiving a free advertisement from the number of English papers circulating in this country."

That is a very serious statement from the Chairman of the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association. I think that, when a statement of that kind comes from such an authoritative source, it is up to the Minister to make some reply in this House on this particular Estimate; to say what steps he proposes to take to see that that type of industry—if you can call it an industry—is not established in this country, and that, if we are going to have industries in this country and if we are going to be charged high prices in this country, we will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that those prices are going into the pockets of Irishmen, and not into those of people across the water.

Recently my attention was called to another matter in the same line which appeared to me to be extraordinary. It was this: That a certain boot and shoe factory was set up here under protection four years ago; that there were both quota restrictions and tariffs; that the proprietor of this factory was an Englishman; that he set up this factory here under this protection; that for three years he continued to trade here when he had practically the whole country as a market; that he turned out three good balance sheets, and at the end of the third year he offered his company for public subscription, because he found he was then up against competition in this country, and in a dwindling market as far as he was concerned; that during all that time he had made at least six times the profit on his turnover that he would have made had he remained in Britain, and that when he offered his factory and his business as a going concern for public subscription one of the items embodied in his assets was £30,000 for his goodwill. He got away with it. He got the public to subscribe.

I understand that one of the first things that happened with the new directors was that they had to dispense with the services of some of the workmen because they found that they were on a restricted market. I am further informed that the person who did that and got away with it, laughing, with his £30,000 in his pocket, in this City of Dublin, the money of the Irish people, has now got God-speed from the Minister for Industry and Commerce to enter into another new monopoly in this country. If that state of affairs is going to be allowed here, then, in my opinion, it would have been much better we had never started Irish industry than allow ourselves to be fleeced in that manner.

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce goes down the country to open a factory one of the things which he generally adverts to is the importance of agriculture. That, of course, is perfectly right, but it seems to me that the Minister can never get below the surface. He simply mentions it. He feels it right to do so because, of course, the purchasing power of the people depends on the prosperity, or otherwise, of agriculture, but so far as I can see the Minister is never able to get beyond that. I do not know whether it is that he is held in the grip of other people, or that he has never probed deeply into the question. There are times, of course, when one feels a lot of sympathy with the Minister. He has a multitude of duties to perform arising out of the policy that he has embarked upon. He is called upon to make many decisions. At the same time I think that when the Minister set his hand to the plough, so to speak, of building up Irish industry here he should have seen that there was behind that effort an agricultural community able to purchase the goods manufactured. When the Minister goes down the country and says that the Government have done all that they can do for agriculture, he knows that that is not right. He also says that the people realise that there is only one market that they can depend upon, and that is the home market.

It is interesting to compare the statements made by our Minister for Industry and Commerce and those made by the Premier of Queensland in Australia. The latter says: "Unless we can maintain and increase, if possible, our export trade we cannot continue to do business in this country. Unless we can do that, one or other of two things will happen: we will either have to cut down production so as to maintain prices, or we will create a glut on our own market that will crush down prices." Now that is the long view. But here we have our Minister for Agriculture telling our Minister for Industry and Commerce, and telling the world, that we export four-fifths of the cattle we produce. But our Minister for Industry and Commerce apparently closes his eyes to all that. If four-fifths of our cattle must be exported, then the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if he is going to have any success at all with his industrial enterprises, ought to say to the people of this country, as the Premier of Queensland has said to the people of his country: "We must increase our exports in order to maintain prices here. If we are going to increase our exports, what are the commodities on which we expect to be able to show an increase?" I do not think any member of the House expects that we will ever be able to export boots and shoes in competition with the big firms in Northampton. We have to rely mainly on the export of our live stock. There is no use in the Minister going down the country and telling the people that agriculture is the main industry of the country, while at the same time telling the farmers that they ought to keep their eyes on the home market. The fundamental thing in this country is to keep up the purchasing power of the agricultural community. You cannot do that unless you maintain and expand, if possible, your export trade in live stock.

I see in the Book of Estimates that we are making a contribution of £808 to the Imperial Economic Committee. I wonder why we are making any contribution to that Committee this year. The President informed us yesterday that we are not going there. Do we find it of any use? Surely if we contribute some of the tax-payers' money to it, we ought to attend it, and try to get all the advantages that we can out of it. The Minister for Industry and Commerce referred to certain figures which were given by members on this side of the House with regard to the rise in the price of certain articles. He said it was very unfair to make the comparisons that were made for the reason that the cost of raw materials has been going up considerably for some time past. Consequently, he said, no comparison could be made with the prices which were being charged now for the finished article and the prices charged some time ago. But I find that at the same meeting which the Minister for Industry and Commerce attended in Dublin recently—a meeting of the drapers and of the Chamber of Trade—one of the matters mentioned there was the cost of raw materials. One of the speakers said that raw materials were in many cases steadily rising in price, in some cases as a result of revenue tariffs. Therefore the Minister cannot get away with the statement he made here to-day, that the cost of certain articles is up because of an increase in the price of raw materials. If the price of raw materials has gone up, it is as a result of revenue tariffs imposed by the Government of which the Minister is a member.

One thing which strikes me very forcibly is that the Government's industrial policy is a kind of haphazard policy. I think members of the House will agree that that is a correct description of it, because every other day we are asked here to impose emergency duties of one kind or another, and to pass emergency measures to deal with the situation in which we now find ourselves. It is manifestly unfair that almost every article one has to buy now carries a tariff of some kind, and not a tariff passed by this House. Of course, I am prepared to admit that the majority here have given the Government the power to do that, but every other day we receive lists of various articles that are subject to import duties, quotas, and so on, so that from day to day and from week to week and from month to month, we do not know where we are. There does not seem to me to be any really set plan behind the industrial movement of Fianna Fáil. The Government have the Control of Manufactures Act. Under that Act, when a new industry is started here it is supposed to have behind it a certain percentage of Irish capital. But we are informed, on the authority of the Industrial Development Association, that that provision in the Act is being walked through, and that it is people other than Irish people who are reaping all the benefits from these new enterprises.

If the Minister wants to make a success of his industrial policy, he must, first of all, see to it that the purchasing power of the agricultural community is maintained. It does not matter what figures the Minister may produce, or how he handles them, it must be evident to him that the purchasing power of the agricultural community is not being maintained. Further, if extra prices have to be paid for articles because they are manufactured in this country, the Minister ought to take steps to see that this extra expenditure goes into the pockets of Irishmen.

If he has not the necessary legislation to do that he ought to get it passed. It certainly is heartbreaking to people in this country, who have very limited means at the moment, who find it very hard to get on, to feel when they go out to buy things that they are charged exorbitant prices, while their children have to leave this country as they can get no employment, and the extra money that they are paying for the goods is going into the pockets of foreigners. Deputy Moore will possibly not agree with me, because he charged me on another occasion with slandering Irish industries. I did not slander them half as badly as the Industrial Development Association. I am after reading what they stated and I do not want to read it again for Deputy Moore, but, if he wishes, I shall let him have it. It appeared in "Truth in the News." I do not think there is anything else to which I wanted to refer, except to say that the figure given by Deputy Mulcahy with regard to the rate of wages paid in certain industries was rather alarming. I do not mean the actual rate of wages paid to the workers, but a comparison of the wages with the output. It certainly does not speak well for some of the industries we have in this country at present.

Under the Unemployment Assistance Act there are certain restrictions. Men are refused unemployment assistance because it is stated they are not genuinely seeking work.

That Vote is coming up separately.

The principal matter I wish to deal with is the woollen trade and the woollen blanket trade in this country. One factory in my district practically closed down recently. In studying the figures of imports, we find that three times as many cotton blankets were imported last year as were imported three years ago. We have a Department of Industry and Commerce here, and I admit it is very efficient. But surely that Department could do something towards preventing this kind of stuff from coming in and this kind of advertisement appearing in the newspapers:

"Amazing bargain lot. Four heavy-weight mill blankets for 8/6, with a bedspread thrown in."

That is what is happening. Whoever Wholesale Buying Service, Mary Street, Dublin, are, this stuff is being dumped into the country wholesale, while Irish woollen mills close down.

I think it is very unfair to make any reference to the quality of goods and associate these remarks with any particular traders.

It is here in to-day's Irish Press.

For the Deputy to associate certain remarks as to quality with the name of certain traders I do not think is fair.

I do not know what kind of blankets they are of which you can get four for 8/6, or 2/- apiece, with a quilt thrown in. That is the condition of affairs which has been going on for the past couple of years, and this is not the first occasion on which I called the attention of the Department of Industry and Commerce to the result of dumping this kind of shoddy into this country. The people buying those are probably in good employment and enjoying good salaries out of other protected industries, paid for by the very people who are unprotected here. In my constituency one woollen mill has closed definitely and 25 people who were earning their livelihood there were thrown out of employment. I hope I shall not have occasion again to call attention to this particular matter, as I think once ought to be enough. When we have the pages of the Irish Press plastered over with advertisements of this type every day, surely they read the Irish Press in the Department of Industry and Commerce and ought to wonder where this stuff comes from, and how the quantity of shoddy cotton wool blankets which came in last year was three times that of three years ago. The second matter I should like to allude to is that certain firms are going round the country buying up factories and keeping them idle. These crooks—I beg the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's pardon—I think they are called business men in this country.

Whatever about the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's pardon, I do not think that terms like that ought to be applied to any people under the cover of the protection of this House.

All I can say is that if they were in any other country in Europe they would be hanged from the lamp-post. There is one particular site in my constituency which an Irish firm who were anxious to start there went to look over, and they were asked five times the original price for it. There are 200 or 300 unemployed in that district looking for bread. Another foreign firm, which came along later, were facilitated and taken into the mesh, and then the two business gentlemen joined together in order to remove that particular industry up here to Dublin. I should like to hear something from the Minister as to the position with regard to the Passage tannery. These people have been negotiating or working in this matter to my knowledge for about three years.

It is about time some results accrued. As Passage happens to be one of the derelict towns, which was thrown into my constituency recently, I should like to know something definite about this matter, whether these people are going to start in Passage or whether they are going to start at all. After three years it is time that the Department came down to business and that we had some results in this matter. I am prepared to state that I have at all times found the officials of the Department of Industry and Commerce efficient and anxious to assist. However, there ought to be some definite decision come to about this matter, and in regard to these alleged business people, who come along and pick up sites, and use the ownership of these sites for the sole purpose of preventing industries starting in a particular town. I understand that these people have been facilitated by the Department time after time. It is about time that there was something definite decided, as the people here cannot afford to have certain gentlemen walking about with their hands in their pockets all the time.

I wish to refer to one other matter in connection with the Cloyne Colloquid Clay Company. This firm succeeded in getting an enormous amount of money and, I must admit, that I have not seen any great results. We have good universities in this country, and surely they can turn out engineers capable of knowing what is or what is not clay. There should be no reason for paying enormous salaries to people resident in England out of money that was obtained from the Industrial Credit Corporation—five guineas a week for a typist resident in England and ten guineas a week to a salesman resident in England, who is not selling.

Has the Minister any control over this company?

If this firm gets certain facilities from a Government Department surely there is some control over it.

I do not know that the Minister has any control over a particular firm that gets a loan under the Act. I do not think there is any power under the Act by which the Minister could say: "You must employ so and so, and you must not employ so and so."

Surely the Minister has control of the manner in which the money is to be spent, especially where money is spent on nationals of foreign countries. Our universities here ought to be capable of turning out engineers who would know enough about clay, without bringing over Englishmen to Cloyne and paying them ten guineas a week as a kind of "buckshee." I understand that quite recently these people endeavoured to bring over an English typist. Surely to heavens we ought to be able to provide enough typists in this country.

I think we could not discuss the internal management of any company on this Estimate. I do not think under the Act we could do so, unless the Minister states specifically that he has control over a company to which a Trades (Guarantee) Loan has been given.

Considering that at present the Department is considering proposals to give them £10,000, I think this ought to be a good time to deal with it. I do not want to be told in a few months time that I sat dumb when £10,000 was passed, after £7,000 had been given previously.

That cannot be gone into now, as it concerns the internal management of the company.

It concerns the management of a company which has received money from an Irish Government, and whose application for further moneys is at present being considered by the Department. If we cannot discuss that position under this Estimate, I think we can discuss nothing. I am only anxious to have the matter cleared up. There happens to be alleged business people in this country who are abusing —I cannot call it anything else—the decency with which they have been treated by this Government. It is about time that kind of thing ended. I have a very decided personal objection to foreigners being brought here, and being put in charge of industries, at a time when universities in this country are turning out engineers who are walking the streets idle. I have personal knowledge of these facts.

I will not hear the Deputy in regard to the internal administration of any company, as the Minister has no power to enter into that.

I maintain that the Minister has, and unless I hear to the contrary, I think you should be satisfied with that.

I will not hear the Deputy any further on the internal administration of a company, as to its employees and as to its general policy. With reference to the work for which the money was advanced, I will hear the Deputy, but not as to the internal administration of a company to which a Trades (Guarantee) Loan has been given. The Minister has no control over it there, and the question does not arise now.

I have not heard, and therefore I cannot prove that the Minister has control.

There is nothing about it here.

I hope, having opened up the matter here, that that will prevent them getting any more "soft dough." The employment given by that company is less to-day than it was four years ago, before they got the enormous sum of £7,000. I should like to know if there is any particular staff in the Department that examines and vouches for machinery which is supposed to have been purchased and brought here. People get advances or capital sums for machinery. Is that machinery ever examined, and, if so, by whom? Can a person get a couple of thousand pounds for machinery and bring in a couple of hundreds of pounds' worth of scrap? These are matters I should like to have cleared up. I shall deal with the unemployment question when the separate Vote for that is taken.

If anyone on these benches said half the things that Deputy Corry has said about the Government's industrial policy, the Minister would retort that he was trying to sabotage Irish industries.


It is perfectly clear, from the course the debate has taken, that everything is not well with the machinery of the Minister's Irish industrial development schemes, and that after all it is only by healthy discussion in the Dáil, and by the Minister listening a little more patiently than he is inclined to listen to speeches made from the Opposition Benches, that eventually we will succeed in improving that machinery and making it more water-tight. Before I proceed to deal with that point, however, I should like to refer to the sub-head relating to mineral exploration. Some few years ago the Minister was very enthusiastic about the possibility of developing the coal-bearing industries in this country. I remember him making very enthusiastic statements about the possibilities of the Arigna area, and actually I think that originally there was a sum of £15,000 provided for the purpose of carrying out certain exploration work there. The Minister stated to-day that he has received the report from the firm that carried out that work and that he is satisfied, as a result of his reading of that report, that it is not possible to do anything further for the people of that area.

I said that I had come to the conclusion that no further development of that area should be initiated by the State.

In any event, a sum of approximately £15,000 has been spent for the purpose of ascertaining that information. I think the Minister had that information in his Department previously and, so far as I can understand the report issued by this firm, it bears out in every respect the reports issued by departmental experts in the past. Now that the report is available, I suggest that the Minister should make it available for the use of Deputies. It is important, I think, that a report of that character, which has such a bearing on the development of a very important mineral area in this country, should be made available to Deputies. I do not know whether the Minister's lukewarmness about the prospect of developing this area is due at all to the pacts concluded with the British Government, or the undertakings his Government have entered into, to buy English coal rather than attempt to develop Irish coal-bearing areas.

There is a second matter and I do not know whether I am quite in order in referring to it. Some few weeks ago I asked the Minister a question to find out if he would be prepared to consider introducing legislation to ensure that adequate railway facilities would be provided for people living in different parts of the Free State. The people of Sligo complain of the very inadequate facilities provided by the Great Sourthern Railways Company, especially on the section from Mullingar to Sligo. As the Minister knows perfectly well, the matter was discussed by the Chamber of Commerce in Sligo and by other business committees there, and the railway company was written to on the matter as well as the Minister himself. The Minister was in Sligo quite recently and he realises the importance of the town as a business possibilities and the extent of the business there at the moment; and secondly, because of its situation as a trading link between the North, the South and the Midland counties. The Minister does realise its importance as a trading centre and he realises also that Sligo is entitled to get as good railway facilities as, let us say, Galway and Cork. The Sligo people are simply fighting for the right to be treated in the same way as the people of Galway or the people of Cork are treated at present by the Great Southern Railways Company. The Minister will probably answer that he has no power at the moment to compel the railway company to give Sligo the same facilities as Galway and Cork are getting at present, but I suggest that the Minister should take power to ensure that the travelling public are protected in these ways, because, after all, the Minister has given the railway company a transport monopoly in this State and, following on that, it appears to me that there is a moral obligation on the Minister to see that the rights of the travelling public are safeguarded in these circumstances. I understand, Sir, that there was a ruling that we could discuss all questions of policy and all suggested alterations of policy on the Estimates.

It is not permissible to advocate legislation on Estimates.

I merely suggest that it is a matter which deserves further consideration, and I should be grateful if the Minister would look into it. It does seem to follow quite naturally and inevitably that the public deserve to be safeguarded from the operations of powerful monopolies.

The Minister, when his industrial policy is being discussed, is always inclined to get impatient, but there were certain points made here to-day which I think have a very important bearing on the future of the industrial policy which the Minister's Department has embarked on; and I do think that suggestions, no matter from what side of the House they come, should, so long as they are of a practical character, receive the consideration from the Minister which they are entitled to get. Referring to this question of the increase in prices, the Minister said that one way to ensure that prices shall not soar in the way they have been soaring for the last few months, was that there should be some internal competition, but that in itself carries with it an inherent source of danger. For instance, I have been informed that there are 37 boot factories in this country at the moment, and surely in a small State such as this it ought to be possible for, let us say, ten, at the very outside, decently-equipped boot and shoe factories to supply the needs of the people. Where there is such a big number, there is bound, eventually, to be overlapping, and the same thing may happen in this country as happened in England—some one of these, probably richer than the others, will gradually gobble up the smaller ones, until finally there may be two or three strong factories left, and they will enter into an alliance to ensure that prices are kept up to certain standards and that the element of competition will be completely eliminated. Is it not quite possible that something like that will happen unless the Minister makes quite sure at the outset that there is a proper allocation of factories, that there is no duplication, and that they are so regulated by legislation as to eliminate profiteering so far as is possible?

Whether the Minister likes it or not, the general impression in the country is that many of the people connected with the new industries are making a lot of money out of them. That impression prevails very generally throughout the country and especially in respect of those companies with headquarters in England and perhaps dummy branches on this side. I have heard various reports myself of the fabulous sums made by some of the new industrialists who have come from the other side to start factories here. I am not in a position to verify those statements. I never had an opportunity of verifying them, but I think it is up to the Minister to make some statement on that point with the object of assuring the public that, so far as it lies in his power, he will prevent these industrial adventurers who have come in here, just as they have gone into other countries which have embarked on experiments similar to our own, for the purpose of making money, from exploiting our interests.

The Minister also referred to his intention to introduce another Bill— a Control of Prices Bill. Earlier in his statement, he said that the increase in prices was due to the increase in the cost of raw materials. We have practically no raw materials in this country. I suppose 95 per cent. of the raw materials required for the industries in which the Minister is interested have to come from outside. We cannot control the prices of these raw materials and I wonder what purpose the new Bill will serve when it shall have been passed into legislation. In a State such as ours, which has to rely for its supply of raw materials on places outside, how are we going to control the retail price of commodities produced from these raw materials by our factories? The Minister has attempted control in various directions, even in recent months, but I do not think that his regulations have been very effective in keeping down prices. I should be interested to hear from the Minister what he hopes to achieve by this Bill which he proposes to introduce for the purpose of regulating prices. It is a political gesture on the eve of a general election, or has the Minister some real faith that the Bill will achieve the purpose which, apparently, he has in view?

There is no question that commodities are soaring at the present time. As the Minister mentioned in the course of his statement, wages in the new factories are, on the average, higher than they are in most other countries. Admitting the accuracy of the Minister's statement, I am sure he will not deny that the cost of living here is higher than it is in most other countries, so that if wages are slightly higher here than they are in other countries, that difference is offset by the higher cost of the necessaries of life, household utensils and so forth. While the Minister's industrial policy might be quite sound in normal circumstances and while there might be a very good chance of its succeeding and, in the course of time, providing us with an industrial arm if circumstances were normal, he must realise, as a responsible Minister, that the chances of that policy succeeding are imperilled by the fact that the farmers are not, in the main, in a position to buy as many of the products of our factories as they would be able to do if they were receiving the full price for the products of their own industry. The Minister must realise that so long as the farmers are forced to sell, in a market tariffed against them, at a lower price than that which their English competitors receive, to that extent the Minister's industrial policy must suffer. If the Minister wants to give his industrial policy a real chance of succeeding, he will have to give the main body of consumers an opportunity to secure in the British market the full price of the produce they have to sell. The Minister travels around the country a good deal, and I know that he tries to get in touch with reliable sources of information regarding the conditions existing in the particular area in which he happens to be. The Minister must realise by now that the wealth of the farming community is decreasing and that, if this State is to develop normally, naturally and healthily, the agricultural arm must be as strong as the industrial arm, because one is absolutely dependent on the other.

In what I have to say I propose to take the easy things first. I notice in the Estimate an item dealing with the Statistical Department. It is not very often that one hears in this House appreciation or applause of very able and efficient civil servants. Appreciation of that kind might be misconstrued, but, when one hears so much criticism, one feels it a matter of duty to bring some of the good things to the surface. There are certain services under the Votes of the different Ministries to which we can all refer with pride. There is one thing about which the business community with which I am in contact are agreed—and I may say that some of these men are exceptionally able men who keep abreast of the times and who are able to meet their competitors not only here but outside. These commercial men have sometimes sounded the praises of the Statistical Department of Industry and Commerce. They say that not only are the officers of that Department comparable with America's extraordinary statisticians but that they are, in some respects, ahead of them. I have heard the same praise from foreigners who have come in touch with that branch of the Department. That is a great tribute to Irishmen, Irish initiative and Irish brains. If one wishes to get an inside analysis, suited to the ordinary lay mind, in regard to industry here, one has only to apply to the Statistical Department. That Department gives us a really lucid exposition of the whole industrial development of the country. Not only do they give us particulars of imports and exports and production, but they almost follow the trend of the public taste over a period. That branch is one of the greatest successes in the Department under review. I would like, therefore, to call the attention of the House to that great success. I believe if any Deputy or business man or anybody interested wishes to seek any information there or to try to verify what I am saying here by personally visiting that particular branch of the Department, he will admit that I am stating what is the perfect truth.

The next question about which I would like to ask the Minister, when he is replying, to give us some information, is about the Industrial Research Council. I am sure we would all be interested very much in what the Minister may have to tell us in connection with that Council. There is no doubt whatever about it that every day that passes this matter of scientific research is getting more and more important. It is indeed getting like the snowball or avalanche, growing faster as time passes along and scientific application in the development of industry is becoming more essential to success. I have not been able as yet to understand what the actual terms of reference in the matter of this Research Council are; whether it is merely to carry out experiments or to advise and help in the more scientific application of a business, demonstrating new methods; or is it purely to find out the source of scientific work which is kept within the laboratory or within the brains of theorists; or do we get that necessary ordinary practical application in some shape or form later on?

Another point to which I wish to refer is in connection with conciliation boards which the Minister mentioned. As time proceeds the conflict becomes acute between what the soap-box orator calls capital and labour. From time to time this conflict seems to develop into a state of agitation and unrest due, I suppose a good deal, to the nerve-racking speed of the modern conditions that cause so much irritation. The need for conciliation boards was never more urgent and never more necessary than just now. I understand that several of these boards are operating. I had myself the privilege of being in the front of a dispute that was arbitrated on by the officials of the Department of Industry and Commerce. I must say this: that were it not for the extremely good advice given to both sides by the presiding officers of the Department, there is no doubt whatever we would have had many an industrial dispute of the type that we all wish to avoid. On leaving the meetings of these conciliation boards in the Department's offices I could not help feeling what a useful mission they fill. I say that because both sides when leaving the meetings found that our differences were very little. Before we began we thought those differences were very great. It is absolutely essential that more attention should be given by the Department to those arbitrations, if they can be called arbitrations. It would be better still if a welfare officer would be appointed for the benefit of the workers and the employers. I know that the vast and overwhelming majority of the employers will welcome it. I cannot speak so authoritatively for the workers, except I believe that they too have come to the conclusion that both sides suffer when a strike takes place, nobody gains, and what is lost cannot be recovered. The strike is a good thing as a threat, but it is a useless weapon as a means of gaining better conditions for the workers. Therefore, it is, that I say it is better to meet under the impartial chairmanship of an official of the Department.

I hope that in future the Department will, as soon as possible, take action in these labour disputes. The Department knows, as well as everybody in this House knows, that there is a psychological moment at which a strike can be settled and that later on it is very difficult to settle it. I have heard some theories propounded that it is better to allow the strike to go on for a while, leave it to burn itself out and allow both sides to burn their fingers, so to speak, and that then they are more ready to come together to effect a settlement. That method has been proved to be a bad one, and one that is detrimental to the interests of both sides. I am sure that the wise thing is that the Department, no matter whether the trouble is big or small, would at the very earliest stage endeavour to get into touch with both sides.

I know that the Department has succeeded much more often in settling disputes than the people are aware. Many disputes are settled of which we read nothing in the papers. These settlements have been recognised as being good settlements. I would like to congratulate the Department on that fact. I do not think that the House or the country has quite realised how often the Department has stepped in and saved employers and employees a great deal of upset. When one looks around and sees what is happening in other countries one has reason to be grateful for what we have been able to do here. There is the position in France of which nobody can make head or tail. Even the Prime Minister himself does not know where he is, and nobody gains, except that some people find it is damn good politics. Then one sees all these labour troubles in America, even in firms like Henry Ford's, whose wages are fixed at a very high level.

We can congratulate ourselves that the employers and the workers here have been placable and reasonable with each other. The Department of Industry and Commerce can claim a fair share of credit in the settlement of industrial troubles and for avoiding many of those difficulties which were anticipated under the working of the Conditions of Employment Act, a very intricate Act indeed. Were it not for the action of the Department, this Act, instead of succeeding and being a palliative and a help, would have caused a good deal of unrest. The officials of the Department who were responsible for putting that Act into operation made a wonderful success of it. These officials showed wonderful human patience and tact in implementing that Act. Yet the employers and the workers were satisfied, and some of them were very hard to satisfy. Here again the officials were outstanding in their success in making the Act workable.

In discussing industry and commerce here it is difficult to separate the political from the purely commercial side. It is difficult to refer to the advances made commercially in this country without at the same time referring to the agricultural position that arose therefrom. There is no doubt at all that great progress has been made industrially in this country. How much greater that progress would have been if the other unfavourable reactions were out of the way! One can guess how amazing would be the success of the country if these other reactions had been corrected and set right.

It is most unfair in this House to accuse persons individually or otherwise of profiteering in such an exaggerated way. I have heard such accusations bandied about on both sides of the House. I have heard complaints made in relation to Irish manufacturers exploiting the market and profiteering. The picture has been so drawn that one can almost visualise the cartoon of the Great War days, setting out the corpulent, diamond-fingered cigar merchant. Irish industry does not seem to get many champions. I have read with interest the reports of several of the banquets held by the two federations. I have listened-in to the speeches of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. All one has to do is to look at the membership of the federations and one can see there the names of prominent industrialists and manufacturers, and they stand for clean business. I am sure that none of these commercial men, these manufacturers and industrialists, are the persons who have been referred to as gross profiteers. It is only fair that I should be allowed to say something in defence of the Irish industrialist, the Irish manufacturer.

I am sure the Ceann Comhairle will not allow me, and perhaps rightly so, to go into a refutation of some of the statements made, or allow me to discuss at length the type of uninformed criticism we have heard. I am not necessarily whitewashing anybody or suggesting that everybody is free from criticism. I have heard certain millers accused of profiteering, and on the other hand I have not heard anything about those millers who make no profits at all—and they exist, too. There are certain millers who do business in a big way, buying and handling in a big way, and many of them are successful; and as against that you have the smaller millers, many of whom are very efficient, and they also make a success of their business. Then there are millers who find it difficult to make even a small margin of profit. There are millers in this country who are struggling and making practically nothing, and there is no reference at all made to them. It proves one thing, that if a man is making a reasonable profit he has reason to feel scared, because he might be accused of exploiting the situation. As regards the man who does not make anything, nobody ever hears of him again.

I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce is to be congratulated on the progress of his Department and on the progress of Irish industry. It would be unfair to keep back that just need of praise. I am sure that my remarks will be misunderstood. Some people may say: "Of course, you can get up and praise the Department and the Minister because you may have to go to him soon for some concession." I am quite sure that might be said of me, but that does not prevent me from giving credit where credit is due. The same thing occurred with the Minister for Agriculture on another occasion. The two federations of Irish industry, and they represent every political party, have given the Minister for Industry and Commerce, as they call it in America, a good hand over his success, and I believe that he has merited it in every way.

I believe the time has come when the Minister's energies will be directed to a different channel. I think it will be necessary for him and his Department to go into the question of industrial planning. Here we get into a very deep subject indeed, a very thorny question, highly scientific. I hope very soon there will be another sub-head, relating to the establishment of a special body which will go into the planning of Irish industry. Such a body when created would ensure that there would be no monopolies and that there certainly would not be such things as super-saturation, over-production and all those other things that ultimately mean a knock-out on one side or the other. Usually, it is a question of the survival of the fittest, and the knock-out comes from the strongest, who ultimately becomes the giant monopolist. I think it is far better to have small industries functioning, just enough to supply Irish requirements. The workers would be paid a living wage, the little industries would give a reasonable return on capital and the consumers would get a sufficient supply of suitable goods to meet all their requirements. All that, again, will require watchfulness on the part of the Minister's Department.

I understand that there are some 800 new industries or new factories in this country. How far these actually are industries of any size, I do not know. Before I sit down, however, I might say that many of the new industries that are springing up in this country are being carried out by the business people of this country who were engaged in industry before, and whose people before them, for generations, were engaged in industry in this country, and they have been throwing their activities and their energy into the development of native industries. They have been following the policy of industrial development along patriotic lines. These people have not been accused of profiteering in the past, and I do not see why they should be accused of it now or, in fact, how they can be accused of it. Finally, before it passes out of my mind, I should like again to state that the Minister's Department has covered an immense amount of ground in the past year, and that the officials of his Department, as well as the Minister himself, deserve congratulation upon the work they have done. There is a saying that in politics one should take credit for everything and should never give credit for anything. Well, I always break all the rules, and I have taken this opportunity of breaking them now.

Deputy Mulcahy commenced his speech, in support of his motion to refer back the Estimate, by quoting from a letter which he had received concerning the difficulty of the youth mentioned in the letter in obtaining employment. Then he proceeded to criticise me on the ground that I had dealt, in my introductory speech, with matters that were mainly of secondary importance, and that I had failed to discuss the general industrial policy of the Government which, in his opinion, properly should have been the subject-matter of my remarks. If the Deputy had intimated, through any channel, that he had wished me to deal with the general question of industrial policy in introducing the Estimate, I would have been glad to have done so. It was usual at one time, in connection with the introduction of this Estimate, to give some intimation, to the Minister in charge, of the particular aspects of the Department which it was desired to discuss, and, usually, the debate was confined to these particular aspects. On this occasion, however, I received no such intimation and my remarks were, naturally, of a general nature; but I must frankly say that it did not occur to me to deal with the question of general industrial policy because I assumed that, not merely was every Deputy in the House fully informed of the Government's industrial policy, but that most of them had grown tired of listening to me talking about it. Consequently, I confined my remarks to matters of more immediate interest.

It transpired, however, that Deputy Mulcahy was particularly concerned with one aspect of the Government's policy, and that was the part we hoped to play in, or the attitude we might take towards, any movement for the restoration of freer conditions in international trade. He told us that the Government of which he was a member had a very definite line of policy in relation to that matter; that at meetings of the League of Nations and other international conventions they had advocated the policy of freer trade between the nations, subject, of course, to certain provisos concerning the peculiar position existing in this country. I am glad to know that. I am sure that the historian of the future, searching through the records of these speeches made by the representatives of the previous Government on these occasions. They will be regarded as curious historical finds, because Deputy Mulcahy, although he defined in some detail the attitude of his Government, forgot to tell us that the attitude of his Government in relation to that matter was not acceptable, apparently, to any other Government anywhere. These speeches to which the Deputy refers were very largely wasted, so far as one can judge from the events that followed them, because throughout the world the movement, apparently, has been in the opposite direction. Although it is true that from time to time we get a number of international economists and professors of economic theory and, occasionally, the head of a Government making speeches in favour of freer trade, very little of a practical nature has been accomplished towards that end.

Deputy Mulcahy asked us to deal with that question of freer trade relations between us and other nations, but I think it would be largely a waste of time to deal with that matter, because any debate or discussion we might have on the subject could only be of academic interest. We have had this matter before, and I have asked Deputies to realise that we are legislating in this House for 26 counties. We are not an international assembly. We cannot legislate or attempt to legislate for other countries. We cannot alter the policies adopted by much larger and more powerful countries with which we are doing trade. We can only deal with the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we have got to frame here a policy that will suit the interests of our people in those circumstances. It may be true that unrestricted freedom of trade and unrestricted movement of population and of capital throughout the world would secure a higher level of prosperity for mankind as a whole. Whether that is true or not, is a matter about which economists and theorists can argue. We know that it is not going to improve conditions here, and that, in any event, conditions here at the moment are determined by the attitude of countries, which are much stronger than this country, and which will not change their policies merely because some Minister here or some member of this House makes a speech advocating such change.

The Deputy appeared to criticise the policy of the Government in making bi-lateral trade treaties with a number of other countries. We made these bi-lateral trade treaties very largely because we had no option: we had to make such treaties or no treaties. The policy of the British Government, of the German Government, and of practically every Government with which we have agreements at the moment, is against the general extension of particular concessions. The trade policies of these countries are based upon bi-lateral treaties—the negotiation with particular countries of agreements involving the exchange of particular classes or particular quantities of goods. The treaties we made with them were of that nature. If treaties of another kind would have been more beneficial to us and practicable in the circumstances, we would have made them also. We had that matter out here, however, a few weeks ago, and it is hardly necessary to go over the same ground again. If the Deputy wants to refresh his mind on the speeches made by his colleagues on that occasion and by others on this side of the House, he will find them in the Report of the debate on the Second Reading of the Customs Duties Bill recently before the Dáil.

To come down now to the more definite matters the Deputy dealt with, he complained that we had withheld information which would enable an estimate to be made of the external trade balance, including the invisible items. I explained to the Deputy, in reply to Parliamentary questions, I think on more than one occasion, that certain difficulties had arisen in presenting accurate and reliable statistics in relation to a number of matters. I am definitely of the opinion, and what I heard from Deputy Mulcahy confirms me in that opinion, that it is better to give no information than to give unreliable information, and until certain investigations which were undertaken were completed and the results known, only unreliable or misleading information as to the net balance of external trade could have been furnished. I hope, however, to be in a position shortly to publish a statement giving the figures for 1933 to 1935. It is possible to give also certain figures for 1936, so far as they are known, but any conclusion based on these figures will have to be a cautious one, because, at best, they will be estimates, estimates prepared undoubtedly by people who are experts in their own job of dealing with statistics, but estimates which may be wrong to a greater or lesser extent in any event.

Deputy Mulcahy is very concerned about our adverse balance of trade. I do not think he need be. I think I can assure him that the position of this country is quite sound. It is true that in recent years, because of the industrial development which has been proceeding apace, there has been a substantial importation of capital goods. That, however, is quite a healthy development. It is nothing about which we need alarm ourselves. If we are to build up industries here, equip them with machinery, provide them with raw materials on which to work, and generally have them to carry on business here efficiently, the importation of substantial quantities of goods not capable of being produced here will be necessary. While that movement continues, the effect of it will be shown in the adverse trade balance. We have, however, as the Deputy is well aware, a very substantial capital investment abroad, and the interest upon that capital investment and other payments due to us are, I think, more than capable of filling whatever gap may be shown on that account in the invisible items of trade. Deputy Mulcahy, however, proceeded in a general sort of way to discuss the general economic position here. I say "a general way," because his style was more that of the kangaroo than the elephant. He hopped about so much that I found some difficulty in following him. He commenced by stating that our people were getting poorer. As his authority for that statement he quoted a speech made by Deputy Dillon in Sligo—not a very convincing authority, in my opinion. We had, however, the same statement repeated by other Deputies later on in the debate. Deputy Roddy it was who referred to the position of the farmers and said that the wealth of the farming community is declining. I contest both these statements emphatically. I suggest to Deputies opposite that they cannot produce a single iota of evidence to support them.

If Deputies say that the farmers are poor, I shall agree with them. If they say that the farmers are poorer than any of us would like to see them, I most certainly agree with them. If they say that our wealth is insufficient to maintain the standard of living or to provide the social services that we should like to see here, I agree also. If they say that the whole policy of the Government is to increase the wealth of the country and improve the position of the farmers, I shall not dispute that statement, but when they say that the wealth of the whole community is declining and that the farmers are getting poorer, I dispute the accuracy of that contention. When they say that the wealth of the farming community is declining, that is not so. In fact, the people of the country are not getting poorer. In fact, statistics for the last few years show that the prosperity of the farming community is increasing. It has not increased to the point to which I hope to see it get ultimately. It has not increased sufficiently to make us unconcerned about future developments. There are still in our national situation a number of elements which give grave cause for anxiety, but we are moving away from the lowest point reached in the depression. The position has improved and is improving steadily as time passes.

As regards the farming community, this, of course, is not the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture but the reactions of agricultural prosperity on industrial development were referred to by a number of Deputies, and these reactions are quite obvious. As far as the farming community are concerned the whole trend of agricultural prices is upwards. The whole trend of agricultural production is upwards, and the farming community are much better off this year than they were last year, and were much better off last year than the year before.

That is not saying very much for them.

I am not trying now to make any comparison between their position now and their position under the previous Government, but I say that since 1934 at least, the whole movement of prices has been upwards. Although Deputies opposite say the reverse is the position, that is not so. Deputy Roddy's statement was that they are poorer now than they were three years ago. I am prepared to debate that if necessary. I do not want to go back as far as 1932. I am merely taking the two statements that were made, that the people of the country are getting poorer, a statement made on the authority of Deputy Dillon, and the statement by Deputy Roddy that the wealth of the farming community is declining. These statements are definitely contrary to the facts. The facts are available to Deputies who want information.

Prices are going up but they have no stock. That is the position.

I must congratulate Deputy Mulcahy on his industry in reading the leading articles of the Irish Press.

It certainly requires industry.

However, so long as he attributes any views that are expressed there to the editor of the Irish Press and not to me I shall not hold him responsible for what he says in that regard.

That is the unkindest thing that has been said about the editor of the Irish Press so far. Nothing unkinder has ever been said about him on this side of the House.

Deputy Mulcahy got hold of the figures published in the Irish Trade Journal as a result of the census of industrial production for 1935, and he came to some extraordinary conclusions based on his calculations on these figures. I do not quite know what he was setting out to prove, but he did prove something, I think. He proved, for example, that, although he has applied himself to a study of those figures with great industry and was able to detect everything of significance that they revealed, he was either unwilling or unable to draw the obvious conclusions from the calculations which he made. He did draw conclusions. No doubt he was seeking to find conclusions that would be detrimental to the political interests of the Government Party, but even the most obvious conclusions of that kind he omitted, and he got himself involved in an amount of theorising which I think was entirely unnecessary and in any event seemed to lead nowhere.

There is the question of the fall in the amount paid in wages expressed as a percentage of the net output in industry. It is obviously impossible to give a complete explanation of the causes that might have produced that result. A large number of separate causes could have produced it. I do not say that any one of them did. It may have been something from them all, or any one of them. A not improbable explanation is that 1931 was a year of depression, a year in which agricultural output declined. It is probable that a number of employers did not immediately reduce their staffs as production fell off; that the amount paid in wages was a higher proportion of the gross output on that account, and that as prosperity returned and production went up the output per individual increased, and consequently the wages, expressed as a percentage of net output, decreased. It may be due to increased mechanisation, the productivity of the individual being increased by the installation of new and better machinery. It may be due to such a variety of factors that it is probably a waste of time to go into any detailed examination of the matter, because what does it prove? What does it lead to? What point was the Deputy trying to make?

He apparently made it.

He apparently thought he had some point to make, because not merely did he tell us the result of his calculations, but he adopted the politician's device of selecting certain figures which seemed to prove his contention and ignoring those which did not. He picked out certain industries, and he said that in those industries the wages, expressed as a percentage of net output, had declined. There is a large number of industries in which the wages, expressed as a percentage of net output, increased.

In all the 23 industries covered by the limited census of production taken annually, the wages, expressed as a percentage of the net output, increased from 3.16 per cent. to 32.9 per cent.

Would the Minister let me tell him in what industries they are down?

The Deputy will work it out for himself.

I can read out the list to the Minister.

He then went on to talk about the cost of materials as a percentage of the gross output. I can give no explanation for it, and I do not know what it proves. The Deputy has made this calculation to which he referred to-day, and which gave him a figure that, to his satisfaction, proved that the average wage paid in particular industries has declined each year for the past four or five years. I have frequently endeavoured to impress upon the Deputy that the division of a number representing the persons employed in a particular industry, upon a particular date, into another number representing the amount paid out in wages over the whole year, could often give misleading results. If the number of persons employed in that industry was increasing substantially during the year, or decreasing substantially during the year, obviously the result of the sum in arithmetic which the Deputy made might give a most extraordinary result. In any event, it is desirable to know what the Deputy means when he talks of the average wage. If he is endeavouring to convey that the rate of wages paid in each of these industries declined, I think he is wrong. I think most Deputies here who are familiar with those industries know that he is wrong. It should have been like the red flag of danger to the Deputy when he found that his calculations were leading him to conclusions which to common knowledge were not correct.

For example, the rate of wages paid in the boot and shoe industry has increased since 1932. A new agreement, a national agreement between the Boot Manufacturers' Association and the union which represents the workers, was made, I think, last year, providing for higher rates of wages amongst the different classes of employees and for shorter hours of work. That fact is well known, and yet Deputy Mulcahy makes a calculation showing that the average rate has declined. Mind you, the average rate paid to an employee may have declined, but to convey that the rate of wages has declined is wrong. Persons who were employed in those industries in 1931, and were still employed in 1936, were not earning less; but we have to remember that most of those industries have been expanding very rapidly.

The Minister admits the point I was making—that the average amount of wages paid to the individual has declined.

The rate of wages has increased.

What does that matter to the person who is looking for money in his hands?

I am going to explain to the Deputy one set of circumstances which may have reduced the average amount paid to all individuals employed in industry. Most of those industries, as I explained, have been expanding rapidly during the past three or four years—expanding much more rapidly than skilled workers were being produced to supply their needs. In the boot and shoe industry, to the common knowledge of Deputies, there was a very definite scarcity in workers skilled in the different processes of that industry, with the result that special arrangements were made by the unions with the Association of Boot Manufacturers providing for the taking on of persons in the various factories as learners—persons who are sometimes paid on time rates instead of on piece rates but who, in any event; because of their lack of skill, were incapable of earning as much during their earlier months as skilled workers, even though they were paid at the same rate of wages. The existence of a large body of learners of that kind in any industry would, of course, give an average remuneration from the industry to the workers engaged in it lower than would have been the case previously, but that situation is one that can be only of temporary duration. As the efficiency of those workers increases, their earning capacity will also increase. If the point which the Deputy wants to make clear is that there is a number of those learners employed in the different industries to which he referred, then I make him a present of it. He is right. But if he is trying to convey that, because of something which the Government has done or not done, the employers in those industries are treating their workers less satisfactorily from the point of view of the amount of wages paid to them, or that the rates of wages payable to workers in those industries are being brought down, then he is wrong, and he is wrong to the common knowledge of everybody who has any information concerning our industrial conditions. In fact, as I think every employer in the country knows, for the past three or four years the general drift of wage rates has been upwards. Deputy Morrissey thought he saw some relation between the figure which I gave to-day of 78,000 persons employed in protected industries and another figure which I gave some weeks ago——

What was that figure?

Seventy-five thousand extra persons in employment in the Saorstát.

Then the Minister now admits that he gave that figure? That was industrial employment?

I explained here before that the term "industrial employment" is used in two senses. "Industrial employment" can be used to denote persons employed in productive industries, and it frequently is used in that sense. It is also used to denote persons employed in all occupations other than agriculture or domestic service, such as workers on roads, on house-building and other constructional works.

Liable for unemployment insurance.

Exactly. When I said that 75,000 represents an increased number of persons in employment generally, I was referring to all classes of persons liable to pay unemployment insurance contributions. That number has no relation to the figure of 78,000, which is the number of persons employed in factories in industrial production. I can deal later on with the question of increased employment. I merely want at this stage to make it clear to the Deputy that one figure has no relation to the other: that the 78,000 persons employed in protected industries do not represent in increase of 78,000 persons employed in protected industries.

It was because the two figures came so closely together that I wanted the point brought out.

Deputy Morrissey inquired about Slieveardagh. The work is expected to be finished there in the very near future when a report will be prepared and submitted as quickly as possible. That report will cover a good deal of ground. It will deal with many matters other than the actual extent and nature of the minerals discovered. It would be impossible to consider the question of its publication until we have seen the report. In any event, such information as it is possible to give will be made available to the Dáil as early as possible. In the case of Arigna, where a somewhat similar report was received, its publication, that is the publication of the report proper, was not possible because it definitely affected the interests of a number of private persons who are, in fact, the owners, or part owners, of minerals in the area. But we did make available for inspection by the public the actual information secured as a result of the borings carried out. That information, and the reports relating to that information, are available in the Geological Survey Office for inspection by anybody interested. It was, I think, Deputy Roddy who inquired whether that information would be published.

Reference has also been made to the enforcement of the Conditions of Employment Act. At the present time the Act is being enforced by the factory inspectors. These inspectors only act when a complaint is received that the conditions of the Act are not being observed. I want, however, to make it clear that, in respect to a number of provisions of that Act, the obligation to enforce their rights is on the workers themselves. They have, under the Act, power to require the performance in relation to them of the conditions specified, and either themselves or through their representatives they can take steps to that end. In relation to other matters, and generally when a complaint is received that in some way the Act is being evaded, then the factory inspectors act. At a later stage it may be considered desirable to adopt some other policy, but at the present time I think that arrangement is the more satisfactory, particularly as we have had occasion to allow matters of difficulty, where the enforcement of the strict letter of the law did not appear to be quite practicable, to stand over until the necessary regulations to adjust the requirements of the law to the actual facts had been made.

But I can assure Deputy Corish, and the other Deputies who referred to the matter, that the action taken by the Department to secure enforcement will be strengthened as time proceeds. We trust that during the course of the present year it will be possible for the Department to take the initiative in securing the preparation of general agreements, where such agreements are possible, in relation to a particular trade. Up to the present, as I explained earlier, the Department has been mainly occupied in dealing with representations made by particular interests, or in making the necessary adjustments to adapt the provisions of the Act to the circumstances of particular industries, and, in fact, practically all the orders which have been made under the Act up to the present have been designed for that purpose. That work is easing off now, and it may be possible for the Department to take the initiative, as I hope will be done in this year, in relation to particular occupations where the need for the compilation of general agreements, which can be universally applied, is obvious.

I would ask the Minister to keep in mind the point that I made, because very definite hardships are undoubtedly being inflicted by the enforcement of the Act so far as those piece rates are concerned.

I am taking a note of the matter to which the Deputy refers concerning workers on piece rates in connection with road construction.

The urgency of the matter is that it adversely affects the earnings of those men.

Would the Minister say if he is prepared to take any steps this year to see that there is not an undue proportion of juvenile labour permitted in factories under the Act?

The Deputy will see that that is too wide a question to give a specific promise on. Generally, it is the intention to implement the policy behind the Act as rapidly as possible. The circumstances of particular industries would have to be examined before conclusions could be arrived at as to the best line to follow.

I think that some steps should be taken immediately to deal with the matter.

As regards slates, to which Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Coburn and some other Deputies referred, the position is as I stated earlier. There are, of course, adequate supplies of slate in the country to enable all our own requirements to be met, and, in fact, quite a substantial export trade, which is eminently practicable, to be carried on. We had, in fact, an export business from the Tipperary quarries, and the markets supplied by it, and a number of other markets, are available to those who care to seek them out. It has been our experience, however, that private individuals are hesitant about investing their own capital in slate production. Whenever any one wants to engage in slate production he comes at once to look for a Government grant, a Government loan, or for some form of Government assistance. He wants to risk the Government's money instead of his own private resources. It is very hard to understand why that should be so.

Deputy Coburn asked what explanation I had to give of that position. I could not give him any. So far as I can judge, the commercial prospects of a good slate quarry are excellent. There is an almost unlimited demand for Irish slates. There is a very definite shortage at the moment. There are imports taking place which can be checked. Generally, a slate quarry, if it is a good quarry and has an adequate supply of good slate, would appear to be a good commercial proposition. That being so, it is hard to justify a continuance of State assistance on the same scale as heretofore. It is, of course, possible that a very considerable expansion of slate production would affect the interests of certain firms engaged in the manufacture of tiles, but that is an ordinary commercial risk that those firms have to face at the moment. At any rate, a very considerable expansion of slate production is possible, and the only adverse effect it would have anywhere would be on the figures for our exports of those goods.

Deputy Corish asked about Wexford harbour. I am afraid that I cannot give the Deputy very much information on that matter. The situation that arises in relation to Wexford harbour, as the Deputy knows, is that a grant is required, and if a grant is required, then the Minister for Finance will have to agree to the making of it. The Deputy, therefore, should take the opportunity of raising the matter on the Estimate for the Office of the Minister for Finance. If my recollection is correct, the difficulty of the Minister for Finance in that matter is that there is at least good reason to believe that the money, is expended upon the work, would not have the result anticipated and that the harbour would be no better after the expenditure than it was before.

If the Deputy can demonstrate the contrary to the Minister for Finance I am sure he will find him eminently sympathetic to the idea of assisting the local people in their harbour plans. But if in fact the Minister for Finance is correctly informed, and that the expenditure would not have the results anticipated, then it is obviously undesirable that the local ratepayers should be burdened with a debt which would not have increased the trade of the port in any way and that they should be given an opportunity of revising the plans so as to make them more effective.

Reference was made by Deputy Corish to complaints he had received concerning the quality of imported coal. If any merchant has any complaint to make under that head, there is in existence a committee whose purpose it is to ensure that such complaints are investigated. That machinery was established about a year ago, and considerable publicity was given to the fact. If any complaint is addressed to the Coal Imports Committee or to the Department of Industry and Commerce, it will be investigated by them, and if the complaint is found to be genuine, it will be taken up by the committee with the appropriate British authorities.

I do not know what Deputy Coburn expects me to say about the coast life-saving service he referred to. He apparently has the impression that the Department is responsible for the provision of lifeboats. That is not correct. The Department has no functions in relation to the provision of lifeboats. It is responsible for the provision of coast life-saving apparatus. There are, in fact, two coast live-saving stations under the Department in County Louth. I do not know what shipping disaster the Deputy was referring to, as there was more than one disaster in the vicinity of that particular coast recently. There is, as most people are aware, a very good lifeboat at Clogherhead maintained by the lifeboat authorities.

Deputy Brennan referred to the general question of alien penetration in industry and gave what purported to be an accurate account of developments in a particular case. I do not know what it led to. Protective tariffs are imposed for the purpose of securing the establishing of industries. The particular protective tariff to which the Deputy referred, that on boots and shoes, was, in fact, originally imposed by the previous Government. It was imposed more than ten years ago, and was designed to get an industry established here. The Deputy did not allege that the particular factory to which he referred was not a sound concern, or that those who subscribed for shares in it did not get value for their money. But, if they did not get value for their money, that is their look out. There is no responsibility on the Department to see that every investor has all the information which he should have before investing in the shares offered him by a particular company. In the particular case to which he referred, I have no reason to believe that the investors who subscribed made any mistake.

I have nothing new to say upon this matter of alien penetration. I think that a great deal of the talk we have had about it is designed to serve particular interests, and is not due to any genuine apprehension that control of Saorstát industry will pass extensively out of the hands of Saorstát nationals. A number of Control of Manufactures Act licences have been issued. Deputies are in the position to ascertain the names of the firms to whom these licences were issued. In each case, I think, we had good reason to issue the licences, and were satisfied that the public interest would be served thereby. But the number of factories established by licensed firms, in relation to the total number of factories established in recent years, is comparatively small. In any event the tendency definitely appears to be for these factories to pass ultimately back into the hands of Saorstát nationals again.

They are assigning their trade marks.

As there is a commission sitting upon the question of the alteration of the law in relation to trade marks, it would be inappropriate for me to make any remarks as to my view until the commission has reported. I do not know what to say about Deputy Corry.

You are not the only one in that difficulty.

Some people, I suppose, were born grousing and they will die grousing. If there was a new flood, and a new Noah invited them into the Ark, they would spend all their time complaining about the sanitation. I give Deputy Corry this advice—as he is not here I hope it will be conveyed to him— that if he is interested in having industries established in the constituency which he represents, it will be easier to meet him on that point if they can be assured that they are not going to be attacked by him as some of those already established have been attacked.

You removed a big obstacle out of his way a few days ago.

He referred to one particular question with which I should like to deal—the alleged closing down of a woollen mill. I presume he is referring to the Sallybrook mill, to which some reference appeared in the Press. So far as I know, that mill has not closed down yet. If it does close down, I do not think it will be due to the cause assigned by Deputy Corry and others, namely, the importation of cotton blankets from abroad. In any event, as the mill is still working, and as these cotton blankets were made the subject of a 40 per cent. import duty in the Budget some days ago, that cause for the closing of the mill has now been removed.

Deputy Corry is, I think, completely misinformed concerning the Cloyne Colloidal Clay Company. It is true that that company did get a trade loan guaranteed by me. It is, however, an Irish company. So far as I am aware, every interest in it is Irish, and those who are associated with it have invested in their enterprise a very substantial amount of private capital— an amount of private capital in excess of the amount of the loan secured under the State guarantee. Their enterprise is undoubtedly of a very speculative nature. It depends on the securing of an export market for the particular product which they produce there and to adapting it to industrial processes of one kind or another. They are carrying out experiments in that connection, and the only thing I can say is that I hope their experiments will be a success, because if they are a success, a quite important industry will be made possible in consequence in that part of the country. If they are not a success we will regret it, but I, for one, will have no reason to apologise for giving them the measure of assistance they have got. In any event, no apology is called for so far, because no obligation has fallen on the State in consequence of the guarantee which was given.

Deputy Coburn spoke about the industrial alcohol factories, and said that while it was anticipated that the industrial alcohol plant in Cooley would commence operations at the beginning of last season, it did not commence operations. That is quite correct. Certain considerable delays have taken place in the construction of the plant. I think I can say accurately at one time I really thought that they would not only commence operations at the commencement of last season but the season before that. I understand that the Cooley plant is likely to commence operations on some scale in the course of the next few days. In any event, farmers in the area or in any area have not lost in consequence of the delay. As Deputies are aware, when the experiment was decided upon the price of potatoes was particularly low, and it was very desirable to have some means of taking the surplus potato crop off the market and using it for industrial purposes. Since the decision to build the factories was taken and construction commenced, the price of potatoes has risen very sharply. In fact, there was no difficulty on the part of farmers in disposing of potatoes last year at prices considerably higher than those which prevailed in the years preceding the commencement of work in the factories. It is anticipated, however, that the factories will be ready to commence next season on potatoes, if potatoes are available. The price which can be paid for potatoes is limited, and on that account definite arrangements have been made to secure supplies. If supplies are not available, then some other plans may have to be resorted to.

Deputy Brennan asked me what I thought the prospects of the factories were. I cannot answer that question. As I explained to the Dáil when the project of establishing the factories was brought forward originally, the whole matter was definitely experimental. I think we were justified in making the experiment, but I do not propose to prophesy as to what the outcome may be.

Can any other materials be used besides potatoes?

Oh, yes. It is possible to use a number of materials. Deputy Roddy raised a question about rail facilities to Sligo. I would be very definitely surprised to learn that the Great Southern Railways Company, on receipt of representations from responsible people in Sligo, does not provide the best facilities which traffic on the line would justify; but it is, I think, unreasonable to expect the railway company to provide special cars like the Pullman cars, that are on other lines, if they were losing on that portion. I think the difficulty of the railway company was that these cars on the Sligo line were not paying their way. However, the matter is one which ought to be taken up by the local parties interested with the directors of the railway company, and I would propose not to interfere unless it was demonstrated to me that the railway company was acting in a most unreasonable manner, in which case more than the Sligo line might have to be taken up.

A number of Deputies made reference to the questions of possible over-production in certain industries, and particular reference was made to the boot and shoe industry. Deputy Coburn, who endorsed what I said as to the desirability of promoting internal competition for the purpose of keeping down prices and ensuring efficiency, a few sentences later asked that something should be done to check the possibility of over-production in the boot and shoe industry. Other Deputies referred to other industries. Those who touched upon that subject touched upon a matter of great importance, which is too big for me to deal with at this particular stage. There are many different lines of policy possible, leaving aside for the moment the question of utilising machinery like the Prices Commission, for the purpose of checking obvious profiteering, or dealing with particular complaints. If there is only a limited number of lines of approach to the problem, one could undoubtedly say that the matter of over-production was not the concern of the Government; that every company that complies with the law can produce anything it likes, and let the competition between them settle which is to continue in the industry and what the level of prices is to be. That is quite an intelligible—if not an intelligent—approach to the problem, but it is not one that appeals to me. While it provides an automatic check upon undue profiteering, and helps to keep each individual concern up to the maximum efficiency, if it is to survive, it also means sporadic employment, a period of closing down, getting rid of stocks, and cutting costs to a minimum, generally at the expense of the workers. It means that the security of employment to workers in that industry is definitely lessened. I think it is rather important to secure, as far as possible, that each employed worker has security in his employment. Therefore, that line of approach appears to be unsuitable. Are we, then, to go to the other extreme, and to provide for a very considerable degree of Government regulations, to determine in advance what quantity of a particular class of goods is required over a particular period, and the allocation of that total quantity amongst those individual units according to capacity, giving each factory a definite quota which it must produce and not more? If we adopt that system, it is obvious that we would have, at the same time, practically to take out of the hands of the directors of the concerns the actual running of the factories, because we would be forced by the inevitable consequences of such a policy to deal with questions of quality, questions of supply, and questions of affording reasonable credit facilities for customers and so forth.

Such a policy would destroy initiative on the part of the individual industrialist and would give him no incentive to go out and look for trade or to improve quality or meet the reasonable requirements of customers. Is there a half-way house? I do not know. I have often examined the idea of the institution of vocational councils for particular industries, councils representative of those engaged in them, as well as other interests, including the workers employed in industries, and giving these councils certain legislative functions in relation to the industries for which they were established. That system has a certain relationship to the corporate system, which is in existence in other countries. In that corporate system there are some good points, in my opinion, although I think it is to be regretted that so much prejudice against it was aroused because of the fact that it was instituted in Italy, in association with a dictatorship, and by means of force was imposed from the top rather than developed from the bottom; and secondly, because it was taken up by the most unpopular political Party in this country.

It should have been given to the world by Fianna Fáil.

It is possible that limited development along that line might meet the problem the Deputy referred to—rationalisation of production in industries, without the undesirable results of too great a degree of State Control, and without, at the same time, having to permit the unrestricted play of competition with all the undesirable consequences that it might have. If Deputies opposite will approach the consideration of this problem in a sensible way rather than from a purely Party angle, we will be glad of any concrete proposals they have to put forward. We will be glad to consider them and if there is any sense in them—which is purely speculative—we will be glad to adopt them.

I was glad that Deputy Minch made his reference to the Statistical Section of the Department of Industry and Commerce. I think the praise he gave it is very well deserved, and also a large part of what he said concerning the other branches of the Department. It is perhaps not inappropriate on this occasion, when dealing with this Estimate, the last I shall be responsible for before the general election, which may produce any result, that I also should pay tribute to the officers of the Department. They have all been remarkably efficient. During my period they got an exceptional amount of additional work imposed on them, but they responded to that work and have, I think, carried it out with considerable efficiency, for which they deserve to be thanked. There are other smaller matters to which Deputies referred, but I prefer not to deal with them at this stage, because I have not had an opportunity of refreshing my mind as to the facts or looking up the files; but if Deputies will raise these matters again, by way of Parliamentary Question or otherwise, I shall be glad to answer their points.

Before I sat down, I intended to ask if it would be possible to have some form of inquiry into the waterways system of the country. I refer to the canal company and to public rights therein. It is a matter which is rather serious, and which would require to be investigated one of these days. I do not know whether it comes under the Minister's Department or not, but there are a lot of public rights which are bound up with an old-fashioned charter of the Grand Canal Company which need to be rectified in the light of modern conditions.

I do not know which Department is responsible, but I will inquire into the matter.

Motion put and declared lost.
Vote put and agreed to.